Sunday, September 25, 2011

Survival of the Fittest, Natural Selection. By the way, Chickens make terrible mothers.

A Hen on my homestead hatched 11 eggs/chicks last Sunday evening. Today, one week later there are only 6 left. Everyday I check on the chicks, and sometimes in the evening when they can’t figure out how to get into the chicken coop I help them in. Still, there are only 6 left after a week. I guess that may be why the have so many chicks to start with.

I also started school this week! Finally. There is lots of fun stuff going on and I have lots of new teacher friends, who are really all SO nice! I feel very lucky. They already want to plan a one night trip to Krueger. Hopefully PC will let me go, even though it will most likely  be during integration when we are only allowed one night a month away from our villages. This month I already have too many things to do: I would like to go to the Orion hotel to get a tutorial about teaching swimming lessons, this will be with Kathy from the Perma-culture workshop that we did during training and will be an overnight thing, and obviously there will be a Halloween gathering at the end of this month. Eish.. what do I do?

Anyhow back to school- I love it, but it is incredibly tiring. I’ve asked the principal for one day off a week, to process, while I am still in integration. He said that would be fine and selected Thursdays for me. So, I have spoken to a possible SiSwati tutor about tutoring on Thursdays. Tomorrow I will be working with Miss Qwabe on our School Library application. Everyone is so excited about this opportunity! I will let you know more about it as we progress with our application. 

Miss Qwabe is the school’s guidance teacher, and my main resource at this point for working in the school. This last week I shadowed Miss Q for 2 days and then shadowed the computer teacher. The other days were spent sitting in on meetings with the Principal and getting to know the school. So far I have drawn a map of the school and done a Key Informant Interview with Miss Q. I wake up every morning, hopefully before 6am, and head to school at 7am so that with the half hour walk I can get there before the 7:30am bell. Even though the bell seems to be more of a suggestion than an indication that school should start. Every morning the kids clean the school grounds, so if classes start by 8am we are on track for the day. 

These next few weeks I will sit in on whatever classes are on my schedule for that day, I am taking 1 day to observe each grade. (Grades 1-8 are Primary school and then beyond that, high school is referred to in Forms, eg. Form 1, Form 2, etc.) Then break when the teachers have a break or when the kids have lunch 11:00am-11:30am, this is a whole other experience that I will talk about later. Then it’s back to classes until school is out. For grades 1-3 that is 1pm, for 3-5 that’s 1:30pm, for 6-7 that is somewhere between 2-2:30pm. Then I head home to tackle whatever home chores are waiting for me after rushing out in the morning, usually sweeping, mopping if it has rained, and cooking something, because by the time school gets out it’s a chore in itself to decide whether I am more tired or hungry. I usually bring a small lunch with me and eat breakfast at home, but everyone shares here, and I don’t mind it at all, but I am very hungry by the time school gets out and I get home. After all of this I usually rest for a couple of hours and then tackle an evening of bathing, cooking dinner (sometimes, if I don’t gorge myself too much after I get home from school), and getting ready for school the next day.

Now, school lunches-
There is a bell at 10:30am which signals the monitors from each class/grade to go to the kitchen to go get the bowls for lunch. Each child has a number at the school and all of their books and their lunch bowl correspond to this number. Then the monitors hand out the bowls to each student, and they ‘line up’ at 4 buckets of soapy water to ‘wash’ their bowls before getting in ‘line’ to be served their lunch. They ‘line up’ by grade, the youngest ones going first. As for what the lunch usually consists of, this week there was no lunch served on Monday or Tuesday because of technical issues, then on Wednesday it was indegane, thin porridge, basically, runny grits, on Thursday they had beans, which I’ve heard is sometimes served with rice. Friday I was in a meeting during lunch so I didn’t see what they had, but considering how many children were loitering outside of the meeting hall I’m guessing it was indegane again, because most of them don’t like it enough to eat it and they just run around with their empty bowls for ‘half an hour’. Everyone eats with his or her hands, almost always. The adults usually make an exception when eating with me because I can’t do it, eat with my hands that is, not just because of the whole dirty hand germ thing, but also because it takes a different kind of coordination. I end up with food all over the table and myself. Then at 11:30am another bell rings and the children rush to clean their dishes in the same buckets and give them to the monitor. It has been a very interesting week, and a very fulfilling one, even though I am still exhausted.

Mia and I played soccer yesterday; really we just kicked the ball between the two of us. This was the inspiration and beginning of an idea to start girls soccer teams with the schools in our area. For whatever reason, girls never play soccer here. They play other sports, like netball and volleyball, but Mia and I are determined to equal out the opportunities. The boys do get pretty rough sometimes, which is why Mia and I started out playing on our own, instead of with a boys team. The boys are also VERY good and VERY competitive. As we were leaving the pitch a group of girls came running to us and said, ‘Please let me have your ball.’ It may seem like a strange question, but this is always how it is- I like that, give it to me. So, we said no, but that they should all come out next Saturday to play with us. They looked at us kind of funny, and then we asked if they knew how, if they could play, then they got excited and said Yes, of course. So, we’ll see what happens this Saturday (if Mia and I are around, this weekend is the weekend we are supposed to go for the Swim lesson introductions). Mia and I both played soccer and swam/dove respectively. Quite a coincidence, though Mia played soccer a lot longer than I did. Also, as we were finishing up playing around we saw a gigantic Millipede/Centipede, which ever ones are the big, gross, fat ones!!!

I finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho this week, I found a few passages that I feel are very apropos to my current PC life. I will leave you with those this week.

I love and miss you all. Thank you all so much for all of your unending support.

‘… people need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want…’

‘Because people become fascinated with pictures and words, and wind up forgetting the Language of the World.’

‘… so that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life… when we strive to become better than we are, everything else around us becomes better, too.’


  1. Hi, I have been visiting your blog. I´m glad you started your really work. Often I read your articles. I invite you to visit my blog about literature, philosophy and films:

    Greetings from Santa Marta, Colombia

  2. Hey Emma

    What's up !!

    It's such a great pleasure and excitement to start reading your blog (from today :-))...

    The accounts/descriptions of your everyday life, and the village and the people over there are so lively, fresh, first-hand that I really felt so good and excited about it ! ... I will follow your blog now :-) and make myself acquainted with a completely different world through your accounts :-)

    please take care !


  3. Hi Emma, still love your blog. I look forward to read your newest post on Mondays.