by Julie Mitchiner, Greenheart Travel volunteer in South Africa
First day of school in South Africa! And it actually is as exciting as a first day of school when I was a kid. Today we went to the Bulugha school and helped with the preschool class. Learning the names will be quite the task, let alone pronouncing them correctly, but that’s the goal. Xhosa is the language spoke by most. Xhosa incorporates all types of tongue clicking that has so far been lost on me. I can only imagine it’s a skill you are born with. My hope is to master it enough so as not to be laughed at by the time I leave.
The schoolroom is probably an 8×8 ft. room at best. But there are 30 kids that couldn’t be happier to be there. It’s amazing how quickly they latch on to you. “Miss! Miss! Miss!” is quite endearing. We taught them the letter “C” today. Played outside (sharks and minnows – if anything is a universal game, it’s that), colored and sang songs. All while overlooking a field of zebras.
In the afternoon we went to the Green Sleeves Orphanage. It breaks your heart to know that all of these kids are without parents, either from losing a parent to AIDS, drugs or just being abandoned entirely. The children embrace you as if they’ve known you forever. A four year old, Lithle, wouldn’t let me put her down.
We took them on a long walk – all of them barefoot while I struggled in my sandals. They also ate everything from every tree along the way. I wouldn’t have the first clue if any of it was edible or not but they seemed to know their way around pretty well. We played on the swing set for a while before it was time to go.
Stay tuned for more of Julie’s blog series during her volunteer project in South Africa…