Thursday, March 8, 2012

Through the eyes of a volunteer: Kindergarten in South Africa

Jan Keucher is a long time volunteer and friend of Christel House. With a background in education, she has traveled to South Africa many times to help in the classroom. Jan is in South Africa now, working with a class of kindergarten students. When asked what a typical day was like for her and her students, she responded with the following.

I don’t know if there is ever a ‘typical’ day at Christel House South Africa.  It is far from ordinary and forever changing.  Our children come from the poorest of the poor, so they are arrive at school carrying all that goes hand-in-hand with poverty.  Sadly, even the youngest of our children are not immune.  We are happy to say, however, that our children have a wonderful new school to attend, and for so many, it is their safe haven.

I volunteer in Grade R (kindergarten); this year we have 30 learners in our class.  For most, it is their first exposure to school, and few are prepared for the routine and structure of a school setting.  Their day begins with breakfast at the school.  There would be many who would never receive this nourishment at home.  During the day they will also be given a morning and afternoon snack, plus a hot lunch.  CHSA is an English speaking school, but few of our learners know English when they first arrive.  Fortunately, we have an aide who interprets for the Afrikaans and Xhosa speaking children.  This new school year only started in January, so much of our day still consists of preparing them to learn.  Many have never held a book, a piece of paper, or a pencil.  We must start at the most basic level with them.  Their days are quite long, but they do get a rest time, which many will even ask to have.  Our work with them is just beginning, but already we are starting to see progress, something we look for each and every day.  

Thanks for all you do, Jan!

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