I’ve have had an incredibly tough few weeks at Bethany Home as my Project Trust partner, Chloe, has had to go home due to medical reasons. We’ve had the most amazing five months together and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner who became like a sister to me. Through the homesickness, crazy pre-schoolers and long hospital visits she became my best friend and I’m going to miss her dearly. She’s now back in Scotland and on the road to recovery. There are other volunteers (Jess and Georgia) who live in the compound so I go and visit them often.
Speaking of goodbyes, I’ve had to say farewell to my older pre-schoolers as they’re all 6 years old which means they graduate from Bethany Home. It was challenge teaching them at times but I’m going to miss them all dearly. Lelethu wanting to hold my hand every morning, Imange’s smile through upsetting times, Kwanele’s big head t-shirt struggle and Sakhei’s cheeky personality are just some of the memories that I will hold onto forever. I made the decision to go with Gee (Bethany Home’s social worker) to drive 12 children and 3 adults to their new home SOS Children’s Village. When we arrived the kids immediately got separated into two groups and from then on they were divided into groups of one, two or three children, each of them assigned a house to live in. Each house can take up to 8 kids and SOS caters for children up for the age of 16. I hope my kids are safe and aren’t missing Bethany too much but I’m definitely missing them.
Until last week I was teaching the children the alphabet in what’s known as the meeting room. As the normal pre-school teacher is currently on leave, I’ve had the full responsibility of teaching 30 children two letters a day for the past three weeks. Talk about repetitive! Classroom management is still a struggle but I’m trying my hardest to get there. We divided the children into six groups, allocating them 30 minute slots each. I made up hand gestures for each letter of the alphabet, in the hope that they’d remember it better but there is still a long way to go until the children understand the difference between the letters – ‘C’ is pronounced as ‘D’ and there’s a constant struggle to get the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ the right way around. Working in the small room with a maximum of 6 children was a great way to teach them as I could provide one-to-one support to the children that needed extra help and the kids could take their time completing the writing worksheets.
We’ve had many power cuts in the lasts few months and there’s been times that we’ve had no power for a week straight. Living off cheese sandwiches was not fun to say the least. The power has sorted itself out now but for the past two weekends we’ve had water cuts. This has meant that for two days straight we’ve had no running water. In South Africa you can drink the tap water so having no water has lead to many problems including no showers, no drinking water and not being able to do the dishes which is a real problem as it leads to lovely bugs such as cockroaches and millipedes.
Time is ticking by very quickly here and I’m starting to plan my Easter travels which currently consist of travelling to Durban and going to Splashy festival. I’ve passed the half way mark and I now have 22 weeks until I return home. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here but I’m looking forward to coming home and being able to see everyone again.
To everyone who has supported me throughout this journey, enkosi (thank you in Xhosa). It has meant the world to me to be able to help the children that I work with and they make me so happy to be around. I will continue to write about my experiences overseas and I hope to write soon.