Freebooter

Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody

Books, Bonnets and Pap

So what does a kept woman do while the breadwinner is slaving away? Did you REALLY think I could do nothing all day except shop, drink coffee and walk dachshunds? Well, as the Australians purportedly say, “Brace yourself, Sheila”.

English is the main (business) language of South Africa. If English is your mother tongue, then you can choose to learn Africaans or Zulu. To many of the children from more difficult backgrounds, English is a new challenge, and a charity was set up – The Link – which coordinates volunteers helping the children to read and play word games on a one to one basis. The children are tested regularly to check progress and even have eye checks. Ovuya, Lesedi, Njablo, Nduduzo, Avuyile, Tshenolo, and Thandoa – just some of the names I have had to get to grips with as a Reading Angel – but imagine the joy of watching weekly improvement…

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Ever been so hungry you can’t concentrate? When the project started, many children were coming to school with empty tummies. REALLY EMPTY. In what I have learnt is true African fashion, at least amongst the doers of this world, a feeding project was set up with great thanks to The Lunchbox Fund. Now the school day starts with a bowl of Imuno Pap – it tastes rather like a cross between rice and porridge with a dash of salt I thought, but with added vitamins. At break time children are given peanut butter sandwiches, and hot meals are planned. Those children who look after siblings take home a doggy bag to feed the rest of the family.

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In Africa, as in the Caribbean, these children are keen to learn, and come to school in immaculate, clean uniforms which they are proud of. Remember that most will not have a washing machine at home…. Food for thought…….

And then there are the babies. Premature babies without any clothes, wrapped in newspaper like fish and chips. One enterprising lady has people knitting tiny bonnets and boots, and packages these up with other goodies so lucky young mothers leave hospital with a starter kit.

The Link Literacy Project now operates in nine schools in Johannesburg. The Lunchbox Fund covers many more throughout SA – Feed a Child, Nourish a Mind is their strapline. Google them and find out more – you won’t be disappointed. If you are local, they always need volunteers; if you are not and would like to donate to the projects at the school I’m involved in, then please get in touch. I’d love to say I could bring out boxes of children’s books, but they are heavy, simple puzzles and children’s games are more feasible and would be great – or baby clothes and bonnets!

Serious bit over, but no apologies!

Thelinkliteracyproject.co.za      Thelunchboxfund.org.za

 

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This entry was posted on November 2, 2014 by in Intervening Travels.
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