White Fields Report – March 2010
Already its time for my first report, time has flown by! I’m going to mainly talk about the Lincoln Mason special school (Happy’s) as I’m passionate about it and the children there and am focusing a lot of my time there. Already I’ve established great relationships with the children, they are really great and appreciate what you are doing for them.
I was introduced to the school on my first day here and we got stuck in straight away getting all sweaty doing some manual labour, stripping the shower room of all the moldy plaster ready to tile it. The shower rooms were in really poor condition and were desperate to be re-decorated, as there is one shower room for the 75 boys and one shower room for the 75 girls. The conditions were terrible, the stench of urine, the humidity (there was no ventilation) and lack of space to move around in, but the spirits were high and it turned out to be a great space for singing really loud in. Considering none of us had ever tiled before I’d say we did a pretty good job. One child described it as “beautiful” as opposed to “itchy” like it made her feel before.
We are also half way through painting all the toilets and bathrooms. This turned out to be an epic job! All the paint and plaster was chipped at the bottom from the wheelchairs so we had to scrape all the walls, which came off pretty easily due to the dampness. Again, the smell of the urine was a bit of an issue, but hardly surprising when they don’t have carers. 6 down 6 to go!
Bible Class and Fun Day
Christy and I have also been covering the older Bible class every Friday, which is just awesome! We both love teaching it. Some of the kids really know their stuff and are so attentive. At the end of the class we say a prayer and invite anyone who wants to say a prayer too to say one. We weren’t sure how this would work, weather anyone would say anything, but they all did! Every single one said a prayer; even those that have trouble speaking spoke up! It’s fantastic; we come away really fired up after the class!
After spending some time with the kids and getting to know them I started to think about how bored they must get on weekends. They don’t have any place to go to have fun or to relax or to study. They literally just have their beds to sit on which is surrounded by 50 other beds and 50 other people making noise. So I’ve started to put together a plan where we go into the school on a Saturday just to do fun things with them and to show them that we care and to bring joy and laughter into the place. The first was a valentines spa day for the girls, we washed and massaged hands and feet, painted nails, did some henna and gave out bookmarks with Bible verses on them.
Concert and Games
A couple of weeks ago we put on a concert for them. We had it on a Friday night because I wanted it too feel like an evening out for them. We hyped it up for a couple of weeks before to get them really excited about it by Phil designing some fantastic posters which we put up around the school. We filled the area with candles and dished out some popcorn and juice. Rehearsals were a hoot; we choreographed an amazing dance to Michael Jackson’s “Black or white”. The kids joined in with all the Zulu songs and screamed their heads off when we sang beyonce; they couldn’t get enough of it! We got some of them dancing up at the front too!
We all enjoyed a craft and games day yesterday, the bracelet making went down a treat, Most of the cards that were made were written to previous & current volunteers and it turns out they all LOVE bingo! So much so we are going to have to have a bingo evening!
Big Plans and Needs
There are also big plans for Happy’s this year, we are putting a proposal together for corporate sponsorship for a basketball court, 2 classrooms, one will be used as a recreational/relaxing room where they children can come and read a book, study or watch a DVD and the other room will be used for skills classes i.e. pottery classes, flower arranging etc.
We are also going to try out a church here too so I have put together a 6 month plan to start in May.
The children’s needs here are so great and they are so easy to meet! They have exams all this week and were asking me to explain some things they don’t understand in their textbook. Their travel and tourism teacher was off school for medical reasons, so they didn’t have anyone teaching them, they were just given the textbook and told to learn it! The things they couldn’t understand is knowledge that comes so naturally to us, airport procedures, daylight saving, travel insurance vaccination certificates etc etc. I am now the new unofficial travel and tourism teacher (which I secretly love doing).
Last week a team of us went up to Jo’burg to help with the opening of the community centre-Aphiwe (which means ‘gift’ in Zulu). We leveled out the ground, laid some soil and then laid the turf (My labouring skills are coming on in leaps and bounds). God was good to us, they all turned up exactly on time and we had just enough! The centre was given some of natures colour, it was starting to look really good. The next day we painted a mural on the long boundary wall, the colours were fantastic and it made everybody stop to ask about what the building was going to be. So already advertising for the centre was going well! The foot traffic which comes past the hall is just such a blessing, its right next to the train station and a small market area. I even recognized one man called Patrick who had previously helped us with the painting of a crèche (he was one of the parents who wanted to get involved with the improvements of the crèche) I shouted over to him and we had a quick chat, I had only been around for a week and already I got a sense of relationships being made. There are high hopes for the centre and it’s really exciting to think about what might become of it!
Apart from painting the mural, one of my other fun moments is the street party we did on Saturday afternoon. When we turned up there were about 7 kids playing on the street. After 5 minutes, there were around 40! All were keen to have their eyebrows painted green and have a moustache. We played some games, which resulted in “just throw water on the kids” game. They loved that. We sang some songs and gave out some fruit and sweets. It was such fun! And not only for me but the kids loved it too, it was so easy to bring joy to them!
I’ll end on a God moment. There was one Saturday we were singing outside the BEC in Durban. Julie, Laura and I went to use the public toilet and carried on singing one of the Zulu songs whilst on the loo. A lady heard us singing and started talking to us in Zulu (that’s how good we are). It wasn’t until we came out she realized we were white and couldn’t speak a word of Zulu! We explained we were trying to promote the BEC and the free Bible courses through the singing. She immediately wanted one of these free Bible courses! She followed us down to the BEC and we signed her up for God’s Master Plan course. It is amazing how God works!