TIA, this is Africa

  • Mar. 3, 2008 6:00 a.m.

Submitted by Elizabeth Condrotte–This is the expression everyone uses when things are frustrating. We had a TIA moment last week when we were heading off to work and found our Bakkie propped up on rocks with two wheels missing along with the CD/radio and food we were taking to the crèche. The Toyota was the only vehicle we had as two are still in the shop, one is disabled in the village and the poor old Isuzu is gone forever. Its brakes or clutch failed, Zanele isn’t sure, but it rolled backwards 10 metres down into a ravine with her and a passenger in it. The police recovered the tires the same day but we missed a day of work and almost ruined Jim and Chris’s vacation with their friends in Kruger Park. As for Zanele and her passenger, miraculously no bones were broken but Zanele will be off work for a while with serious bruising and a possible clot.Actually, missing a day of work allowed me to contact some education officials that I hadn’t been able to reach because the cell phone service has not been working in the village for the past week (TIA). The very good news is that the Department of Education acknowledged that 78 Reception (K) students were too many for one teacher and has not only agreed to finally pay long-time teacher, Mrs. Xaba, but also to allow us to hire another teacher who they will also pay. So on my day off I was able to complete the 30 pages of paperwork for that (TIA) and fax it off. I was also able to get an agreement in principle to send a trainer to us in Indawana for all our untrained pre-school teachers in the area rather than sending them long distances to other centers.In addition to the Reception for 5-year olds we now have 84 three and four-year-olds in 3 separate Creches, each with a teacher. Although Grade R is now taken care of by the Dept. of Education, Creche pre-school is not. Last year there were about 65 preschoolers in 2 mixed Creche/R classrooms. This year we have 100 more children who are definitely straining the budget. We are still paying Creche salaries and providing lunch for all the children. Two of our classrooms have no furniture and there is only enough in the budget to furnish one (I’m working on that but TIA).The most recently established classroom doesn’t even have any equipment at all except a blackboard. Hopefully the new fiscal year starting in May will allow us to take care of that.I’ve been holding mini-workshops on Fridays to help our teachers with planning and up-coming parental interviews. We discuss education and share ideas. We also have a teacher from one of the other schools who joins us and have provided some print materials for her. It is hard to move the teachers away from rote learning as they have had no training, this is how they were taught, their classes are so large and their resources are so few. This month we will be working on establishing “home centres” and my future plans include sandboxes. First, however, a toilet must be provided for the new creche location. TIA.I’m getting very excited as Sabrina will be coming to visit over Easter. Schools are closed here for 3 weeks and I will have a holiday. I have a friend in Lesotho who we will visit and then travel to the eastern coast. When Sabrina heads home, I will have two months to finish my job here and I too will be back on Haida Gwaii. Fall is on its way here so I’m looking forward to skipping winter. Have a Happy Easter everyone.