The children have been working pretty hard during our homework sessions and following the poor results at the end of last year I have been focusing on the basics in Maths (simple operations), and English (sounds, spelling and grammar) for all primary grades. Maybe that concentration on basic skills and understanding them is paying off because the upper primary children are currently doing end of term tests and seem to be passing – even some kids that haven’t passed many tests before. It is a rewarding feeling, especially when they come home and run to tell us that they have passed, and they are smiling and feeling proud of themselves.
One night I was woken in the very early hours of the morning by someone calling out my name. I went outside, where two of the local women, Margaret and Tuille, told me to come quickly as Lilly was ill; she had chest pain and breathing difficulties. Carmel had also heard the calling, so we went to Lilly’s room. Carmel did some obs, and decided to take her to hospital. She had a chest infection, was in hospital for three or four days, then off work for nearly four weeks. It’s great that the women feel they can rely on us at any time to help or provide support when they need it.
On Valentine’s Day, a big celebration here, Florah from the kitchen gave me some flowers, and just said “thank you”. I was really touched. She doesn’t speak much English, so I wrote a simple thank you note (only three sentences) for her in Sepedi. I went into the kitchen, and read the note out loud to her, then gave it to her. The kitchen staff were amazed and delighted, and clapped as though I’d just performed something wonderful. Florah, who is a very big woman, picked me up and hugged me so hard she nearly crushed me! For the next few days I had the local women coming to me to say they heard I can write in Sepedi, congratulating me and asking how I learnt it. I had to tell them no, I can’t actually write it myself and I got the words out of the Sepedi dictionary. That didn’t matter though, no white person had written to them in their own language before, and they appreciated the effort to communicate with them in their native tongue.