Hello Again From Africa

Hello Again From Africa

It can be an uncomfortable chore for the Palms staff to request stories from our Volunteers in the Field for the Palms Post. This is never the case with volunteer Louisa Cataldo, who has provided a constant stream of stories from her placement. Here is her latest Update (No. 8!) from Holy Family Care Centre, Ofcolaco, South Africa.

Dear Friends,

As a teacher it is very enjoyable to have the opportunity to build the capacity of people in different areas of need. A few weeks ago, I gave two workshops to the aunties who look after the children in the dormitories at night time. One was on how to conduct educational play using blocks, the outcome of which had the ladies

building cars, trains bridges etc. It was a great experience for them, many commenting that it was the first time they had played with blocks and that they had learnt how to teach the children about building objects and talking about what for and how they may be used.  We all had lots of fun. The other workshop was on how to read to the children, even though some of the ladies cannot read at all and if they can, not in English. Unfortunately, all of the books we have are in English. As the facilitator, I showed the ladies how they can make up a story using their language and tell it to the children by using the pictures as their guide. I spoke about respecting books and using expression, voice and body language when telling a story.  Again it was a lot of fun as we read to each other by making up stories, and the ladies learnt new skills which they can employ every night with the children.

Another little baby arrived in a police van unexpectedly and unannounced last week. Born three months premature, he is the same age as little Surprise who after just a few weeks has grown far too big for a baby carrier and is now in the pram. The new little one was born to a 16 year old girl who is in grade 7 at school, no one from the family can look after him, so the aunties and nurses here are going to be very busy in the coming months. We also received a special five year old boy with many special needs as he has never been socialised with other children, he has not learnt to speak and has suffered severe neglect. On two occasions thus far, I have felt privileged to help him learn how to play, you can’t help but feel overwhelming love for children like this little boy…

Things in the classroom are going well enough and the bigger children have exams at the moment, so I am being very strict and monitoring what they are doing even though it is a battle at times. I am teaching one young boy how to read every night and he is improving slowly. Sr Jeanne is having great success in the Special Ed room with many of the children progressing in the reading levels. She is also continuing to learn new recipes and we cook together often so that she can learn new skills. The lemon pudding last week was delicious and the choc chip and orange and cinnamon cookies didn’t last long either! I had to laugh (after I got annoyed) as some of the big boys climbed a tree and tried to get the honey out of a bee hive in our back yard, the bees chased them all over the place  and were angry for quite a few days!  Fr Patrick was no better than the boys as he was supposed to be supervising them. The boys also collected a 2 litre bottle of massive ants which were fried up with a bit of tomato and onion and served up with the traditional pap (like polenta)  (see the photos of Carmel and I eating them!). You never know what a day at Holy Family will bring.

Love, Louisa