An Update From Ofcolaco, South Africa

An Update From Ofcolaco, South Africa

By Louisa Cataldos

Dear friends,

Yesterday, my mission here at Holy Family was the most rewarding it has ever been so far. It is certainly not the first time that I have played a part in teaching children how to read. But when the child in question is 14 years old and in grade 3 (instead of grade 7 or 8), it is extra special. “Em small” the girl in the photo reading, has been learning the English alphabet with both myself and Sr Jeanne. Last night, she read her very first book in English. The significance of this achievement for Em small is huge: her subjects at school are taught in English and she has to pass the subject of English if she is to graduate into grade 4. Whether this happens is another story, but last night, Em did not want to leave the classroom and the pride she displayed in herself was beautiful. Actually, instilling pride in the children here is  a wonderful thing to be able to do- it is a blessing.  We read several books together, and it struck me how the books we read were the same that children in kindergarten are reading right now in Australia. It made me reflect on the many privileges we and our children have- we don’t stop to think about it very often. Em will continue to read with Sister and myself. Our aim is to get as many of the children as we can to a grade 1-2 reading level- it takes months, but already we have seen some fantastic progress.

In general news, myself and Carmel the nurse have moved into the convent for the next three months, as we have made way for three volunteers form Ireland. One of them is a teacher and will be helping my self and Sr Jeanne.  Yes, we are living with the sisters and as such living in “community”. It is generous of them to open their living space with us, and it is nice to be more involved with them too.  Any way, we are confident our corrupt ways won’t interfere too much…….or at least we hope so.

I have also included a photo of “Zoe” a stray rottweiler  cross probably no more than year old who has clearly been mistreated. Well, Zoe came to the right place…. she fits in perfectly as Sr Sally says.  I was asked if I would like to look after her, and she has the most beautiful temperament I have ever seen in a dog, I was really happy to, and consequently, Zoe is my new best friend.  The photo was taken in the church at Pentecost- she has a tongue of the Holy Spirit stuck on her head!!

Finally, the 16th of June was Youth Day in South Africa and a Public Holiday, remembering the hundreds of children that were shot at/killed or imprisoned by the Police in 1976 as they protested about their lack of education and freedom under Apartheid. It is a day which also celebrated hope and freedom and the future for all the children of SA. We all had a wonderful day of celebration.

The weather here is glorious with average temps of 24- 26/27 during the day- you only know it is winter at night and early morning, and only a few cold days so far- it’s really like Spring in Sydney.

Hope you are all well,

Love, Louisa