Day 4 & 5
Yesterday the group went on safari in the afternoon. But in the morning, we took Njabuliso to the mall to pick out his very first suit. Njabuliso, along with Mirriam & Sizo, are our first 3 college graduates! Njabuliso just finished his program at VOCTIM college studying automotive engineering and will be walking in his graduation ceremony in a couple of months. We are so very proud of these kids - who were part of our original 8 over 11 years ago. They have come a long way since we met them when they were recently orphaned elementary schoolers. And they have worked VERY hard to get to where they are today!
Today, we spent the morning at eLangeni Primary School. In February, a storm tore the roof off of one of the classrooms completely destroying the roof and everythig inside. Unfortunately, the government is pledging to pay for the roofing materials but not the interior nor the labor. The total cost will be somewhere around $2,750 USD. Meanwhile, across the nation, the government has also not paid the schools for the teacher's salaries and fees that they owe them (which is supposed to cover books, food for lunches, and electricity, etc). Our favorite cook, Suzi, is very worried because she hasn't been paid in months which means she has not paid for her high school daughter's school fees. If she cannot pay by August, her daughter will be expelled. I hope the government comes through by then!
We helped Suzi cook rice & soup and serve it to the 600+ students enrolled at the Primary School. Our US volunteers were amazed at the very difficult work required to be a school cook (lighting a fire, cooking in enormous heavy black cook pots, having limited food to create your culinary masterpiece, etc) and were not surprised that Suzi was complaining of back pain.
After our morning at the Primary School, we went across the street to the preschool. My friend Angie purchased tons of dress up/imagination play toys for the children. It was so much fun watching them run around pretending to put out fires, direct people through imaginary road construction, and fix people's boo-boos. Luckily the child pretending to be the police officer could not figure out how to use the hand-cuffs. If I were the teacher, I would probably "accidentally" lose those - haha.
We sang songs and danced under the bright Swazi sun to the sound of sweet little voices and the view of the beautiful Swazi rolling mountains in the background. Every time I meet a new little one here in Swaziland, I think to myself - are you a little Njabuliso? a little Lungelo? If someone were to offer you a little boost, what would be your college degree? The teacher lined them all up in a row in their little dress up clothes and asked "What are you?" Then, a loud confident voice would yell back "I AM A DOCTOR, TEACHER!".... "What are you?" ...."I AM A FIREFIGHTER, TEACHER!" If you ask my husband, I am an emotional person - so it probably wouldn't surprise him that tears started swimming in my eyes. "I AM A NURSE, TEACHER!"...please sweet baby, please keep dreaming big! www.ifightpoverty.org/donate.html