Week in Photos (12/08-18/08)

A fellow PCV showing off the massive burger we found at Pick N Pay.

A fellow PCV showing off the massive burger we found at Pick N Pay.

Two women using grocery sacks as hats at the cross country meet.

Two women using grocery sacks as hats at the cross country meet.

A few boys waiting behind the kombi, sheltered from the crazy wind, at the meet.

A few boys waiting behind the kombi, sheltered from the crazy wind, at the meet.

Dog on mat, chicken in pot. The critters like my porch.

Dog on mat, chicken in pot. The critters like my porch.

Pieces of our new latrine waiting to be assembled!

Pieces of our new latrine waiting to be assembled!

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Run of the Mill Wednesday

Some of the enthusiastic observers.

Some of the enthusiastic observers.

I woke up at my normal time, felt fancy so I made French Toast, then straightened my hair because I slept on it wet so it dried CRAZY! I was off to school at half past seven, and was the first educator at school. Typical. The puppy that was wandering around the school on Monday was there again, and the learners seemed terrified of it, so I picked it up and held onto it for a while, wondering if I could keep it. Instead, I handed it off to one of the kids who owned it, who ran it home. After holding the puppy, I went to wash my hands at the tap and found out the water was out.

I started up my computer and searched the cupboard for Dept of Ed CDs that would hold the work schedules, or what the teachers were supposed to teach. I wanted to look them over and identify areas for integrating gardening into the curriculum. I only found about half the classes, and when I put the Maths CD in, my virus shield went crazy. Yup, the DOE had given us an infected CD. I popped it out and ran a scan, which turned up clean. Then I used my Blackberry to download the healing tool, to try to remove it from the disk, which was unsuccessful. I may just throw the CD out, otherwise, someone will use the CD and infect the computer.

Lunch came-mealie rice, pumpkin, and a veggie mush that was delicious! After lunch, I went back to searching the work schedules. This was a slightly torturous activity, so I split it up a bit by bbm-ing a fellow PCV. I didn’t want to get too deeply into another project because I knew things would get busy prior to leaving for the sports competition, and sure enough, it did. One of the teachers was supposed to organize catering (food) for the learners, and hadn’t done so, so it kind of turned into crisis mode. The big shop was out of bread, so they drove around the village shops and finally found some. Surprisingly on time, the kombis to transport the learners arrived and we were off by noon.

We barreled through my village, then started down the one-lane dirt road about 40km, to the farm village that was hosting the competition. This village was unique because it has both white and black people. There is a “white” school which is small and has extremely nice grounds. And then there’s the “black” school that is like every other village school, old, poor, and with scraggly grounds. We were there for a cross country competition, so for the races, they had a car drive around and the learners ran behind it, all around the village. I think they were measuring the distance by the car odometer…seriously.

Anyways, I was recruited to help record the results for the races, so I at least had a seat. However, it was crazy windy (gusts of 50kmph all day) and we were in the middle of a field. The races took a LONG time, and the sun started to set and the wind turned cold quickly. Because I was a recorder, I couldn’t take refuge in the kombi. Regardless of the wind and chill, it was a nice day and I was able to take a lot of great pictures. Someone had brought a megaphone, and I swear someone was talking through it the entire 5 hours I was there. At one point, I took it away and told one guy that we’d had enough….he took it back and started alternating between the whistle and siren functions. My host brother and sister were both there, and my brother took first place in his race, and my sister made it in the top six. At about 6pm, the races finally ended and we rolled out of the village as the sun set. We rolled through the bushveld in the dark, successfully avoiding the cows on the side of the road and driving through PILES of tumbleweed. We got to my village an hour later and the driver dropped me and my host siblings off right at my gate.

I am so exhausted right now, and forced myself to write this tonight. Tomorrow’s going to be a LONG day, and I’m sure I’ll be exhausted still.
-Jen

Some of the winning kids waiting to record their names.

Some of the winning kids waiting to record their names.

One of the learners realizing he wasn't placing in the top six as he approached the finish line.

One of the learners realizing he wasn’t placing in the top six as he approached the finish line.

Kids finishing a race.

Kids finishing a race.

Learners in the kombi on the ride home.

Learners in the kombi on the ride home.

Area Sports Day

Keletso running the 1200m

Keletso running the 1200m

I know I have posted a lot on Sports recently, but it is the play-offs (run-offs) for the schools, and I was invited to attend the Area Sports Day last weekend. In case you are confused, it goes school-cluster-area-district…then maybe provincial and national. I’m not too sure about what goes on beyond the district competition.

Anywho, I went to the Area Sports Day last Saturday, in a teeny little desert village called Madinonyane (Mother Birds, ka Setswana). I had to arrive at school at 6am-on a Saturday! We left half an hour behind schedule, but for African time, that’s pretty good. Two teachers, 11 learners, and I hopped in a hired kombi with the uniforms and lunches, then set off on an hour and a half long dirt-road trip. Bumpity bump bump BUMP!

I was told that Madinonyane is in the desert, but it looked a lot like my village. I’m not sure what the difference is.

They had two fields, one for long distance and field events, and one for short distance races. For awhile I was bouncing between the two fields, then I wandered over to where Lorato was to watch the high jump. Dispite broken equipment and kids who didn’t really know what they were doing, it went alright and I only saw one kid skid off the mat and onto the hard dirt after jumping (into Lorato, incidentally). I watched that for awhile, then after a trip to a nearby tuck shop for chips and a soda, headed over to the starting line for the 1200m races. My host brother Keletso was running that race, and I didn’t want to miss it. I had already watched him run and win the 100m race (yay) and was excited to see how he would do in a long distance race.

After a long while, some confusion, wishing for a chair, and wilting in the hot sun, the boy 11 year old 1200 m race started, and ZOOM! It was exciting to watch! Keletso placed first or second (I’m not sure) and is moving onto the district meet in two events. Speedy Gonzales!

We had one more race, then all of our learners were finished. We headed over to the van, where Mr. Komape began serving lunch. The learners received a piece of cheese, a piece of polony (SA bologna), a piece of fried chicken, a juice, and 8 slices of bread. Seriously. SAfricans LOVE their bread! I had a piece of fried chicken, as I had brought some PB&J with me and had eaten them earlier. After another waiting period, we rounded up the kids and bumped out of Madinonyane.

We passed through Ganyesa on the way home and stopped by the Shoprite. Kids rushed out of the kombi in the parking lot. The driver and other teachers disappeared, leaving me with the kids and kombi. After a few men stopped to talk to me (one asking if he could “visit” me-read that as “sleep with me”) I gave up being a good chaperone, abandoned the kids, and did a bit of shopping to last me until I go to town next. Don’t worry, chaperones don’t seem to exist here, so the fact that I was attempting to be one is laughable.

We made it home by mid-afternoon, and sheesh I was exhausted! But it was a unique and interesting day!
-Jen

Boys 100m race.

Boys 100m race.

I was at school, on Saturday, for the sunrise. Eesh!

I was at school, on Saturday, for the sunrise. Eesh!

Cluster Sports Day

A big wind storm blowing through

A big wind storm blowing through

Last week I posted about our “Interhouse” Sport Day at KPS, when we had races that determined which learners would move on to the cluster competition. I was told earlier in the week that the area races would be held in Tlakgameng today, and I wanted to go check it out. Also, I knew that if I was left at school, I would be forced into a crazy classroom for the whole day, with not prep time or guidance on activities, which I was NOT wanting to do. So as soon as I got to KPS today, I asked the principal if I could go, and he gave me the green light-yay!

After a bit of a wait-I was told we were leaving “just now” not “now now”, so I should have expected the wait-and some crazy-last-minute-prep work for the competition, I hopped in the front of a bakke with the driver, a teacher, and her grandson. I kid you not, 20 learners were in the back of the bakke. Insanity! We bumped our way to a secondary school in Tlakgameng where the event was being held.

At first I attempted to help the teachers in organizing the learners, but as nearly all of the conversations were in rapid-fire Setswana, I soon gave up and grabbed a chair. My principal came a bit later with a big tent that was set up. It was a lifesaver-instant shade.

The competition was for ages 7-18, and had many different races. I tried to keep up with what was happening at my schools, but all I know is that some of them have moved on to the district races-yay! So on Saturday I’ll be headed to the “desert” village of Mma Dinonyane (Ma-dee-no-NYAH-nee), which translates directly into Mother Birds. I kinda wish I lived there.

Anywho, the day was kind of like a huge festival. There were probably a dozen or so schools represented, all in their respective uniforms. A bunch of people from the community came and sold fruit, crisps/chips, cookies/biscuits, and amazing icee things made out of guava nectar. My new absolutely favorite thing to buy at shops and on a kombi. So good! I ended up eating two and contemplated having more.

I was mostly confused about what was happening all day long, as it did not seem to be well-organized. No surprise. The kids had an awesome time though, running and cheering each other on, and being a part of something “bigger”. Bigger than school and the village, etc. That doesn’t happen often, so I was happy to be a part of it.

By the end of the day a crazy windstorm blew through, eventually blowing in lightning, thunder, ominous clouds, and rain right as I was in a bakke on the way home. A teacher drove me home in her bakke. She doesn’t have a nice cover of the back, like most that make it possible to pick up people on the side of the road and make some spare change as an informal taxi driver. She essentially has a big tarp that straps over her bed. So, imagine my surprise when we arrive at my home, she tells me to tell the guy in the back to come up front. I was like “There’s someone in the back?!”, completely flummoxed. And sure enough, when I pulled back the tarp, a young man was laying down in the bed. Oh Africa.

I’m sure I’ll have another post after the trip to Mma Dinonyane-this really is a tongue twister-so keep an eye out. I found out tonight from my host mom that my host brother Keletso made it to the district races. Woot! Go lelapa la me!

-Jen

A kid sitting under a desk, attempting to keep out of the hot sun

A kid sitting under a desk, attempting to keep out of the hot sun

Kids from one of my schools waiting to compete

Kids from one of my schools waiting to compete

20+ kids shoved into the back of a bakke-official school transport!

20+ kids shoved into the back of a bakke-official school transport!

Week in Photos (Jan 29-Feb 5)

As I was picking peaches, a whole swarm of turkeys and chickens decided to chase me around.

As I was picking peaches, a whole swarm of turkeys and chickens decided to chase me around.

Another shot of Sports Day at KPS

Another shot of Sports Day at KPS

Due to it actually raining, the bush I walk through to school is actually green and lush!

Due to it actually raining, the bush I walk through to school is actually green and lush!

From this I understand that Ben + Pat the Elf are friends, and the Arabic man lives in a sand castle

From this I understand that Ben + Pat the Elf are friends, and the Arabic man lives in a sand castle

Sports Day!

Kids running in the HOT African sun.

Kids running in the HOT African sun.

(Written Wed Feb 1st)

Today when I got to school, I was headed to the staffroom when a teacher told me there was a meeting happening NOW (now now, fyi) in the admin staffroom. So I head over to there right as the meeting starts, of course during time when teachers should be in class. Sigh. We talk (in English, then ka Setswana) about making sure teachers are in classes at the right times-I restrained myself from shouting out “Why are we here then?! It’s CLASS TIME!” as it would not be good to embarrass the principal in front of everyone.

Then begins the Setswana talk, and I zone out. At one point they are talking about me, but I don’t pay attention as I am zoned out. Then the meeting ends and I get a teacher to explain that today is Sports Day, so they will be doing races all day rather than classes. The sporting competitions between area schools is on Friday, so they have to have school competitions to determine who will move on.

I then get into an argument will ALL the Intermediate Phase teachers about actually speaking English in class, which resulted in 5 teachers and me more or less yelling at each other in the staffroom. That’s for another blog post.

Most of my day was spent in the direct African sun in the middle of a soccer field watching kids run and not doing anything because I don’t speak Setswana well enough, and the kids don’t speak English. The wind was too strong in the morning to use the umbrella someone lent me, and at noon the owner took it back and used it, sometimes half covering me in its shade. Eventually some clouds rolled in, which was glorious.

So, Sports Day was interesting for an American. All the kids are dressed in their sports clothes, which means they are old clothes that are torn or too small. It was a little sad, but they didn’t seem to mind. Hardly anyone wore shoes to run, even though the sun-baked ground was hard and full of pokey things. My feet are way too sensitive for SA.

The kids were grouped into 3 groups, the Tigers, Zebras, and Springboks, which they had been training with the past few weeks.

The kids who weren’t currently racing were with their group, cheering, dancing, and singing. It was insane! Rather than lose momentum as the day wore on, the kids got more excited and did crazier songs and dances. When a teammate won, they would run over and hoist them up on their shoulders.

I was impressed. These kids had a BLAST!

We were out until nearly 2pm, I think. Thankfully, the clouds took over soon after 12pm, so the heat wasn’t too oppressive then. Right when they were getting ready to announce the winning school team, the clouds burst open! Rain here is usually fast and furious, and today was no exception.

One teacher tried to share and umbrella with me, but I gave up and walked fast until we got to some tall bushes that provided some cover. After a few minutes the rain subsided, and we headed back to school, dripping wet and feeling the humidity kick in.

-Jen

Kids stopping for water

Kids stopping for water