Without Logan on the homestead and the arrival of Cyclone Dando it was a pretty quiet week. It rained sheets for three days straight. Rivers flooded, bridges collapsed and the Tsabedze homestead took a hit. The eastern wall of a mud hut on the homestead collapsed, our sunflowers were blown askew and our poor carrots drowned. Other than that the garden is going swimmingly (no pun intended) and we are eating from it just about every day. Squash and green beans have dominated so far but we are looking forward to tomatoes, lettuce and maize that we just planted. Yesterday we found a lone cucumber. It was delicious.
School started for Ryan on Tuesday. He is excited for the prospects of starting afresh with a new schedule. 1:00-2:30 of every Wednesday of this semester is dedicated to “sports day” in which all the students are placed in different teams – called houses, just like in Harry Potter – to compete against each other in sporting competition. Ryan is the head of the Lion House.
Along with leading his team to victory he is starting an English Club in March, a Health Club and is introducing two 12 week courses on HIV for Grades 5,6,7 and Life Skills for Grades 1-4.
Addy rode out Cyclone Dando at Emafeni Lodge in Ezulweni attending a week long counterpart training workshop for Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) with her counterpart Zande who teaches pre-school at Mpaka Railway School. The training was an overwhelming success that benefited from the weeks of planning put into it. While there the volunteers and their counterparts were trained in skills such as active listening, effective communication, self-esteem building workshops, health related topics and dance parties in preparation for Camp GLOW later this year.
Last week was our first English Class at the Refugee Camp. We cannot be more excited to be starting this endeavor. Close to 60 people showed up representing countries all over from Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The objective of our first class was to ascertain the English level of our students and place them in groups according to their comprehension. Ryan is teaching the advanced group, Bethany the mid group and Addy the basic English level group. We found that an overwhelming majority of the group barely grasped conversational English and many were illiterate in their own language. This caused us to reevaluate our original plan and decide that everyone could benefit from working from the ground up with the alphabet, phonetic sounds and simple sentence structure. We are grateful we took the time to assess their English level. We realize that we definitely have our work cut out for us, but we will see some big returns in the long run.
Working at the Refugee Camp we have met several people who have helped us out immensely. There are three Somalians who we have worked with to get this project off the ground. They have been key organizing and collecting signatures from the residents of the Camp who are interested in learning English and attending an HIV Class (next week). They are well educated and extremely helpful. It feels great to work with counterparts who are so dedicated.
In other news, Ryan is now a contributing writer for the Swazi Observer newspaper. He is writing music reviews of local Swazi artists. Don’t ask how this all happened it is a long, long story. His first review was published Saturday with an accompanying picture of him leading to lots of people stopping us and saying,
"How! Bongomusa! I saw you in the papers!"
"Are you sure it wasn't another white person who just looked like me?"
"No, because you had the glasses on."