Report of a visitor

In the first two weeks of Octobe, I had the opportunity to visit the Spiritual Community Koinonia – Christel and Wolfgang Hermann as well as Undine Rauter – in Mafikeng / South Africa. The first thing to do was to get to know their diverse activities and engagements. The visit was planned in such a way that I would participate in a workshop of the so-called “peer educators” directly after my arrival. These are younger people who go to school and talk about topics like sexuality, dealing with teenage pregnancy and AIDS as part of a “life orientation” lesson. For example, lessons that were discussed model lessons, and should tell us something about the challenge that arises when one wants to convey values ​​at school. It has been a big pleasure to see how the continuous work led to the fact that today the long serving peer educators are already in the front row and are leading those who have joined later. Thus, Wolfgang Hermann can sit relaxed in the last row and observe the teaching and the peer educators.

60_kleinI had considered in advance that my own situation as a school pastor at a state school for the people in South Africa probably only is incomprehensible. Therefore, each and every one should name a value that is important to him / her and which he / she wants to pass on at school. After an ex-change in the group, the group should agree on a value and as a still image. These pictures were finished quickly and creatively; together we tried to figure out what the value of the group was. You can guess what value was displayed in this picture.

A highlight of the workshop was the graduation ceremony for Patricia. As a peer educator with a low school leaving qualification, she has graduated with the help of a scholarship from Tsibogang, which allows her to work as a teacher in a school and to go on to finish a bachelor degree.

Education is the key out of the vicious circle of low qualifications and low pay. If someone who was in the same situation as oneself: bad school leaving certificate, no money for further education has made it to come out of the vicious circle it is rather motivating for the whole group.
The impression was rounded off by a School visit: We experienced an impressive hour about teenage pregnancy, mediated by a woman, who unfortunately had to go a similar way.

90_kleinFor a morning I was allowed to go to one of the preschools with Christel Hermann. For a long time the members of Koinonia have experienced the consequences of bad education systems and decisions. So they look for alternative ways of teaching the children in the two preschools and five After school programs and are looking for ways to improve the educational level. The approach of Maria Montessori appears to be positive. Christel is doing pioneer work at this point, by helping the preschool teachers with a Montessori training and at the same time translating the material into the Setswana. I was impressed by the concentrated, quiet, but relaxed atmosphere in the preschool, which alternates with free play and running around outdoors. To strengthen the level of education, so-called “after school programs” take place: children get a lunch, then do their homework with tutoring, there is also tuition in math and a biblical story. My impression was that it was a lot of fun, even for the teachers, although progress in mathematics is rather poor.

For me, the trip was a brief but intense insight into the life of Christel, Wolfgang and Undine. It was very stimulating, and I could imagine visiting the Spiritual Community in future with a small group to share with more people what has developed over all the years.

Michael Fendler

Report of a visitor
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