Now the trees have turned green again after a severe winter that lasted into August. It got really hot this week.
Our last blog was in July when the winter holidays had just started. The children have been back in preschools since the end of July, initially there were only a few, but now the numbers are rising again. Some of the schoolchildren are still in alternating lessons, which makes our After school program and especially literacy difficult.
Our staff encourage the children to come even when they are not going to school. But that doesn’t work for everyone. We keep hearing from mothers: “We have to save soap and washing powder.” In plain language this means: When the children go to school, they have to wash themselves and their school uniform. That costs money, which many do not have. The various “lockdowns” in particular destroyed piece jobs. If the children don’t have school, they don’t wash to save soap.
About half of the children who come to our homework help center cannot read or read so badly that they cannot do their homework without help. Our goal is for at least half of them to be able to read by the end of the year. The only way to achieve this is for our employees to sit down with the individual children and go through the alphabet step by step and learn the 50 phonograms, which is time-consuming. Setswana, her mother tongue is phonetically, but contains many sound carriers, some of which have up to four letters. That means you hear a sound that is written with two, three or four letters.
Most of our children do not come into contact with books at home. What every child takes for granted in Germany is not the case here: reading stories, rummaging through books, looking at picture books. In our kindergartens I experience again and again that children cannot “read” pictures. When I look at books with them, they cannot tell me what is in the pictures. Obviously, that has to be learned too.
Nevertheless, we are confident that our efforts in the After school programs will lead to success. Surveys of parents and teachers have shown that the children in primary schools have been about a year back with their learning material since Covid-19. This means that a child who is in 3rd grade is actually on a par with a 2nd grade child. Nobody knows how this will be solved.
In July we reported about our two employees, Kesentseng and Itsholeng, who suddenly died within a week. We are very grateful that some of their tasks could be taken over by others. We hope that donations will come in for five women who are enrolled in computer courses. They will need laptops in the long term, for which we also have no money in our budget. Here, too, we hope for donations. We hope these five can quickly settle in and take over some of the tasks once they are computer literate.
Last weekend we held a silent day in Zeerust with 15 members who work with children. This tradition was interrupted by Corona last year. We are glad that we could start again. The theme was “Do not be afraid, I have redeemed you, I called you by your name, you are mine.” (Is.43.2) For some, the picture of the text “walking through fire” or being torn away by water was directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic, others had more of their financial bottlenecks in mind, which made life difficult for them in the last year. It was good that we could share our experiences and needs and that we assured each other about the closeness of God despite all challenges.