Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Uniforms and New Shoes

On Friday, we went out to Nkambeni Carepoint/preschool which is in the northern part of Swaziland, 80 km from St. Paul's in an area known as the low veld. Our mission was to take uniforms to the children. Preschool uniforms aren't required, but one of the ladies from St. Paul's donated some material and so Thoko, Thini and Thembi thought it would be a wonderful thing to sew uniforms for the girls so they would look more like a preschool and also because many children may not have much to wear. So they lovingly sewed the 22 uniforms for the girls and I purchased uniforms for the boys. I also purchased two pairs of underwear for each child many of whom have never had a pair. It's my thing. I can't give a new uniform without underwear or a new pair of shoes without socks.

We were surprised when we arrived to find the Member of Parliament for that area present as well as some members of the church and the Young Men's Guild also from the church. I was even more surprised and very touched when I discovered that the children were in the classrooms sitting at their tables and the teachers were instructing them. These two teachers came to a preschool workshop we put on in Sept, 2007. Of all the people who attended, I think these two women have done the most to try and implement what they learned in that workshop and neither one of them can speak very much English. It brought tears to my eyes to realize how much good those few days were for these women and children. It also made me sad that because this carepoint/preschool is so far away, the women don't speak much English and I have so many other projects on my plate that I can't come out and work with them more.

After a few songs from the children we handed out the uniforms which always results in pandemonium and it always amazes me that somehow all of the uniforms always seem to find their way to the right child so that they all fit. We also took several pairs of shoes that were donated thanks to the mistake of the airlines. There was a team of United Methodist Volunteers from the States that came through Johannesburg where Richard Bosart picked them up and then drove them to the Mozambique border where they were met and taken into Mozambique for their mission project. One of the teams 36 suitcases (I couldn't believe it) didn't arrive on time so they told Richard to put it to good use. He gave it to me and it was full of new children's shoes of various types and sizes. YEBO! Many children received new shoes thanks to the team from the States. At the bottom of this post you will find a story of another child from Lomngeletjane that also benefited from this gift.

The girls in their uniforms. Aren't they just adorable?

This little boy received one of the new donated shoes in addition to his uniform. He was very happy and isn't he cute?

The children in their uniforms. They're holding their underpants in their hands!

The children eating their porridge for their lunch. I was very impressed that out here in this very rural area where there is no water nearby, the children were eating with spoons. Usually the children eat with their hands which is the local custom, especially in rural areas. When these children eat, there is hardly a word spoken and there isn't any pushing, shoving or squabbling.

After their lunch of porridge, we handed out oranges to the children and then brought them into the classroom for a dessert of peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches and juice. Thini brought small plastic bags for the children to put what they couldn't finish eating in to take home. Thini always has the right thing. You can sure tell she is a gogo!

Meet Innocent. He's Tiphele's older brother. He's about 4 years old but looks about 2. When we took some more formula (I forgot how much babies drink!) and some food to the family last Thursday he was standing in the door leading into their "kitchen." He was home from pre-school that day because he wasn't feeling well. It was cold, he had a runny nose and sounded congested and didn't have shoes on his feet. When I asked Bongiwe (his mom) why he didn't have on shoes she said they were too small.

So yesterday (Monday) I took him a pair of shoes from the donations left behind by the team headed to Mozambique. At first when I tried to put them on his feet, he cried and moved away so no one, not even his mom could put them on. Then I pulled out a pair of socks to put on him first and he was very intrigued. She managed to get them on his feet and they fit perfectly. Then it was so cute watching him try to put on the other sock by himself and then another small child from the neighborhood helped him put on the second shoe. And then he was quite happy with his new shoes! See the pics below.

1 comment:

TheKennedys said...

Just precious!!! They are so adorable.