Monday, March 2, 2009

Volenteering at Diepsloot Combined School

These days I committed myself to help at the Diepsloot Combined School at the local Township called Diepsloot. Diepsloot has an estimated population of more than 150 000 people living in an area of just 5,18km². The unemployment rate is estimated at 46 percent and 73 percent of the residents live below the poverty line. Most of them living in shacks made of corrugated iron sheets.

The children at DCS do not come from privileged backgrounds. While it’s the policy of the principal to provide the learners with at least one meal a day, for many, sometimes that is the only one. The dominant grey of the shacks gives the area a dull, monotonous appearance, aggravated by the absence of trees. One cannot help but be struck by the number of shacks clustered inside each plot. The community faces a number of socio-economic problems such as very poor social community, unemployed parents, extreme poverty, no resources, hungry & cold children, high parent mortality rate, violence, gross child neglect, domestic violence. We like to think that we bring some surcease to our children by engaging them in fun and educational exercises.

What started as an after-hours program is now a regular school-hours program supported by 30+ volunteers who selflessly give of their time and energy. It’s very exciting, and kind of funny, to see these high powered women sitting in these little itty bitty chairs, helping the learners do their exercises. Many of our volunteers are professional women in their own right unable to work in South Africa while their husbands are on temporary assignment for their corporations. So our program benefits from their expertise and background, and from their distaste of the idle life.

So every Monday morning we go with a group of 3-4 cars full of women (it is not advisable to drive into Diepsloot yourself) and I am sitting in a classroom filled with 8-10 years old and teaching them the basics of English. It is endearing to see how the boys and girls crave for your attention! They love to touch your arm or are hoping to get a hug or a high five from you! A regular class has about 50-60 children, but when our group of volunteers come we divide them into groups of 6. So they get much more individual attention they are used to get and you can see how that improves the way they act. Immediately they want to do better, since now somebody is noticing!!

I am glad I joined this group of volunteers last week and are looking forward to each and every Monday to go and be with these precious children who want to learn so bad!

Check out this link for more information.

Have a good week y'all!
Mireille

3 comments:

rosemary said...

What a fantastic program! Kudos to you for filling your time with such a quality activity!!

American in Norway said...

What an awesome post... it was very insightful...thanks so much for sharing!

Jen and Jeff said...

This is really incredible. what a wonderful thing you are doing for those kids!

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