Posted by Erin Fleming, guest blogger
This is part of a series covering BWB Founder Xavier’s recent trip to Africa.
*November 12, 2007
I am overwhelmed by this day! We are in Zululand, or the KwaZulu-Natal province, near the town of Eshowe, which is the hub for many small villages for miles around. Zululand is in eastern South Africa and is marked by poverty and high rates of HIV/AIDS. This devastation is contrasted by the beautiful rolling green hills dotted with grass huts, the fantastic beadwork adorning dresses, hats and necklines everywhere and the smiles on all the faces we see.
Zululand received a container of books from Books for Africa, sponsored by BWB, last year and we are visiting schools that have a library now as a result. We have seen five schools today and at each we met faculty and students, wandered into classrooms and were treated to student dance and singing performances. I am moved by the love the teachers pour into their profession here, and the earnestness of the learners, as the students are called here.
I will begin describing our day with the end of the day, so that you readers can know something of where the learners come from.
One student we met, named Nomkhosi, invited us to come to her home; she’s being sponsored by Nance, an American woman in our group. Nomkhosi was chosen to receive the sponsorship because she is one of the best of her school, and is very needy.
Nomkhosi and Nance on far right, with Nomkhosi’s family.
We headed to her place after our school visits. After the rainy afternoon, the red clay roads turned to mud and we almost didn’t make the drive up the hillside in our overloaded rental van! We arrived to a gaggle of kids accompanied by several women and an older gentleman. The multi-generational family lives in a group of huts, which have particular uses. One was for cooking, others for sleeping and so forth. I liked that the grammas allow the baby goats to hang out in the cooking hut but the chickens had to stay outside. They had materials for another hut and a plot of land already leveled. I didn’t ask about the lack of men-folk around (the guy in the video came with us). Were they working somewhere? Still alive? It isn’t strange to find a family with a grandmother and kids in this area, so I wonder.
Check back for photos and video of the schools we saw today!
Clay and straw huts belonging to Nomkhosi’s family.
Our group checking out the family huts and the view from the hillside.