Greetings from Capetown South Africa. Capetown is definitely the biggest city we have visited on this trip. There are big business buildings, traffic jams, and lots of sites to see. The new 65,000 seat stadium where some of the world cup games were played as well as the new mall erected for the visitors of the games are all in view of our hotel.
This is a city like any other in that there are traffic lights and congestion. However it is on the Atlantic and the beach here is beautiful. We were lucky enough to have dinner at a place right on the ocean. A beautiful sunset for our last night in Africa was ordered up especially for us.
We were guided around yesterday by Paul who took us to 5 different schools. All were primary schools and at various stages of development. However, most of the schools visited were ones that are strongly supported by the parents of the children who attend so there is money (while not much) being used to assist in the education of the children. All schools had received books from BFA (Books for Africa) and many had wonderful areas in the classrooms set up for the books or even full fledged libraries with card catalogs.
We also had a chance to visit the Shine Program at one primary school. A great group that is working with children to bridge their learning curves. You see here many of the local people speak the local language in their homes, however, when children get to school they are taught in English. Many schools ease the children into the language but for those that need additional assistance the Shine program steps in to give additional teaching and support. They have been dealing with around 250 students the last few years in their program and meet with the parents once every 3 months to further that support and nurture the environment of learning.
Today is our last day in Africa and I know I have gone on and on in other postings about the experiences. We have met some awesome people during our stay here. Almost too many to list. However some of them I will take away in my heart. Folks like Titus at the Sacred Heart School for girls in Gulu who worked long and hard hours to get all the books on the shelf in their library and keeps the library meticulously clean. When asked what else can we do his response was he needed a barcode scanner to make catatloging go quicker. Or, Gertrude who was also from the Gulu area of Uganda who had a daughter that received a Scholarship from Invisible Children in the Legacy Program. She worries her daughter will want for too much and live outside of her means. She works hard to try to teach her how to want less and love and learn more. Our hosts in Eschowe South Africa, Janie and Johno were also terrific people. They run a sugar cane farm and a guest house as well as other things, but still have time to give to the community through their work building classrooms. Terrific people with an energy level that can’t be comprehended. And Paul in Capetown, a retired music teacher who spends his days working with 33 schools in the area. He tries to support all of them keeping them in supplies and books. Amazing people that give their time and energy to help the Learners of South Africa and Uganda succeed.
I will always keep these folks in mind when I have something I feel is too much to overcome or a new challenge. Their will and capacity to give will be something I can fall back on to get me through any harder days to come.
There are still so many in need here though and we can’t stop doing what we do. Our support of Invisible Children, BFA and Room to Read as well as our newer partners in the UK like READ International and National Literacy Trust has to continue and grow. And if there is anyway to clone the folks I’ve met along the way here, I would do it. Imagine what could be done with 1000 Titus’ or 2000 Pauls? I’m sure there are many others and I know I met more over the last 2 weeks but it is so important that these folks continue to do what they do and we continue to send them the books they need for their communities.
Hopefully we will be able to load up some pictures upon our return so you can see the faces of the children we have met and the places we have visited.
– Maura Varian, Managing Director of UK Operations