I want to take a moment to update you all on my little school as there have been a number of changes since the new year.
Firstly there has been a shift in the ages group I am teaching. Previously I have had a mixture of the guys who stay with us and the smaller children who are children of our workers. In January this year most of the older boys I taught have managed to go back to school. This is a great achievement and I am very proud of them! Gift is in Grade 9 which means he will be writing exams at the end of the year. I would have been happier for him to re-write Grade 8 as he struggled a lot when he was in Grade 8 but he has decided he can manage so we wait and see how his term 1 tests go. Thoko came out of school 2 years ago after deciding he was dull. He had finished writing Grade 5 and didn't want to carry on at school. When I came he started doing some lessons with me and after a lot of work he finally agreed to give school another go. He is in Grade 7 this year, also an exam year, and has been made head boy already despite only being there for 3 weeks. (It is the same school he decided to leave) Joshua has also gone back into school to write Grade 6. Donald, who lives with his mother, had started coming for lessons at the end of last term. We don't feel he is reliable enough yet to pay from him to go to school as in the last month he has only managed to arrive on time for school on 5 days and has been late on a further 3 days. The rest there has been no sign of him. Donald also believes he is Grade 6 but when I was working with him this week he was only able to read half of the Grade 1 words. Clifford wasn't making much progress at school, I think he has suffered some kind of brain damage from all of the drugs he has taken in the past, however this week he has gone to stay with his grandmother. Clifford has had a lot of warnings and 'last chances' because of bad behaviour and last weekend was asked to leave due to another incident. This is sad but he is now staying with his grandmother and hopefully will look for a practical course to take which we will help him with if he shows us he is serious.
Despite loosing these boys my school has grown in numbers even since the new year. In one of my previous blogs I commented on how it was growing, especially in the younger class, well there are even more children coming now from houses nearby and I have 4 more children who have been asking Auntie Yvonne about school this last week. As I don't have the older boys to teach any more I have started taking the younger children from 9 until 12. In the class I have from age 2 to age 11 and a whole mixture of pre-school to grade 2 ability. I have 15 regular attenders and a couple who have come once or twice as well as the 4 that are wanting to start. (I also have Donald, somewhere between Grade 1 and Grade 6, when he decides to turn up.) It can become very chaotic at times but somehow we seem to manage and the older children have been learning sight vocabulary very quickly and are beginning to understand about blending sounds together into words.
The younger children are mainly learning to speak and understand English as well as a scattering of simple maths, science, art and music - actually, music there is more than a scattering, we have great fun singing every day, sometimes very very loudly!
Another change that has come about this last week and is not yet complete is a new 'school'. Auntie Yvonne has moved to another house along our road as 13 people did not really fit where she was staying. This has left her house available for use. There are 4 rooms as well as a small 'kitchen'. The kitchen will be useful for preparing the snack which we have halfway through the morning and the 4 rooms will be a luxury compared to the 2 small rooms we have had with beds pushed up against the wall and hardly enough room to fit everyone in together. 1 room will be used as a computer room as our boys are going to have to start using them more regularly for school work. Another room will have the music equipment in and the last 2 rooms will be for school. It should work quite well as I can have the little ones in one room and the older ones next door with the door open so I can see and hear what is happening. It will also mean I have more room to store some of the things we have.
Before we can shift to the new school I have to give it all a good wash down, fill some holes in the wall and paint it. I started that job on Saturday and hope to finish it in the afternoons next week. While I was painting my mind was full of ideas of things to make and what to paint on the walls.
I hope that updates you all a bit. I am sorry it is a rather lengthy post with no pictures. My camera is broken at the moment, hopefully a new one should be arriving next week so I will post some photos as soon as I can of the new children and new school.
A couple of other pieces of news are Samson passed all of his grade 12 exams and is now looking for a suitable course. All of the guys who sat Grade 9 last year also passed and did well so are looking forward to starting school in a weeks time. Well done to all of them! Also for those of you that knew I have been having a lot of trouble with my back it seems to be much better. Thank you for your prayers. I am still going to the chiropractor. When I first went I was going twice a week, that continued for 3 months but we have gradually been reducing it and now I am going once a month. This is a great relief and although it is not perfect and I still have to be very careful I am very happy at how much better it is.
Please pray for
- The move to the new school rooms and as the class grows that I would manage the age range and ability of the children. At the moment we dont have any visitors or helpers.
- For the boys who have started back at school this year, that they would continue to be motivated to learn and not become discouraged.
- For all of the boys who have started new school years.
- Me next week as Don and Christine are away so I am left with a lot of responsibility!
- The language difficulty. Lots of the new children dont speak any English and I only speak a little Nyanja. The older ones are good at translating, although sometimes things get lost. It can be very frustrating at times.