Monday, 18 November 2013

Volunteering in Chintsa, South Africa by Lydia

Hi everyone!

I am writing a short blog about my time in Chinsta, South Africa, and the different experiences I've had in the schools I have been to and all the wonderful things that I have been doing whilst volunteering with VA32.

Community Pre-School Project: Bulugha Pre-School

I have been volunteering on the Community Pre-school Project in all of the schools that VA32 are involved with; my first two weeks were at Bulugha farm school, working with children from the age of 4-6. I had a very fulfilling time doing lots of activities with them to decorate their classroom in order to make it colourful, making it a more welcoming learning space. We made a butterfly wall where all the children coloured and decorated their own butterflies: part of the spring time butterfly project!
Children in Bulugha Pre-school with their work

We later decorated the rest of the classroom, allowing the children to get artistic, and very, very messy!
The children really like singing and dancing so we made some shakers out of cups and stones and encouraged the children to produce different sounds and rhythms. The children in the pre-school don’t speak a lot of English but flash cards work really well. I concentrated on teaching fruit and spring time vocabulary and the children picked it up so quickly.

The computer lab in Chintsa East School

The Computer Lab

I have also been helping in the computer lab where the children from all grades have an IT lesson once per week. All the children really enjoy being on the computer. They all come in and say good morning and are really engaged in the lesson. It is really nice to see their progress using the mouse and learning how to use programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Prezi. The computer lessons are based around specific topics and this term is Human Rights for the older learners, and Friendship and Responsibility for the younger grades.
It is hard to imagine for us in the UK, but this is the only chance that the children get to use computers. Can you imagine not being computer literate? The programme is so worthwhile and provides the children with invaluable skills for future education and career plans. There is also a lunch time club where every grade can go in and play computer games and listen to music on the computers. It’s such a pleasure to see them enjoying themselves. It always turns out like a silent disco with every child singing along!
And by the way; all the computers in the lab were donated by Countesthorpe College (my school!) in the UK.

Kids eating hot lunch from the
Feeding Scheme

The Feeding Scheme and the Concert

The feeding scheme has been set up by a non-profit organisation called Friends of Chinsta who work very closely with Volunteer Africa 32° South on many projects. The Feeding Scheme provides a hot lunch to all students. Before this programme started many children couldn't concentrate as often they were coming to school without eating breakfast. That meant whole days without any food at all!
At Bulugha School the children put on a concert every Thursday. Tourists from the local backpackers come to watch and often donate money toward the feeding scheme. The concerts are amazing, I have seen three so far and every time I have goose bumps! They are absolutely fantastic!

Kids from the Waldorf Nursery School
on the beach

The Waldorf Nursery

I spent my third week at Acacia Tree Nursery which is a Waldorf School and is run by an amazing guy called Tom who set it up. All the children pay a small amount of money to go there, however some of the children still go if they find that their parents cannot pay the fee.
As soon as I arrived at the nursery I got off the bus and the children ran to say hi, hugging and holding my hand and showing me where to go. The children are encouraged to use the resources around them to explore and use their imagination such as making up stories with the puppets.
We also enjoyed a lovely day at the beach with the children, they were so excited. On the beach they ran in the water and had lots of lots of fun and didn't want to get out.

Me with the Big Green eMachine
(proudly sponsored by Countesthorpe College!) :)

Adult Computer Literacy

On Monday evenings we teach computer literacy to adults from the local village known as ‘the location’. The lessons are held in the Big Green E-Machine. It shocked me that many of the adults had never used a computer and most of the first lesson was spent getting used to moving the mouse around the screen. It makes you realise how lucky we are in the UK. The adults here are so appreciative, it was an experience I’ll never forget.

And all the rest!
We work very hard here on project but it is thoroughly worthwhile. We go to school every weekday morning and after a great lunch we work on different projects in the community. Mondays are gardening club, teaching the children and helping harvest the vegetables for the feeding scheme. Tuesday and Thursdays are sport afternoons, coaching everything from skipping, soccer to netball and volleyball. Wednesday afternoon we visit an orphanage where we run art and computer classes. Friday, if we still have the energy, is fun activity. This week we will go mountain biking with Ash the schools coordinator. It is pretty tiring but ever so rewarding. If you get the chance, come join us!

Us enjoying Chintsa beach!
To find out more about the Preschool Project click here.

Community Pre-school Volunteer, 2013

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