/ 16. May 2012 08:20
Janine Moretti – An Augustinian Volunteer in South Africa
As I pull onto the street where 1000 Hills Community Helpers is and then down the driveway, I am welcomed by people of all ages walking towards the Center. There are kids who will attend the school, adults who will be going to the clinic and others who are there for a meal or just to be there. The center itself does a lot of different things from a baby clinic on Tuesdays, an open clinic on Thursdays, a daycare/preschool, some basic trade classes, and a food parcel that includes a meal each day as well as giving out packets of food each day to families in need. It is a pretty amazing place that was all started by a woman named Dawn who is known as “a mother to strangers” and the real founder of the center. There are over 1,000 kids in the school part of the community center which is fitting for the name! There are six different class sizes based on age: 3 months to 1 year old, 1 to 1 ½ year olds, 1 ½ to 2 year olds, 3 year olds, 4 year olds, 5 year olds, and Grade R which is our kindergarten.
I am working in the Toddler 2 room with the 1 1/2 to 2 year olds who are absolutely adorable. I am there to help the teachers interact with the kids more by taking out puzzles and things that will keep the kids attentive but maybe also learn some basic shapes, colors, and manners. This seems like a simple task but it’s very difficult when you a) don’t know the language and b) there are 46 (!) kids in the class. All of the kids speak Zulu and so do the teachers. The teachers know very little and broken English which is very hard to communicate with them but I have figured out simple phrases and motions/movements to interact with everyone. A typical day consists of feeding the kids breakfast and lunch, playing outside, changing diapers, using puzzles, singing songs, and most importantly trying to not let them hurt themselves or another child. It is quite the task to accomplish all of this with 46 kids in one class but I am definitely up for the challenge! It’s not hard work to interact with the kids because they are so adorable but I hope I will be able to help some of them interact more and learn more throughout the year. The site is great so far and if you saw these kids you would no doubt fall instantly in love with them. I know I sure did!