When we visited the schools earlier, we asked if it would be possible to meet up with 10 of the most in need children and their parents/guardians from each school and to also go & visit a few of them in their homes to get a real picture of how they were living.
We went to Sanyati Baptist Primary School for a meeting at 8am, as we got there we thought “hmmm seems quiet, no parents around”. The deputy head met us and took us into the headmistress’s office. We said we were a bit early for our 8am meeting and he then said he had it down for 10am. The councillor turned up and it soon became clear that there had been a mix up. We couldn’t do the meeting at 10 as we had another school to go to at that time. So as you do in Africa you adapt and change plans and go with the flow.
Wozhele Primary school at 10am, met by Deputy Head, Headmaster, Head teacher, Chairman & Vice Chairman of the School Development Committee, quite a group of people. We had also seen a group of parents/guardians sitting under a tree waiting. We were shortly taken over to them and after a brief introduction, Edline explained to them what we were doing (well I guess that was what she was saying!!!)
Edline spoke with each family individually taking down their details and then asking the child a few questions as well. My job was to take photos, trying to get them to do a funny pose as well but I don’t think they all understood (my funny accent & speaking too fast I guess!!). A few more people turned up, obviously having heard gossip about what was going on, a brief word from the councillor and a few up and left but not all the new ones! There were still 12 or so.
As Edline chatted with them further, it became clear that in several cases they had more than one child at the school, we asked to meet the other child as well. There were some children that were already being helped by a government scheme BEAM & other sponsors but we had to say that we could only look to help those that were not or had not been getting any help first. One of many tough decisions we will likely have to make.
After we had finished taking details and photos we set off with 3 parents/guardians to visit their homes.
At 12.30 we arrived at Sanyati Baptist Primary School, only 2 ½ hours after the meeting was planned. Not really expecting anyone still to be there. 3 Ladies were waiting, guessing that was all that had waited for us but in fact they were the only 3 that had come in the first place. Seems that maybe the message hadn’t got across that we were coming.
Again we chatted with them individually and took photos. We then went with them to their homes to see again how they were living. It became clear that going to their homes allowed us to get a better picture, several had other children living with them. Some older children that had had to drop out of school, some younger children that should of already started school but hadn’t due to lack of fees and some who should be starting school in January 2016. We decided to take down the names and take photos of those children too.
There is obviously an immediate need to help with school fees as many have arrears already and some may have to drop out of school. What really has become clear to us is the need to help the families, not just providing to cover the fees but to support them with income generating projects. This will enable them in time to not only cover the fees but also improve their entire family life. We are looking into several projects that we could set up and run along with them