children on a crab collecting mission
Lucas (left) and Snr Machal, Head Teacher
I must say without the vibrant energy of the children, the acre of sand looked pretty dejected. 'Our' school room looked great but the others seemed to be in various states of disrepair. One classroom had a roof, but the palm leaf walls had fallen away - probably in a storm; another room had caniso walls like ours, but the roof was gone. I expect all will be put together again for the new year once the rainy season is over. The summer rains bring wind storms that can be very destructive.
Lucas assures me he still intends to finish the concrete floor on 'our' schoolroom and the remaining roof sheets, but he has to wait for his annual leave. The materials meanwhile are stored at his house. It is not safe to leave them in the deserted school yard.
Senor Machal at the grass hut where the school benches are stored for the holiday season
his wife chose not to be photographed
Senor Machal has taken the very smart benches we had made, and is storing them in a separate grass hut in his village. We were taken there and shown that they were safely stored in a dry place. This time I was able to give Lucas enough cash to make some more benches, with generous donations from Geli and Kelly and Bill Smith from Hampshire, UK who were with us on the trip.
future scholars at Matsopane
Sadly some vandals had come in and destroyed one of the blackboards. When the school has so little, it is incredible to think someone from the same village would do such a thing, but I suppose it only takes one person. Hence the need to securely store the benches and books.
village women harvesting the coastal floodplains
Huge thanks to the efforts of Geli , Janet , and Amanda we have a growing nest egg of funds collected during the festive season, which will go towards having desks made. Please visit Amanda's blog to see her Christmas post about the school. It really is wonderful to know that in these difficult economic times, and during the frenetic christmas season, there are people who can extend the spirit of giving to include this little school at the end of a long sandy track. I know it makes a huge difference to the children and teachers, to know that there are people out there that think of them.
dhow fishermen bringing home the catch
Some people have asked if the children know about Christmas. Well certainly, there are various mission churches in the area, and I know Lucas' family go to the Catholic Church - but I very much doubt they know anything about Christmas lights, Santa, decorated trees, turkey feasts and the complaints of excess that follow a day of surfeit on the consumer side.
Heartfelt thanks on behalf of the Matsopane school to all who have supported them thus far and Merry Christmas wishes to one and all.
dhow fishing and tourism is a major source of income for the men of the village