Travels around Southern Africa

Phikelela ECD Centre, Sawmills

Asked to find water at newly built SDA churches in the Nyamandlhlovu/Tsholotsho area, we left Bulawayo very early, intending to begin with Sawmills. It’s a long way and mostly on dirt roads.

I dropped the survey team off and headed off to take photographs. I made it about 50m down the road:Phikelela ECD Centre, Sawmills

I came across group of kids, gathered on the side of the road, poking at the cut away where the grader had exposed layers of different coloured soils. Of course I stopped and asked if I could record their activities on video!

Here is the link!

I’d found someone who spoke my language! She clearly had her charges’ interests at heart and has great enthusiasm and verve. We all piled into the Hilux and drove to their classroom!

… and it only goes to show, that great facilities don’t necessarily equal a great education. Phikelela ECD Centre, SawmillsMany would call these kids poor! I don’t. They spend the morning with Ms Dube, a truly great teacher and then go home to their families – where they learn by experience. No devices: cellphones, iPads or play-stations!

In the classroom, I found paintings on the walls, labeled pictures, wire cars to play with during break time! Music drums made from old tins, guitars from hollowed out wood. And all of this in a room with no ceiling and crumbling plaster.Phikelela ECD Centre, SawmillsI was impressed, and that is not an emotion I feel very often. I am a teeny tiny perfectionist!! And I can sniff a fellow perfectionist out a mile off!Sawmills

I couldn’t get to sleep that night working out the logistics of sending back paper, pens, and especially PAINTS!!! I l love colour. I’m going to get my nieces to paint pictures on plywood and cut them into jig saw puzzles.

A new door would be great! The metal shrieking against the pole door frame was annoying. (I have some spare planks left over from renovating our house.) I bet the roof leaks!

I often read posts where people ponder what to do, about Africa, environmental degradation, overpopulation. I always know, the answer is education. This is our hope for the future. It’s the only way, and with more teachers like Ms Dube it can happen.

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Dave Hallett - 14. Nov, 2015 - Reply

I saw the very same thing last year when visiting Chalala Fishing village on Kariba – a very dedicated teacher trying to educate a group of inquisitive and motivated youngsters in surroundings that are hardly conducive to education. Broken windows, leaking roofs, doors hanging off their hinges were no barrier to the commitment and inventiveness of the teacher and the enthusiasm of the children. If I get to Bulawayo next May I’ll stick some paper and pencils in my case for you!

frankiekay - 14. Nov, 2015 - Reply

It so lifts your spirits doesn’t it? A hot, dreary day changes dramatically to a bright, fun-filled one by seeing this kind of thing. The crayons will be greatly appreciated. Ive managed to arrange to get her materials out to Sawmills with a pastor who visits there monthly.

JohnRH - 15. Nov, 2015 - Reply

Great post. It is always encouraging to see people teaching and learning. Yes education is our hope for the future. Well said.

frankiekay - 16. Nov, 2015 - Reply

I wish I could have spent longer with her