Friday, August 5, 2011

Back from South Africa

And what a trip it was! We visited schools, an orphanage, a game reserve, and many, many sites in this fascinating country, including the profoundly moving Apartheid Museum. So many of the children we met were incredibly friendly and warm in spite of poverty, very difficult living conditions, and in many cases, the loss of a parent to AIDS.

I got the chance to speak with teachers in a number of schools, and it was inspiring to see how dedicated they were in the face of extremely challenging teaching conditions, including an almost total lack of supplies -- paper and pencils were about it for most, and books were sparse;  overcrowded classrooms with as many as 60 students and no support staff; poverty and a dearth of food for a large majority of their kids.  For many students the walk to school took more than an hour each way and was often done on empty stomachs. They would be fed when they got to school, then at the end of the day. No lunch or snack was available, and for many of the kids, these were their only meals. It's hard to imagine. Yet, there was an energy of hope and warmth, even at the orphanage we visited. The photos below, all taken in South African schools or at "Mama Mary's" orphanage, clearly reflect this.

A Pre-K classroom. The smile on the teacher's face was typical of so many people we met there.

1000 plus children, perfectly still for morning prayers. 
Preening for the camera
Precious little girls I met at the orphanage.

The shortage of books in South African schools prevents many children from being fluent in reading until they reach 7th grade. If you'd like to help, please go to Books for Africa which has shipped more than 24 million books to 45 African countries since 1988. These books are on once-empty library shelves, in classrooms in rural schools, and in the hands of children who have never before held a book. Think of all the books that sit in darkened storage closets in schools across the U.S. With your help these books could open a world of literacy to children in rural South Africa.

Click here to learn more about the Peace Train, the organization that sponsored this trip.

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  1. Nice to hear you had a nice trip. Congratulations on the start of your international career!

    David Yoseph

  2. Thank you, David. It was quite a trip. By the way, prayers for these children would be greatly appreciated. They had such beautiful spirits in the face of great deprivation.