The Integrity School
on Sally in Namibia (Namibia), 11/Nov/2009 10:56, 34 days ago
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I went to visit my friend Leah's pre school when they were having their cultural week. I have been on the board of the school since it started but it was the first time I had been able to visit when the children were there. The day I went the children had all come in traditional dress and were super excited showing off their traditional dancing skills and enjoying traditional food.When I arrived they were all busy doing an art project involving making a picture of a traditional homestead– there were lots of gluey fingers and bits of sand and straw and seed flying everywhere. I went to join a table and was introduced to Lahja who was quickly questioning me about where my baby was before grabbing someone else's glue brush and causing a small fracas. Some of them then decided to demonstrate their counting skills and soon the whole class was chanting until they got to 100 when I expected them to stop except they just kept going – goodness knows how far they would have got if Leah hadn't intervened. When someone finished their picture they were allowed to sit on the carpet andread some of the books on the shelf so I went to help with reading – it was a bit chaotic with little hands pulling random bits of me demanding my attention – I was feeling quite exhausted already by the time break came around but amazed at their reading abilities. Children in Namibia have suchlittle access to books, it's great that they are in a school where they have the opportunity to read and handle books – there are horror stories of school libraries being kept locked because children will damage the books.During the break time I was a focus of interest as a new person in the school and was quickly involved in a jumping game which involved holding the hands of a small child while they jumped as high as they possibly could. I was soon surrounded by a clamouring crowd and had to keep giving them numbers in the queue to try and control things. It's not the smartest game to start as it's hot and after a while is very tiring on the biceps but it was rewarding to see the smiles on their faces.We then had the task of organising the photo session with various combinations of boys and girls in their traditional dress. They've all got the hang of saying cheese when a photo is taken which is very cute. I managed to get some great shots– it's almost impossible to take a bad one as the kids are so photogenic. They don't really stand up to close inspection though because a bottle of traditional drink had exploded everywhere when it was opened and they all had little white specks of oshikundu on them-this featured highly on the list of favourite things in the review of the day.I had the most wonderful time and it was even better when I visited again and was almost knocked over by a barrage of small bodies flinging at themselves at me to give me hugs and telling me 'we love you sally'The school is a testament to Leah's hard work and that of her teachers. It started in January with a phase 1 class (3-4 year olds) and a phase 2 (5-6 year olds). 18% of the learners are OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children) and have their places sponsored by donors. The focus is on using the arts as a medium for learning and the children have flourished and already have great English skills which will stand them in good stead in the future. I feel proud that I have been able to contribute to the development of the school and I know it has a great future ahead of it. Next year I am planning to continue my involvement by sponsoring a place for an OVC girl. The cost of a year's education is $5000 (about£400) and includes school fees, a nutritious lunch each day and other incidental costs such as trips and T shirts. If anyone wants to make a contribution to my sponsorship fund I'll be more than happy to accept it (and share with you the information on the child's progress) or if you would like tosponsor another place let me know and I can make the necessary arrangements. It is such a worthwhile thing to do and the co-ordinator of the OVCs has already told Leah that the learners who have been attending the school are standing out from their fellows because of the educational experience theyare getting.More photos are here: the school website