Friday, February 20, 2009

A - E - I - O - U

Each day at Masana, we have school for the boys. They are divided up into 2 groups based on how well they can already read and write. The more advanced group is made up of about 4 boys. That leaves about 10 boys who, for the most part, cannot read or write. Some of the boys know the alphabet and some do not. There is only one teacher working with this group and since the boys are at varying levels, it’s hard to really work with the ones who have never seen the alphabet before. So I am going to start working with one or two of them more one-on-one.

A couple of the missionaries at the Iris center have put together worksheets to use when teaching kids to read portuguese. I am going to start using some of them next week. Other than that, I am pretty clueless as to how to teach kids to read so if anyone has any advise, I’d love to hear it!!!

Please pray for the boys as we try to teach them to read and write and do basic math. These are such important skills that they need.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Building in Matola

Last year, someone built a small shop for Lena (Zacarius and Gaspar’s mom) outside of her house. But she never had enough money to purchase the initial product to sale. With the help of The Vine, I am going to help her get started!

This past Saturday, 3 of the Iris youth, Ernesto, Nelson, and Manuel, went to Matola with me and we started fixing up the shop. It is very basic – walls built out of kiniso (a straw like material) with a tin roof. Some of the kiniso was missing so we did some repairs and added a new wall with a doorway. The floor was dirt and during the rainy season turns to mud so we put down a cement floor.

It was a fun adventure! We bought the cement on the way to Lena’s house but everything else we bought from a market near their house (and by near I mean about a 20 minute walk). Nelson and I walked to the market with Zacarius, Gaspar, Matilda (their sisiter) and Neto (one of their friends). We bought 3 bundles of kinisio, nails, wire, and some bread for lunch. Neighbor’s near Lena’s house sold us the other materials we needed including small rocks, dirt, and another bundle of kinisio.

The boys worked so hard and got everything done in about 4 hours. Lena was right there with them mixing cement and putting up the kiniso. All of the kids pitched in as well and went to get buckets of water to mix with the cement. I helped out as well when the boys would let me!

Here are some pictures from the day. We still need to replace some more of the kiniso, cut a window to sale from, and build a shelf for her to put the products on. So more to come!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vai Tomar Um Banho (Go Take a Bath)

The funniest part of the day at Masana is around 11:00 each day. We have just finished the reading, writing, and mathematics lessons and move into a time of games. Everyday, we play the same card game . . . cinco cartas (5 cards). The game is pretty normal for about 15 minutes. Then Luis, one of the other workers, tells the boys that the next person to lose has to go take a shower. And suddenly the pressure is on because no one wants to take a shower!!!

One by one we each go out of the game. As it gets down to the last 2 boys, Luis gets close so that he can grab the loser before he runs away. The game ends and all the boys begin screaming “vai tomar um banho! Vai tomar um banho!” Almost without fail, the boy who lost will try to run away. Luis and another boy will pick him up by his arms and legs and carry him back to the bathroom. It’s the funniest sight and I get to witness it 7 or 8 times each day!!! I’ll have to try and capture it on video one day to share with all of y'all!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Home Visits

How do you do home visits when the kids you work with don’t have homes? Well they do have homes. . . their homes just look very different from what you or I would call home. . . . even very different from what many Africans would call home. But what is home anyway? Is it so much about the house or apartment or hut that you live in? Or is it more about the place where one finds love, relationship, community, and belonging.

Today I had the privilege of visiting 2 of the places that some of my boys call “home.” The first one was an overgrown field behind some apartment buildings. Hidden back in the trees is a small community where 8 or 9 men live together. On first glance, it appeared pretty trashy but as I sat with the guys and really took time to look around I saw the individual houses built with such care. I saw the art projects one of the men, Ivan, was working on. I saw how it could be called home . . . because it is in this field that these men find the belonging that they look for.

Next we went to an abandoned house where a few teenage guys and girls lived along with 5 young boys. The boys were all involved in Masana at some point but are no longer coming. We went with the hope of convincing them to return. We walked into a large open room where the teenagers lay sprawled out on a mat. One of the young boys quickly gave up the crate he was sitting on so that I could join them. Down the hallway were a couple of rooms with sheets covering the doorways. Just past the rooms, was a large open area where the roof of the house had long ago caved-in. As I watched one of the teenage boys, Manuel, interacting with the younger boys, I saw the love that they have for one another. It’s that love that makes that dilapidated house a home.

I pray that more and more, the Lord would give me eyes to see as He sees.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Coloring Books

I have finished my first week at Masana. This past week, the word was getting out to all the kids that we had reopened so it was mostly just hang-out time and figuring out what education level each of the boys is at. On Monday, we will start with school. The boys taught me to play a card game called "cinco cartoes." We played this game for hours with an incomplete deck of cards. After two days of this, I was desperate to provide other activities for the boys so I went out and bought some coloring books, crayons, pick-up-sticks, and dominoes. The coloring books were a huge hit!!! It was so fun to watch the boys, young and old, color pictures of dancing elephants and dinosaurs. It was a great reminder that no matter how tough the streets have made them, they are still just kids.

If anyone wants to send a package to me, I would love to put together an art box and a game box for the boys to use while they are at Masana each day. That kind of stuff is pretty expensive to buy here. With games, keep them simple - for kids under 10 maybe. You can send it to my mailbox in South Africa:
Sarah Olds
Suite 337 Private Bag X11340
Nelspruit 1200
South Africa