Thursday, June 5, 2008

Currently in Phokwane Village.....

I thought I would take a little bit of time to tell about some of the projects that we are currently working on. I will talk about some of the things that I am working on and Ben will share his as well.

I am currently working with two teachers at the local primary school to do a Soul Buddyz Club. Soul Buddyz is a national club that focuses on real life issues and the empowerment of children. We did not have many materials to start with so up to this point we have talked about and performed dramas related to HIV/AIDS, attended a community TB awareness day (one of the Buddyz read a poem),and completed a community mapping exercise. We have 20 learners (as they are called here) who are in either grade 6 or 7.

I am also working with two home based care organizations on a regular basis (and two others on a not so regular basis). With one organization I did a communication/assertiveness training this past Tuesday. I am also going to be doing a basic counseling skills workshop, computer training, helping to organize paperwork and continuing to teach the carers self-esteem building games for the orphans and vulnerable children who come to the center.

With the main organization that I work with, I am helping them to start a club for grade seven girls at the local primary school. This will be a club specifically geared toward gender analysis, self reflection,and goal setting/future planning. The first week all of the girls will decorate their own journals which they will use every week of the club (and hopefully beyond). The format of the club will be to start with a journal reflection which will lead to activities and discussion, followed by the teaching and completing of a craft project which the girls can take home with them. I have Rachel Johnson (SA PCV) to thank for the wonderful idea of doing a club for girls with a craft component and for all of her support as I was working to get the logistics of the club in order. Some of the topics include: Goal setting, "women can do that work", money management, peer pressure, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, physical fitness and healthy eating, puberty, etc. The club will run for about 6 months this school year and will start for the new 7th graders in January. The club will be led by three carers from the home based care organization and 2 teachers from the primary school.
With this organization, I also assist with proposal writing, finances, policy writing, workshops for carers and computer/internet assistance. We are also going to be teaching the orphans and other vulnerable children at the drop in center how to make jewelry, knit and sew. Hopefully they can use these skills to make projects that they can then sell to earn an income.

I am also helping the main organization I work with to prepare for a Youth Day celebration in our village. Youth Day is observed on June 16th in South Africa and the celebration will be on June 21st. There will be a fun run, various games and races as well as addresses from community members. Ben's parents will be here that day, so they will be in for an experience!

Some projects that Ben and I have been working on together are the community library/career center and Phokwane Youth Sports League.

Ben, another PCV and friend of ours (Katie) as well as the director of the non-profit hosting the library worked many hours to sort the books in the library. A couple of dedicated youth helped Ben and I complete notecards for the books. The library now has information and applications from several different institutions as well as information about career choices and financial assistance. I remember that at the high school I attended, there was an entire room dedicated to information about what to do after graduation. I never had a doubt that I would be able to go to college in any subject that I chose. This is simply not the reality for youth here as well as for youth in many communities around the world. I was surrounded by people who said "yes you can!" Not everyone is that lucky. The library was going to open in June, but it looks like that will be pushed back for a bit.

We wrote a post about Phokwane Youth Sports League several months back and this is an activity that we have continued with in our almost 9 months in Phokwane. We have a dedicated core group of children and youth who come every Saturday to play games and just be kids. It continues to be a wonderful way to be connected to our community. And plus, spending time with kids here is just plain fun!!

On that same note, after we moved to a new area of our village (in Feb.), I was really missing some of the kids that we used to live near. Ben and I walk down a certain path to get to many of our destinations in the village and we have developed what I call a "greeting committee." Many kids greet us wherever we go, but these kids are slightly different in that they run from wherever they are to shake our hands and touch thumbs while saying "sharp" (pronounced "shop" or "sure"). Sometimes they also scream to alert the others if they are not see us coming down the path. They are so adorable!!

Be on the lookout for Ben's post about what he is currently working on.
If you have questions you would like to have addressed on the blog, don't hesitate to ask.

Also, if you are wondering, I rarely use utensils to eat anymore. :) Today I even ate beet root with my fingers!

Šalang Gabotse (pl. stay well)
Bontle (Jennie)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi,i hpe u enjoyd ur stay in phokwane.i used 2 liv der n hav since relocated.i hav nt seen de place 4 almost a decade n i hpe de locals wer as hospitable as i rememba.Lee