Today will be one for the memories. I went to school today with the plan of taking Rithabile and Skiso with me to the Stellenbosch. I didn’t realized that today’s school day was more than just cut short it hardly existed. The only thing the children had to do today was return their ‘report cards’ back to their teachers. So what I thought would be an afternoon in Stellenbosch was looking more like a day in Stellenbosch.
When I got to school a lot of kids had already came and left but RiRi and Ski were there and waiting. RiRi told me he was excited, “Too excited… Too too too too too times 10”. I think that was him trying to say he was really really excited. I thought maybe they would want to go home and change into more comfortable clothes but they both seemed to rather just stay in their uniforms. So off we went to my house because I still had some stuff I wanted to get. I packed up my lap top, my camera, my English to Xhosa dictionary (never leaves my pocket), a Frisbee, and grabbed some money. As we were heading out RiRi asked me how we were getting there. He would say, “we work”. And I didn’t realize at first but what he was trying to say was, “we walk”. At that point they hadn’t realized yet that I was planning on paying for everything haha. The walk isn’t too bad but with my lap top and everything I had no intention of doing that. So we made our way to the minibus stop and boarded an already fully-loaded bus. Since both of the two of them are so small they had to sit in between people making the capacity over 20 (these are the same vans/buses we would fit 12-13 people in back home). I thought the whole thing was really amusing.
Our first stop was to a grassy area I always walk past to get to the café. It’s sort of like the quad outside of the Ship Library, only this one generally is filled with homeless people. Compared to what they have back in the township this place was wide open with tons of grass to run on. I got out the Frisbee and we played around with it for a while, actually throwing around and over homeless people. They were good sports though, occasionally a disc would roll into one of them and they’d throw it back… or try to haha. For never playing before, they both picked it up very fast. I was impressed with both of them and they each had a nice backhand by the time we were done. They were even laying out, diving, and sliding for passes! I did show them some other types of passes but for now the backhand is probably best for them.
After the park we went around to the mall and up to Steers. I’ve become very fond of their ice cream and it seemed like a good thing to have after running around for a bit. It was interesting because they followed me to Steers but didn’t come up to the counter until I invited them to join me. For most of the day everything we did started out with them being very shy and then gradually becoming more comfortable. And I needed them to be at the counter with me because I had to point at the pictures so I could order for them. RiRi told me that his dad used to work at Steers, but I didn’t find out where he works now. Out of the two of them RiRi speaks a lot more English then Ski. Ski is the one I mentioned in previous posts about being a bit behind in all the classes. He most likely would fall under a learning disability, but here he’ll just go unnoticed. I have been working more with him though and our next stop for the day was a book store.
Leading up to today I researched and visited bookstores all throughout Stellenbosch. I was looking for one that was kid friendly, and had good prices. I found one on the way to where I play Frisbee called, Verbatim. And the woman that runs the place is phenomenal. When I told her what I was doing she was very excited and told me how passionate she is with children’s literature. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone is interested in shooting her an email. Tell her how awesome I think she is and may she’ll hook me up with discounts hahaJ. When I brought the boys there I took them to the nook where the children’s stuff was located and just let them explore. I’m not sure how much he understands but Ski loves to read books. The woman, I can’t recall her name, helped pick out some good books for them and she didn’t rush us at all. In fact, she made it clear that if we wanted to sit there and look at books all day she would have been ok with it. After a bit, I tried explaining to them that they were each going to get to pick one book, any book, to take home with them. Even RiRi didn’t quite get what I was saying. He was thinking that it was like a library where you return it when you’re done. RiRi ended up going with a book that was for much younger kids and had those sliding pictures in it. I think he was just amazed at how the different pictures could move. Ski went with the story, The Ugly Duckling, told as an African tale. She had a whole series of African tales that looked really good. If anyone back home wants me to get them some books while I’m here be sure to let me know. The next stop was to the café.
Apparently RiRi has a cousin that works at the café and he may have known one of the guys working there. Whatever they said, it wasn’t English so I didn’t get it. We got to the café much earlier than expected because the school day was so short. We’ll have to try again for the skyping in the future. While at the café the boys looked through their new books while I updated my blog for Thursday. I then showed them some of the pictures I’ve been taking of them and together we wrote Pat McMullen a post card. I helped them out quite a bit on what to say but for some of it I let them try it on their own. I’ll have the next pair of students I bring out there help me with my next post card. They were both interested in what Facebook was, so I got on to show them what it was all about, hence the status. Don’t worry Pat, I showed them your page too so they could see the person they were writing toJ. I brought them to the post office after this so they could mail it out themselves too.
Our final stop of the day was lunch. There is a restaurant on the third floor of the mall which I was told by many people is the place to go get good, cheap food and it’s kid friendly. They weren’t kidding when they said it was kid friendly. They had a whole kids zone set up inside where they could play video games for free while you waited for food. I made each of them order for themselves which was interesting but I think they got what they wanted, and then we went to the arcade. This was easily the highlight of their day haha. There were soccer video games, fighting games, and racing games… I even wanted to play. Interestingly enough there was a staff member overseeing the game area that actually made it a point to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to play the games and that they were just for the kids. Someone needs to relax a little.. For lunch they both got burgers and when the food got there instead of digging in, Ski started using a knife and fork on his burger. It was pretty cute because you could tell he was just trying to do what he thought he was supposed to do. RiRi dove right in and was halfway through the burger by the time Ski had gotten his first bite. I think once he saw I was ok with RiRi eating it with his hands he made the wise decision to follow suit. I saw on the menu that kids eat free on Wednesdays so I’m thinking about maybe making this more of a Wednesday kind of thing. I’m not sure how that’ll work out with Frisbee though.
We headed home after lunch and when we got back to my place they looked through their books and colored some magazine they got while we were at lunch. I showed them some more pictures on my computer of family and friends and our team and I remembered the jerseys the team had sent over with me to give out. I decided that I’m not going to give them away till the end of my time here but I will let them use them in the future when we get together, outside of school, to play. I had them try on a few of the items and as expected they were more like dresses. Even the smaller Monstar jersey looked huge on them haha.
After the boys left I took a much needed nap before joining Papa Zulu for dinner. When dinner was finished I had one task and that was to finish the puzzle I had brought for him. Do you know how difficult it is to complete a 500 piece puzzle when there are only 473 pieces available? Some may say it’s impossible… and I considered giving up when I got to a point I knew I wasn’t going to have complete success. But I heard Debbie’s voice in my head giving me shit for not finishing so I powered through. I guess that’s what you get when you buy a puzzle from a thrift store. Everyone else had gone to bed at this point and it was just me so I put the TV on to see if there was anything worth watching. There wasn’t, but I did settle for some MTV so I could get my fill of American culture for the week. A few minutes later Lelethu walked in to find me watching Teen Mom 2. How embarrassing, right? I am curious though, is this a new season, or was I watching old reruns? I thought to myself how ridiculous it was that I was watching that given the location I was living. One of the largest problems currently in the township is teen pregnancies and AIDS. Mean while in America we turn you into a celebrity. Just goes to show how messed up some things in life are. I finished off the night getting all packed for the big trip I was leaving on.
I had such an awesome time with the boys and I think they did too. It’s a really great feeling to give. As they left I reminded them to take extra good care of their new books and to put their names on them when they got home. I also told them that if they needed help or wanted me to read the books to them I’d be more than happy to. Tomorrow I leave on the 7 day tour of the Southern Coast of Africa while the kids are on their break. It’s going to be an amazing time but I already can’t wait to get back to Kayamandi so I can take another two kids into town with me! I’m not sure how much internet I’ll have over the next week or even when I’ll post this (I’m writing this Friday night and will be leaving too early on Saturday to make it to the café). I miss you guys and look forward to hearing from you and hope you’re still interested in what’s going on over here.
P.S. To make the day even better, it was time to open up a new letter! Today’s letter was from Joe and it was so great to hear from him. I miss you Joe! And I’ve already got a postcard or two on their way to you. Actually the other volunteers gave me a hard time because I’ve bought and wrote so many cards. I think so far, I’ve bought over 70! You’re welcome South African Postal Service. I hope I got peoples addresses right… just be sure to let me know if you’ve received anything from me. Also, If you’re still interested in getting one and don’t think I have your address be sure to message it to me sometime! Sorry that was another long entry… Goodnight!