This is the sight that greeted me this morning when I woke up, bleak and cold, bloody cold. But, valiant as I am, I put on my swimming costume and headed over to Fordoun for my aqua class. I’m pleased I did. Not only did two duiker leap across the road in front of my car but the view of the ‘Berg, especially Giant’s Castle, was lovely as I drove into Nottingham Road. And I enjoyed the exercise and company.
One Friday evening at the Butchery, I was chatting to Ian (the Butcher, the Baker and the Biltong-maker) and happened to mention that many years ago I used to be a preschool teacher and had run the educare centre (as it was called then) at the University of Natal (as it was called then). He mentioned this to his wife, Lynn, and she contacted me to ask if I would be interested in helping her with a crèche that she has, through her church, raised money for and helped to establish in Bruntville, a god-awful RDP township outside the decaying town of (the inappropriately named) Mooi River. They’ve added an extra room on to a local woman’s house, put in proper toilet facilities and fenced off a playground. They’ve also contributed equipment and organized training for the woman running the crèche. I was delighted and yesterday, I visited the crèche with Lynn. I love working with kids. No matter how desperate their circumstances, because they know no better, they still have an optimistic view of life. I’ve volunteered before at a children’s home and a preschool for AIDs orphans and when I was with the children, I never felt sad. It was only when I started to analyse the situation later that the emotions became a bit raw and I got angry. Now I don’t get angry, it doesn’t help them or me, but I do still shed a tear or two from time to time for all the potential lost souls.
As I’m writing this, we are having another spectacular sunset. I think the snow must be reflecting the sun’s rays because it looks like molten lava in the sky.
When I ran the university educare centre way back in the 90’s, we had a child (whose name was Comfort) who was a slow developer (as it was called then). He always had a runny nose and so when he ate, he had to keep his mouth open to breathe. So all the food used to spill down his chin and it was not a pretty sight. Alex attended the educare centre (as did Kiera) and used to get quite jealous of my affection for the other children. One day he sat opposite Comfort at lunch time and I joined them at their little table. Alex took one look at Comfort with the snot and food dripping off his face and asked me, somewhat incredulously “Mom, do you really think Tomfort is toot?” ( he could not pronounce his c’s, by the way). I had no idea what he was saying and it was only later that I worked out he was asking me if I thought the child was cute. I think he was sizing up his competition for my affections and found cold comfort in the fact that, in his mind at least, Comfort was not as adorable as himself!
The above photo was taken at one of Alex’s birthday parties when Kiera and her friend, Louise, dressed up as clowns and entertained the hooligans.
My first teaching post was at a pre-primary school above the garages of John Ross House in 1978. We had to put a net up over the playground because of all the crap that people would throw out of their windows, mostly condoms and beer bottles (a marriage made in heaven, it seems). Anyway I taught a group of 5 year olds, one of whom came round for brunch with us in Durban a couple of weekends ago with her husband and 2-year-old little boy. How is that for making one feel ancient?
I really hope that I can make a valuable contribution to the Bruntville crèche. It’s a humble place but it has got a good vibe and I think that being involved with it would certainly enrich my life here no end.