My Final Goodbye

As I jumped out of the van, it hit me, my last day of crétch. The previous day I had to say goodbye to the children and teachers of In His Footsteps. Today I would say farewell to Little Lambs. Courtney, my work partner from SFSU, had planned to make non bake cookies with the students and I brought bubbles for the children to play with. For me this was a perfect end to my journey as it was all around a relaxing day with the children and the teachers alike. 

At the end of the day we gave hugs and long farewells. I leave South Africa knowing that I am a changed person and I feel grateful for all the wonderful memories and the friends that I have made along the way. Thank you to everyone at Little Lambs, to Teacher Tutu, Teacher Sinclair, and Teacher Angela for giving me the opportunity to come into the classroom and for being amazing humans. I will always carry you all in my heart and I hope to see you all again!

Thank you to everyone, from In His Footsteps to Little Lambs, I will miss and remember you all until we see each other again!!!

Steven Corona

In my Heart

There have been many times when saying goodbye has been difficult for me. However, saying goodbye to In His Footsteps was not the case. Not because I didn’t enjoy my stay or because I won’t miss everyone. On the contrary! Over these past two months I have found myself feeling more and more at home in the crétch and more and more I have felt as though the teachers there are more like family rather than co-workers. I feel so blessed having been given the opportunity to work with such amazing people and I have learned so much and have grown as a person and as an educator. 

I feel that there will always be a connection between the teachers and myself and I know that when I return to South Africa there will always be a place for me to stay and that wherever I travel I will carry a piece of Vryground with me because of the amazing teachers I have worked with. Thank you so much Candice for welcoming me into your home with open arms and thank you Teacher Bevan for all the support and for making me feel welcomed into the classroom. Although this goodbye is a sad one, I know that it won’t be forever and that we will meet again!

With all the love in the world, Steven Corona

Teacher Cynthia’s Recycled Material Creations

Teacher Cynthia, who I’ve been working with at my crèche on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is a natural at working with children. She speaks to them with the utmost respect, acknowledging their feelings and needs as she guides them through conflict resolution. Teacher Cynthia has a knack for making any situation feel warm and meaningful, and it’s clear that the children gravitate toward her when they need help.

Since I’ve been here, Teacher Cynthia has demonstrated her passion for the children by spending her own time creating dramatic play props for the kids to use in the crèche. Many of these are things she’s come up with on her own. Some of the trainings provided at True North have helped to enhance her ingenuity and talent of creating learning supplies and toys out of recycled materials. The love that she puts into making these items is truly inspirational.

Among my favorite Teacher Cynthia creations are a doll made of pantyhose and a stovetop made of a cardboard box. The children are really interactive with these materials, and their interest in playing with them hasn’t waned. It is beautiful to see how the children care for the doll as if it were a baby, even using blankets to wrap the doll to their backs in the same way women do here. Both the cardboard stove and recycled material kitchen set (cups, plates, bowls, pots and pans made out of different sized plastic yogurt cups) have empowered the children to reimagine themselves and explore different roles.

— Kristen

Mandela Day

On July 18th, we celebrated Mandela Day, an annual international day in honor of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. Mandela Day honors the legacy of Nelson Mandela and his values, through volunteering and community service. The Community is encouraged to provide 67 minutes of service for the 67 years he spent fighting for social justice. On Thursday, we spent the morning in our creches working with the children to learn about and celebrate the legacy of Mandela. In the afternoon we worked with The Sozo Foundation to paint a community mural in the Vrygrond Trust community room.

At Come One Come All the children painted their faces in traditional Xhosa face paint.
At KIM we made hot chocolate and talked about fairness and equality

A Cold Day

Upon walking into Little Lambs, the crétch I serve on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am greeted by the teachers who, I have become great friends with, and the small class. Rain can be heard falling outside and inside it feels more like a fridge than a warm school. Today there are only around 10-12 students in total, mostly because their parents are on holiday. The teachers likewise inform me that there are usually less students when it rains because the parents don’t want to get out of bed and take their children to school.

The day went on as usual, the children sang during morning ring and then they had time to play with blocks on the mat or play with puzzles on the tables. Yet as the rain continued to fall it became apparent how poor the roof had began to perform. There were leaks all around and in the other room, which wasn’t being used, had a few holes on the sealing. When nap time came by, the mats needed to be sorted through since some of them had gotten wet. Once dry ones were found and placed the children laid down and blankets were placed on top of them. 

This day was not particularly challenging. I had already gotten to know the children and they had begun to see me more as a teacher and less as a guest. Rather the challenge came from the fact that the créch had become damp and cold due to the rain, poor insulation, and leaks in the roof. But neither the children nor the teachers took any notice of these matters. Instead, they enjoyed their day as usual, with the children playing and learning.

Steven Corona

Over the Rainbow

Today is bittersweet as it is my last day working alongside my inspiration, teacher Abongile. For our final time together, Rainbow Educare threw us a little staff party and sent me away with a heart full of love and a changed mind. Thank you Rainbow for the valuable work that you do, thank you for changing my life and the lives of countless others. I will forever cherish the time we shared together. Thank you teacher Abongile for your passion, your ideas, and for allowing me to grow alongside you and these remarkable children. I will take this blessing of knowledge and love with me wherever I go. Holding you close to my heart Rainbow family ❤️
Teacher Isaac

Got to know

The day we hiked Lions Head was a great day. We were joined by a few of the men from the SOZO foundation and it was very fortunate because it was a chance to get to know the them in a more personal level. From their stories and insights on how they view their community helped me shape my understanding of Vryground. There truly isn’t a better way to understand where someone is coming from if the stories are not personally told by them. They see Vryground as not a helpless and negative community but rather a powerful community that is willing to strive for what it takes, given the opportunity to make it better for the future of the community. Being around them and their community truly makes me feel as if I am and is welcome to be apart of their community.

The definition of poverty can be defined in many ways. Poverty to me, is something that deprives someone of being able to reach out for their hopes and opportunities. The people of Vryground may be less fortunate than others in terms of basic human needs, but from what I have seen they are full of hopes and dreams. Some may need a bit more guidance than others, but at the end of the day there are plenty of good people there who look out for one another and they care for the community as a whole. The one main thing I have learned, I never should shape my view of the world around media alone!

-Phouthavady Minakhom