Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 5, 2010

This is probably a story you won't forget for a long time! .I promise, there are no exaggerations here. Yesterday when I arrived at Le Pholisa Primary, I was told that the children would be involved in a school project all day...let me give you some background first. Le Phodisa (pronounced Lay Poedeesa) Primary School is a church school. It is not a government school and therefore does not get funded in a manner equal to the government schools. The teachers are paid by the gov't., free lunch is provided, but the buildings are donated by the community. The chief of one of the villages in the area donated some land with some VERY run-down buildings on them...three to be exact. One building is the community L.E.C. Church (Lesotho Evangelical Church). It consists of one large room which is divided in half to house the first grade on one side and the fifth grade on the other...and a smaller room which is also divided in half to house the sixth and seventh grades. About one half mile away are two more rooms...both very small. One room, which has a roof caving in, is divided in half to house the second and third grades. Perpendicular to this building is a small shack with a dirt floor and two windows with broken panes of glass. This room has only benches in it; it houses the fourth grade.
The teachers are young and enthusiastic; they make due and seem to be getting some simple lessons across.
At any rate, the principal announced that some men in the community had decided to put a cement floor into the fourth grade room if we would provide the sand. So...the entire school (minus the first graders) spent the day carrying pails, buckets, plastic bags, lunch bowls...yes, their own lunch bowls...down to the river, filling them with sand and carrying them back up to the shack. The river is about two miles away...luckily on the same side of the main traffic road as the school. It is an uphill two mile walk back to the shack. Most of the children were barefooted; they carried small to HUGE contraptions on their heads, up and down the hill. (Of course, this was one of the few days I didn't bring my camera along.)
After the second trip, most of the little ones were exhausted, but they never complained; they just kept trudging up and down the hill, singing as they worked. At the end of the second trip (it was about 11AM, and almost the peak of the summer sun by this time), we were told that it wasn't enough sand. One more trip was made and completed...just in time for lunch...and the men were finally satisfied! Needless to say, the children ate everything in sight when lunch time rolled around. There are about 270 students in this school (minus the 25 first graders).
When we got to school this morning, the men were just finishing up...smoothing out the rough spots, etc. The teacher is thrilled because on Monday she'll be able to place some govt. supplied desks into the room! The class has been working and writing in their own laps and the teacher has had only an aluminum beach chair! Some Jack and Jill story, huh! Honestly, nothing has been exaggerated. The only part of the story which still has me perplexed is why the church school (and others as well) has not wanted to become a government school. They seem to be holding on to their belief that the church can handle their needs better than the government...and they seem quite stubborn about not wanting to be part of the government school system. The reason I find this so odd is that Lesotho is such a Christian country that prayer is said every morning, every afternoon, before every meal, and before all sports...religion is even taught in the government schools!Wheww...I am so glad it's Friday afternoon; I'm exhausted. Sunday at 9 A.M., there will be a “Meet M'e Neo Ramoabi (my new Basotho name) parents' meeting in the main building...I guess I'll have to sit through a service after that.

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