Bare Feet and Bubbles

10 07 2008

I spoke to Caroline again yesterday. Things are still going well and she says she’s still enjoying the adventure more than she could have imagined.

When she first phoned me, she had an audience of 5 children. By the end of the call, she had about 50 watching her. She was in a different village and they were all out to see the ‘white’ lady that had come to visit. After the call, Caroline got the infamous bubbles out and caused a riot. Why do kids love bubbles so much? 

I knew that last bit as she also sent me a long text today. She used the secret power of the text message to also tell me that she is tiring of the food, having to eat so much and the fact that it’s quite bland and always the same.

Caroline has been maintaining her running and has had plenty of followers. The teacher’s eldest son is sent out with her each day to run at about 4pm, and they are often joined by others. Then, a group of children that have taken to waiting at the school for her join in, followed by any other kids that see them all out. She says that if she looks sideways she feels like Madonna with her huge entourage, and if she looks behind her, she feels like the Pied Piper of Hamelin! Apparently, when she did a hill session the other day, young kids were happily trotting up and down the hill with her in their bare feet! It puts our own fat, unfit, NIke wearing kids to shame!

Oh yeh, and she has finally done some work  😉

Caroline is feeling as though she is starting to make a difference in the school, and sounded very positive about it. I’m no teacher (unless being a Driving Instructor counts. I don’t have any marking to do, but then neither will Caroline next year!) but here’s my interpretation of what she’s been up to…

She has formed some composite classes to help maximise the limited resource of teachers available.

As many of the children arrive late to the school, she has rearranged the timetable, moving maths and language to a later time in the day.

She has set the School Rules (can’t imagine there’s much about discipline in their though!)

She has probably done loads of other really impressive things, but right now my memory escapes me. She did say though that this week she was hoping to start to work more on teaching strategies for maths and language.

Sadly, she also added “I don’t know how much of this they will still do after I’m gone though.” I find this really sad. She and everyone else can only do as much as they can, but without someone permanently in residence at the school, and with limited resources and finances etc. old habits are always likely to die hard. 

I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a soap box with this post today. It’s supposed to be about Caroline’s experience, and it is. After all, part of that experience is relating what she has done, and what life is like in places like Malawi, back to those of us in the UK. Having seen some unfit kids trying to run a mini hill race last weekend, many walking within the first 100 meters, it saddens me that we have so much, but have lost so much more. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very impressive young runner’s there too, but they are only a small percentage of the population. Maybe PSP’s and Wii’s etc should be confiscated for a while so that kids can experience how the other half live. They might even find they have more fun with bubbles!

Anyway, sorry to not have more information on what she is doing within the school, but she always seems keener to talk about the kids… If you know Caroline, you’ll understand this.

Posted by Neal