What do I do when I am not in Paray Primary ?
Thursday and Fridays are team work with Vicki and Sion
I am with Vicky in Katlehong Primary School, the biggest school in Thaba Tseka. Large classes are an understatement; many classes are over 100 in size with 2-3 teachers, some children sit on the floor or take their own plastic chairs to school. Despite this, the pupils work very hard and achieve very well. Assembly is a sea of green, their marching and singing is very powerful. The Grade 7 enjoyed Vicki’s interactive Maths lesson with dice, it is a pleasure to see the teachers repeating Vicki’s lessons with other classes.
Friday – is team teaching in Lesotho College of Education.
We leave at 7.30, clasping all our resources, ready to deliver lectures to 3rd and 1st Years. Attendance varies from 100 students to as little 30. Some of their time keeping could be improved! Fridays are unpredictable, from student strikes to cancelled lectures. We have delivered a range of sessions on topics, teaching styles and activities. The students seem to enjoy our interactive sessions, getting involved in the activities and discussions, even the lecturer wanted to become involved in the Maths activities. We have also tried to involve the 2nd Year students in our schools to share some of their experiences.
We spend the afternoon reviewing our week and sending the appropriate paper work to Dolen Cymru.
What happens at weekends?
Saturday - Walk and wash day
We set of early in our walking gear to explore a hill or a gorge. At first we became very light headed as we walked higher, needing to take regular breaks, now we are acclimatised to being more than 2000m above sea level. We pass herd boys with their cattle and donkeys, families washing at the rivers, blankets drying on the rocks, young boys looking after their grazing cattle. The views of the mountains and valleys are amazing, the town looks so small it is like a Lego village. We have seen a variety of flowers and butterflies. The locals look at us confused as we ask directions to the footpaths. We hear a variety of things depending on direction of our walk; music from the shops in the village, or children singing to us from the distance, ‘Bore Da’. We felt like Maria from the Sound of Music on our first walk!
When we return, the town is busy with locals shopping and teenagers socialising, dressed up like their Welsh counterparts in their jeans and trainers, they look so different from when they are in their traditional school uniform.
The rest of the day is washing chores and school prep.
In the evenings we are happy to relax with a classic movie on tv. The 6 Nations Rugby unfortunately is blocked on the cable TV so we rely on i player radio, but Sion can get all the Man Utd games live.
Sunday- Run, prep and meat day.
I look forward to my early morning run, pleased I have built up to over an hour. I could only manage 15 minutes, 7 weeks ago, the high altitude having a major effort on the beach girl! The usual bustling town is eerily quiet, no shops open and no music. My favourite route takes me up the valley road, it could be a footpath, more animals pass me than cars. Every week I see; ladies and girls in their Sunday best going to church wearing colourful dresses topped off with decorative hats; herd boys with their cattle and donkeys, (I actually manged to outrun a donkey up a hill!) families in the river washing clothes, children collecting water from shared taps, boys playing, making bridges or constructing metal cars. I have numerous “Dumelas”, (hellos) from the Sunday spectators, they don’t see many people running. Young children often join me for short bursts. It was a challenge when two lady litter pickers dressed in high viz blankets and wellies joined me for the last mile one morning. I had to work hard to keep up with them in my bouncy trainers and light running gear.
School prep is followed by a welcome visit to a local guest house for dinner, grilled meat and chips along with a Meluti beer.
Highlights of March
Birthdays Besotho Style
Vicki and I both had birthdays in March we celebrated with Pizza, takeaway, beer and dinner out. I was treated by the teachers in Paray, to a very gooey cake, they sang “Happy Birthday”, chanted and danced around a balloon decorated office. It was lovely to have presents from Sion & Vicki and some from home. Whatsapp is a life saver, for birthday telephone calls and messages from family and friends.
Saturday 10th - Inter school athletics.
What an experience! The schools arrived in their uniforms and the spectators (it was amazing to see how many pupils came on a Saturday to support) set up camp in an in an area around the outside of the field, no track just a football field. The runners got organised, taking off their shoes and warmed up in the middle of the track. I was pleased to get involved and lead a warm up. When we started, the atmosphere was amazing the spectators sang and danced in true Lesotho style to motivate the runners. The celebrations by the teachers and the spectators congratulating the success of their athletes were incredible.
Moshoeshoe day celebrations
Monday was a bank holiday, National Day in Lesotho, what an honour to witness the celebrations and experience and learn about the Basotho culture and history. The celebrations included: a Military and Police salute to the Prime Minister, speeches, splendid performances from the Primary schools, Secondary schools and local choir. A variety of traditional dances were performed in traditional dress, and choirs sang with amazing harmonies. The locals wore their traditional blankets with the ladies in colourful dresses with matching scarves and the men Basotho straw hats. The schools once again identified by their school uniforms and matching hats. I really felt that I had been accepted into the community as they welcomed us, their Welsh visitors to observe their celebrations.
World Water Day 22nd March -WASH DAY Event
This was planned as an International Olympiad a quiz and water based activities between our schools, with a competition some Cardiff with the similar activities.
The theme was WASH (Water and Sanitation and Health) we prepared 6 pupils as WASH Champions in each school teaching about the F’s of hygiene and importance of hand washing . Posters were made use when they peer mentor each class. The Paray WASH Champions debuted on the radio station spreading the information they learnt in English and Sesotho wide into the community. They rose to the occasion, the presenters were impressed by their knowledge and confidence, I was very proud of them.
WASH Day dawned with torrential rain, no outdoor activities possible. Indoor quiz and hand washing challenge was an excellent substitute. The four school teams looked smart in their WASH Champion t shirt’s and were excited to be in the Education Office meeting room sitting around tables. The competition was tight as all the learners recalled the information in detail. Thaba Tsaka won with Paray in 3rd.
After Easter their task is spread the information to all the classes in school using their posters a challenge they are looking forward to. Hopefully the message of how to keep healthy will be a life long one.
When left school today for my Easter break, I felt so different from my first day 10 weeks ago. I have learnt so much about their life and culture and I definitely feel part of their school family, a number of pupils high fived me and the staff wished me Happy Easter. I also feel part of our own LTPP family.
So it’s off for 10 days R &R to South Africa, beaches (I have missed sea and swimming), Zulu Battlegrounds and Safaris.