Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Visit to Centre for Blind and Endangered Children

On Friday I went with the other expat ladies and one gent, Omary to the Buhangija School for Blind and Endangered Children.

I've posted many times about our visits to this school. We try to visit them once a month with sodas and treats and clothes which various expats have been collected or bought at the markets. 

The previous Friday we distributed huge bags of sweets and biscuits which Marita's sisters in SA sent along for the children. Amanda had several bags of clothes for the bigger children. She and Andre had lugged these in from South Africa. I gave a total of 30kg of fresh vegetables and Grant sent along a couple of dozen packets of pasta and lentils and some tinned goods. According to the law, these items had reached their sell-by date, but they were still fit for consumption.

This Friday though, Amanda had asked me and Marita to speak to the carers (hereafter known as matrons) on two subjects: I was given hygiene and Marita was asked to speak about compassion. I spent an age (Thursday afternoon!) going through my magazines looking for soap and cleaning adverts. Do you know that these almost don't exist? Not in the magazines Grant and I read, anyway. I eventually found a mother and child against a grassy background, and a group of children of different races. I pasted these cut-out pictures onto poster paper, and also removed my own Dove soap tablets and toothpaste tubes from their packaging so that I could use these as well. As you know the cats were very inquisitive and kept walking all over the poster which I made on the floor.
My poster on hygiene

Then I sat down and typed out a list of points on how to clean little children (we're talking two- to - seven-year-olds here) how to wash their clothes every day, how to make their beds and how to teach them to do all these things eventually.Each point was made in English and again in Swahili. My dear Regina helped me translate the list. at all

As I said in yesterday's post, I was not  a happy camper at all (I was later diagnosed with a bad bout of malaria). Once I'd nailed my poster to the wall, and set out the bottles of Dettol, surgical gloves, ear buds and plastic buckets and basins - items among others that we ladies had taken along- I wiped a bench clean and sat down to wait. Being Africa and operating on Africa time, the meeting started two hours later than scheduled. Eventually all the matrons were present and seated, Marita offered them sodas or bottled water and asked me to start. 

It was most fortunate that I'd asked Linda to bring her interpreter, Omary along today. He did my presentation with great skill and aplomb. Referring to the poster frequently, he explained all my points in Swahili and frequently asked the matrons if they would be prepared to follow these tips and work in this manner. They said they would...
 Omary presents my talk on hygiene while I stood by in a fevered daze!

Then it was Marita's turn to do her presentation on compassion. Because she first read the points in English and then Omary translated them for her, this took a lot longer than my talk. However, by the end of it, Omary asked the matrons if they would like to feel loved by the children and if they were prepared to love them in return. They said they were...
Omary translates Marita's talk on compassion
 As you can see, I eventually sat down and listened to the talk! 
 Omary is a wonderful speaker and put such passion into the presentation

As you can see by the dining room (which we used here), the condition of the place leaves much to be desired. Because we started late, once Omary had done my presentation, the students arrived home;  with the little ones they drummed and screamed in the passage which is visible behind where my poster hung. (The windows are broken so there was no way we could keep the sounds out) By the time Marita and Omary were talking, the noise was horrific, the air was hot and stuffy and I wondered how much of this the matrons were taking in. 

Meanwhile Amanda had arranged with two of the trained matrons to meet her in the library on Monday. While we did our guidance talks, she supervised some of the children cleaning this room. It was filled with bags of maize and braille books - mainly Bibles - which have been ruined by fishmoth over the years.

She said she arrived on Monday to 62 pre-school children, beautifully clean and waiting near the desks which she had also asked for. When their matron greeted them, the children replied in chorus: Good Morning Teacher. 
 The older pre-schoolers wait at their desks
 As you can see, the excitement of being stimulated is so great, you can't be bothered to hold your trousers up! 
 A small lad, Busi,  sits with his books (and name tag) in front of him and crayons within reach
Amanda arranged the 12 small children in a group on the floor and the matron taught them a rhyme

In a center where the pre-schoolers have until this point been left to their own devices all day, this is such a heart warming sight. 

Before the class started every child was helped to wash its hands in a basin of soapy water.  Amanda said they then all filed up to their name plates and personalized exercise books. (They had to be shown); and  inspected every bottle top - we all collect bottle tops for Amanda - rolled pencils in their fingers and sniffed at the lolly sticks.  They were vibrating with anticipation at being shown what to do. 

Well done, Amanda for bringing so much stuff in from SA and preparing all their books and stationery. You are a blessing to these little ones and an inspiration to all around you.  

I'm linking my post to Our World Tuesday which you can access by clicking here

The doctor says the malaria parasites are still playing havoc in my body and wants me to go onto a quinine drip if I'm not better by Wednesday. However, I've decided that I should get more rest and to this effect I went to bed early last night. I will do a puppy update later on during the day. I'll also catch up on blog visits as soon as life is normal for me again. Thanks to all for visiting my blog and commenting. 

Have a wonderful day.


  1. i am hoping those dear souls (children and matrons alike) can all improve their days together. bless you for helping. get rest!

  2. So happy to see these changes. Maybe all the matrons need is training. Sure hope you feel better real soon.

  3. Thank-You Jo for sharing this wonderful day with us ... what an absolute joy and to see those lovely little people with their gentle faces warms my heart.

  4. What a sweet visit!

  5. We take so much for granted in our pampered lives. Assuming everyone would understand the need for basic hygiene but why should they if they have never been shown or taught about its importance. Well done. Not sure how you managed to stay upright whilst feeling so ill.

  6. JO, thanks for sharing your day at the school. The children are all so cute, I am happy that they have you and your friend their to help out.. You are amazing you handled this time feeling so bad.. Do not worry about visiting blogs, take care of yourself and get some rest.. I hope you feel better soon..

  7. "blind and endangered" .... many of them appear to be somewhat "albino" ... is this correct? Are they endangered for that reason, too? Fancy all day with nothing to do.

  8. this is a heart warming post and also heart breaking at the same time. i don't know how you did it as sick as you are. hope you get some down rest time to let the meds work.. it sounds like the matrons are picking up a lot of what you all teach them

  9. So much effort you made to explain things which are so normal to us.
    I hope it doesn't go into deaf ears.
    The matrons look rather bored and I doubt that they understand the word "compassion" ! For them it's a job to earn something. I sincerely hope that I am wrong !


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