We are back in Swaziland, since the 10th of January. What a whirlwind it’s been!!
We enjoyed a wonderful and very happy welcome from all at the New Life Homes project, – – 35+ children, four house mothers, plus some farm staff, – – all crammed into our little cottage in a bid to make it a surprise. The farm is such an active place that the dead silence and no sign of inhabitants as we drove in pretty well gave it away that something unusual was about to happen. Then there was fireworks and cake!! It was total delight to hug up on everyone, this latter aspect allowed in deference to our Western ways.
There’s been so much to catch up on!!, – – forty children in four households, “the farm”, plus the New Life Schools (Pre-school and Primary).
Schools opened for the new academic year about 10 days later. So this required multiple trips to town over the next couple of weeks, shopping for uniforms for 30+, new school shoes for most, backpacks for many, then several loads of school stationary. The photo here shows our six who were headed off to High School for the first time.
Another older girl who has been with us since she was three years old, brought back a “1st Class” score on her Junior Certificate Exam (equal to end of 10th grade in the USA). So we’ve arranged for her to gain entry to a school farther away that historically generates better overall results than does the High School in our community. She chose that option and she’s really going for it, as in paying the price!! She leaves home at 5:30am, walks 20+minutes to the bus stop, transfers to another line along the way, then back again in the afternoon, usually reaching home between 6 and 7pm. Pray for Nomcebo!
New Life Schools, on the other hand, have presented Mary Jean with huge and mostly discouraging challenges. While our two missionary teachers are doing fantastically, the local teachers supplied by the government are dragging their feet. The typical pattern at local schools is for the teaching staff to arrive just before class begins and leave almost immediately after classes adjourn. Preparation is inadequate and the children loose out on the quality of education we are striving for. We are experiencing a serious conflict of educational cultures!
Please be much in prayer for us, as well as our colleagues, Tommy and Mandi Bottoms, and Tiersa Chaffin (training our Pre-School teachers). Honestly, we’re not clear on which way to go, which buttons to push, and which standards to ‘demand’ vs. ‘discuss and negotiate.’
Thanks for praying,