Yesterday was our last day at the school. It was incredibly difficult, but also a lot of fun. The kids finished exams the day before, so it was basically a day of partying and hanging out before a month-long break. Many of the children were sad that they weren’t going to have school for a month; school is much more fun than home life is for most of them.
The day started with the planting of a school garden! The kids had fun taking turns preparing the soil (fact: I know zero agricultural terminology…) for the spinach, green peppers, tomatoes and trees!
We then had a few hours of free time, which included lots of cuddling, spinning ourselves dizzy and to the ground, races, singing and dancing.
As a going away present from us, we used the remainder of the grant from Joost’s home church to purchase an English book for every single student. Many of the students do not have a single book in their home or have never owned their own book. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to receive my first book at the age of ten. I have so many memories growing up of reading books with my family before bedtime or special Christmas stories or laughing at silly Dr. Seuss books and it breaks my heart a little bit to know that so many of our kids grew up without that.
We passed out the books to P3 and P4–P1 and P2’s books will be given to their parents or guardians when they come to retrieve the childrens’ report cards next week. The children loved their books and were proud to have a book of their own.
After we handed out the books and had some reading time, the children got a special post-exam treat: pilau! Their usual lunch consists of rice, beans and maize. Thanks to some generous donors, though, they now get a special meal after exams that has seasoned rice, meat and vegetables. The kids loved it and all finished their heaping plates. Most emerged from their classrooms after lunch with full, round bellies protruding from their school uniforms.
After lunch, it was time to say goodbye. The children assembled outside and Siggy, a school prefect, thanked us for our work and welcomed us back again. The children sang a song for us. Joost managed to choke out a sentence or two about how much fun we had; I, on the other hand, could barely even breathe without tearing up, so I let Joost’s words suffice. There ended up being a lot of tears spilled by both of us and the children.
Goodbyes are always difficult, but saying goodbye to these kids was nearly unbearable. I know that we came to Africa to help them, but they have loved us from day one, brightened our days and taught us a lot.
We have so many hopes, dreams and prayers for them: that they will be loved. That they will stay in school. That they will learn about the world and their place in it. That they will challenge themselves and the people and country around them to be better. That they will grow out of poverty as they become older and smarter. That they will continue to smile even through hardship. That they will be people of character who do not succumb to corruption.
We love them so very much and have full confidence that they can achieve any and all of their dreams. We are lucky to have Adam and Terry here to keep us updated on the school and their progress and plan on sending many letters in the future!