Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015: Klerksdorp and Orkney Rotary Club Projects

Interesting day!!

Our day began at 6:45 when we left with our host to meet Rotarians of the RC of Orkney. We are going to spend the day looking at Rotary Global Grant projects that the RC of Mt Pleasant co-sponsored with the RC of Orkney.   A group of us boarded a small bus and drove through the countryside to a rural school.  This morning we are going to visit two schools in rural farming communities.  Both schools are government schools, but they say we will see a big difference in these two schools.

The Rotary Club of Orkney received 5000 pairs of shoes from a shoe company that they distributed to schools in the area.  It was during this distribution that they became aware of needs at both of these rural school and asked how they could help.  The Rotarians thought both schools needed to move into the computer age so these kids would have more access to information, plus learn computer skills for their future. However, in chatting with school administrator they realized there were different needs.   

The first school where we stopped had all black children – 48 students whose parents worked on the neighboring farms.  This school had more basic needs, not computer needs.  They needed electricity, and they needed water. So the grant for this school included a bore hole with a solar powered water pump and storage tanks.  With this they have water for toilets (the toilet blocks for the older kids have flush toilets, and the younger ones have long-drops), and now they have water for food preparation.  As a Government School the school must provide 2 meals each day for all students.  Can you imagine preparing meals with no water and no electricity?

Soon after we arrived the students began singing to us.  Contrary to what we are seeing in America, most of the songs are noticeable religious, and when the teachers spoke they were outwardly thankful to God for providing these very badly needed updates for their school.  After speeches by several of the teachers, the head master, and Cal, a plague located in the building was unveiled by Cal and the lead local Rotarian, recognizing the Rotary involvement.  When we returned to the outdoor location the students staged some local dances, first by the girls then by the boys (a miner’s dance, since this area has a long history of mining). 

These students will likely continue in the tradition of their parents, working on farms, but there may be one or two who will build on this basic education and move one. The teachers seemed very dedicated to the students. The kids were so cute in their uniforms and all but one student had shoes – shoes will be given to this child.  Once the performance was complete, snacks were served, goodbyes were said, and we were back in the bus heading for the second school.

Solar Panel that Powers the Water Pump

Watering the Vegetable; Garden

Children Singing

The Head Master of this School

Unveiling the Plaque with the Rotary Club President

One of the Classrooms

Girls Dancing

Boys doing a Miner's Dance

The second school, mostly children of local farm owners, was predominantly white student – however not all.  The farmer’s children, who after finishing school here, will most likely go to a prep/boarding school.  There was a noticeable economic difference at this school – however not wealthy.  The number of students was about the same as the first school, but the facilities, leadership and student involvement was dramatically different.  As we entered the school property we were met by two students holding their school banner as a welcome to us.  Shortly after arriving we witnessed a flag ceremony where the South African, US and school flags were raised, followed by a ceremony in their auditorium which consisted of speeches by the head master, the boy and girl leaders for this year, and Cal, followed by a student performance.  Gifts were given to all Rotarians present by next year’s student leaders, after which Cal and the Rotary Club President were asked to sign their visitor’s journal.

One of the things provided by the grant were smart white boards for several of the class rooms.  We were given a demonstration by one of the teachers and her students on the usage of the smart boards, followed by a singing performance from a class of younger students.  The final stop was to their computer lab to see the computers that were purchased by the grant.  The usage of the computers was described while students were working at them. This school is ready for smart boards and computers, but the first school had the basic needs.  Due to the Rotary interaction with both of these schools, the Head Master from this second school has agreed to work with the first school. Also the Interact Club from a high school in Klerksdorp is planning to work with the first school at least one afternoon a month. The Vice Principle of the high school is a Rotarian. 

After visiting thee classrooms we were all invited to the school courtyard for dinner.  The parents and local school board had gone together and provided a Braai (BBQ) for us which consisted of lamb steaks, brats, and all of the fixings that would go along with this.  Wow!! What a spread!!  The lamb steaks were superb. This lunch was not expected, as our next stop was preparing lunch for us.  However, everyone was gracious and ate!!

What a day! Everyone was so grateful to our Rotary Club. Now it is our responsibility to share the story.

Student Leader Giving a Welcome

Student Performance

Receiving Gifts from Student Leaders

Signing the School Journal

Cal with Student Leaders and Head Master

Unveiling the Plaque

The Computer Lab

Young Children Singing

The Braai

We were back in the bus returning to Klerksdorp, to the vocational school for students who could not or did not want to finish secondary school.  This is a large facility where there are training centers in catering, needle work/sewing, hairdressing, home health care, auto mechanics, woodworking and metalworking at several levels, welding and panel beaters (body shop).  Several years ago the Rotary Club of Mt Pleasant co-sponsored a grant which provided equipment for this school.  We were able to see all of the equipment and see how it is being used.  This school is doing a fantastic job preparing these students for a skill that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.  We were very impressed!! After a tour of the vocational school we returned to a room near the catering training location and enjoyed a meal prepared by the teacher – it was a full dinner for us.  It was a spectacular presentation.  Yes, this was the second large lunch we had in 2 hours.  Shortly thereafter we were in the bus heading back to our host’s house for some rest and relaxation.

The Catering Kitchen

Some of the Equipment Purchased by the Grant

Projects made by the beginning Students

A Gift from the Students

A Welding Project

Rachel with the Men's Program Director

Presenting a Sander to the Head Master

Dinner, again

In the evening we went with our hosts to the home of a Rotarian where they had an abbreviated Rotary meeting and a dinner party.  Cal and Rachel were the program for the meeting.  Rachel talked about the Mt Pleasant Rotary club and Cal gave a power-point on Iowa and Dist. 6000.  We had a great time meeting the Rotarians and interacting with them about South Africa and their Rotary club.

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