A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

If my hair is any reflection of my state of frazzle

Then call me Valerie Frizzle, because it's getting more African by the day: curls are tightening and expanding horizontally. No wonder my grandmother called me Shirley Temple as a kid.

Monday morning I played social worker: 30 minute bike ride to work, 30 minute drive into community, 30 minute wait for Gogo (grandma of those kids: a social worker gave temporary custody to her Friday and told us all to return early Monday for a food voucher), Gogo says she thought she should go get her grant by herself (aka she doesn't trust us), 30 minute drive into town, 3 hour wait for social worker (who came in and ignored us until her supervisor saw us sit there so long she made everyone in the office look for the voucher book), 1 hour grocery shopping and car-loading (no way Gogo could've gotten those groceries home alone in a crowded taxi), 1 hour driving Gogo and my coworker into community, resulting in being 30 minutes late for lunch. Apparently when I came in I was cranky. Sometimes I need to vent. Without much company around to listen, I've been turning more and more to kicking my own butt with exercise. It does feel good to be getting back into shape! (Photo: local Zulu dancers)

It's on my mind that we're losing our almost-trained pre-school teachers left and right and getting reports many aren't working and some are lying about the number of kids they're teaching. Do you pay more to keep the good ones who leave for higher paying jobs in the fast food sector in town? Do you suck up the training costs and find new people to train who are more committed? Keeping in mind we're operating on a small seed fund and it's just running out. Really, I need to focus on fundraisers, like the Eco Saturday event I'm trying to plan in April, or designing and building toys to sell . The beauty (and beast) of NGO work is, you are everything: social worker, lawyer, mediator, toy designer, garden planner, event planner, manager, trainer, therapist... And speaking of therapist, last Friday as I dropped a Zulu coworker home we had something resembling the following conversation:

"I miss my son. He's in school in Wembezi [township nearby] with my sister." This woman seems to have an unlimited number of sisters. She is forever doing something for some sister.
"Why is he in Wembezi?"
"There was corruption between my son and his teacher. He didn't do anything. Many children are leaving. It is a problem." No contractions in Zulu, always "I am" and "it is."
"What does she do?"
"She is just causing trouble."
"And does the headmaster not do anything?"
"He is afraid of her. In the last 3 years 3 principals have died. We think she is a witch doctor and she wants to be principal. I am scared. I sleep alone at night without my son. I don't have money to take the taxi to see him every day. She lives very near to me."
"Shame, that sounds bad. I think some parents maybe need to tell the Department of Education what's happening if the principal isn't doing anything."
Eager face. "Can you call?"
"Well, I don't even know that teacher, so I think it's better if parents call. I can find a number for you." (Photo: local doctor's sign in town)

Shame, she's probably scared to report for fear of reprisal from the witch doctor. To anyone doubtful of the woman's witch doctor status, let me gently remind you of the power of the placebo effect. I generally believe that if it's real to someone, it's worth dealing with. And speaking of dealing with, I'm doing an n amount of conflict resolution and negotiation trainings and some meeting facilitation at the reserve to help improve management-staff communication, trust and respect and am part of a larger effort to avoid another staff strike this year. Living here is a medley of what I learned in school as historical time periods, from Bushmen and elands (3000+ years ago) to indigenous plants and organic farming (modern hippie) to the dynamics of unions and sub-standard educated workers (the early 1900s?) with dreams for their children clashing with the reality of finite funding and a recession. (Photo: reserve rhinos I biked past this morning)

PS Maybe it's payback for all the hitchers I've been toting around lately: thank you lovely lady who sent me home with a huge container or biryani when I went to visit her creche and said something smelled good and made me miss India!

Posted byValerie at 5:07 PM  


Recycled Art Girl said... March 19, 2010 at 10:16 AM  
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