Moving Forward

Cape Town has continued to be an adventure as I further explored the local area and my project.

I went go-karting and spent time with my host family.

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I explored new beaches at Camp’s Bay and Clifton.

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I  attended Cape Town’s Carnival.

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I visited the Waterfront.

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I went to Hout Bay, fed a seal, and ate snoek fish ‘n’ chips.

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I spent the day with an amazing family at Cape Town’s Jazz Concert on the lawn.

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I visited the botanical gardens.

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I continued to explore new parts of the city, try new things, and eat new food.

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And I continued to learn so much about my project, Cape Town, and South Africa.

After spending a month with the hospital and the school, I believe that I should move forward to the next stage of my journey in Cape Town since I have the opportunity to explore services and systems that are focused specifically on abuse.

Because of this, I think that this will most likely be my last week spending a lot of time at the school and the hospital.

During my last few days at the hospital, I became further disappointed and disheartened by the lack of services and the problems that I see with the educational services for the children.

Throughout my time at the hospital, I became overwhelmingly frustrated with their lack of services.

I learned that because of funding issues, the hospital does not have a social worker to help the children, they do not have any counseling services, and they do not have any direct services that help children emotionally or psychologically understand and deal with their trauma.

I also learned that the kids do not have much access to toys. I learned that the children have set hours where select toys are dispersed and then collected when the hospital volunteers go home.

I also have been very frustrated by the “schooling” of the children at the hospital.

I believe that education is one of the best ways that we can help our children, especially our children who have experienced abuse or trauma, and and so I was initially very excited to take part in the education of the children at the hospital.

Unfortunately, I was quickly disappointed by the teacher’s lack of professionalism, his lack of educational instruction, and his careless attitude about helping his students learn.

At times it seems like I am doing more work to teach the children than the teacher is doing since there have been many moments where the children call for me to help them and the teacher just sits in his chair taking selfies on his phone.

Often it seems like he expects me to do his work for him.

For my first couple of weeks at the hospital, the teacher would hand me a red pen soon after I walked into the boy’s ward in the morning and he would expect me to help the children with their work while he would just sit in a chair in the corner of the room and plays on his phone.

As I went across the rows of beds and checked the children’s work, I continuously saw that many children simply did not understand how to do the work. When I approached the teacher out of concern for some of the children keeping up with the work and completing the work, he didn’t seem to care.

Without sounding too harsh or too blunt, I struggle to call this man a “teacher”. I do not see him help the children with their work. The children say that he doesn’t actually present lessons to them or show them how to do the work before handing them the worksheets. Also, I have not seen him teach the children through direct instruction at all; rather, I only see him begin the morning by handing the children a worksheet and leaving them to try to complete the work.

As you can imagine, his way of “teaching” doesn’t seem to do much to help the children and it is clear that many of them are struggling to complete the work.

Some of the children find the work to be easy and so they finish it quickly and then distract their friendsfrom finishing their work.

Other children really struggle with the work.

One eight year old boy was given a multiplication worksheet and when I approached him I saw that he had every single question wrong. After talking to him and trying to help him with his work, I realized that he didn’t understand what the multiplication sign was and he didn’t even understand the concept of multiplying numbers. While trying to explain to him what multiplication means I realized that he struggled to count to fifty and could not easily solve simple addition and subtraction questions. Despite these struggles, he was given a multiplication worksheet where he was expected to multiply double digit numbers.

When I approached the teacher to talk about how some of the children do not understand the work or need more advanced work, I was upset to discover that he didn’t seem to care.

Despite talking to him about giving the children more appropriate work, the next day the same eight year old boy had another multiplication worksheet.

It seem that no matter what I say to this teacher, he isn’t accepting my suggestions nor my help for improving the children’s schooling at the hospital.

One positive thing that the teacher is that even if he isn’t teaching the students what they need to learn in math, reading, English, or Africaans, he does seem to spend time talking to them and playing with them.

This week after the children had a test during their school time, the teacher then went and found a few fake microphones and played music for the children so that they could spend time singing and dancing.

This was an amazing moment for me at the hospital.

I saw many children confidently dance, sing, and rap. It was so nice to see that they played together nicely and supported each other while many of them struggled to dance due to their injuries.

Shortly after seeing this on what may end up being my last day at the hospital, I really struggled to say goodbye to the children.

I tried to think about what I could do to help leave the hospital and the children with a little something, and so I quickly ran to a toy store during my break.

To help them continue to play together and to be able to play after play room hours, I decided to go out and buy them a few toys and card decks.

I gave the UNO cards and the balls to specific children who I know will share the toys with everyone and keep them safe after visiting hours. Those kids then promised me that when they leave the hospital they will give the cards and the toys to other kids at the hospital who they know will share the toys and continue to pass them down to other kids.

When I went to say goodbye and I stared at the long rows of children in hospital beds, I couldn’t help but feel happy. I realized that so many of the children who had been there on my first day were no longer there at the hospital. I felt proud, happy, and hopeful knowing that during my month at the hospital, many of the children were able to become stronger and healthier to the point that they were able to leave the hospital and go home.

As I continue my journey in Cape Town, I’m excited to see how different services help children in need.

I’m excited to continue to be inspired by the versatility, strength, courage, and resilience of the incredible children and workers who I meet everyday!

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