Hello from Dertig, South Africa!
This year, PureMadi’s student team is made up of three undergraduate students and one graduate student. Margaret Lambert is a graduate student within the Curry School at the University of Virginia, getting a Masters in Teaching for Secondary Science/Biology. Lizzy Watkins is doing a fifth-year Masters through the Curry School as well, in Secondary Social Studies. Helena Gallagher is a third-year undergraduate student and returning team member, doing a double Government and Religious Studies degree within the College of Arts and Sciences. Rupa Nallamothu is a first-year undergraduate student who is undeclared, but looking to apply to the McIntire Commerce School or perhaps pre-med.
The team has had a great first couple of weeks on the ground! All three of us have a combined passion for children, education, and especially clean water education. We are delighted to have written, printed, and bound a Teacher’s Guide before our arrival in South Africa. This Teacher’s Guide, developed with the help of PureMadi and various other University of Virginia and national organizations, will be part of our impact when we depart South Africa. We are leaving copies with the teachers we have worked with, in the local primary and secondary school.
Already, the teachers are so thrilled to work with us. They are exceptionally welcoming. The women of the Dertig area have set up very nice tables for us, cleaning their classrooms meticulously and setting out refreshments. One teacher even left us a great big bucket full of fresh chalk, should we need it while teaching!
The teachers are such active participants in our lessons that it is truly remarkable. They translate for us, since some of the children’s English skills are a work-in-progress. One teacher was thrilled about one of our lessons in particular. We have the kids make a “Water Cycle In A Bag”, to leave in their window. The sun makes some water evaporate and condense on the sides, and kids can flick the bags to make it “rain”. The kids love the creative nature of the experiment. The teacher came to us after class, saying “I am so happy I learned something from you today”. She was excited to see the Teacher’s Guide and we look forward to leaving it with her.
We also have some great translators from the local secondary school. Students in Grade 11, 10, and others join us for teaching our lessons. We see them as invaluable mentors to the younger students. We also hope to demonstrate for them diversity in possible careers after school. Many children in South Africa only wish to be a lawyer or engineer. With our academically diverse student team, we hope we are showing them other alternatives!
The kids are so, so smart. They are all such incredible individuals. We try to incorporate lots of group work and brainstorming in our lessons, since their education system is structured a bit differently. We have received incredible suggestions this way. A third grade student told us that a good way to save water would be to wash your body with half the water you usually would, and save the rest in a bucket to water the plants! These kids are so perceptive, and so willing to learn.
We are busily preparing for the community Water Day that we intend to host on July 3rd! We are inviting local leaders in the Department of Education, the local tribal government, and of course our tireless supporters at the primary and secondary schools. We will be giving tours of PureMadi’s Ceramic Water Filter Facility, selling filters, doing activities with the children, and so much more.
We cannot wait to tell you more!