A New “Sponsor” – POSH Guitars in Africa!

One of the highlights of working as a teacher is that I get to see how the pupils that I have grow up and develop.  When they eventually grow up and become fully functioning members of today’s society it’s encouraging to see them develop a sense of “World Awareness.”  The school I work in is proud of the work that we do and we regularly send some of our pupils to Africa to work with Schools and Orphanages out there.  What’s even more rewarding is when you see some of them develop a personal desire to help those less fortunate than themselves.

Anna – one of my ex pupils – has spent the best part of her final year fund raising to finance a Gap year in Africa working in Mthatha at the Thembelihle Children’s Home.  I was honoured that I was able to give her some financial assistance  from the proceeds of POSH Guitars, and even more honoured that she’d take a couple of T Shirts from POSH Guitars to give to the Kids out there.  Thembelihle is a place of safety for about 25 children aged from five to fifteen. The residents at Thembelihle have been moved to this protective environment, because they have been abused or are at risk of abuse and stay in the while court cases are being processed. As Thembelihle is a residential placement there is certainly a large element of social care but her primary work will be as a teacher, working with her partner in one room with limited resources. They will use their creativity to provide basic education to a broad curriculum during the day; and will also be involved with entertaining the children outside of school hours. The home has a relaxed, warm feel to it and much of the décor is down to previous volunteers.

Anna has been inspired to do this work through her involvement with an organisation called Project Trust after they had visited our school.  Project Trust lets volunteers experience life in Asia, Africa, Latin America or the Caribbean, not as a tourist but as a valued member of a local community. Their long term projects of eight or 12 months will give volunteers plenty of time to explore their new surroundings, whilst working in the community will provide the volunteers with an incomparable intimate experience of the inner workings of their chosen country.

Well Done Anna – it’s a brave step and my thoughts and prayers go with you.  Have a great year.

If you’re interested in Anna’s experience, the work of Project Trust you can find out much more on Anna’s Blog page.



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3 Responses to “A New “Sponsor” – POSH Guitars in Africa!”

  1. Lewis Cannon says:

    Wow, what a totally inspiring young lady. Hurt my heart a little bit! What a great thing you are all doing 🙂

  2. Phil says:

    Here the journey really begins..

    As of the 21st August, I’ll be on my way to Johannesburg to spend 3 days with our country representative as part of an in depth induction, before heading down to Mthatha.

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who has helped me along this past year so that I can be where I am today: about to embark on the next. Thanks to you, I’ve not only been able to raise the £5,400 for Project Trust to support the charity facilitating my volunteering, but in addition to that we have raised £400 and counting towards teaching resources at Thembelihle (“Tem-ba-leach-ley). The home where I’m going to work is incredibly basic for the 25 children aged 5 to 15 all being taught in one room, so anything we can add will make a big difference.

    Thank you, too, for leaving presents and 18th birthday gifts which are all greatly appreciated.

    For those of you who would like to follow my experiences throughout the year, I will be keeping a blog at: http://www.annasyearinsouthafrica.blogspot.com.

    Thanks again,

    Anna Taylor Watson

  3. Phil says:

    Anna’s First Post – really amazing to see just what she’s up to…..

    [I had hoped to make my first entry from South Africa sooner but I have had many difficulties with the volunteer laptop having a virus so it’s been hit and miss whether I can gain access to a computer. As I now have so much to say, I apologise in advanced if this is a little chaotic]

    Landing at a desolate Mthatha Airport was a relief as our tiny plane from Johannesburg, which had been delayed due to an oil leak on the runway, had nose dived its way in to land. I met a smiling Pumeza (my wonderful lovely host) and headed off to Thembelihle Home. Arriving was daunting as what felt like endless amounts of children poured out of the house towards little old me hugging me and taking my bags before we then congregated in the lounge and said our hellos. When they heard it had been my birthday the day before, they all sang me Happy Birthday African style before showing me to my room.

    My first day was interesting but successful. I’d been told I didn’t need to teach properly until Wednesday to let me settle in but I soon found out that I had no choice but to as these children needed a teacher, so with five minutes notice I rustled up a Group 2 English lesson, “All About Me”. In hindsight I’m glad I was thrown in at the deep end, the lesson went well (lasting 2 hours!) and we ended by sitting outside on the grass with the children reading their finished articles. Mention that they can go outside for the last stint of the lesson and they’re putty in your hands (mostly). Since then I’ve taught a lesson on Polygons, Interior and Exterior Angles, Classification, Geography “Physical Features” (having never even done GCSE!), Insects (Group 1) and Self-Analysis. The titles of the lessons leave the subject matter flexible so within reason it is up to me what I choose to teach.

    As there are three groups; Preschool, Group 1 and Group 2, I have started helping out the Teaching Assistant who to begin with was juggling Preschool and Group 1. Group 1 are more difficult to teach than 2 as their English is more limited and their abilities and knowledge more varied on top of being generally more fidgety, but with practice we are making progress and I am going to offer to teach them more this coming week. Teaching Group 1 does not mean I’ll be ceasing to teach Group 2 however, both classes must be taught at the same time, and I am looking forward to the challenge.

    I have now been on my own (my biggest challenge I am finding, so please keep in touch) at Thembelihle for a week and already it is clear what fuels life here, God. Religion is the very backbone to the day, and I like it. They pray before each meal (where not one hungry child even dreams of touching their food beforehand), and thoroughly before the school day begins. The home was originally set up and continues to be run by a group of nuns, who also oversee volunteer wellbeing. Sister Mary Paule visited me a few days ago in fact to see how I have been getting along without Erin; she’s a very nice lady.

    There is a clear routine to each day, and religion is undoubtedly involved. I don’t need to worry about setting an alarm as I’m woken by children playing outside my door each morning. Before school the children line up outside the classroom in three rows of ascending height and begin to sing in Xhosa (which I am doing my best to brush up on!). I then read a passage from the Bible (of my choice) before the children sing the Lord’s Prayer. It is never so simple here however, the prayer is extended by the singing of “Amen” and “Hallelujah” by a good while.. On my first day I had no idea and was taken quite by surprise, peeking to see if everyone else still had their eyes closed. The children then address the teachers and staff (Social Workers and Mamas) together as “facilitators” bidding us good morning and asking if we are well and we ask them in return. There’s then the Marching Song as the children stamp their feet and sing their way in to the classroom one by one.

    There is one thing you cannot deny about these children, although often rowdy as all children are, they are incredibly polite and thankful for what we and God give them. On my first day here one of the older girls spoke on behalf of everyone, welcoming me and promising to respect me and work hard in the classroom and I can certainly say they have more often than not stuck to their word. It is understandable that on hot days they get fed up and bored at school sometimes, but with a quiet word they have all so far knuckled down until the end of the lesson which I’ve thanked them for.
    I’m now settled in as far as meal times go, having for the first few days managed to get a giant African sized meal down me against everything my body was telling me, (“Anna you are full and were full half a plateful ago!”) I decided I should ask the Mama for a smaller portion which was absolutely fine. I eat with the children for lunch which is always very filling with pap, rice or similar and sort myself out for breakfast and tea.

    Given the title of this entry, I cannot possible click publish without mentioning today’s goings on. This morning as it was Sunday I took a group of the older and better behaved children to the local Baptist Church. My goodness can they preach. I loved their songs and it was helpful that they put the words up on the projector as although they were in Xhosa, with the tune I could easily sing along phonetically. It was great to help my learning Xhosa too as the Pastor always had somebody repeat his words in English, which I began to not need already for certain things as I have been getting the children to teach me some. I really hope I’m one day at least slightly fluent (including the clicks.) With some of the more reluctant children I have bargained with them that they should make the effort to learn English more in lessons as I am making the effort to learn Xhosa. I certainly plan to keep my side of the bargain.

    Will try to update again soon, Anna.

    **Strange little anecdote, I wasn’t ever a huge fan of tea at home and I never understood why everyone was but thanks to the previous volunteers leaving me some beautiful mugs filled with teabags I have begun to quite like it. It reminds me of home, Mum and Adam as the biggest tea fans I know, and is keeping me warm in this very cold room (yes it does get cold in Africa without central heating.)**

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