Today was our first day at Magoba JS. We set off early in the morning, slowly climbing the hills around Port St Johns to arrive for their morning assembly at 7:50am on an outlook over looking houses dotted on the hilltops. The head teacher introduced us all to his students, who then sang to welcome us to the school. We were all very moved by their welcome and made us feel very lucky to be visiting. The day was spent working with students in all age groups, helping with spelling and English and also playing some sport with them and getting to know them as people who are not so different from ourselves. We noticed the little things, like their tiny pencils, their dusty books, their broken chairs and mended uniforms, giving us a lot to think about.
A highlight was having the small children singing our EGA- MAGOBA song which really brought out some personalities and we began to see identities emerging from this happy collective of children.
The day was also made special by the delivery of 500 food boxes, filled with maize, peanut butter and tinned goods. We will never forget the sight of the students carrying their boxes home on their heads, a real struggle for some as the boxes were too heavy or too big for the younger children to carry, resulting in tears for some students but an opportunity for us to help.
In the evening, we reflected on our day and thought carefully about what our legacy will be – we agreed the food boxes were good for an evening or two but we would like to think about leaving them with something much more valuable. We look forward to finding out what that will be over the following days.
Some individual reflections:
'It is about the true value of life – you always hear it on the news that this is happening, but we have a chance to make a difference.'
'It felt like I needed to save everyone – not save – but I wanted to help. When the little girl was crying because her box was too heavy it really broke my heart. I just had to carry it as far as I could.'
'Then we started to feel at home with everyone as everyone was so welcoming. On the first day, they had already learnt and shared so much. We and they had already learnt and shared so much on Day 1, giving us a real idea of sharing similarities and differences – the real meaning of this trip.'
'It was so fascinating to see how the school children welcomed us. They made us feel a part of the school. I take the bus when I could take a five minute walk – they walk so far to school. We were from different ends of the world, but we are the same.'
'When we were teaching a lesson, sir gave someone a pen. It really got to me that something so small can mean so much to someone. It is something we take for granted. People at school will always ask for a pen without thinking.'
'They showed respect and show it when people who are older than them come into a room. They look at each other and wait for each other to finish.'
'We taught they older students first and they were not as enthusiastic as the younger students. The younger students picked up things so fast. It showed that it is important to be enthusiastic in your learning, or you will not learn as quickly.'