2019 September South Africa Trip, Day 5

We woke up early this morning to strong winds & much cooler temperatures. We took a ride to Mooiplaas, which is an unsanctioned settlement of 16,000 people next to a huge garbage dump. (This is where the preschool of Ditshego is located.) The roads were narrow, bumpy, dirt tracks with lots of small houses placed closely together on either side. The houses were made of bricks, wood, metal or whatever people could find to build a shelter. Some had chickens or goats in their yards and we even saw one with 2 cows. There is no electricity in Mooiplaas and no running water. The water is brought in daily by large trucks with tanks. We saw people waiting for the water truck to arrive with buckets and jugs to fill. I can only imagine how dark it must be there when the sun goes down. 
The preschool was previously a couple of horse stables made of cinder blocks.  They added a roof & windows and bright colored paint, including a painting of Mickey Mouse, to make it look more like a school. There were some swings made of tires and a slide outside. The children greeted us with smiles, hugs and “high fives”.  They all wanted to pose for pictures with us. Inside we visited 3 classrooms: 4-5 yrs, 6 yrs, & 7 yrs. Many of these children are undocumented so they may never be allowed to attend additional schooling. But they were eager to learn and provided us with a demonstration of their knowledge by reciting the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, days of the week & months of the year. Much of this was done through song. Their classrooms were filled with charts & drawings as well as building blocks & books. 
We also saw the clinic, counseling center & kitchen. The preschool also has no electricity, so they must cook meals for the children on large burners with propane tanks for fuel. They have no running water, but they are working on a JoJo tank to store water. 
We walked through the roads of Mooiplaas with the dust & trash blowing all over us in the strong wind. The children all seemed happy and came from the field where they had been playing soccer to greet us. We saw a small grocery store, hair salons, an herb shop, and several huts preparing food along the main road. 
We arrived at another preschool which is funded by an NGO. Besides Ditshego it was the only other school with certified teachers. They also had a garden for vegetables to feed the children. There was a building on the grounds where women were stringing and weaving beads into all types of jewelry, coasters, napkin rings, etc. Their work was beautiful and the women had learned this craft which allows them to earn a living. After buying some of their items we returned to “the Plot” where we had been the previous day. We engaged the staff in training sessions including computers, management, health & counseling. While they were quiet at first, some lively discussions ensued and we came away with a feeling of a good day connecting, learning, and growing. 
At dinner, we had visitors from West View Methodist Church, including Pastor Ian and Assistant Pastor Siphiwe. They shared their stories of growing up and being called into the ministry. It was a very good day!

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