The Matopo Primary School Teacher-to-Teacher project is documented here. It is kindly being supported by ETAS (English Teachers Association Switzerland) and the Roger Federer Foundation.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The children of Matopo are not alone

Last summer Cindy and I started a collecting materials for the school of Matopo. It was a call to people who care. In particular my private English class of 5 4th and 5th graders decided that they wanted to make a difference (see post Collecting for Matopo)

In the meanwhile Cindy has been there to give teacher training and to bring the materials that were collected over the summer. On the side you will see the most recent slideshow of this trip.

Well, you can imagine the surprise when they received a packet full of letters of thanks from the pupils of Matopo Primary School and a letter from the Headmaster. They are now undertaking the task of preparing to inform the children of their school, who donated so many things, and to write an article about what they did and the results they see. In addition, they will write back to the children.

I see this as an example of hope and will do my best to keep up the connection between the two schools.

I have blogged about it on their class blog as well: Swiss Primary English

Cindy, you are not alone. Readers of this humble blog, please leave a short comment to show your support for this noble woman and the children and teachers of Matopo.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Frustration as the negotiations drag on

Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, barred three leaders of a peacemaking group known as “the Elders” from entering his country to assess its situation. The three are a former American president, Jimmy Carter; a former secretary-general of the UN, Kofi Annan; and the Mozambican wife of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Gra├ža Machel. (from The Economist, Nov 27 2008)

Amidst the current panic over the financial crisis here in Europe and in the U.S., it's easy to forget that people in Zimbabwe have been suffering much worse for a far longer time. A cholera outbreak has claimed hundreds of lives; Patson Mpofu, the Deputy Headmaster of Matopo Primary School has lost 2 sisters.

All the more reason why I cannot give up on this project, even though I feel very discouraged at times. It would be nice to hear a few encouraging words from any readers of this blog!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Teachers Workshop Day, October 6 2008

It was a great event! More than 60 teachers from Matopo Primary School and the surrounding region attended. Each received an Oxford Bookworm reader, a set of colored felt-tip pens, a workshop booklet and assorted other "goodies" including a Toblerone chocolate which I'd brought all the way from Switzerland, worrying about them melting in the heat all the way. They survived!

I had the workshop booklets printed and bound in South Africa, thanks to English Teachers Association of Switzerland donations. It was fun putting the activities together: I included jazz chants, pantomime, songs, drawing and story telling and writing as well as some more theoretical aspects of teaching English, and I feel sure that I achieved the right mix. The feedback was overwhelming!

That said, things are worse than ever in Zimbabwe. The border crossing experience from South Africa was a sign that all is not well--it took us over 5 hours, due to the long queues of people who'd been shopping in Musina for basics which are since a long time not available in Zimbabwe. I thought things couldn't get any worse when I was there last year, but unfortunately I was wrong.

I'll be posting some pictures of the event here soon, so please come back and check for further news.

My own thoughts afterwards were mixed--it seems so discouraging--but in the end I resolved to keep the project going as long as humanly possible. I simply cannot turn my back on these teachers and children now--they need our help more than ever.