Monday, February 14, 2011

CUDDLE goes live in Margate!

All the talk, now time for action! 

Despite not being a qualified teacher, or having children of my own, our time with the Scheepers in Kempton Park had persuaded me of the huge impact that the crèche teacher course could have on so many children in disadvantaged communities.

Most of us know how much important brain development takes place in the preschool years, yet in South Africa government schooling does not commence until aged 6-7.  If you cannot afford to pay fees to send your child to a well-run, well-resourced preschool (or 'crèche' as they are known here), your child will be struggling alongside his/her peers in Grade 1 and beyond, with the consequences on their education and career prospects profound.

And this in a country where school leavers are fighting for limited university places and job opportunities even when they have good grades.

So I had, on Leona's advice, spoken to the local Social Development office and got the names of 12 crèche teachers who may benefit and I had tried to visit most of them personally in the rural areas high above Margate. I had seen how remote their crèches were – it took 3 hours to visit 7 of them, with our little Hyundai Atos struggling up the rutted dirt roads – how many of them would feel it was worth their time and taxi money to make the 45-60 minute trip to the Margate Good News Centre for the course?

I had 18 possible names but just 3 ladies who had paid by the time the morning of the first lesson arrived.  And it was raining…….after some heartfelt prayer the skies cleared and I went to set up the room.  Half an hour before the class was due to start, 8 ladies poured off a taxi outside the Centre! Praise God! 

In total we had 15 ladies attend the course, we even ran out of coffee cups at break time and sister Cecilia had to gallop down to her own house to get some more!  Many of the ladies knew each other so there was relaxed chat throughout, and some audible gasps of appreciation when some of the information was passed around – like a roster for cleaning toilets!

The first week was an amazing blessing after all the planning and emotional investment, and so this week it felt almost too much to ask that they all return – but they did!  They happily cut out bits of newspaper and sang songs but struggled and groaned when I made them sit on the floor for the 'morning circle', so we'll be standing from now on!

These ladies now all know where the Margate Good News Centre is, they know it is a church hall and that we run Bible courses there.  Even if these ladies don't choose to learn more about our heavenly Father and his Truth, I am making sure he is frequently a part of each lesson and I am confident that the education of the 10 or 20 (30, 40, 50?) children each teacher comes in contact with, will be richer and broader as a result of this course. Jesus told us that children are important to him and his Father (Mark10.14) so to be able to help them now, in this way, is an amazing spiritual adventure for me!

'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matt 25.40

Caz Parsons, Margate

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