Friday, November 26, 2010

Kindergarten baby, stick your head in chakalaka

The classic Setswana taunt, naturally.

(The sign I helped re-make in the main hallway/auditorium/lobby.)

This week was the last week of school at the orphanage where I work. Monday and Tuesday were the final days to practice for the kindergarten graduation, and then Wednesday was the big day.

(The courtyard of the kindergarten.)

I got to school a little before nine and the cooking had already begun. All of the teachers helped prepare traditional Setswana foods for the parents' celebration lunch. I peeled and chopped potatoes, finely sliced cabbage, cut carrots in match sticks, chopped chilis, and cleaned. We made two kinds of rice, mashed pumpkin, potato salad, chicken, and chakalaka From Scratch (ingredients are onion, cabbage, carrots, beans, green bell peppers, green chilis, and some kind of Indian tandoori paste or something).

(The kindergarten teacher chops potatoes.)

(Raw chicken in a garbage bag. Awesome.)

(The four-year-olds' teacher cooks the chicken.)


The Christmas pageant started at 10:30, which was arranged to occur at 11:30 just for the day. About 20 mothers and aunts came to see the show; I think there was one or two dads. Our kids sang "Must be Santa" with sign language taught to them by L. I was actually really impressed they got the hang of it so well over the past few weeks since I still can't do it. Then our kids went to change into their graduation gowns, while the babies and 3- and 4-year-olds sang some Christmas songs and did a little nativity play.

It was completely incomprehensible (garbled English in baby voices), but super cute.

(Only two kings could make it on such short notice.)

(Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.)


The kindergarteners were really cute, too. The girls had their hair done and several of the boys were wearing little suits.

Each kindergartener received a special certificate of school readiness from the teacher and a gift bag from L and the school. Inside the bag was a book, colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, a cute ladybug pencil, a plastic cup and saucer set, a lollypop, and a page with photographs of that child throughout the year.


Time for a dance party!

They ended up not doing the catwalk but just having some of the kids dance. The mothers LOVED it.


So that's the end of the school year and now I won't see the kids again until January, when we start with a new class. In the meantime, I'm going to be cleaning and sorting books and other toys to get ready for the new year!

It's one of my goals to help my teacher make better use of the resources she has in her classroom--there are a Lot of unused toys and arts materials hiding in boxes or tucked away. I have also made it a goal to help my teacher incorporate more reading into the lesson plan--I try to read a book to the kids every day, and I also want to make the book corner into a really comfortable and inviting station for when we do stations.

There is also a small preschool-wide library that is basically completely unused and a total waste, imho. I am going to see what I can do to sort through the books in there (I found a pamphlet on unsafe abortions hiding in that mess), fix it up and make it into something that would actually be used by the teachers.


  1. thanks for posting all of the pics. it's cool to see where you are working. i'm a little confused--is it a school and an orphanage? or a school for orphans. you mentioned moms and aunts coming for graduation, so i was wondering...chakalaka sounds yummy. i think.

  2. BTW, did you take the photos, cause they are awesome. Especially the one of the little boys all lined up in their suits!

  3. So the place is an orphanage and inside is a school that is about 50% kids from the orphanage/50% kids from the community. The kids who live in the orphanage are set up in families with mothers, women who live there permanently.

    Yes I did take the photos! Thanks!

  4. How cute! And you already answered my question about the mothers. And I'm glad they skipped the catwalk.

    You should be able to fix up their library; you did wonders with ours, MOMA librarian as you were.