During afternoon study this week, I was interrupted by one of the primary teachers, Ms. Nangolo, who was accompanied by an older lady from a neighbouring village. With Ms. Nangolo translating, the lady told me that she heard on the local radio that the regional councilman told the community that if they were in need, they should approach volunteers (specifically mentioning my village) in the area as they have ‘access’ to money. So, she walked 6km to come and see me. She is a seamstress and she was hoping I would give her money to buy a new sewing machine. Of course, I was completely caught off guard (although I probably should have seen it coming!) and while I felt bad telling her I couldn’t, I was so frustrated! I tried to explain that I was a volunteer and that it cost me a lot of money to be here. It isn’t her fault – she did what she
No doubt that I felt guilty turning her away, but I feared that giving her any money would create an even bigger problem and further encourage the image of the ‘foreign white person’ that I am trying to fight. I am here to teach. Not to hand over money.
So it leads me to further think about what I want to do with the remaining money I have fundraised. While some has been used on school supplies for my learners, treats, rewards and teaching materials, I would like to do something useful to benefit the learners at my school, on a longer term. This week I am going to buy a class set of scientific calculators as they are an immediate need for the upcoming exams. I was also considering working with the English teacher, Mr. Siteketa (who is wonderful), to see what materials he might like to have to help improve comprehension, as they currently don’t have ANY senior comprehension materials. A class sets of novels or short story compilations that are interesting but at the appropriate level, might be a good investment. I know that because the state of the school is so poor, anything would be of benefit. However, finding a way to help the teachers to further help the students might make the money go farther.