I teach a two hour class with the boys from the dormitory Mars 2 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Thursdays I also co-conduct an extracurricular literacy program with the boys from Mars 1. For the literacy program today, I had the boys in my group do a journal writing exercise. The prompt I gave them was: Write about a person who is important to you, and why they are important to you. This journaling exercise took most of the hour. I, and the other two volunteers, would read each boy's work and then ask questions to try to prompt more writing. I also tried to talk to each boy about the people they were writing about, and to review what they remembered from the nouns and verbs lesson last week. Some remembered quite well. Two boys in the group cannot write in English, so they did their journal writing in Afrikaans. I was especially impressed and touched by Marwaan's work. I will retype his journal entry below, exactly as he wrote it:
My mom is important to me because shes the only one that lisen to my problems and the one I love the most of All people in my life. I like helping my mom and I miss it alot I miss the thins She tels me and the thins She Do for me and if I Need enything my mother by or give it to me iven if I have to wait a time befor I get it but most of all I miss her face and voice. and when I go home I will like to fix my problems.
I have started to get to know the personalities of some of the boys by now, and to see their academic strengths and weaknesses. Jeshwin is an excellent reader, and understands and remembers concepts very well (nouns and verbs)... but he struggles with writing. He is a very poor speller, and can write only very simple sentences. Phelo reads very well, and puts complex sentences together... but has terrible sentence structure and has a hard time understanding the concepts of nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
Brandon and Riaan told me today that they both have court dates next week, on the 16th and 17th, respectively. Phelo's court date is also coming up on March 25, which will occur while I am on spring break. Ryan, who I worked with last week from Mars 1, went to court yesterday. He turned 18 last week, so if he got/gets convicted then his sentencing will be more severe. It's hard for me to believe that these boys have committed crimes, and it's even harder for me to believe that some of them would fare well in prison. They just seem like kids. Most are 15 or 16, but they seem much younger to me.
I am sitting on my porch as I write this, and I just looked up to see a large rat scamper from one bush to another.
We are doing a homestay this weekend, so I will be living with a family in Khayelitsha , a black township, from Friday to Sunday.