Hello again from “this side”, outside of Hammanskraal, South Africa

We last wrote about two weeks into our project, when we were just beginning our teaching intervention. We have since taught three classes to five grades. Each grade is around 100 kids, meaning our work has touched around 500 or so children! We recently finished administering our post-intervention exit surveys. We gave identical surveys at the beginning of the teaching intervention to chart their learning over the course of our project.

It has been a wild ride here at the local primary school. Each team member has definitely bonded with their learners in very special ways. The kids have been learning all about the water cycle, water conservation, sanitation practices, disease transmission, hand washing, how to use water filters… we could go on and on! We have been continually impressed by each learner’s desire to learn from us. They love to help us carry our supplies from the car to the classroom. They love volunteering to come to the front and hold activity cards. In some lessons, we had to adjust so that everyone got the chance to be a volunteer- that is how important it is to them!

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Learners at the primary school holding cards from the “Transmission Route” card activity.

We have also had the chance to hold a teacher’s meeting, both at the primary school and at the secondary school. We left these schools with copies of our Teacher’s Guide, which contains all of our lessons and materials. We developed a teaching kit as well for the primary school, full of supplies for the teachers. In a few of our lessons, we utilized inflatable globes. We cannot even tell you how often the Deputy Principal reminded us to leave the globes with them when we were done! It has been wonderful to feel the community’s enthusiasm and eagerness to use the tools that we have left them with.

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With the primary school principal, as well as the secondary school students we have helped to mentor the primary students.

As a team, we would like to share three anecdotes with you from our project so far. Of course, we are still awaiting our grand finale in the form of the community “Water Day” we are hosting this upcoming Monday. But many exciting things have happened…

Just this morning (June 29th , 2017) our commute was disrupted by four bull elephants in musth! Musth is a hormonal process that male elephants go through, when they are ready for mating. They continuously dribble urine, and have wet discharge between their eyes and ear as well. They can be quite temperamental during this time, prone to charging and other aggressive behavior.

Our team is staying in a house that is remotely located within a game reserve, Dinokeng. The house has its own fence to protect it from the elephants. Yesterday, the elephants broke through the fence to munch on some of the landscaping! They were safely escorted away by our lodge owner. Today, we were leaving for work and coming down our driveway to the main road, when the big bull strolled right into the road and stared us down. It was a thrilling morning for our team, though we made sure to stay a safe and far distance at all times.

Another awesome thing happened just yesterday. Lizzy Watkins, a member of our team, received a thank you letter and card from one of the young learners. She wrote to Lizzy: “You were so good and kind to us, and I learned more things from you. You were doing a good job. Thank you for helping us about water in the world…” The note goes on, and it is very sweet. She told Lizzy that she would “always remember (her)”.

These are the kinds of things that make teaching and working in communities across the globe so rewarding. As a team, we are thrilled for Lizzy, and thrilled also at the project’s success. By reaching just one little girl, we feel so grateful and assured of our impact here. Our third story was made possible by the generosity of the local municipality here in Dertig, a village outside Hammanskraal. The municipality supplied us with workers to clear a section of the land around the factory for a tent for our event, as well as parking. These women worked hard over a series of days to convert savannah grass and thorn bushes into an event space that can be used for years to come. Again, as with all other positive moments project-long, we are so taken aback by the generosity of this community. It is so incredible to meet key individuals across the community and hear their excitement about our work here.

We are very grateful for our time here thus far, and looking forward to our last week and a half!

Helena Gallagher, Lizzy Watkins, Rupa Nallamothu, Margaret Lambert

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