I have two of these old fashioned Petit Godin fireplaces at home and another wood burning fireplace as well. These together with the outside pit braai makes four fireplaces that are great to sit by in winter but can be tiresome to clean afterwards. When the Petit Godins really get going and you lift the cast iron lid to take a peek, you can't help thinking of the final scene in the Lord of the Rings, when Golum falls into the flames of Mordor. Our helper Juliet, isn't so keen though. Faced with cleaning four fireplaces, she claimed the ash would give her bronchitis and she would die. Littéralement.
I've spent time at two very different but strangely similar schools over the last couple of weeks. The first visit was to the African Leadership Academy where I was an observer at their Finalists' Weekend. The ALA is a really great institution and the Finalist Weekend is one of the last stages in whittling down the c.4000 applicants to around 100. As an observer, my job was to comment on the kids' poise, maturity and leadership potential as they worked in teams on selected tasks. One of the tasks went like this: There are a group of people, say 20, on an island which is about to be submerged in a flood. There's an escape boat but only a limited number, say 12, can fit in the boat. Working in teams, decide who gets to go in the boat. Now this is where it gets interesting. The islanders are deliberately chosen to provoke and include a rapist, a 7 year old girl, a homophobe, a gay man, a grandmother, a pregnant woman, a dictator, an imam, a rabbi, a catholic priest, your grandmother and so on. It was really interesting to see how the kids went about it and how courageous some of them were in "thinking outside the boat".
This morning a bunch of people from work went to a primary school in Alexandra Township to read to the kids and teach the older ones about saving. (We're a bank after all!). I was in a class of 6 - 8 year olds and it was really fun to see how keen the kids were (except for the two boys fighting in the corner). It was similar to the ALA in that respect, except you don't see kids fighting at the ALA. My colleague, Marisa , was really wonderful with the children and got them singing and clapping like they were on holiday. There are a couple of snippets of conversation I remember:
Neither Marisa nor I could speak the local language so the teacher, a big strong woman with a laugh made for a crowded pub, did a running translation for us. We were reading The Twits by Roald Dahl and one of the characters, Mrs Twit, is very ugly.
Teacher: What makes people ugly?
Small boy: Beer
Such wisdom in a child so young...
Mrs Twit's husband, Mr. Twit, doesn't shave, and the conversation turned to personal hygiene.
Marisa: Who shaves in your house?
Another small boy: My mother
Marisa: Which part of her body does she shave?
That's when I should have left the classroom.
Enjoy the photos!
"If this is the dream God has placed in your heart, who are you to doubt?"