Chi Nguyen is an In-the-Field Representative with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southern Africa. Her “Postcard” from her visit to Christel House International in South Africa:
On Wednesday, February 19th I was privileged to be a part of teacher Chamelle De Silva's popcorn party for her small remedial class of six. At Christel House, they give a certain amount of time for children who may be a bit behind the curve in certain areas of learning for small group work, just as they give a certain amount of time for children who are a bit advanced to engage in exercises that can challenge them a bit more.
I watched as the children used words such as "taste", "smell", and "touch" to describe the popcorn. I couldn't help but smile as I saw that they were practically salivating as they jumped up and down, watching the popcorn pop in the microwave.
The children earned this popcorn party because they were able to spell the word "because" using what they called a "rhyme" to help them:
When they finally received the popcorn with some sugar dusting in their green cones, it seemed as if they could not eat it all quickly enough. As they ate, they shared stories, and a debate quickly popped up regarding whether little Cwendi was 8 (he maintained that he was) or if he was really 7. Without them knowing it, teacher Chamelle provoked their critical problem-solving skills and teamwork for them to find out Cwendi's real age. (He is indeed 7, as he turns 8 in July). They concluded the lesson with a quick review of how to spell "could", "would", and "should". They dusted the sugar off their hands and ran off, bellies full of popcorn, to the playground to join the rest of their classmates - no doubt eager to share their most recent "lesson" with their friends.
I stayed behind to chat with teacher Chamelle, and I quickly found out that I would be hard-pressed to find someone who speaks so lively and passionately about her profession. She gave me example after example of her past lessons for the children with enthusiastic gestures and an enormous smile on her face. When I commented on how impressed I was with the creativity of the lesson plans as well as how the children responded to them (with pride in what they had learned and how far they had come), she told me:
"These children are told all their lives that they can't do this, they can't do that right. It's not about can't - it's about all the little differences in each child. If there is one thing that I want these children to leave Christel House with by the time they graduate, it's the self-confidence to just try."
Christel House students often live in extremely unsafe environments. For example, Geetha is a bright 3rd grader at Christel House India - Bangalore. She lives with her family in an area that has been declared a slum by the government. Walking is dangerous. Bicycles are frequently stolen. Taxis rarely travel the areas where our students live—and even if they do, our families cannot afford cab fare.
According to the India National Crime Records Bureau, Bangalore has the second highest rate of crime against girls and women in India, including rape. These are the conditions our students must journey through on their way to and from school. But, the Christel House bus arrives every day to pick up Geetha and her classmates.
Transportation is a lifeline for our children and families trapped in poverty and crime that extends for miles. Every year, Christel House spends over $800,000 providing transportation to and from our schools in India, Mexico, South Africa and the United States. Without these buses, many students would never reach school because of the distance and danger.
Our children are motivated to do whatever it takes to break the cycle of poverty. Will you help drive them along this journey? Join us in an effort we are calling “DRIVEN TO SUCCEED,” and help us provide transportation to the students of Christel House.
$32 – Could provide roundtrip transportation for a bus full of students at Christel House India for a day
$79 – Could provide roundtrip transportation for a student at Christel House India for a year
$354 – Could provide roundtrip transportation for all 900 Christel House India students for a day
Maria “Fernanda” is a small ten year old girl with beautiful and expressive eyes. She is a very outgoing student, always telling jokes and making her friends laugh and smile – even in the tough moments.
Fernanda lives with her mother, father and two sisters. Her father is an alcoholic and her mother is unable to work because she spends most of her time caring for Fernanda’s little sister, Natalia, who suffers from dwarfism.
Fernanda has attended Christel House since she was in the 1st grade. Since joining the school, Fernanda’s teachers have seen a notable improvement in her efforts and academic performance. She is now a member of the school choir and is a part of the writers program where she produced an original book.
She greatly appreciates the kindness of her Christel House teachers, but has a particular bond with Miss Ingrid, the psychologist. “She showed me how special life is and how to control my emotions.”
When Fernanda grows up, she wants to be a comedian or a doctor in order to help her sister. “I want to be a comedian and artist, also a writer. I have it in my veins. I love making people laugh because in my house we are really funny.”
Because of supporters like you, Christel House is a place that girls, like Fernanda, can truly reach their potential. “In Christel House they taught me how to climb the mountain of success and I´m not going to get off of it.”