Is my determination a flaw? Why won’t it change anything?
I’m about a solid week and 2000 Rand deep into the remodel of the primary school library. Mr. Thusini, a sports volunteer and EduPeg employee, just walked in for his first time and announced, “Seeing this room makes me sure that you have a library at home.”
I laughed and replied, “Well, I always had libraries in my schools. Every good school has a library.” I paused, “I’ve just been moving all these books in here and thinking how they have been in this school for years. No one uses them. And they are good, good books. I can only hope the teachers will use this library,” I said as my heart sank even lower. It has been sinking lately with fear that this too will go to waste.
“I remember,” he said, “a long time ago when you first arrived. You invited the teachers to learn how to use the photocopy machine. You waited and waited. I watched your face. Nobody came. Then, you left a little later for the other school. I knew they wouldn’t come but I wanted to see your face.”
“Yeah. I worry I’m setting myself up for that again. It’s like EduPeg.” EduPeg is an educational mathematic program that can be used in all grade levels. It is more hands-on and encourages more teacher-student interaction. Mr. Thusini is paid to run this program at multiple schools in the area; he is at ours everyday and never goes in to the classrooms to teach math. The books, boards, and posters never leave a locked cupboard. “It’s what happened with my Teacher Resource Center that got destroyed.” (Literally. The new library was the old Resource Center. Now all the teaching aids and supplies are stacked in the computer lab, still untouched.)
“Yeah. You know them now,” he said, alluding to the teachers.
“Yeah.” I looked around at all the work I’ve put in, all the money I’ve asked for, all the colors and organization, all the books that these children need to be reading to have a chance in life.
“Well, it’s beautiful! I hope it is used,” he said with a smile. He took a short walk to the door and picked up a giant teddy bear: Mr. Funda [Read]. He laughed and exited with a light heart.
I sat down in the mist of my stacks of books and teared up. With disappoint in the teacher. With my naiveté by doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.
Just then, I heard footsteps and children gathering outside the door.
“Ho – muhle!” [Oh my – beautiful!]
“…uKhethiwe…” They are mentioning my name.
I poked my head around the door and greeted them.
“Khethiwe,” one said, “is this going to be a library?”
“Yes,” I responded, “Is that good?”
“Yes!” She ran away in excitement.
More learners gathered. I heard quite a large group whispering, then slowly chanting, “uMeli… uMbhaki… uMukeli wemali…” [Lawyer…Baker…Cashier…] They were reading a poster next to the door with pictures and titles of various occupations. Their voices grew in volume. “uMbazi wamaPulangwe …Unjiniyela …Umbhali wamabhuku ezimali…” [Carpenter… Engineer… Accountant…]
My mom’s words from last week echo in my mind: Do it for the kids, Katie.