When I found out my family was going to get the chance to visit Africa, I knew that I wanted to give back in some small way. I felt so fortunate that my parents were able to bring us on such an amazing adventure. I wanted my kids to see how other children around the world live and experience our differences and similarities. My family lives everyday creatively and since I am an art teacher, my kids are surrounded by art supplies to use whenever they like. Not everyone has that luxury, so we packed up some art supplies to share and set out on our journey. We had no idea what we would find when we got there or who we would meet.
We stayed at a camp in the heart of the Pitsani Reserve, a wildlife conservancy nestled in the much larger North Tuli National Wildlife Reserve in Botswana. My mom told the manager of the camp, Mr. Piet Van Rensburg Sr., that I was an art teacher and wanted to give some local children art supplies. He suggested we visit the Lentswe-Le-Moriti Primary School that his long time friend and Tuli Reserve manager, Quincy graduated from. Quincy gave the school a heads up that we would come by the next day and our guide, Cydrilic (Cedric) drove us.
The name of the village is Lentswe Le Moriti which means, stone in the shade. We visited their primary school which has 53 kids, preschool age – grade seven. When we arrived we were greeted by a teacher and the grounds keeper. They gave us a warm welcome and invited us into the headmaster’s office to share all of the school’s awards with us and tell us about their school.
They had so many awards and were so proud of all that the children had accomplished. The headmaster was actually away accepting yet another award for the school! They introduced us to the head of the PTA (an older woman that later shared her beautiful singing voice with us) and talked about how important community involvement was in the school. The groundskeeper pointed out all of greenery around the school that she is responsible for, and was equally proud. All of this remarkable work coming from a school with no electricity and minimal resources.
When we arrived the children were finishing their lunch time and washing their dishes outside.
When we visited the preschool class I fell in love and I am sure you will too. Two of the girls shared a poem about education with us.
“Education is the key to the future.”
Then the head of the PTA shared an amazing song about Botswana’s 50 years of freedom with us.
How could you not love these people and their smiling faces, and radiating joy? I wished that I had brought more supplies. I knew that 14 bags was not enough for 53 children. We later decided to split up the art supply bags among the different classrooms. The preschool teacher showed me the learning tools that she worked with and once again was quite proud.
We visited their garden.
The large garden was surrounded by a tall stone fence to keep the elephants out.
They grow oranges that they sell to raise money for the school, but the baboons and monkeys come in and steal the oranges since the electric fence above the stone fence is broken with sections missing. I was so proud that my dad offered to donate money to join Piet’s efforts in fixing the electric fence to protect the garden. This made our visit worth it to me. We contributed more and the teachers were very excited.
If you are interested in donating to this amazing school, you can send supplies or donations to Piet Van Rensburg (SNR) (attn: Primary School) PO Box 8000 Pretoria 0001 (He has a PO box in the village post office and says that he will deliver anything that arrives to the school.) I am planning to keep in touch with Mr Piet to see that the fence gets mended and watch the school as it grows. We felt a strong connection to the people of this village and the kids that will become the future of Botswana.
Mr Piet is planning to have the children of this village visit the reserve to teach them about animal conservation and the negative affects of poaching.