First Shine Center Days


On Monday I attended an introductory training session at the Prestwich School – The Shine Centre’s location in Green Point. It’s near the famous Green Point soccer stadium.

Green Point is strikingly similar to San Francisco’s SOMA – both before and after development. In some areas there are old brick warehouses on cobblestone streets and in others renovated buildings with Cape Malay architecture and upscale office and shopping complexes. Cape Quarter is one complex I visited – it’s a great place to shop for any and everything you could want or need – from basic groceries at SPAR to fancy delis, restaurants, and boutiques.

Since Monday I’ve had two reading sessions on my own and the process is still new. It’s an amazing experience working with these young children (second to fourth grade). My first session was with an 8-year-old African boy (Enrique Chinydka) who had difficulty focusing and sitting still. His mother recently moved him from Zimbabwe to South Africa and to live with his father. During literacy hour Enrique was everywhere in the reading room. Shine Centre learning partners are not tough disciplinarians. We encourage the children to do the best they can and know they are all trying to improve their reading skills – an amazing, admirable effort. Many of them come from difficult living environments and have had troubles in their young lives. I tried to bring Enrique’s attention back to the reading lesson with varied success. My animated attempts at reading him a book and sounding out the vowels caught his attention but he quickly became distracted.

The second child was the complete opposite – very serious and focused, a shy Muslim boy named Imityaaz Knowlden who was absolutely “flying” with his reading skills. He was more interested in reading than writing but together we wrote several sentences. Imityaaz was a star and he did very well with everything.

Helping these children with their reading skills is so fulfilling and as I get more sessions under my belt I hope to become better and better at it. Each child is different and we end the sessions with a handwritten note praising their efforts. On August 15th I will also begin spending time with children at the orphanage on the same grounds as The Shine Centre in Zonnebloem. Two German college students are helping until then. It’s a small house with six children. I would like to take photos of the children and post their names and pictures on the blog but will wait until the right time to do that. They are all very sweet!

I’m settling into my new apartment in Tamboerskloof surrounded by Signal Hill and other mountainous terrain. This evening the fog is spewing over the top of the mountain. I will try to get a good photo of the famous “tablecloth” on Table Mountain and post it. Tamboerskloof is not as “inner city” as the other flat which was near the beach and a few seconds from bustling busy streets but there are cafes within walking distance and the heart of Cape Town is less than 10 minutes away. Tamboerskloof is much like neighborhoods in San Francisco – Russian Hill and Potrero Hill are two that come to mind. It’s interesting living in a different part of the city and fun discovering its secrets.

My biggest surprise so far was coming home last night to a street filled with donkeys! They didn’t budge so I got out of the car and took some photos – eventually they moved so I could get into the driveway. These are wild donkeys. They live on Table Mountain and sometimes come down into the neighborhoods in the evening. The neighbors feed them apples and other natural food. As you can see from the photo they are a bit haggard looking.

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