Life in Kathonzweni is not easy. The simplest chores take literally the whole day and there’s not much time for playing. Kids from the age of 6 have to do their own laundry. They own only one school uniform, which has to be clean for the next day so that they can wear it to school and go to classes. The shoes have to be polished, the lessons recapitulated. The children get up at 5 am, make their beds and eat uji – a meal that’s like porridge but made of millet and corn flours boiled in water. Before 6 they are off to school and the 30 to 45 minute walk. The older kids (10 to 14 years) lead the younger ones (5 to 10 years). At returning from school between 4 and 5 pm each of them has some kind of work to do. From sweeping leaves, burning garbage, gathering wood, watching livestock, making a fire for dinner, which they also help prepare in the kitchen, to laundry and homework. Oi, it’s not easy to be an African child. But the kids are tough and one can only marvel at their speed at learning, their ability to push themselves and how they help each other.
We collect water during the rainy season, i.e. twice a year, a store it in tanks of 10k litres each. That’s enough water for a couple of months. A second water source for the village is the slightly salty river. From there a pipe carries the water to the centre and basically right into the middle of the yard. We plan on redirecting the pipeline, so that it passes the latrines (and the sinks we will install there), the bathrooms (where we will put showers) and the kitchen (sink). Right now, the children have to get their water for a bath or laundry on foot. In March 2017 we installed a first water system and lead the water to the girls’ dormitory and the new shower and sink where they can get water for doing the laundry. It’s just provisional right now because we’d like to see first, whether the kids take care of it or whether the quite African installation gets broken or the pressure is sufficient so that we won’t need an extra pump.
For all of this we need sponsors for an additional 300 €. Our voluntary workers are doing everything for free.
The electric current in the children’s home comes and goes and often fails altogether. A weak light bulb can be lit with it, but not even in all the rooms. Life outside basically happens in the dark. When darkness has fallen it’s even dangerous to be outside, because there are scorpions, snakes and other animals you might run into – literally, which can be a horrible experience when you’re barefoot. That’s why we thought we might install solar panels. Again, with the help of our volunteers, but we still need 1,500 € for material.