Tuesday, September 9, 2008

PNGC Week 11: Respecting Elders

It was another week of visitors for PNGC! Our good friends Chanda and Jacobus who live here in South Africa were hosting friends from back home, Ken and Pam, and stopped into Seleka for the afternoon to check out all they had been hearing about PNGC. Ken and Pam had only just arrived the day before and were fighting their jet lag, so the girls made sure that their music was turned up just a little bit more as club got under way for the eleventh week. After an introduction of our guests for the day and a huge round of applause for the special treats the brought from the United States for club (Starbursts), Ma Motebele hopped out of her seat wearing her bright blue sunhat and proceeded to give this week's lesson, which was on 'Respecting Elders'.
Growing up in the States, we always heard this lesson from our parents and teachers under the larger context of Respect. However, here in South Africa, elders in the communities hold a much more prominent role than what we may traditionally be used back home. In the past. community elders were those with the knowledge of the community history and heritage, important information when keeping custom and tradition alive. While this is still true today in many areas of South Africa, it is not as central to life as it once was. Still, the idea of respecting one's elders has not diminished in the least and this was an important lesson to remember for the girls who are now growing up with ever changing, and often conflicting, views of who constitutes your elder and how to show respect and care for them. The girls listened with intent to Ma Motebele and were quite talkative during the discussion. Clearly the tradition of respecting elders has not been lost on these girls considering the way that they treat their leaders at PNGC by listening and participating each week. It is really nice to see.
Following the lesson, the girls continued to work on their beaded AIDS ribbon pins that they began last week. The improvement of the girls in one week was astounding. Not only did they remember some of the tricks we taught them for keeping their thread on the needle and working through the pattern, but they really worked hard to make sure they were getting it right. Jess met with the PNGC Student Council girls at the end of last week to help them finish their pins in advance so that they could assist the leaders this week and help their friends finish. The student council girls shuttled around the room from one person to the next, guiding, demonstrating, encouraging and laughing with their friends as slowly, more and more pins took shape and brighter spots of red beads could be seen growing on the tables. With the help of the student council each girl was given special attention when they needed it and nearly all of the girls were complete or near completion by the end of the day. Our visitors strolled through the tables watching the girls and talking with the leaders about how the club is run. It was a great experience to have friends visit PNGC. I could tell the leaders enjoyed showing off their club and it's accomplishments. The girls were excited to meet new people and happy to indulge a photo or two (as if they could ever not be in the mood to have their picture taken!).

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