South Africa: Lesedi Waldorf School
4,800 bricks for the Lesedi Waldorf School in Madietane
For the children of the Lesedi Waldorf School it is important that both the teachers and the volunteers can live on the school premises. On the one hand, this encourages team spirit and the smooth running of the school and the boarding school, and on the other hand, it makes it possible for the teachers to work at the school at all. Many of the new teachers do not come from the surrounding villages, but from far away. This is a challenge, because up to now there is not enough space for them in the school. Therefore, a new room, in which the teachers can sleep, should be built.
For one room you need about 4,800 bricks. One brick costs three South African Rand. That is about 20 cents. So all the bricks together cost about 960 Euros. The rest of the money will be spent on cement, river sand and plaster. These are all materials that are needed for the construction. The school also wants to buy a new water tank to collect rainwater from the roof. In total, the school needs about 1,150 euros.
About the project:
190 children attend the Lesedi Waldorf School. 10 teachers and other staff members look after them and provide them with good education as well as with a place to live in the school’s own boarding house. The fact that Lesedi Waldorf School is a boarding school makes good education accessible for children who would usually not have such chances. For example, for children from the neighbouring villages who come from poor backgrounds and whose families could not afford daily transport to school.
Hidden away behind some impressive rocky outcrops you will find the rural village of Madietane in the most northern province of South Africa. The sound of cattle bells and bleating goats surround the small, scattered buildings of Lesedi Waldorf School.
When you look closer, you see children playing many great games, hear joyful singing and the sound of flutes, see children doing handwork and proudly harvesting in the vegetable garden. One sees graceful eurythmy movements, children weaving in the hall and staff cooking huge pots of "Mealy Meal" in the kitchen of the boarding school. The teachers prepare for their lessons, help the children learn and guiding their classes bearing their goals in mind. Some volunteers from Germany who have come to school through the Friends of Waldorf Education tell stories to the boarding children in the evenings. There is no TV or other electronic devices, such as smartphones or tablets, with which the children occupy themselves. Everyone plays and learns together.
Lesedi was founded by Emily Maobelo, whose original employers paid for her to studies at Baobab College in Johannesburg. When she returned to Madietane in 1989, she started a kindergarten under a large tree. With 30 children, two educators and a cook, she created the foundation of today's Waldorf School. Later, a doctor donated his building to her and thanks to many other donations, the school has grown a lot since then.
In 2006, the school suffered a severe blow when Emily Maobelo and two other staff members were tragically killed in a car accident. Although everyone did their best to keep the school running, they could not prevent a financial crisis. The collaboration of Federation of Waldorf Schools in Southern Africa with Friends of Waldorf Education together with other donors and huge engagements from volunteering individuals ensures to this day, the continuation of the school. Without the second leg of government funding the school could not survive, even though teachers’ salaries are nowhere near those of public schools.
This year is a year of change - also at Lesedi. There are many new teachers, new energy and the school is excitedly expecting new "Freunde" volunteers for the first time since the Corona crisis. . The children are excited to build new relationships and to interact with people, who have a different life experience. On the other hand, Lesedi is still struggling with low pupil numbers after Corona, which also has an effect on the income.
Challenges such as the outbreak of Covid-19, the economic crisis therefore dropping numbers of scholars keep everyone on their toes - and sometimes a little overwhelmed. Deep down, however, the staff, parents, community and everyone involved knows that Lesedi, the light, continues to shine for the children. One former pupil said on her visit to the school:
"For me, it was this school and the vision of my teachers that laid the foundation for me to work as a doctor today."