Eqinisweni Secondary School
A few days ago we visited a handful of schools and had the opportunity to speak with students and faculty at Midrand High School and Eqinisweni Secondary School. I was shocked and sobered by their response in regards to the AIDS epidemic and rape prevalence. I am still working to digest the harsh reality--perhaps this blog entry will help me do so.
At Midrand High School we stat in Ms. Sinah Komane's life orientation (L.O.) class. The high school itself has 1023 learners. It was established in 1993 (post-apartheid) and has 40 highly qualified teachers.
Upon arrival in Ms. Komane's L.O. class we broke up into groups and asked them questions relevant to our final projects and presentations. Ms. Komane claimed tha tthere is no stigma surrounding AIDS today because of increased ecucation but that "all are assumed positive unless tested." Testing is free, although when I asked the teacher where testing could be found she prompltly replied, "we don't talk about that." I am unsure o fthis reposne and question why that information would go unspoken. Perhaps she just misunderstood the question, or perahps HIV carries a greater stigma than she let on to. I have yet to fiture it out.
On gal, wise beyond her 14 years, said that the biggest issue that children of South Africa (and adults) are facing is that "if it doesn't happen to them, tehy don't really care." Rape is a problem--a big problem--but it doesn't happen to everyone so not everyone cares.
Although my interactions at Midrand were very informative and insightful, the most moving part of the day was our time at Eqinisweni Secondary School. Mrs. Sabatha Masilela is a tteacher of L.O and also serves as the school nurse and "psychologist." I use the term psychologist lightly because she has no proper training. Although she has taken a few classes at the college levl, she has no formal psychology degre. Her work comes straight from her "passion and heart."
When asked about violence and assault for the school children, Masilela responded that "all children have been raped," but then quickly retracted her statment to "most." By grade 5, she says that most are sexually actives. They are raped by uncles, strangers, and brothers.
Masilela said one of the major problems lies in the fact tha twomen dont' udnerstand their fudnamental human rights. In grades 8 and 9 in L.O class, children begin to learn of these rights. By this time, most have already been violated (whehter physically, emotionally, or sexually), and when they come to this realization it becomes an issue of which they prefer: bread on teh table or pressing charges. Women are taught that their role is in the kitchen and at home. A woman is to be submissive, educationed and unemployed. A charge becomes an issue of survival, "if I charge my father, where will I get my food."
Of course there is much more to be said of this issue, but time is of the essence. I thought I might give you a brief look into what I have been delving into these last couple days...
Thanks for your support and look forward to seeing you soon! And a special thanks to LaRae, Art and Judy Larsen, Solveig (hiii!!!), MaryAnn, and Momma and Papa J.