It took two German tourists, Anneke and Heike, to introduce me to Magdalena Moos (you can call her Maggie, if you like) and her school of younglings. St. Patrick’s Magdaleenjie’s Pre-Primary began in a garage but, thanks to hard work and assistance from the Knysna Education Trust and Irish “samaritans”, it’s grown into a beautiful school.
Its colourful wooden walls will make you smile. Its location on top of a hill with an incredible view of the sea or forests will take your breath away. The parents I met were warm and mostly dropping or fetching their kids on the way to, or from, work. Normal, salt-of-the-earth, working people. The children are friendly and happy.
There’s nothing worse than goodwill organizations painting only bad pictures of the communities they’re helping (which probably falls in line with the concept, “Make richer people feel guilty and they’ll donate”). The Knysna KEEP is not like that. A fairer picture would often show boys playing soccer or girls dancing. Just a quick look through central town would show you that most shop jobs are occupied by people from these very communities.
However, despite my storybook description, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems needing sorting. This school sits in the friendly but poor community of Concordia, a suburb of Knysna in South Africa. There’s good evidence of RDP housing but, in stark contrast, there are shacks in between. There was a 3-year old girl who’d been raped and her goal was to get attention and be held – which she got. This school is one we definitely wish to assist and develop a relationship with.
And that’s not a one-way street. Magda Moos, teacher and owner, proved to be a gold mine of information about her community. She was our teacher too:)
Thanks to Anneke for these photos: