Dear friends, dear supporters,
During all the years that I have spent in Africa, I have taken care of many children and unfortunately I have not been able to learn the language of the respective peoples well enough. My mind and my time were busy day after day with a thousand tasks and worries. This does not mean that today I regret not having dedicated a few hours a week to memorizing and studying the local languages of my children. Moreover, during the Covid constraints, when all the children wore masks, it was difficult but important to understand their state of mind. Fortunately, children also communicate their needs and emotions through their eyes.
“Children’s eyes are wells of truth”. Anonymous
I too am convinced that one of the most important means of communication are the eyes: they can express many different emotions, even better than words and they are unable to hide anything. They never lie! The smiling eyes of a child repay us for so many efforts. They put us in a good mood and make us happy too. When the eyes reveal curiosity, we are committed to stimulating and encouraging the child because, through curiosity, he observes, explores and discovers the world around him. Sly eyes are fun, but it’s best not to lose sight of the child in question. Many of our newcomers express shyness, sometimes even fear. They usually just need time to interact with other children and get used to their new surroundings. Instead, we worry when children are unsociable and withdrawn. At this point we must, as we can, do everything possible to understand the reasons for these behaviors and seek possible solutions. The help of psychologists would be needed, but unfortunately there are none here.
One thing I can’t get used to and that scares and saddens me are the sad, worried, full of anguish, lifeless looks of children, eyes that never laugh. They remain imprinted in my soul, they never leave me. The causes of such a state of mind can be multiple. They are children who have nothing but violence, hunger, thirst, cold, disease, marginalization, indifference on the part of the family, often also of school, society, poverty in general and nothing else. It is difficult for us to discover the origin of such a malaise and it is even more difficult to intervene. Institutions and social workers are often absent. Our shelter together with the teachers has always worked to create and maintain contact with the families of our children. In addition to English, our teachers speak Setswana (official language of Botswana) and also Naro (language of the San or Bushmen), consequently they are able to communicate with everyone. This gives us the opportunity to understand some dynamics and to find and support, when possible, a solution to their problems. In other cases, the issues to be resolved are more problematic or even unknown to us who can only imagine how many bad experiences these children had to undergo in their short life. We are often helpless to face such problems, but we can always do fundamental things: treat our little ones with attention, respect, patience, understanding, lots of affection and love. The greats of the countries and of the world have a great responsibility for this! Who knows if they ever think of the sadness and anguish in the eyes of these children who feel non-existent and useless! Upon returning to school, after the long closure due to Covid, many of our children were weakened, malnourished, unkempt with sad and frightened eyes, or even angry. The pandemic has had a negative impact on their well-being. Some had lost one or both parents, or other reference figures who gave meaning to their existence. The sudden closure of the school, food insecurity, etc., represented worries and inconveniences for children and parents. The school is not alone a place of learning, but also a safe space, a place where children are fed, cared for and protected. All our teachers made themselves available to follow the children with a lot of patience, understanding and affection. I want to note that our staff and Charlcie have done an exemplary job of comforting the little ones, trying to relieve pain, suffering and stress. Their efforts have not been in vain. Our little guests have recovered their normal weight and well-being, joy has returned in the classrooms and in the courtyard and the little eyes of our little ones, with few exceptions, express happiness and trust again.
Our children’s home has managed to survive and grow thanks to your faithful support and I hope that we can also count on your help in the future, and that our project can continue to grow for the good of “our” children.An infinite THANK YOU from me and “our” dear children.Thanks also to all our collaborators in Italy, Switzerland and Botswana, who dedicate time and effort to our project.A hug and best wishes for happy holidays.
Charlcie updates us from Botswana:
Dear supporters, friends and family,
It is with great pleasure that I write this letter to all of you. After two years of uncertainty and fear, 2022 has been a year of celebration. Mosaico has survived the pandemic, economic difficulties and lockdown, thanks to the continued support of our donors. Here at Paolo’s Preschool, we tirelessly continue with our mission of providing a safe and educational experience for the children of D’kar and are very proud of what we stand for to the community. We have been running the school without interruption since January 2022. The last Covid restrictions imposed by the government were finally lifted at the end of September 2022. Until then, social distancing, the use of face masks (fabric sewn by the women of our “women project ”), disinfection and temperature control were mandatory. The attendance of the children this year has been erratic and is due to the fact that we were forced to enforce strict Covid guidelines in order to have permission from the Department of Education to operate. We have respected and implemented all recommendations so that we can continue our work in a safe environment for children and employees. We noticed an immediate spike in child attendance after the government lifted the remaining Covid restrictions. Since Covid has not yet been eradicated and will very likely remain with us for a long time, there are some changes within our day-to-day organization that have been put in place in 2020 and are likely to remain. We split classes and adjusted the daily schedule to improve social distancing and hand washing. The class layout is currently fifteen students to one teacher whereas it was thirty students to two teachers before Covid. We have assigned assistants to the two classes with younger children and I have lobbied the Department of Education and Department of Youth to have more assistants placed within our facility at no extra cost to Mosaico. The space we created by reducing the number of children per teacher-to-child ratio (previously, each class had two large spaces available) worked, and the Department authorized an increase in the number of children we can accept from 90 to 110. During the We have been subject to regular inspections this year and With the cost of living and goods rising steadily, we are seeing huge increases in the prices of fuel, gas and food. Our goal of achieving sustainable school food is in course and we continue to expand and seek grants and funding to support our efforts in this field. We are currently exploring the possibility of using biogas to manage school septic waste and reduce our reliance on gas purchases. We are also looking into the feasibility of modifying the school bus for biofuels and exploring the world of electric buses available on the market. The children and teachers are busy rehearsing their end-of-year graduation show and we are all thrilled that D’kar’s parents, residents and institutional figures are participating in our festivities. I am also pleased to share with you a story that gratifies us a lot. A young man I didn’t know approached me one day while I was visiting the D’kar community. His name is Denilson and he was once a student of our kindergarten. To this day, he has fond memories of his time at our school and he firmly believes that our school played a vital role in helping him overcome many of the difficulties he faced throughout his youth. He is 19 today, he graduated in 2021 and is currently enrolled in university and aspires to become a nurse. In addition to Denilson, some other boys/girls who attended Paolo’s (Paolo Zanichelli’s Children’s home) as children have done or are doing their high school diploma this year in Gaborone. Some of them have a scholarship and study nursing, engineering and others would like to become elementary teachers. There are not many of them, but we certainly do not know the different paths taken by each of the 600 (approximately) young people who have attended our center over the last 20 years. Several boys/girls would like to enter a vocational school, but there are few such schools and the probability of entering them seems to be minimal, only a privileged and recommended few have access. We have made progress and are making it every day. Education is fundamental in the development of a country, but the road to take to get there is long, steep and tortuous and requires time, a lot of time and a lot of patience. We are starting to see the fruits of all our work and we hope that every year from now on will be filled with young people who come back to share their success stories with us. None of this could have happened were it not for all of your dedication and support over all these years that have allowed us to be that shining beacon of hope for so many children. We wish you all a happy new year and thank you again for believing in us.
Pula!! Best wishes
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