Tag Archives: children

Born in Africa: The Belgian connection in Plettenberg Bay

DSC_0250Cries of amazement are the first sounds we hear when we visit a little school close to Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Three white young men enter the classroom, not an everyday event. “What are they doing here?”

Thanks to the Belgian organization, Born in Africa, we were allowed to visit a primary school in the township Kranshoek, a few kilometres from the beautiful beaches of Plettenberg Bay.

In brief: Born In Africa tries to provide the children of Kranshoek of education, by building schools, but also by organizing extracurricular activities. One of the Belgian student, Rien, spent a few months organizing football games. You can read all the information in English, Dutch and even Norwegian on the website of Born in Africa.

Township Experience

The visit of the school is also our first township experience. With around 10.000 inhabitants, Kranshoek is only a small township. Everyone in Kranshoek knows what Born In Africa is doing for the children, so it’s not a dangerous township. It’s not a problem to walk around with a photocamera or with a phone, not like in Cape Town or Johannesburg.

Remarkable: the township consists of stone housings only, a project of the South African government. The small stone houses look nicer than the ones of wood and corrugated sheets, but that doesn’t mean the people who live inside are less poor.

DSC_0266Fist Bump

The school looks less old fashioned than we had feared. In terms of infrastructure, it is comparable to a Western European school of a few decades ago. The classes of around 35 students are a bit larger than schools that we know. But it there was certainly no question of overcrowded classes.

What struck us immediately was the heat in the classroom, no air conditioning o or ventilation. It apparently did not bother the kids. They are very energetic and make is a point of honor the give us a high five or fist bump.

The girl with the crayons

In the second grade of the school in Kranshoek studies, one girl is the only one in the class with crayons. Because she’s the only one, she always have to share them with the classmates. By chance our gift to the school was drawing and craft material. And so we gave the little girl the pack full of crayons.

The girl didn’t really know what was happening, certainly not when she had to pose for a picture with her brand new crayons. The good deed of our trip was hereby done. 😉

Toon Voets, from Belgium

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Among the Ukrainians of Romania, boys and girls have different lives

DSC_0322 DSC_0293 DSC_0272  DSC_0225 DSC_0163 DSC_0170 DSC_0195 DSC_0202 The sun is on the top of our head. The few streets of the Repedea village are crowded of worshipping people. The women wear nice clothes under their dark coat, with a veil to cover their hair. Strangely, there are only girls walking off. As every Sunday morning, they follow the service of their Ukrainian orthodox church. 

The gap between boys and girls is also shown after the church’s service.

Amalai-Georgiana Cucicea was having a tea-time with her sister Ana and some friends, while the guys where absents. They were sitting around a garden table next to their house, on the main street of Repedea, a village located in the mountains of Maramureş.

The village is well known for its major population of Ukrainians. In 2011, 4472 of its citizen were from Ukraine, which means 94,83% of the total population.

It is easier to take picture of girls than guys. In the Miculaiciuc family, the men don’t want to be taken, so they send me to the girls. They are swinging behind the house, while the guys have a conversation on the roadside.

During the whole afternoon, boys and girls didn’t show up together on the same picture. The only occasion to have that was with these two kids: Mihai Luceceo & Claudia Ileana Banzar.

Together, they looked like a cute couple, running up and down the hill, visiting the elders, and helping a stranger, the photojournalist I am. They also wanted to be taken in picture together.

Both of them spoke Romanian and Ukrainian, as they learn both at school. They notice I don’t speak any of these languages, but kept talking to me, as I was one of them, a Romanian speaker.

Mihai and Claudia aren’t the only persons not paying attention of what is going on around them in their village. Their friends are also playing together, boys and girls mixed.

As well as the kids, the elders seem peaceful. Maria Ciorei is watching her son working on her front yard. She shows a smile when she sees Mihai and Claudia coming.

Nothing seems to torment them. Many of the population don’t have electricity or Internet to get to know what is going on a few kilometers away, on the other side of the mountains: the Ukrainian revolution.

This story was first published on StudentPress.ro on May 7th, 2014

By Marie Damman, from Belgium