Zinathi is a student at Tembani Junior Primary, one of South Africa’s many ‘mud schools’. In wet weather, Zinathi and her classmates can’t get into their classroom unless they use planks as a bridge.
“As my dream to change our lives depends on going to school, it upsets me when we can’t do that,” says Zinathi. She hopes that things will get better now, as her school is one of the mud schools that the South African government has promised to replace.
Clear the water
“When we get to school after it has rained like this, we have to clear the water from the class room before we can learn. We take some of the planks we use for desks to make a little bridge through the door of the classroom. Our school is made of mud and has no windows or doors and rain drips on our books. It is difficult to learn in our classroom, even when there is no rain.”
Zinathi is frustrated about not being able to go to school, but she has plenty of work to catch up with around her homestead. It is her job to help keep up the family’s supply of maize flour or ‘mealie-meal’, a task that takes time to do.
“I want to go to school, so that I can earn good results and become a police officer.
I know that going to school will one day help me to do away with the kind of life we have. I do not want to eat mealies every night. I also want to sleep on a bed with a soft pillow, like I have seen other children in the village do.
With my first salary from being a police officer, I will buy a fridge like my neighbour has and put meat and vegetables into it.”
Loves: To have enough food with meat for me and my family.
Looks up to: Nelson Mandela.
Wants to be: A police woman so that I can stop the criminals.
Dream: To be safe in my neighbourhood. To have a new green dress.
TEXT: MARLENE WINBERG
PHOTOS: SATSIRI WINBERG