Eva Nyundu, teacher. An interview by Mike Manegold

Eva Nyundu is one of the many strong women of South Africa, whose contributions towards a better society are so often ignored and yet cannot be praised enough.

To appreciate it better, foreigners would have to know about the low standing of women in South African life: they do most of the hard work around the house, have to provide a supplemental income, and are - in rural areas - not seldom sold into marriage by their parents to whomever is willing to pay the 'lobola' (bride price) for them. 

Even though things have improved in the last year, a woman's life still has too much in common with that of beasts of burden. Yet it is the women's commitment, dedication and pragmatic approach to the small challenges of life that keep things going in this poverty-stricken place. 

Eva is a self-employed teacher for youngsters aged 3 to 6. Her kindergarten is frequented by up to 30 kids, demanding a lot of work and representing a great responsibility.

You would have to see the children in class to understand how eager they are to get information.

They, sometimes even more than many adults, understand how vital education will be for their future. 

They see what happened to their parents and families without an education - and wish to do better.

Despite this pressure, Eva manages to take them through the curriculum with plenty of laughs and lots of fun (a clear break with the prevailing South African tradition of anglo-saxon public school drill and tedium). Eva, nurturing a new crop of South Africans, is a very important person performing a very important task. As so many other teachers like her do.

Support is growing. The National Movement of Rural Women organises free training courses in education and psychology, to help women like Eva do do a better job. But a lot more still needs to be done.

I asked Eva the following questions:

Where do your pupils come from?

The kids come from all over this area , from around Modderspruit. When they are 3 to 6 years old, we start to train them.

And they already learn to read?

Yes, all our kids can read. We teach them English and Tswana. It's the first thing to learn for them, really. Reading is the cornerstone of any education.

Why do you start so early in the morning?

We have to, so their parents can bring them here before they go to work. We also take the small babies they bring us. They don’t get any schooling yet, but we offer a day-care service from 6 in the morning until 6 in the evening.

How much are you getting paid for this?

The parents have to pay a kindergarten fee. This money is also used for food for the children. The fee is 70 rand a month (9 US dollars) - and for the very small ones it’s 150 rand.

Is this enough?

NO ... (Eva laughs) no it’s not enough, too many things to do ...

Why are you doing it then?

I like to work with children. I love them. Also, it has to be done. Somebody has to.

 

The love and education Eva gives to the children will help them to have a better start in a very tough environment.

Unemployment is high and the children often suffer from malnutrition. All support is greatly appreciated. If you want to visit Eva personally, write to info@southafricanonline.com

If you would like to send toys, send them to: The Creche, Rethabile, Modderspruit, House No D379, POX 170, Sonop, South Africa.

Cash donations are monitored by Campell Bode Brown Trust account, Springs, South Africa. Info from above email address.

Visits to the kindergarten are organised by Nan Hill, Crocodile Ramble North West, South Africa. Ask Nan on mariancroc@worldonline.co.za