Today was a tough day. Yet, in spite of much misfortune, the Word Riders still managed to distribute 765 Bibles at seven schools in the Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and Tsitsikamma area.
A group of boys eagerly accept their Bibles from Janette Fourie.
When visiting schools located in some of the most impoverished areas in the country it is a given that the roads one would travel to get there would be in a bad state. Negotiating badly eroded gravel roads and tarred roads littered with potholes has become par for the course on Word Riders tours. However, today was the first time we had a real scare. One of the support vehicles went through a massive dip (not the first of the day either) and the trailer it was pulling disengaged and connected with the vehicle, shattering the back window in the process. Thankfully, this happened on a relatively quiet road when there was no other traffic around.
In an incident later on in the day, Alet Richter, the only female Word Rider on the tour this year, came off her bike en route to her sleeping quarters in Joubertina. A treacherous gravel road was again to blame. She seriously injured her leg and was rushed to the Mediclinic George where she is currently waiting on her X-ray results.
In our daily recap this evening, Carina Francke, shared how she tested some of the children to see if they could read the Bibles that she handed to them.
“One girl could not read the two words, ‘The Bible’, that was on the cover of the Bible I gave her,” Carina said taken aback.
At another school, a Grade 7 teacher revealed how alcohol abuse is ruining the lives of the children.
“About 40% of the Grade 7s in our school struggle with learner disabilities. Much of that is related to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. In this group of Grade 7s who are receiving Bibles today, five of them can’t read. The rest who struggle, can read but they read slowly and not at the required standard. In that sense, these Bibles are a good thing. It gives them something they can read at their own pace,” the teacher explained.
She says the other problem is capacity. The school has 900 children with 60 children in one Grade 7 class alone.
“These children are not allowed to fail more than once in every phase, children who struggle are simply put through to the next grade,” she elaborated.
And that is why it is quite common to find a Grade 7 learner who cannot read.
This makes the Bible Society’s Bible-based literacy material so valuable. Although the two booklets, available in all 11 South African languages, are aimed at Gr R to Grade 2 learners, it could also be used to teach struggling students like those at this particular school. A package containing two of these booklets as well as information on how to order them from the Bible Society, free of charge, is given to the Grade 1 teacher at each of the schools the Word Riders visit.
“The teachers are very excited once they open the books and see what it is all about. Many of them can’t believe that it is also free, ” one Word Rider noted.