I spend part of every second Monday at the Phakamisa Pre-School Teachers training programme at Metro Methodist Church in Pietermaritzburg. We have a group of nearly 30 ladies who are working at pre-schools in the area who come in to get hands on training. They start the day with 'arrival activities' where they colour in pictures to be used as visual aids or other classroom decorations (such as birthday charts). When the whole group has gathered they move on to 'ring time' where actual classroom lessons are demonstrated, with the teachers acting as the children. In the middle of the morning they have tea and then devotions in the church. After this it is back to their classrooms for more teaching sessions and they finish at lunch time.
As far as the students are concerned, my role is 'umfundisi'. I wander around being friendly and then lead the devotions. This is a role that I struggle with - because it feels like I could use my time more effectively - but I have always felt convinced that this sort of thing matters. I am now learning to understand it as a 'ministry of presence'. The people involved know that I could be doing other things, but they know that I have chosen to rather spend the time with them. And this validates them.
And I'm just like them - if someone chooses to spend time with me when I know they have other things to do, I also get a lift! All part of being 'Jesus with skin on'.
Phakamisa Pietermaritzburg is an outreach of Phakamisa Pinetown.