do they know it's christmas?

earlier this year i wrote a post about a little school in africa - mozambique, specifically. the school is supported by a group of wonderful people whom i happened to have met through blogging, which makes me realize that connecting through this medium is more personal and powerful than i ever could have expected.

the kids at matsopane school do not have desks, or wooden floors, or - until recently - benches to sit on or an actual schoolhouse (the old one blew away in a cyclone). but they have some of the most creative kids on the planet. i know. because not long ago, i received a package from them.

this spring, i told the story of this little school to a group of 5 and 6 year olds at my children's former primary school here in the american midwest. the kids were shown slides of the kids in africa and told stories of their lives. their teacher, donna, let them draw pictures and helped them write letters to send to the kids at matsopane school.

i documented all of this in a blogpost and before sending, two friends - tim, and mina of dun dun mommy - lovingly translated the american kids' letters into portuguese, the language the students at matsopane speak. it was hoped that the african students would receive the letters and then reply, creating a link between the schools and the beginnings of a dialogue between students who live very different lives.

well it happened. the african students did send back a package of letters and drawings, thanks to my wonderful go-between, val, of monkeys on the roof. val goes to matsopane several times a year to deliver packages of supplies and gifts from many caring folks, including angela of letters from usedom (you can begin to see a pattern here with a loving blogging community!)

here are some of their gorgeous letters:

with images of their schoolhouse

their teacher

their families

their animals

the activities and games they play


charitable organizations with which they are familiar

i was mesmerized by the intricacy and beauty of their drawings

in a few weeks when donna begins her study of africa unit once again, i will bring the letters of reply to her classroom. her students are now in second grade, but we can continue this dialogue between schools........

and of children

 meeting children
i feel blessed to be involved with this exchange - it is my own dream of africa.

the students at matsopane may now have a roof over their heads, and benches to sit on, but they are spending their days in this one room schoolhouse without desks. in this heart of the season of giving, if anyone feels the desire to support our adopted school in africa, i've reprinted below a letter from janet of under the blood red sky on how you can help.

thank you, and blessings for a happy holidays♡

with love,


Hello there!!!

While I'm paid to do work for Children in the Wilderness South Africa (environmental education for rural kids etc. etc.), you may or may not know I am involved with a little community school in Mozambique on the San Sebastian Peninsula, off the coast near Vilanculos

Through the amazing world of blogging we have managed to rebuild the one-classroom school (with no help from the Moz Dept of Education, but they were quick to let the community know we weren't allowed to rebuild the same crap type of structure they had, that was blown away in the cyclone of 2007.  Go figure!!)

All that aside, the classroom is now functional - littlies in the mornings and bigger kids attend classes in the afternoons - my international blogging friends have sent money and the little basic rustic benches are being built with the money they have sent and we hope to be able to help fund the building of basic rustic desks some time next year.  (We have involved the local community parents and they do the actual building - despite THEIR Chief demanding we pay him to help them!!! Needless to say he got "the finger" from us and the parents are forging onwards - but you won't read that on our blog!!!)

Now at this time of the year and as school year will start again before you blink, everyone is asking for something - including me.  I am making it my mission to get exercise books, pencils, rulers, etc. for the kids (the international bloggers were doing this, but all the postal services charge more for postage than any parcel of goods was worth!!)  so I will buy the stationery locally and Val in Phalaborwa will take the stuff through whenever she visits the San Sebastian Peninsula.
You might remember when I worked for the Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary - well the school is on the border of VCWS.

It is also a mission for international bloggers to send money to our FNB account so I've decided to appeal to my SA friends to help.  

You can either send me donations of stationery (old pens pencils etc. lying around your house) or you can put some money into the FNB account.

My postal address for parcels (if you don't live close by for me to collect)
PO Box 25
Gallo Manor

You can deposit money into our savings account - any amount, no matter how small, accepted.
(Account is in my name because it's too damn onerous and expensive to start an SA trust for a Mozamibican school and be able to open separate account, so we have a separate account in my name)
First National Bank  62248855762  
Bryanston 250017
EJD Wilkinson

I hope you can do something - no matter how small 

See you soon



  1. Amanda, thank you so much for this! You are really a great communicator! In case some of our blog friends would like to donate a small sum (even little money makes a huge difference!), I must add the extended account Janet sent me for people outside of SA. (My cousin in Argentina used it to donate 100 $ - our work goes across continents, it is such an amazing project!). Meanwhile Val has been visiting again last week, and she gave Lucas a sum of money for more benches. She took pictures, so as soon as she finds time she`ll surely post again on our Matsopane blog.
    Amanda, I love to be involved, too, and I am so glad we have you among our circle of friends! These children really are lovely.

  2. As Geli states in her comment above - for anyone who would like to donate money to help Matsopane School, here are the specifics on the account for those living outside of South Africa:

    Bank: First National Bank
    Account Holder: E J D Wilkinson
    Account Number 6224885762
    Account Type: Smart Savings Account
    Branch: Bryanston
    Branch Clearing Number: 250017
    Branch Physical Address: Cnr William Nicol and Ballyclare Drive, Bryanston, 2074
    Branch Postal Address: PO Box 131387, Bryanston, 2021
    Telephone Number: +27 11 691 2000

    With deepest thanks to all - I look forward to showing images of the benches in a future post (and hopefully some desks to go with them!)

  3. Such a super beautiful post...and deeply inspirational..thankyou for sharing such beauty and magic and pure light!
    hugs and blessings friend

    PS: gorgeous photos and pictures and art..children are amazing.

  4. My dear Amanda,

    I remember the original post. I believe it was the first of your posts on which I commented. Reading your own comment on my blog, today, I was reminded of the early moments of our friendship.

    I am, indeed, so very blessed to know such a giving, generous and mindful spirit as you.

    Blessings on your beautiful head, and see you in 2012.


  5. gulp.

    i am struck and comforted by the good people of the world, doing good works, even children drawing pictures of hope and vibrant life.

    thanks for this, amanda. how fitting for the season. it is a small world we live we: we've learned that through our travels and our blogs, haven't we?

    you are a gem.


  6. Thank you for sharing this! Africa is dear to my heart, particularly its children. I support organizations connected to the land and the people. Particularly those afflicted with AIDS. Just Nets and Possible Dreams Foundation. Again, thank you for sharing. If we give a little, each of us, I know times are tough but just a little goes a long way.

    My inspiration:

  7. fantastic post dear amanda, it truly is a beautiful and amazing thing, this blogging community. i'd love to hug you for your involvement, i know these children and their families would defintely want to too. i love africa, and it's people.

  8. Thanks for this post Amanda! I'm pleased to report that Geli's cousin's money has arrived and some of my friends have added some funds too so we'll be able to build a few desks soon.
    Some other friends have sent me used pencils and stationery they have cleared out of drawers and bottoms of boxes so slowly we're building up stocks to send to the children.

  9. What a heart-warming post!

    Amanda, have a Happy Christmas and Healthy 2012,
    Thanks for your support during 2011. X

  10. Dear Amanda, beautiful sentiments in this post, so well fitting the season.
    Children are the same all over the world. I loved seeing the drawings.:)
    And that clip brings me back to my youth - as much as we love to receive gifts, there is even more joy in giving.
    Dear friend, in case I do not get a chance later on, I would love to wish you and yours a joyful Holiday Season - thank you for your kindness and attention through your visits and lovely comments.

  11. Very spiritual and humane post full of emotions and feelings which fit to the season spirit!!

  12. It's so good for kids here in the U.S. to be able to correspond with kids in other countries. I remember we did this in church but never school, and I think it's great you're involving a school here. This is such a human compassionate post Amanda.

  13. gulp also.

    wonderful drawings and so wonderful to involve both sets of children.

  14. What a lovely post - the true meaning of Christmas - love, connection, kindness, and blessings. You have a beautiful heart.

  15. It is always a pleasure to read your posts, Amanda!
    The drawings the kids prepared are very very good!

  16. Amanda: Thank You for posting these pictures. The children's pictures are mesmerizing. If we want to feel the spirit of Christmas, all we have to do is see the world through a child's eyes!

    And to reach out in whatever way we can to help those around us, whether near or far away. May this great work with the African people and others throughout the world continue in the New Year. You are definitely doing your part!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

  17. this is wonderful Amanda - THANK YOU SO MUCH for thinking of Matsopane at such a busy time of year. I have just posted an update on the blog, and linked your blog post on the FB group. Its great to see the drawings andletters again and wonder at their detail and intricacies. Merry Christmas Amanda to you and your beautiful family xxx


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