Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Field Trip

On Monday, the EduFun volunteers took the grade 3 Diepsloot Combined School kids to the Johannesburg Zoo. These are the kids that we work with every Monday morning and help with their English. The zoo trip is an annual event and EduFun arranges and pays for the buses, the zoo entrance fees for the kids and their teachers, and also provides the kids with a wonderful lunch which they eat outside at the zoo in a lovely shaded area. 

I don't think many, if any, of the 3rd grade kids from Diepsloot have been to the zoo before. Even though it's less than an hour away from where they live, it might as well be on the other side of the planet. To say the kids were excited to see the animals is putting it mildly. When I arrived at the zoo, the kids were all lined up waiting to enter and were standing patiently in line. Girls were in one line and boys in the other. I saw a few of the kids that I know and talked with them about what animals they were hoping to see. Answers were snakes (ugh), baboons, monkeys, lions and tigers.

I invited my friend Debbie to join us for the field trip because I knew she would really enjoy meeting and spending time with the kids. Having Debbie with us was not only a lot of fun, but a huge help because it turns out she's been to the zoo many times so she knows her way around. Also, she is a mom so she has practice in not losing kids in large crowds.

Luckily, a lot of volunteers came out for the field trip and the group sizes were manageable. Debbie and I chaperoned six kids - four boys and two girls - all around the zoo for about two hours. We called ourselves "team red" because we had red wrist bands for our group that we made out of pipe cleaners. We did this to help identify ourselves as all of the kids were wearing their school uniforms so we needed to be able to tell our six apart from the rest. When we wanted to move on Debbie and I would just yell "come on team red" and the kids would follow us. I really can't get over how well behaved the kids were. There was no fighting, hitting, crying, whining, complaining or running off. If a kid was straggling they would come when called. The only part of their behavior that wasn't perfect was that they liked to shout at the animals and make really loud animal noises. I know standing near a tiger and screaming "tiger! tiger!" is frowned upon but there wasn't a lot Debbie and I could do about it as the kids were so excited they couldn't help it.

We met the rest of the volunteers and students back at the bandstand area for lunch at 11:30. Again, the kids patiently waited for their lunch. Girls were called up first and stood in a line to get their lunch items. Then boys were called up. I know a lot of them were tired, hungry and thirsty but they all waited patiently until they were called.

While there were so many smiles, cartwheels, playing, excitement and happiness throughout the day, it was also a little bit sad at times. It is sad that for some of the kids this might be the only time they will see wild animals up close. Even though they live in a country full of beautiful game reserves they might never get to visit one and some will likely never even get a chance to return to the zoo. Also, I noticed a lot of the kids slipping some of their lunch items into their pockets to save for later. I couldn't help thinking how many kids would never even think of saving a snack for later or would not need to think of bringing food home to share. Even apples, which a lot of kids would refuse or toss away, were being put into pockets for later. When it was announced that there was more yogurt, every single kid went up and got a second yogurt. 

The children wore their school uniforms but were told they could wear sneakers if they wanted for the zoo trip. They were also encouraged to wear caps because of the strong sun. If a child didn't have a cap, EduFun loaned them a cap for the day.  There was a boy named Bryan and one of his sneakers was broken. It was broken in the way that the top of the shoe was separated from the sole in the front so when he tried to walk it was like trying to walk with a flipper. I saw him trying to fix it by taking out the shoe lace and tying it around the shoe. An EduFun volunteer named Jenny noticed and gave him some pipe cleaners to help temporarily refasten as well. Then I heard sweet Jenny tell him she would bring him some new shoes next week and I know that she will. Things like that can break your heart a little bit.

On a completely different note, it might shock some of you to hear that I in fact did venture into the snake house for the first (and last) time in my life. If you scroll way down you can see the snake pictures because as you know I like to prove to you that I'm not exaggerating. For those readers like me who don't want to see snake pictures they are way down at the bottom so please scroll and see the photos of the kids until you see the "snake photos ahead warning."

EduFun is a great cause and is always in need of volunteers and donations. To learn more, please check out the website

Of the six kids that we had in our group, the boy on the right is the only one that I normally work with on Mondays at school. He is very cute and was doing lots of cartwheels throughout the day.

Reading the map and eyeballing the photographer
Looking at the cheetah
EduFun provided a wonderful lunch for the kids. This little boy said I could take a picture of his lunch as long as I included his Michael Jordan hat in the photo.
I love her "I am Rich" hat




I don't know what kinds of snakes any of these are as I didn't stick around long enough to read any placards!

This one is the scariest and creepiest. UGH! 


  1. Thank you for inviting me to join you at the zoo. I had a wonderful and exhausting morning. It is always good to see the world through the children's eyes - so many firsts for them! The picture of Bridget was very touching. I asked her why she seemed sad and she said that she would probably never ever go to the zoo again! I told her to dream about the day she would come again. I suppose it must be very difficult to dream when life is already so hard. It also broke my heart when I saw Bryan's shoes falling to bits. I hope he has his new shoes. I also loved the way that the children sang their "thank yous" to the volunteers! A wonderful day in the sunshine.

    1. I am so sorry for my delay in replying. Somehow I stopped receiving my comment notifications via email so I didn't realize you had commented. It was a wonderful day. Thank you much for coming with me! xoxo

  2. You guys are doing a wonderful job! And I physically feel sick just thinking of snakes. I never go into the snake house - ever

    1. Cat, that was my last time in the snake house...believe me! Thanks for reading my blog :)

  3. The first and third snakes are poisonous. The third one might be a boomslang.


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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.