After an absence of many years, this was to be our first trip back to the Eastern Cape to visit, in particular, the rural schools situated in East London. We visited schools in the Berlin, Kei Road, Thornhill, Whittlesea and Seymour areas – we made it to 7 of the planned 8 schools (3 schools on day 1 plus 4 schools on day 2). We completely underestimated just “how rural” these schools were: the terrain covered was mostly gravel roads, literally over valleys and hills & through numerous little villages. To say that we were taken by surprise at the actual “size and resources available at the schools” would be an understatement. I have to admit that when we pulled up at the first school, we felt that our driver had made a mistake – “is this it, is this the high school – are you sure?”, we asked of him. In fact, a couple of times during the trip we checked with him to make sure that he was quite sure of where he was going and more importantly, that he was sure he had enough petrol should we need to turn back – this because we felt we were driving along “in the middle of nowhere”.
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