Deserving punishment?

On Saturday we had the Governors Cup where schools from the seven surrounding regions (Arandis, Walvis Bay, Swakop, Omaruru, Usakos, Karabib, Oshimbingwe) and they all came to Uis and stayed overnight. The day was filled with soccer matches in the 90 degree weather and the evening entertainment included boxing. Apparently boxing is not very common especially amongst the Erongo region schools so there was quite the turnout. After over twenty soccer matches throughout the day on Saturday, the boys from Uis won! It was a giant success and I was so proud when they came running to my flat window jumping up and down. I also had two of my Grade 8 learners compete in the boxing match which was both nerve-racking and exhilarating. One won and the other lost but it was a fun match and many people from the location came out to support them.

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After the matches ended it was around 11:00pm and I tried to gather the girls in the hostel to go to bed. One room was being particularly rambunctious and awless. When I told them it was time for bed they laughed with insouciance and I got to the point where I told them instead of behaving they must wait outside of the hostel as they were getting the other girls in the hostel worked up. I sent them out and locked the door, planning on letting them back in after ten minutes time. As soon as I locked the door, I heard a knock, it was my colleague Mr. !Gariseb. His voice was more raspy and harsh than it usually is at school and he told me the girls must come into the hostel. I explained their behavior and told him that they were being particularly resistant to me. He was looking down and gave a grumbly slurry comment and a barely audible, “which room?” came out. I let him in and due to the darkness didn’t notice him carrying something in his hand. We walked together to room three and I explained that the girls were not listening when I tried talking to them. We entered room three and as I turned my back to close the door so as to not disturb the other rooms, I saw out of the corner of my eye, something whip into the air and slap across the room. I heard a loud piercing screech of a girl on my left – she screamed in pain and ran past me. Before I knew it, Mr. !Gariseb had his belt above his head again and it was across the room hitting another girl farther away from me. All of the girls screamed in panic and raced out of the room like a herd of cattle trying to get to safetly. I am sure the look on my face was of utter shock – my colleague turned to me after it was only us standing in the room and as he opened his mouth to speak I could smell the liquor on his breath, said “that should do it.” All I could say was “okay, well I think it is time to go to bed.” He didn’t raise he head once as I walked him to the door and locked it behind him. I came back into the courtyard and saw all the girls on one end of the hostel huddling in one of the dark corners. I asked the girls to come back but they wouldn’t even step in my direction. I went to bed feeling disappointed in myself and frankly shaken at what happened. The next morning I talked about it with my roommate and she kept saying that beating is normal and kids expect it. The reason they misbehave is because they can unless they respect you out of fear. After this last weekend, I am feeling incredibly frustrated as I refuse to beat anyone yet the kids are not respecting me. Trying to find a happy medium is becoming an arduous task.

I also found out the following day that a boy from another school who was sleeping in one of our classrooms got into a fight with one of our Grade 11 learners and stabbed him with a 6 inch knife in the back right above his shoulder. Loretta had to go and take him to the clinic and apparently he had to get stitches. Never a dull moment I tell you..

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