Our nearest neighbours (through a few layers of security fences) are the Sisters of the Holy Cross of the Third Order of St Francis – 4 sisters to be precise, two elderly, one student and Sister Maureen; I was pleased to accept the latter’s invitation to tea. They live together in a beautiful old house, built 100 years ago, and bought by the order in 1974. It has a lovely veranda and flower garden at the front, and retains many of its original features.
Over tea and scones, Sister Maureen told several fascinating tales of her life living and teaching in South Africa and Zimbabwe, through times of change, from the Apartheid era to now. She recounted how she used to take the bus into town to go shopping and visit the post office (now a burnt-out shell in the Central Business District). She did not hark back to a bygone era, but instead told it how it is – she still takes the bus to town today. “You just have to be sensible and not look like you have too much money”, while adding “It probably helps to be seen as a person of the church”.
It was also interesting to hear her experience of how teaching has changed over the years, especially through the 1980’s when students played a central role in the struggle for freedom, though one by-product was a decline in discipline in schools, making teaching more challenging at the time. This appears not to be an enduring legacy, at least from our experience at DCS, where the learners are focused and engaged.