I met Jackie Gallagher in September 2016 in Namaqualand when Mike and I went to look at the wild flowers. We were all sitting around a camp fire when she told me about her passion for children from disadvantaged communities. She had started an Educational Trust for Sparrow Schools which sponsored children in need of remedial teaching and even created pathways to find jobs for them one day. During the previous few months, I had been searching for ways to use my ceramics as a means of reaching out to the most disadvantaged and here was a school, a stone throw from home, with a kiln and waiting for a teacher to arrive. The way that our paths had crossed like that, far away along the West Coast, was surely a God coincidence, to me.
My class during the first term of 2017, was a group of 8 to 10 year olds. It was a marvelous thing to see life through their eyes. Never again, will I take not falling off a chair for granted, nor accept that my neck fits underneath my chin or that clumsy hands are a handicap. They had loads of soul and I got to know them quite well. Together we tried all sorts of things. We made little sparrow birds with our eyes closed, pinched small balls into pots, rolled clay into flat slabs, made drawings on it and then shaped the slabs into mugs and put handles on it.
Of course their teacher’s heart melted, week after week, as she saw how vulnerable they were, how they soaked up all they heard and battled with their overload.