I met Jackie Gallagher when Mike and I went flower watching in Namaqualand. Enjoying the warmth around a camp fire, she shared her passion with me for children with learning disabilities caught in the grip of extreme poverty. ‘They have no one to catch them, there is no one to comfort them’, she said. That was why she established her special needs School – Sparrows School for primary and secondary children in Melville and Sophiatown. It wasn’t far from where I lived, so I became their pottery teacher.
Term 1 of 2017
My class during the first term of 2017, was a group of 8 to 10 year olds. It was wonderful to contemplate life through their eyes. Never again, will I take sitting on a chair without falling off it for granted or think that clumsy hands are a handicap.
They had loads of soul and as we worked they opened up and showed me their beautiful colors. 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 and then shaped the slabs into mugs and put handles on.
Their teacher’s heart melted, week after week, as she saw how vulnerable they were, how they soaked up all they heard and how they battled their overload and then her tears rolled for all of them.