Beans & Rice for the Soul

teaching, learning and living around the world


All of the students at the school are patients, or children of patients at the hospital. In addition to being bright, respectful, and eager to learn, all of these kids have experienced serious trauma. Some are born handicapped, some are missing limbs, one girl was in a train accident, one child’s mother was paralyzed from a violent rape.

Getting to know their teacher over the past few weeks has been awesome. We seem equally eager to learn from each other. We met on Saturday for three hours- talking about everything from life to students’ lives to our own teaching dreams of “If only…”  She is 43 years old and has lived in Congo her whole life. She grew up on the other side of Lake Kivu, in Bukavu.  She complete secondary school and studied both pedagogy and sewing.  She’s been teaching here since October.

I guess I should’ve done a better job introducing myself when I started observing, because toward the end of our meeting on Saturday she said, “At first I thought that maybe you were a SPY! Coming here to write down all the things I’m doing wrong to tell my boss!”  I said, “HAPANA HAPANAA!!!” (No!) and explained that I don’t work for anyone. I didn’t even know she had a boss. I am here to work with teachers, and I am a teacher too. I will always be loyal to fellow teachers and if I ever talk to her boss, I will only report the good things that we accomplish together.”

This teacher carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. She is their teacher, their counselor, their spiritual advisor, their mother, and their friend.  When they complain of being hungry because they haven’t eaten in a day, she will run outside and buy a small cake and give each student a bit. This is extremely generous considering her very modest income.

I’ve enjoyed observing her. She has a fantastic rapport with the kids. One minute she strictly demands only their best school work and the next minute she plays dodgeball and laughs with them at recess. You can find her teaching in a one room class of children ranging from age 4 to 14… and the next minute she’s in a hospital room, consoling a mother whose 12 year old son has just died.

The students call her “Mama Matrese.”  I call her Superwoman.


3 comments on “Superwoman

  1. Mom
    August 29, 2010

    Agree she sounds like superwoman! Does she get paid? How does she support herself? Also does she speak any English?

  2. Alex
    August 29, 2010

    wow that’s awesome, how can you clone a few thousand people like her?

  3. Pingback: The Softball Story | Beans & Rice for the Soul

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This entry was posted on August 29, 2010 by in feminism, teaching.
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