Every child in Bulembu lives in a house like this, six to a house with a house mother called an “Auntie.” Meals are served cafeteria style, so the houses only have to be large enough for beds and living space. Still, by our standards these buildings are small. Of course these block houses were originally built for mine workers and their families, and there are many more buildings than the children need, so some of them have been rented to other families. Once again, I am reminded of the place where I grew up. Oak Ridge, Tennessee was a company town too.
We didn’t get to go in any of the houses, but we did share a meal with the students. I sat with my family at a long folding table in a room full of families. The Auntie was at the far end of the table from me, so I didn’t get to talk to her, but I had a nice conversation with the older boys. We talked about how they spend their non-school time. They do chores and wash their own clothes on weekends. They go to youth group and play sports. And, like any kids, they relax. I found them to be just like students I know in Nashville, quiet or talkative, funny or serious, happy or preoccupied. Kids are the same everywhere.