Thursday, 19 November 2009

off to Zululand

Friday 13th November entry.

We finished up at Wortel-hut. It’s been really interesting. It would be fair to these guys have a different work schedule to back in the UK. It felt like I was discussing in the group all day yesterday – probably because I was! Hilariously (to me, probably no one else) we had the flip chart out again before 8 am this morning, whilst we were finishing breakfast – because some were leaving this morning! I can imagine how that would go down of I suggested that!

I was one of the early leavers because Danie was my lift and going to Cape Town airport. Another glorious drive for two hours back to Cape Town and off to Durban, where I was met by Steve Mantle, my old colleague and the previous Regional Team Leader for our East Midlands Baptist Association.

Steve’s an interesting guy and I was keen to see what he was up to. If you’re interested he’s now working for the Shine Foundation here in South Africa. Steve’s based in Nongoma, which is three and half hours drive further north – so I was extremely thankful for the lift! Ddin;t really expect the lack of sunshine – Nongoma is quite high so some of it is low lying cloud, but hey, I’m in Zululand in summer. Thanks too to John and Denise we shared a meal with them in the restaurant (yes, ‘the’) and afterwards I was introduced to the various game trophies in their home over coffee. Just as well I’m not against hunting is all I can say! – cultural differences, which we could easily get stuffy about.

Saturday 14th November

Boy – what a day. Left with a real mix of emotions swirling after this one.

Essentially we spent the day visiting people and projects Steve and Shine are working with.

What would you do if you were a single mum with three children of your own and you receive £50 a month to live on? (and I haven't noticed food being that much cheaper here) Well, I guess getting yourself into a situation where, whilst you have no increase in regular income, you end up feeding 43 children on a daily basis, would not be on most people’s ‘must do’ list. This is no soup kitchen, this is three meals a day, 10 sleep and basically call Lindiwe ‘mum’. Aids is a killer, we know that, but the reality of meeting child headed households is something which bites rather deeper than accumulated head knowledge. Basically Lindiwe began when she saw a young boy who she just sensed was in need. You can be an orphan here quite easily and with many people having no ID and living in a part of South Africa which to use Steve’s word is ‘forgotten’ someone like Lindiwe is, to breathe some meaning into an oft-used trivial phrase, a God-send. She told me, ‘every morning I wake up and ask God to feed these children – and he does’. Steve has been able to help significantly with food supplies in recent weeks.

Another story, which came out among the children when we were there was of a boy – although a teenager now by appearance – had recently been on a school visit to Richards Bay. Lindiwe forbade him to go elsewhere asking for money – you ask your mom, you are not street children here. Somehow she found the money (nearly double her monthly allowance). Steve and Shine are now supplying much of her food.

I feel I need to find time and space to tell some of the other stories I’ve had the rich privilege to be a part of this day. There was one reason I came to SA, but there seem to be so many spins offs from this visit I'm struggling to put the pieces together right now.

Emotionally tired, but enjoyed watching the story of Angus Buchan – ‘Faith like Potatoes’ on DVD with Steve, before an early start for the game park tomorrow en route home!

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