Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Today was our day to fulfill our Stationary for Students Project. After spending much time at Lorraine’s, it was obvious that most of the children did not have lead pencils let alone coloured pencils. It then occurred to me I was dealing with prep to grade 3 aged children, similar to Ollie’s school, Heritage college, back home so when we were back in Australia in April I asked the principal if he would be interested in helping me fundraise enough money to buy each student (46 from prep to grade 3) a pencil case. Of course, he loved the idea and the result was that between parents, students and staff, we raised the exact amount needed. However, when I returned to South Africa to purchase the stationary packs, it turned out there was a “back to school” special, and only had what was left on the shelf. So being 16 packs short, I began my search and finally managed to find extra pencil cases and erasers etc to make up the packs. So it was time to deliver.
We headed down early to Margate; Dad came along to photograph the morning as I knew it was important to be able to send pics back to Heritage to show how their donation had been received. When we arrived, I asked all the student to come and sit out on the grass, I asked the children to raise their hand if they had a lead pencil and about 10 students did. Then I asked who had coloured pencils, and about 5 of the 46 students raised their hand. I then explained about Ollie’s school back home and how they had helped raise money for a gift for them; then Ollie began handing out the pencil cases. Each pencil case has a lead pencil, 12 coloured pencils, 12 crayons or texta’s, a sharpener, eraser and glue stick. First I have to say it was such a proud mummy moment watching Ollie hand out the pencil cases. It was everything I had dreamed of for this year, watching my boy, knowing he understood and was eager to help hand out these donated good to these children much in need. I couldn’t have been prouder.
As for the students, I expected a bit more rowdiness (as is usual) but they were so quiet — they just stared at their new pencil cases; some opened them and stared inside and a couple went as far as picking out the eraser and staring at it. I knew it would special for them but I underestimated just how special.
I asked all the students to go and draw me a picture with their new pencils so I could send them back to Heritage. They all excitedly ran back to their desks to start. As I wandered past them I noticed EVERY child was drawing with the lead pencil. Not only that, but the few that had small broken lead pencils already were using them! Not even their new one!! I kept encouraging the children to open their pencils but they continued to colour with their lead pencils. A very heart touching moment to see them so proud of their new pencil cases they didn’t even want to open them. But we’ll work on, for now I’m just glad I got to be part of this special gift and as always amazed by the students reaction to something as simple as a pencil case.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Now that Glenn is busy building, we stay in Durban, only all my projects are in Margate which leaves me just being mum all day long, which I love, but it just seems a waste of this opportunity being here. So I was excited when Yvette asked if I could help out with some of the projects around here while we have no other volunteers around. My first job was this morning. Dad and I were to hand out food at HIV/Aids clinic in KwaDabeka. My day started with making 8 loaves of bread into jam sandwiches and cutting up 6 bags of apples. Once done, I met up with dad and off we went.
The clinic is in a very poor area, surrounded by informal settlements and people everywhere. We headed into the clinic to offer food. It’s a really unsettling experience feeling like you’re there to help: you make the food, you put your energy into it, you go out to this clinic and you offer food. It seems simple, but until your there, standing in front of someone clearly infected with this illness, in their hometown, in their world, surrounded by their people…. only then do you realise not everyone cares about what your trying to do. And it’s then that you realise the true sense of giving.
Giving is not always accepted, but it doesn’t stop us giving. Because if we only gave in order to receive, then it defeats the point. But giving and being rejected is never easy. I know, it’s only a sandwich but this morning really left me exhausted. SO many people, around every corner, in every room, waiting to be seen by a doctor, just waiting, and I offer them a sandwich. I say Hello and ask if they’re hungry; some smile and take and say “Thank you”; others desperately grab as many as they can hold as if it’s their last meal and forget to say thank you. Others wave you down “Girl!! Girl!”
But then there’s the others. I smile, I greet them and I get nothing but a blank stare, a stare that says “Don’t come in here and try and give me your charity”. They raise their hand as if to wave you along and you feel deflated. I just wanted to go home, and I mean ALL the way home. But then you see a mother with children, who seems relieved you have food for her babies; or a little old lady with a huge smile across her face, as she’s been waiting for you to arrive and she says “God Bless you for doing this”. And I feel bad, because I know I’m not meant to be doing it for the praise; but you do really start to appreciate the power of a “Thank you”
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
After 7 months in Africa, I have learnt many things. I have learnt a strong lesson on letting go and letting God, giving up the idea of what I hoped and thought would be: at the end of the day God knows best and you’ll will end up where you need to be. I have learnt that I over think way too much (not such a new lesson learnt) but I HAVE learnt to simplify things, my life, my expectations and my beliefs.
There is no need to complicate things. God makes it simple, so why try and complicate it? I have learnt just how blessed I am with my family and that my dreams of this year bringing Glenn and I closer, came true, as a couple and as a family. I have learnt just what quality time means and in saying that, I have learnt a LOT of patience 🙂
I have learnt the meaning of TRUE friendship and have learnt just what a lucky and blessed person I am to have the few amazing ladies I have around me to help, strengthen and support me as well as be there for me unconditionally.
I have learnt more about myself then I ever expected to learn: I am strong, valuable, and worthy. I have learnt how much I can be to others and something I see as so simple can have such an impact on someone else. I have learnt that Africa has many ups and downs and I have learnt that just as extreme as a day in Africa can be it can become that extreme in your own life. After 7 months of being certain I would only be here for one year, I find now the pressure is building, the questions, the suggestions, the options…. and as certain as I am of going home, there’s a part of me that wonders: does God have something else in store for me?
But when does it go from being “A sign from God?” to “Reading into something” I don’t know. Many times we have thought God was leading us a certain way and then we look back and think “maybe we didn’t read the sign right?” So what does this say, its just showing we’re appreciated here?? Or is it God showing us his next plan for our family? Someone suggested we take Gideon’s lead and leave out the lamb’s wool? But again — how do you know you’re reading the signs right??
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Today was one of Westville’s “Outreach Days” they have 4 a year. The day consists of changing the normal Sunday morning of a meeting instead the the Ecclesia going out into the community and spending the morning helping those in need and sharing Gods love and them coming together for the breaking of bread.
Today’s outreach day was decided to be “Happy’s” — a place we visited in the first week of being here in South Africa — the reason behind so many of the volunteers coming out from England for the P2P. “The Lincoln Mason School for the Disabled” is a home for disabled children who either have no parents or no one wants. Over a hundred kids living in one place. Some have disabled minds and able bodies while others have able minds but disabled bodies; they are all here in this one place, run by a lady called “Happy” and the children — aside from their disabilities, lack of families and freedom — are all very much “Happy” hence the nickname for the orphanage.
So this morning all the members of Westville met at the hall at 9am, we then headed to Happy’s. We began by meeting in a room and discussing what jobs needed to be done before saying a prayer and asking God to to bless the work we were about to do — and then it was off to work!
I have been to Happy’s before but today was my first time to head into the dorm rooms; there were up to 80 girls sleeping in the dorm, all slowly getting up on their day off. One of our main jobs was to re paint the bathrooms and put shower heads on the showers (which are currently pipes out of the wall). However, with only 1 shower room and 2 rooms with baths, they were not as accessible as I’d hoped.
The young girls from Westville mentioned the bathrooms were in use so I needed to ask the Happy’s girls to hurry up and finish in the bathrooms. I opened the bathroom door to find a girl with no legs and arms only to her elbows, bathing herself in a bucket on the ground… I took a deep breath and asked if she was almost finished so we could paint. She smiled and said she wouldn’t be long. (I don’t even know what to say about that, an image that will stick in my brain for a long time).
Then I headed into the shower room which is a square room with 4 shower pipes and a bunch of plastic chairs; 3 were being sat on by girls with clearly non functioning legs and the other a girl standing showering and all of them singing, top of their voices songs to God. As each of them finished, they worked out some sort of Rubik’s cube of movements as each girl moved from chair to wheelchair before working out first to leave the room followed by the others. Each helping the other to hold the chair still as the climbed in or pushing each chair a different direction. I felt helpless yet got the impression there was no help wanted. These girls are independent and don’t need charity 🙂
I was then able to sit and chat with some of the girls. One girl was doing an other’s hair in those African tiny plaits. I have a photo of this (see below) but yet again you don’t realize at the time when you are surrounded by it; I only took a photo of their faces. The girl doing the hair actually has no legs, and yet lays on her bed, doing her friend’s hair, in this orphanage like any other teenage girl. I asked her how she had learned to do hair like that and she replied “I don’t know how I learned, its just a gift from God”
As well as chat and play with the kids, painting faces and finger nails, we accomplished many jobs too. Shower heads on showers, bathrooms painted, globes replaced, murals painted, ramp extended, toilets fixed and finally flushing, new wheelchairs assembled, broken glass cleaned up from the yard and even a swing that hadn’t been fixed in months (the kids were excited — they were on the swing before the bolts were even tightened!!)
After all this, we were then able to come together and share our God moments from the morning. One Brother, Tyrone, a volunteer from New York, told us a young guy had approached him and asked “Will I ever get out of here??” So sad. But yet knowing he asked Tyrone; it was a first step and contact will hopefully continue.
There is nothing like taking the emblems after a morning like that. To actually be able to spend the morning doing God’s work, doing what Jesus spent his life doing, helping others, giving of your time and your love, to be able to do exactly what God tells us to do and then to come together and take the emblems and remember Him — is a truly awesome experience. Such an amazing day and always, I feel totally blessed to have this opportunity.