Be the Cause

Africa Compassion Cell!!

Yesterday, the kids at the orphanage sang for us. Their voices were so incredible I just cried. We had a christmas party at a small AIDS orphanage outside of Durban. The kids were mostly Zulu and were muchmore curious and suprised by our appearances. They love tattoos and brushing long hair (and arm hair in some cases!)

We also had a visit from Santa! You’ll have to see the pictures to believe it!

Today was good for us I think. We got to do some good ole manual labor. In just five hours we painted 3 rooms, weeded a a very large, very overgrown garden, and planted fence posts around the entire property. Nothing like a bunch of sweat to lift the spirit.

The people here are beautiful. The land is indescribably green and alive. It doesn’t make my heart sing like the mountains back home, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a visitor here. Maybe if I were here for longer I would become absorbed into the vibe, but it seems to be beautiful in a different way, a more deep, subtle, dark, moist, secret, way. Subliminal and sublime. The heat relaxes my muscles. I can turn my face into the occassional cool breeze. Lazy butterflies float by. Mango trees are everywhere. When I sleep the only thing that disturbs me is a chorus of frogs and crickets.

I haven’t seen the stars on this side of the world yet. Too many lights in Cape Town, too many clouds in Durban. I look forward to it.

Settling In

Well after a VERY long and grueling flight we’re definitely settled into the Cape Town atmosphere. It’s alot like home, with most of the problems safely hidden. But we are always looking to see the bigger picture.

We went to some townships today. The experience was similar to the colonias in mexico, only bigger. Much bigger. There seems to have been more uniformity to the shacks too. The tour guide that we had was very educational. From what he was saying South Africa is taking huge steps towards rectifying the atrocious imbalances that apartheid has caused. The new government has been collecting old debt from the big corporations that “forgot ” to pay taxes and using the money to build houses with running water and electricity. There is still overwhelming poverty and need there, but the future seems brighter for the people here.

I was really impressed by the women that we met today. The first has been runnning a soup kitchen in SA for the past 15 years, giving breakfast and lunch for free to every hungry kid who shows up and only charging $.60 to the adults. She says she does it so that the kids can learn. THey can’t go to school on an empty stomach. We gave them donations of clothing and toys as well as $100 from the money that everyone raised with the candy bar fund. The women in this township were so strong and commited to what they were doing!! It was amazing.

The second township we went to had a woman who has started her own bed & breakfast for tourists like us who want to experience what it’s like to live in a township. Her entreuprenuership has won awards world-wide and she has her own website I think you have to be there tor eally get a sense for the irony and bizarreness of this…

And then…. (yes, there’s more) We went to Robben Island where our tour was guided by an ex-political prisoner. It was amazing to see the prison and to see the things I’ve been reading about, but the most significant part of the whole day, for me, was to hear this man who had endured unjust imprisonment, severe, inhumane torture and beatings and countless indignities, to hear him explaining so clearly, the importance and necessity of forgiveness. It was just mindblowing. This man has the key to enlightenment. And he’s teaching people everyday with his tours. I’ve never seen anything like it. I wanted to just cry and cry. But it hasn’t come out yet. This amazing overwhelming experience that I’m having here.

Tomorrow we’re cleaning up an orphanage and then taking street kids to the beach. For some of them, it will be there first time seeing the ocean. It’s got the makings of an another incredible day!

Take care!

-love jeska

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