Be the Cause

The best day yet…

Today, we finished day #2 in the Molweni village outside Durban. Its not a township, but an actual village. Yesterday we worked in 3 teams: 1 team painted inside a small structure that has been built to serve as 1 of 3 childrens homes being built on this property, another team erected wooden posts around the property so a fence could be put up and my team cleared a piece of land that would be used as a vegetable garden. I was dirty from head to toe (my normal gardening style). Every bone in my body hurt yesterday and I have blisters on both hands. All three teams workded so hard yesterday to complete our tasks with very basic tools, but we did it! Today, we were going back to help with this villages first Christmas party and I told myself “no gardening” , but when I got there and saw that the soil still needed a lot of work before anything could be planted in it, I picked up a pik and got back to work… right now everything REALLY hurts and my blister looks kinda different than it looked yesterday….but I wouldnt have it any other way. This village is in the bottom of a deep canyon and doesnt get much attention. Its very rural, very poor, and very affected by HIV/AIDS. The group we are working with, Lean On Me, started this childrens home project when a lady from the village, whose sister had been raped and killed there, came to them asking them to do something to help with all the problems in the village. Instead of leaving the village after the death of her sister, she wanted to do something to improve the quality of life there. I’m seeing this type of attitude everywhere I go in the country, Its amazing. Lean On Me and this lady, Winnie, went to the village headman and he agreed to donate a piece of land (where Winnie’s sister is buried) for this project, which will be 3 small structures/houses called a childrens village, which will care for sick children. Before the project began, a Zulu ceremony was preformed and the land was blessed. The project started in August and should be done within the next few months. The climate in Durban is very tropical, but today is actually the first day it has been HOT and HUMID. At noon, we all stopped working in the garden and came to help with the Christmas party. It was the first party this village has ever had. Jason was Father Christmas and he handed out gifts to probably 200 people in the Santa costume in sweltering heat. He put EVERY SINGLE child on his lap and said Merry Christmas and handed them a gift that had been wrapped and catagorized by gender and age range. Jason is the best!!!! All Angela and I could do is try and fan him with paper plates, but he never complained. Thats what I call SERVICE!!!! I’ve been getting a little homesick, but everyday gives me something to be so thankful that I came on this trip that I dont stay homesick for long. I’m learning so much about life and about myself here. Funny how a person can have all the tools imaginable at their disposal to create a “good life” for themself at home, but can never quite be satisfied and then you can come to a place like South Africa and find out that all the tools you really need, you already have… and they dont cost anything.

What a day!!

Today we visited the Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean at the southern most point of the African continent. WOW! After that, we visited a very special orphanage, HOKISA. This is the orphanage who was one of the beneficiaries of the Walk for Hope and Ben and I personally donate money to this orphanage each month. I was so inspired by the work being done there. HOKISA operates in the center of a township. In addition to taking care of children who are seriously ill with HIV/AIDS, they also employ people from the township to work in the center. They try to work with the community to help break down the social stigma that keeps many people in South Africa from seeking treatment for HIV/AIDS. I am inspired and excited to get back to OC so I can double my recycling efforts so we can support HOKISA even more. The kids there looked so happy, its hard to believe they are so sick. There is so much work that has to be done in South Africa, but people here are so enthusiastic about the future of their country. I talked to a man today who volunteers at HOKISA and lives in a tin shack in the township. He is so excited about the progress his country has made in the 10years since apartaid ended. I found it ironic that he was so positive about his country in spite of some pretty horrible conditions that exist in the townships, and the lingering racial issues, and HIV/AIDS, and I live in the richest, most advanced country in the world and I dont have even a fraction of that enthusiasm about the situation in my country. This trip is only half way over, but so far its been heartbreaking, shocking, joyful, and inspirational… and this is only day 5!!!

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