10.11.2016 - 10.11.2016
]If you'd told me this time last year that I would now be in South Africa, I would have laughed at you. If you'd told me this time last week that I would now be in Durban, I would have laughed at you. Lesson learnt - life has a sense of humour and it never, ever goes to plan!
Sadly the boys in our team got caught drinking at the weekend. As it is meant to be a dry programme, the organisers took the decision to send the boys home. They also felt that they couldn't leave us four girls to run the project by ourselves. So on Monday afternoon we were told to pack our bags and be ready to leave for our new teams on Tuesday morning. We were all very shocked and very upset. We had been working so hard and had so many great projects running in the community that is was absolutely devastating to hear that it was all coming to and end so soon and so abruptly. The host families we have been staying with for the past 6 weeks have become like our own families and we all felt very settled in our homes and the project. Saying goodbye to my family and to all the wonderful children and young adults we had been working with was heartbreaking. It was especially hard saying goodbye to my host Ma and sister Onea. Onea has provided so much entertainment for us over the last few weeks. She has more sass and attitude than Beyoncé and Rihanna put together and can dance better than either of them as well! When we told Onea we were leaving she just burst into tears, which was really hard to take. The whole thing happened so quickly and before we knew it we were in a taxi heading for Tzaneen.
Last night us four girls spent the night in Tzaneen in a very cute b&b. The hot showers, comfy beds and lasagne didn't quite make us feel happy about the whole situation but they did make us feel a little bit better! Yesterday morning we sadly had to say goodbye to Denise and Sne as they are both going to teams in Limpopo. Abby and I have been placed in new teams near Durban so we boarded a bus with the boys bound for Joburg. Once in Joburg we said goodbye to Tebs and Muzi and then Abby, Emmanuel and I settled down for our 6 hour wait until it was time to board our bus to Durban. The bus left Joburg at 10pm and got to Pietersmartizburg (just outside Durban) at 4.30am in this morning. We are currently staying with staff members of Zoe Life and will be heading to our new host homes tomorrow morning.
So this week has all been a bit crazy. Before all of this happened, however, we had enjoyed a mini-break at midterm and an amazing outing to Kruger National Park. Mid-term is where all the Limpopo teams meet up for 2 days to learn about what each team has been doing. It was really great to see the other teams and learn all about what they have been up to and how they have been making a difference in their communities. However, it was rather sad and, to be honest, quite disheartening to hear about the variety of social problems all the other teams had faced. From schools where teachers are few and far between or worse, apathetic and unwilling to teach, to villages straining under the weight of orphans needing to be fed and looked after, South Africa has so many issues and faces so many problems that it can sometimes feel like nothing we can ever do will make the tiniest bit of difference. In our own village the lack of opportunity for young people means that, despite their desire to betters themselves, they get caught up in the vicious circle of poverty which is so hard to break away from. But if you think you are ever too small to make a difference, you have never been to bed with a mosquito in your room! And that saying is quite apt as I have been sleeping under a mosquito net for the last 6 weeks trying to avoid getting bitten!
So while the problems throughout SA can sometimes feel overwhelming, we have all tried to focus on the positive difference we have made within our communities. We may never know the full impact we have had upon the lives of the children and communities we have been involved in and I truly hope that, despite the sudden change, my team brought a smile to the faces of the children in Tshaula Madzemba. They definitely loved the tyres anyway!
Mid-term finished on the Friday and on the Saturday we finally made it to Kruger National Park. This trip had already been changed three times so we were very, very keen to go. I say we but I mainly mean Denise, Abby and I. Our SA team mates weren't too enthusiastic about sitting in a hot mini bus all day looking at animals they had already seen before but they gracefully put up with our ooos and ahhhhs every time we saw an elephant! And we saw lots of elephants, much to my delight. We also saw zebra, giraffes,
wilder-beast, water-buffalo, hippos, monkeys and, incredibly, Simba himself! We were told not to get our hopes up about seeing lions as they aren't active during the day. However, Simba was just sat at the side of the road in all his glory. It was a really amazing experience and I felt truly privileged to see these animals in their natural habitat and not behind any bars or fences. And now, given the circumstances, I am so grateful that we had the chance to go as I doubt they would let me drive 22 hours back to Limpopo just to see an elephant!
Tomorrow I will be heading to my new team who are based in Cedara which is about an hour and a half away from Durban. The team I will be joining have been working with an organisation called School Trade. I am not quite sure what the organisation does but I am looking forward to meeting the team and getting stuck in with the work that they have been doing.
With only a month left in SA and only three weeks left on placement, we were all very disappointed and sad to have to leave our original project and give up on the work that we had been doing within the community. We also feel sad to have to break up as a team and I know that I will miss the guys. But all of us girls have decided to look on this change as a brand new adventure. Abby and I have certainly seen parts of SA we never thought we would see and I hear Durban is relatively cool with thunderstorms! So maybe the lesson here is that you should be careful what you wish for as I was complaining about the heat! But maybe the lesson is also that yes, life doesn't always go the way we would like it to go and that's hard, but what happens instead could be the start of something even better!