25.11.2016 - 25.11.2016
I have now been in my new team for two weeks and they have been two weeks full of new experiences, lots of laughs and an obscene amounts of food!
I am now living in a place called Cedara which is about an hour away outside of Durban and very, very different from my village in Limpopo. There is mud, rain and mist for starters! Cedara is actually the name of the agricultural college. The village, where most of the team live, was originally built for the workers of the college but now anyone can live there and it has just been named Cedara for ease. The college is at the top of the hill whilst the village is in a slight valley. I am living with a UK volunteer called Fay in a house which is close the college. The rest of team call it the suburbs as we are living in a mansion compared to those living in the village! We have an actual kitchen, a dining room and an inside toilet!! My new team leader KG also lives in the suburbs with us, whilst Jemimah, Nonto, Sia and Tinashe live down in the village. They still have a kitchen and toilet etc but their houses are much, much smaller.
I have been made to feel very welcome by my new team and also by my new host family. There is Ma, who owns the house and works for the college, then her daughter Maskay (30) and Maskay's brothers Sia (26), Spar (19) Sia 2 (18). There is also Michla (6) who is Maskay's daughter. So it is a full house but one full of laugher, lots of singing and constant dancing! Maskay cooks amazing food and really treats us like we are her own sisters which has been great.
The team are the first team to have been based in Cedara and are working with a project called School Trade. School Trade is run by an Afrikaans couple called Colin and Vanessa who are absolutely lovely and have really spoilt us while I have been here. Throughout the two weeks I have been here, we have worked with two schools - the local primary school and the local secondary school, where Vanessa is a teacher. We have assisted with lessons, helped make graduation gowns and cleaned out entire classrooms. One classroom was completely full with desks - from ceiling to floor! We spent an entire day sorting through the desks, dismantling those which were broken and cleaning down those which could be used. We then took the clean ones to a local orphanage so that they could use them in their classrooms.
We have visited the orphanage twice now and on both occasions it has been very eye-opening. There are 40 children in total and some are HIV positive. The children are absolutely amazing but they all crave attention, affection and love. The orphanage is run by some lovely ladies who do truly love the children but imagine having 40 children to look after. No matter how hard they try, they cannot give them the attention that they need, so when visitors arrive the children go a little crazy! At one point I think I had about 10 children plaiting my hair, while another four were sitting on my lap and another two were shouting at me to watch them do multiple cartwheels! It was fun but exhausting!
We have also visited a local crèche which is about half an hour from
Cedara up a very long hill! Last week we did Arts and Crafts with the young ones which involved painted hands, lots of colouring and dressing up. It was a fun morning until the clinic turned up to give the children injections. All the children were meant to be getting their MMR injection which, like at home, is freely given by the government. However, less than half the children received the vaccination because the majority of the children's parents hadn't sent in the correct paper-work. The principle of the crèche was really upset and frustrated because she said the parents had been given enough notice about the clinics visit but they still didn't put their children's health first. Children's Rights are still very much a new thing here in SA for some communities and you can certainly see that in Limpopo and also here in Durban. But there are organisations like LGAMC and School Trade which are fighting for Children's Rights and we have to be encouraged by that.
Trips to the National Botanical Gardens, Howick Falls and Nelson Mandela Capture sight have also been enjoyed whilst I've been in Cedara. One of the things that I have found hardest to come to terms with over the last two weeks is Cedara's proximity to 'western wealth'. In our village in Limpopo we were very far away from any big towns or shopping malls. There was only one main road and that was frequented more by cows and goats than it was by cars. Whereas here we are very close to big towns, to nice shops and busy roads. We can leave Cedara, with its muddy paths, small houses and goats and within 15 minutes be inside a lovely farm shop which sells hummus. The differences in culture and wealth is vast but the two communities exist side by side. It has been quite hard to get used to and impossible to get my head around but it is this diversity which makes South Africa such an incredible yet complex nation.