30.09.2016 - 30.09.2016
I am finally writing this blog from South Africa!! I arrived here just under two weeks ago and what a busy two weeks they have been!
Mum, Dad and Luke dropped me off at Heathrow, where I met the rest of the team heading out to South Africa. After an 18 hour journey (consisting of two planes, a cold bus and three different countries) we finally arrived at Skogheim Christian Centre just south of Durban. You can imagine that we were all a little tired and fed up when we arrived so we weren't too impressed to be told that we had to get off the bus and drag our heavy suitcases down to the centre in total darkness! As we heaved our weary bodies and massive suitcases down the drive, we were met by a cacophony of sound. The electricity at the centre had gone out so our South African counterparts decided to give us an amazing welcome with incredible singing and dancing. These guys can really sing! So that cheered us all up and really made me excited for the adventure that lay ahead.
After some much needed food we were allocated our rooms. I shared with a lady called Denise from the UK and a lady called Snegugu from South Africa. Both Denise and Sne turned out to be on my placement team which is great.
We spent the week at the centre, meeting the team of people we would be spending the next 11 weeks with, going over protocol and learning some practical, hands-on skills which we would need on placement. The food was amazing, the showers were incredible (when they were hot) and there was even a pool! We were well and truly spoilt but had to keep reminding ourselves that we wouldn't be living like that for much longer!
Last Friday all the teams left the centre for their placement destinations. Some groups had a two hour drive to their destination while others, like us, had an over night bus to look forward to! There are seven of us in the team, Muzi, Sne, Tebo, Emmanuel, Abby, Denise and I. Our placement is the farthest away and the most rural so it took us nearly 21 hours to get here!
We are based in a village called Tshaul Madzemba which is about a 45 mins drive from a big town called Thohoyandou. We are working with a local charity called LGAMC which stands for Legacy Giving After-school Mentoring Centre. On Saturday we were greeted by Dion who is the director of the charity. Dion then took us to our host homes. Sne and I are living together with the Netshikweta family. There is Ma and Baba then Joseph who is 22 and Onea who is 13. They have another daughter who is living in Johannesburg. Sne and I are sharing a room and have become very close over the past week! There is electricity but no running water so we have to fill small sized tubs to wash ourselves. We were told at training that South African women are very comfortably and confident with their bodies, which I quickly learnt when Sne just started washing in front of me - completely naked! And expected me to do the same! On the first day I asked if she would mind stepping out of the room which she found very funny! Since then I have to just had to get over my British inhibitions and follow suit. Sne still laughs and says I wash really quickly because I'm shy! There is also no inside toilets and we aren't allowed to use the outside one at night (it's a drop toilet but not too bad), so we have a bucket in our room strictly for number 1's only. I really hope I don't get ill!
So, as you can imagine, the first day with my host family was a little overwhelming! But I have just decided to embrace everything and take it all in my stride. The family are lovely and all speak quite good English but I am trying to learn their local language called Venda. I'm pretty good at saying good morning! Even Sne is having to learn as she speaks Zulu. So we are both struggling along. The food has consisted of a lot of meat so far along with the South African staple food called Pap. Pap is just maize, water and salt so not very tasty at all and we get it every night! But I am trying to get used to it.
During the week we have been running adult and children computer classes and an after school programme. From next week we will be tutoring and mentoring the children from the after school programme in various topics. There is also a big scout group which we will be helping to lead every Wednesday night. Just like our Scouts, these guys have to do various things to earn badges so we will leading lessons to help them earn those badges.
All in all it has been a great two weeks. It has also been overwhelming and very eye opening. To have people with running water, two cars and multiple TVs living alongside people who only have a one room hut to call home is really hard to get your head around. But I am looking forward to learning a lot from this community and hopefully helping to make a positive difference in the lives of their children and young people.