A Travellerspoint blog

Finally arrived in SA!

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.

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Posted by Ruthiebrady 12:51 Comments (0)

One day more, another day another destiny....

I'm flying tomorrow!!

One day more, another day another destiny.....

Oh I do love Les Misérables! And this quote, apart from being from my favourite song, is also quite apt for how I am feeling right now - this time tomorrow I will be at Heathrow getting ready to board a plane to South Africa - ahhhhhhhh!

While I am in South Africa I will be living in a town called Thohoyandou which is in the province of Limpopo. Limpopo is located in the north and is the poorest province in the country. I will be volunteering at a scheme called Legacy Giving After-Care Mentoring Centre (bit of a mouthful I know) and working alongside young people, supporting them with their studies and leadership skills. I will also be helping with community projects which will be raising awareness about HIV and AIDS.

Just typing that out is giving me butterfly's. As most of you will know this has been quite a difficult year for my family and I. We have been surrounded with amazing love and support from wonderful family and friends but I think it is only today that I have fully realised that I will be leaving all that behind to embark on this adventure. Saying goodbye to my wonderful job and friends (you're more than colleagues guys!) at Nottingham Hospitals Charity was tough, as was letting Luke drive off with my car (more because I was worried about his safety than anything else!). But those two things gave me independence and now that has gone for a while - which is very scary! The thought of coming back to a completely fresh start is also terrifying, yes it is exciting, but it is also absolutely terrifying, and I think I am only just appreciating that today!

So to say that I am feeling a little nervous is definitely an understatement. But to quote a poem that hangs on my bedroom wall 'those who risk nothing, do nothing, achieve nothing.... Only a person who risks all that she cannot keep, to gain that which she can never lose - is truly free'. To be completely honest I am not 100% sure what the poet actually means - poetry was never my strong point at uni! - but I get the gist. Sometimes you have to do things that scare you shitless (no other way to put it) to truly experience life to the full.

So I am going to take a deep breath and follow my own advice! I will try to update this blog as often as I can to let you know how I am getting on. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me in this adventure and over the last year - you are all truly amazing.

See you in December! Lots of love Ruth xxxx

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Posted by Ruthiebrady 12:49 Comments (0)

Under a month to go!

A bit about training down in London

So in less than a months time I will be heading to South Africa for three months!! Ahhh! Even typing that makes my stomach lurch a little bit as I know these next few weeks are just got to fly by. Better get packing!

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me fundraise over the last few months. Your support has meant so much to me. If you would still like to donate to my page you can do so by clicking on this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Ruth-Brady1. I thought a great way to keep you all updated on what I am doing out in South Africa would be by writing a blog. So here is the first instalment :)

At the beginning of August I had a very busy, yet fun week down in London for my pre-departure training. The training consisted of four very full on days led by the Tearfund Team in a church called St Johns Hampton Wick (which was non-surprisingly in Hampton Wick). For those of you who don't know much about Tearfund, they are a fantastic development charity whose passion and aim is to help the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. They focus upon empowering the church in those communities to speak out against injustice and be vehicles for real positive change in their communities - I suppose something every church in every community should be doing! If you would like to find out more about Tearfund and their work follow this link: http://www.tearfund.org.

The four days consisted of lots of fantastic and slightly daunting sessions about what we will be doing in South Africa and what we should expect from the Tearfund ICS programme. I met some wonderful people and am really excited about working with them in a months time. At the moment we could be based in two areas of South Africa - KwasZulu Natal (the province where Durban is located) and a northern province called Limpopo. In both areas we will be working with a charity called Zoe-Life, a South African charity whose mission is to 'transform the options available for vulnerable communities affected by disease, poverty and injustice'. We could be working on various projects from education to gardening (better get some tips from you Mum!) and will be living with a local host family whilst taking part in these projects. Apparently the Zulu culture take great pride in appearance so you even have to make your bed a certain way - think I'm going to struggle with this as being neat and tidy aren't things which come naturally to me! Whilst out in South Africa, my team will be made up of British and South African volunteers and one of the SA volunteers will be living with me and the host family. So I will certainly be fully immersed in the culture and community. About 80% of me just wants to get out there now while the other 20% is slightly scared. But what is life without a little bit of risk!?

Sometimes in life it can feel like there is so much injustice and cruelty in the world that no matter what we do, nothing will ever change or get better. I definitely feel like that when I watch or read the news everyday. But this wonderful quote from Mother Teresa makes me realise that all we have to do is play our part:

'Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love'

I am really looking forward to being a part of the Tearfund volunteer programme - hopefully by doing the small things we will be able to make big things happen!

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Posted by Ruthiebrady 11:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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