Thursday, 28 February 2019

In the Community of Msholozi and a tour of Mercy Air - Thursday 28th February

Day 12

Cathy (on right with red shoulder tabs)
and the rest of the Clinic team at Msholozi
In the community of Msholozi is a health and wellness clinic. The Clinic is run by a team of nurses from Africa School of Missions and from Mercy Air.  It is about 20 minutes from the Mercy Air base. We first met up with Cathy  (one of the nurses from Mercy Air)  who, along with another nurse, told us about the beginning of the clinic and how it has grown over time. Is was great seeing the children play with the balloons we brought, but they all popped in the end! The children were there while there parents went into the clinic, so we played with them in the meantime.

Playing outside the clinic at Msholozi
Then when we got back to mercy air and had tour around the whole site and got to sit and control some of the planes and a helicopter. Then we had our final debrief where we talked about the past two weeks and wrote letters to ourselves that will be posted in a few weeks when we're at home and have settled back into our lives, before having a braai which is a South African barbecue with some of the people that live here. This brought us to a great end of a brilliant trip before our last night, final bits of packing and our flight home tomorrow.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our blogs. We have had a wonderful time in South Africa, meeting amazing and inspirational people that we will never forget.

By Florie and Connor

A last few pics for you...  see you back in the UK!

Where is the handbrake on this?

A team photo before our Braii ( BBQ) 

Making friends in Msholozi

Up close and personal with the Mercy Air helicopter

A view from the Msholozi clinic 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

A Mobile Clinic at a banana farm - Wednesday 27th February

Day 11

Today we went to visit a banana farm, the banana farm has a clinic where workers who are ill can go and receive medical care for a small cost. The purpose of us being there was to play with the children whilst their parents were in the queue to be seen. The whole team really enjoyed playing with the children that were there today even though there weren’t many there. 

Later when we got back home and made some lunch and then headed straight for the pool as this would probably be our last time, so we spent the next few hours in the water.  Later on two girls who live on the sight showed us some of the hidden caves at the back of our house. We then proceeded to cook 72(!) fish fingers with the help of 2 ovens and what felt like hours. We ended up with fish finger sandwiches for tea tonight accompanied by some watery tomato ketchup, but everyone enjoyed them.  We then headed over Cathy’s house to go and learn a bit more about Mercy Air and the logistics of how everything works; it was extremely helpful to understand the work they do here in more detail.

By James and Georgia

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Tuesday 26th February - Farewell to Hands at Work - Hello Mercy Air!

Today we said our goodbyes to all of those who have been so welcoming at Hands at Work, in particular Kristie and Daytona. We had a debrief of our time there then made our way to Mercy air via Caster bridge and the amazing chocolate shots! After arriving at Mercy Air and meeting Cathy Middleton we spent some time in the pool before Connor and Georgia prepared our meal, which was very nice.
Link for Life Team Wolgarston 2019
on the steps at the Hands at Work Hub

We also wanted to take this opportunity to write some more stories that we came across in our time with Hands at Work:

On the 2nd day of our visit to Share I went on my first home visit to see Maria* her sister and her father. When we arrived we were given some chairs to sit on and we exchanged names. After that her sister invited us into their house where she showed us a photo album filled to the brim with photos of all of her family, this made me very happy as it showed how proud of her family she was. Then we headed back outside and were explained the current situation of the family; her two other brothers had gone to work and from what we could tell the mother had either passed away or had left. She then explained to us that her sister was currently living down the street and had to come and check on her father every morning; this was because the house was too small and they were currently trying to build an extension so their whole family could live together. Overall, I think for me this was a really positive trip as everyone was very happy and it was clear that everyone was trying as hard as possible to improve their life which filled me with a great sense of optimism for the future of the community.

By Nicholas

On the first day we visited Joy* who cared for 4 children. They lived in relatively poor conditions until recently when hey moved into a new government funded house; this contained running water and separate bedrooms which was a massive step up on the earlier accommodation. However, they did not have the papers that are now needed for a child to attend schools which meant that it was unlikely that her youngest child could get any education. The children she has that are at school struggle greatly and are held back years, separating them from their friendship groups. This home visit really affected me as it made me realise the value of education and the large amount of opportunities that I have and may not have been fully appreciative of those opportunities.

By Joseph

On the second day of visiting Mafambisa, myself,  Matt and Nick went to visit a young man called Auzi*, he was a young man who was in charge of his house. He had a very sad story as his mom was busy out working all the time which gave him  lot of responsibilities. At the time of the visit his mom was back home as she was extremely ill. When the care worker was with the mother, Auzi told us that hip-hop was now his only hope as in year 9 he got kicked out of school, because he got in with the wrong group off people, it was really sad to hear this as he was clearly a lad with ambitions but a few things in his life had badly set him back. At the end of the visit Auzi showed us his music and we were all shocked how good it was considering the facilities he had.

By James

Yesterday, on our last day in Mafambisa, Connor, Georgia and I went to visit a boy called Simon* and his 28 year old sister Audrey* who as caring for her daughter as well as her younger brother. When we arrived, we were invited into the main bedroom where Simon was sat on his phone in an armchair that was directly next to the double bed. We began conversation and listened to the story that the family had to say. Gugu soon after told us that Simon had been one of the children affected by the new school rule that everyone has to have a birth certificate and we found out that Simon was forced to leave school at the end of grade 9 and wasn’t allowed to progress into grade 10. Throughout our time there at their home, Simon didn’t speak much and was on his phone a lot however as we spent more time there he was less shy and spoke more. We found out that Simon doesn’t do anything around the house and his sister Audrey does most of the work. One of the most challenging things about this story was that Simon just sits at home watching TV everyday while his friends are at school and so he always looks down. This is because the family are from Swaziland and because Simon travelled over the border illegally, he will find it hard to get papers to allow him to go to school. His mum also works in Swaziland which means he doesn’t have a mother figure in his life.

By Adam

On our first home visit at share we met a guy called Eric*, his brother had sadly passed away and he was caring for his nephew. His parents had both passed away as well so he was pretty lonely. However he was very proud of his house and enjoyed trying to improve it and make it look nice so me and James helped him pick up rubbish and take it to the dump for him. This meant a lot to him as he wanted his property to look nice. We also found out that there was a problem with the water tap at the end of the road so it was only on two days a week, this meant that by the end of his water was warm and unpleasant.

By Connor

I went to go and see a guy called Derrick* he is around 20 and has to care for his mother and his sisters three children. He has an incredibly hard life as he was kicked out of his school for getting involved in the wrong things. He got involved in things such as drugs and alcohol. He has to fetch water from the brook everyday to water his crops.

By Matt

My first home visit was to a Gogo and her husband who cared for he son’s children as her son died a few years ago. The two older boys Timo* and Nushi* were both at school and both attend the care point regularly. When we met both boys they seemed very quiet and reserved in comparison to others. The Grandfather was sitting with the youngest daughter on the floor and seemed very attentive towards her and she seemed very smiley and happy in comparison to her siblings. The Grandfather was a plumber although was in the midst of building the extension to the home that was originally a government home, the one thing that surprised me was that he’d built all the bricks himself before they eventually ran out of money.

By Georgia

The last home visit we went on was to visit a Gogo and her granddaughter Lucy* and her two children who, at that time, were asleep. We were told about how, because when Lucy`s parents died, they had no death certificates. Along with this, she had no birth certificate so there was no verification that they were related. Lucy`s children did not have any papers either so they could not attend school. It is insane how much these people rely on certificates and papers, they are the things that could make or break a persons life.

By Florie

*names have been changed

Monday 25th February - Our last day in Mafambisa

Day 9 - Monday 25 Feb

Helping to prepare lunch at the Care Point
which is based at a local church
Today, the group woke up early again for the weekly Hands at Work prayer meeting at 8 o`clock. We then headed back to Mafambisa for our final day there; when we arrived we helped wash up the utensils used the previous day. After that we all gathered in a circle, sang some songs and then got into our groups for our Holy Home Visits.

[They are called 'Holy' home visits as part of the aim is to help the people being visited know that God cares for them,  During the visit the volunteer care workers listen to the concerns of the people in the home and will then ask pray with the family asking for God's help - often the care workers  will have a sense of God guiding them about possible support the family might need or how they can be helped further... the visits are Holy because Hands at Work believe God is present as well as the care workers.]

On one of the home visits we met a young man called Jack* who was the leader of his household, he had a sister who was very ill and he was looking after her two children. We later found out that his ‘last dream’ was to be a hip hop music artist, however he never had enough time as he was always running the house. We believe he has a lot of potential as a young man and has a chance to have a great life.

We also met another Gogo called Samantha*. She looked after her grand children and her great grand children in her small house. Her son had died meaning that she had to head up an extremely large family. One of the saddest things that she told us was, because her son and his wife had died without official papers, their children had no papers to get work. The lack of papers also meant that her great grand children would soon be forced out of school, leaving them with an uncertain future. This was one of the most moving visits that we have been on throughout our time here.

On the next home visit we met a boy who was 15 years old and his sister who was 22, the mother had left to go to Swaziland and the father had passed away. The older sister had a one year old son who was very happy and spent the whole time playing. However, the boy was not so happy, he had been kicked out of school because he didn’t have a south African birth certificate and therefore was no longer in education. Because of this, he was extremely bored and had spent every day since January doing nothing. His past times were spent at the care point with his few friends.

We continued the day with playing with the children; we did crafts like painting and colouring as well as making paper aeroplanes. An amazing end to our final care point experience! J 

*names have been changed

By Nick, Joseph, Connor and Florie

At a Holy Home Visit

Making new friends

Lunch is served

A tasty shared lunch!

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Sunday 24th February Rest day and signt seeing

Today we had a later start to the day. We left the hub at roughly ten o’clock and had an hour and a half drive to Blyde River Canyon.

Wolgarston Team at the Blyde River Canyon
When we were there we were worried we weren’t going to see anything due to the cloud cover as we passed God`s Window. The fog was so thick at God`s window that we could barely see the turning in to the carpark. However, we decided to give it a miss and head to the Three Rondavels to see if the fog would have passed at God`s Window by the time we got back. Luckily, however, when we got to the Three Rondavels the clouds had dispersed and we got to see a view of a lifetime!

We then headed to a place near the top of the canyon called The Potholes. The Potholes is a much smaller canyon with a small river running through and a few waterfalls. We were climbing on the rocks and exploring the terrain and giving Mr. Leonard a heart attack whilst we climbed down to the bottom of the waterfall to take a few pictures
Andy gets wet!
After that we headed off to Harrie`s pancakes which did some of the best pancakes we have ever tasted. Some people had savoury pancakes like pork and peach or chilli, and some had sweet like chocolate or cinnamon, but everyone enjoyed them and had a great time. After pancakes we were left sitting around for the rain to stop as it we were deluged by some of the heaviest rain we had ever seen. Finally, Andy bravely ran to collect the van so that we wouldn’t get too wet!

By Matt and Connor  

Some more photos  from our day today...

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Saturday 23 February - A day in the Kruger National Park

Early start
This morning we were up at the crack of dawn (04:00) in order to arrive at Kruger as early as possible, after checking in we finally entered the park and we were glued to the roads and surroundings. 

Our first spotting of the day was a couple of giraffes, hidden amongst the trees and fog. We drove around for a bit until we had an unexpected encounter. All of a sudden a fully grown male bull elephant was approaching us head on at a worrying speed; we reversed slowly yet the elephant was now very aggravated and started to stomp his feet and wave his trunk.    (You can view a quick video of the elephant  on the twitter feed on the right of the blog or view it here... )
There were now 6 or so cars backing up behind us which meant we weren`t able to reverse any further, but there were 2 safari jeeps which eventually helped encourage the elephant off the road and we continued onward.

We then carried on driving and spotted a tortoise, a pair of Hyenas, buffalo, Zebras, hippos, a mother and  baby elephant, giraffes and water buffalo, but nothing seemed to top the bull elephant encounter. Along the way we spotted a family of monkeys, loads of impalas which by the end of the day we’d seen more than enough of, and a crocodile.

Quiet and peaceful at Lake Panic Bird Hide
Lake panic was the final destination, despite the name it was an extremely peaceful bird spot, we managed to spot eagles and a stork to name just a couple. We finally drove out of the gate making the most of the day being one of the first groups in and one of the last out. Driving back we had a very scenic view of the setting sun whilst listening (and singing along) to the whole Queen`s Greatest Hits album and overall ending the day on a high.

By Georgia and Nick

Here are some more photos from our day in Kruger...

Friday, 22 February 2019

Friday 22 Feb Hands on Deck - a chance meet with the rest of the community Hands at Work hub

Day 7:

Hands on deck-

Today we stayed at the Hands at Work Hub all day. For the majority of the morning, Hands on Deck consisted of a whole 'family; meeting where people shared stories and feelings from the past few weeks. We heard about Busi`s story about her amazing trip trough Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. Her experiential time with families she had connected with long ago: this along with the very interesting bus ride to Mozambique!

Another exciting part of the morning was when we had to give a speech about our experience so far; we spoke about several of our holy home visits over the last few days and how the trip has impacted upon our group as a whole. It went really well in fact we were told we should consider public speaking!!!

Later in the day we did something that none of us were expecting, we cooked a meal of chicken stew, pap and chaka-lacka. We cooked it like the care-workers would do every single day, in a 'rocket stove'  fashioned out of concrete and mud... it was A LOT of work! 

We also prepared all of the potatoes, tomatoes and peppers ourselves and even lit the natural wood fire. It tasted really good  and we will definitely be making it again at home.

We also took part in a scavenger hunt... our team won! This was followed by some team conducted interviews were we found out a lot about the international residents who serve here at Hands


We spent the rest of our day doing sports and games out on the field. All of this rounded off with a wonderful dinner of burgers.

Written by Joseph and Florie 

Some more of our photos from today...