Friday, 29 July 2011

this time two weeks ago :(

Miss South Africa sooooo much, wish I was still there but I know I can tell everyone know the stories of the children i have met and help them in a different way. Im planning of doing some more sponosred activities so if anyones got any ideas just comment on the post please and we can come up with some things.
Love Leah <3

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Hey everyone :) just so you know link4life now has twitter! please follow at!/Link4LifeSA . if anyone would like to post anything on the twitter the password and email is same for blog just the user name is Link4LifeSA :D thanks! x

Friday, 22 July 2011

Safely back home- 22 July 2011

Hi everyone, we arrived back in the UK this morning at about 6.40am after a good flight from Johannesburg.  We were then plicked up by drivers from Saunders Travel, and in no time at all, a tired but satisfied team were unloading bags and being met by family and friends at Great Wyrley High School.

A big, big thank you to all who have been involved in this year's visit.. you were remarakable, generous with your time and care and hard working in some quite difficult situations.  Well done...

And  a big, big thank you to everyone who has supported, donated aand encouraged the team over recent months.  Thanks to those who have followed the blog... it has really encouraged us to know that folk at home were rooting for us and thinking of us and praying for us.

Thanks also go to the teams of people who met us and welcomed us in the three charities we visited... at Hands@Work, Mercy Air and St Mary's Hospital in Durban (for the Baby Bear Project)... your work is remarkable and it has been our privilege to witness the wonderful work you do in support of people in need.

We want to give thanks to God for our safety, often in some tricky situations - and for giving us stamina to keep going through a very busy 2 week visit.  God cares for all the people we have met and those who are caring for them are doing God's work with his help- and it has been wonderful to meet some remarkable people, giving dignity, care and respect to others in need.

This is not the nd of the blog ! The 2011 team will be meeting up on Thursday at Rose & Richard's home for lunch (11.30ish)  to share photos and work out what  the next steps are in our efforts to suppor the people and communities we have met.  We  will be uploading photos to a photobucket website and then linking them to the blog... so please keep following as we offer some reflections as we get used to being in England again... and try to speak up for those we have met, who often do  not have a voice.

Also time was short to blog while we were on the visit in South Africa, so we hope that tema members will offer some thoughts and reports about things we did which didn;t make it onto the blog.

In the mean time, thanks for following and see you soon... below is our final team photo as we left Mercy Air on Thursday

God bless ...Richard Westwood, visit co-leader

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Clinic Visit .. Wednesday 20th July

Hi it's Kelsey, today we went to a treatment session and Cathy (Mercy Air owner) works there. When we was on our way there i wasn't that nervous although i didn't know exactly what we'd be doing because we had done many community visits before this and they had all gone fine and i'd enjoyed them all. All school holidays have finished now so the children that were there were all little. When we got there we went into this little building and that is where all the workers were doing the treatment and our jobs were to look after the little kids and play with them outside. I played with all the children but there was this one boy who i was with most of the morning and he followed me around everywhere. I fed him yoghurt and played catch with him although he was too young to be able to catch the ball and i picked him up quite a lot because when i put him down he started crying so i just had to carry him all the time. I really enjoyed today, seeing all the little kids having fun and seeing people who need treatment actually receiving it but the worst part of community visits is saying bye to everyone and when i had to say bye to this little boy he started crying and was calling me 'moma' and this made me upset because all he wanted all day was to be cuddled/hugged so he musn't get much of this at home. Overall i am glad that we all went to this clinic today because i was glad to see all the little kids happy and smiley.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Monday 18th July- visit to Durban with the Baby Bear Project

Its Rachel here, I am one of the sixth formers who went to Durban today to visit the maternity hospital and the surrounding community. Our day started with a 5:00am start and we traveled by plane flown kindly by a pilot from Mercy Air (thank you Paul). I was able to experience the beautiful scenery due to only flying at 1000ft. I was privileged to be able to see this.

After we arrived at 9:30, we went to St Mary's Hospital to give out some of the packs knitted by some of the supporters of the Baby Bear Project. The majority of the women we gave the packs too would not have had anything to dress their babies in and the mums were clearly thrilled by their packs. The fact the women, unless they have complications, have to leave within 6-8 hours after giving birth stunned me. Unlike in England, the length of a mothers stay in hospital is not relative to their situation and this makes me wonder what they are going home to. We were told some women go home in taxis, which are minibuses crammed full of people, and this can't be good for the babies as they are highly susceptible to disease.

I have gained a lot from today as I have seen a part of African society which is different from earlier this week. I have also come to appreciate the support the health service in England provides and although we may complain about the NHS, it is a very valuble asset.

Building a path through some bushes and trees...Monday 18th July

Hi its Joe, Today we were asked to help clear some of the bush at the Hands At Work base. We were working with Steve who is one of the maintenance/construction team and two men from the comunity (Bethwell & Nevermind). We had some of our group clearing bushes, some digging up roots and others cutting and moving the branches. I was one of the lucky guys with a pick-axe who was digging up stumps and roots, my hands and arms are aching, it makes me wonder how the guys here can do that kind of work from 9 to 4 everyday in the African heat, I had to drink 5 bottles of water to stop my head spinning - and this is a South African winter!


 Hi its jack, today I knew I was going to be digging... but what i got asked to do was not what i expected. I expected the digging to be easy but it was harder than i thought. We had to dig out a footpath for people who lives at the hands at work base. When they said digging it wasn't!   It was like chopping a forest down and digging roots. It was hard digging the roots out because they were deep into the ground and very thick. I thought the team done a good job of the footpath. It was very hard as well because of the heat it was very hot and this is their winter the workers have to do this in the summer as well so it must be hard for them in the summer and all they get is a half hour break at 1:00.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

going to accidently purposly forget my passport :(

Hello it's Leah. This is all i've been saying ^"im goingt to accidently purposly forget my passport!"o
I know i already blogged about Kruga but yesterday when we were there it felt so surreal how all this wealth of Kruga got to the front of my mind but then on the way back we drove past these little children and then it hit me again!
Today a few of us went to the Afrcan styled church rather than the English styled church,  It was good day today also all of the people were so welcoming and instantly came up to us and shook our hands and said there name(s). It's so extraordinary how they can all be going through so much but then be so open armed - there so selfless! But behind this front, there parched - today the man that was preaching saw me with a bottle of water and asked me if he could have some, I let him have it. It just shows how much there faith impacts their life with them having smiles on their faces but deep down their just as vulnerable as the people we have all been seeing last week. Last week was hard for me but I relised that what we are doing (providing food) isnt everything because we could have just sent food over but they enjoy our presence and that is what's remarkable about it all!
Was planning on writing more but there's been a power cut and i dont want the battery on the laptop to run down too much - sorry about the spelling mistakes :| its pitch black mwhaha!
Missing everyone i love you all. nighttttttttt :)

kruger game park

Human eyes do not work in darkness. This is because the heads they are stuck in are not meant to be awake when it is dark! I don't remember or understand what time we got up, let's just call it silly o'clock, but we were on the road before 5am.  After a 40 minute drive in the dark along a black road totally devoid of lights or cats eyes, we arrived at the Numbi gate entrance to the park.
We spotted deer almost immediately, and an elephant within the first 10 minutes (one of the "big 5" in the bag). The scenery was amazing, and the plant life fantastic. We continued to drive gently through the park, clocking up sightings at regular intervals. We saw a lioness no mored than 10 metres away which then very obligingly passed straight in front of our bus, leading its 2 cubs! When we saw white rhinos, we had 3 of the "big 5" and it wasnt even 8 am yet. We were alerted to a sighting when we came across 6 vehicles parked up aroud a large rock. Sunning itself on top was a large cheetah, which is quite a rare sight as there are less than 300 in the entire park.
We stopped at Skukuza lodge for refreshments then continued on second leg and towards the end of the journey. We stopped at a hide by a lake and saw an amazing variety of birds. I watched a huge african kingfisher dive about a dozen times, but unluckily (for both of us) it didnt make a catch. I also spent some time watching a Jacana as it walked on top of the lily leaves on the lake looking for insects.
With about an hour to go, we saw a group of stopped vehicles, but couldn't spot any game. After 10 minutes we were about to drive on but then as if by magic we saw the leopard. It was too far away to photograph without big lenses, but we saw it very clearly for about 2 minutes before it sloped off around a bend in a dirt track.. Loepards are a rare sight and we were incredibly lucky to see on on such a relatively short time in the park. We now only needed a buffalo to complete the big 5, but as we got closer to the end of the journey this became less and less likely, until with about 10 minutes to go we rounded a corner and saw a herd of around 100 lounging around a water hole!!!! We left the park around 4pm, tired but very very happy.
Our full list of "spots" included, elephant, white rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, baboon, vervet monkey, impala, waterbuck, kudu, steenbok, bushbuck. we also saw a huge variety of birds including a huge African fish eagle.
The weather was fantastic all day and it was an amazing and unforgettable experience.
P.S. really really looking forward to being home again, but also wishing we had another couple of weeks here.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

not wanting to go home!

its mae here i haven't wrote on here for a little while so i thought id fill everyone back home in on what's been happening :)

for the past few days we have been doing home based visits which involves going into the communities and the villages and visiting people in there homes. i quite enjoyed the visits but at the same time some of the things you hear and see leave a massive impact on you afterwards. at first you worry about what to say to them, what not to say and whether you'd feel comfortable just walking into their homes but i was quite surprised at how easy it was to engage in a conversation with them and how made welcome you felt. as soon as they saw you arrive there was always somebody waiting with a bunch of chairs for you to sit on and you were always greeted with a handshake. the care workers who were with us on the visits too were absolubtly fantastic too and i thank them for that- its amazing how they do these visits day in day out for free without even the slightest of doubts.
also the many people i have visited have touched my heart, i have their many interesting and inspirational stories to tell when i get back.

another thing i wanted to write about was the sports day we did yesterday. this sports day in particuarly made the hugest impact on me so far. we went to a place called Hluvukani to a local high school. i spent the first half of the day making peanut butter sandwhiches in the mini van (which was quite a mission, and very messy) with leah, kelsey, ryan and sam and the second half i met these four young girls who were all at the 6ish/7ish age called Pleasure, Siyabonga, Andile and Nsyku- my four little sisters by the end of the day. they taught me some hand clapping rhymes and they really liked playing simple catch games. they couldn't speak much english at all yet i felt like we understood everything we were saying to eachother, i spent the whole day with them and they never left my side, the oddest thing of all was that if one of them had skipped off to fetch a skipping rope or something i would instanly check around the play field to make sure they were ok, literally like one of my own siblings had wondered off. it was so enlightening to get to know them and they put a smile on my face the whole day, the hardest bit by far was having to say goodbye. all of girls also had a bit of attention of some south african lads which i wont blog about! haha. well that was embarrassing. :')

ive noticed that not alot of people have mentioned how we're getting along as a team.
i feel like i get along with everyone. there is going to be times when you really want to argue with some people and there are the odd one or two i never felt comfortable around.. but as the week has gone on i feel like that any previous or personal problems have been pushed aside and we are all getting along amazingly as a team. :)

sorry for the rambling haha and i hope everybody at home is doing well!
goodnight <3

only one week left :(

Hello its Leah here, Today we went to Kruga Park and saw loads of animals: lions, elephants, deers, zebras, cheaters and more hehe :) I havent wrote on the blog in a few days so I thought I would today. Yesterday was probably the best day but by far the most upsetting, we bonded with children and learnt their stories. Me, Ryan, Mae, Kelsey, Richard and Sam prepared their lunch (peanut butter and jam sandwich) mwhaha! I met a girl called Kindness she was my age (14/15)  and had a younger sister who's 12 they hadn't eaten in three days! This got to me because it makes me relise that everyone takes food and water for granted.

Less than one week left now :( it's gone so quick. Don't want it to end now! But missing home alot, hope everyones ok, see you soon love you. Leah :')

Friday, 15 July 2011

Sports and Food at Hluvukhani- Friday 15th July

Our final day at Bush Buck Ridge- working with care volunteers and the orphaned and vulnerable children they support.  Making sandwiches for 120 children in a mini bus was a new experience for all involved  but the team were creative and we made enough for today and enough for the care workers to take home for other children they oversee and support.

Some headlines.... Balloons and amazed us how much delight can be had with things which we take for granted... the children we met with played with team members for hours today and we were sad to have not bought enough balloons for every child to have one... but we can pass some on to the care workers before we come back home.

Food... having the privilege of giving out food is a mixed blessing... giving out something which is so needed and wanted is lovely, knowing that it is really helping the children..... but there is a horrible sense of unfainess...that we are giving out something which really should not be in the hands of only one or two people to give to other- but should be had by all to share... and the gratefulness of the children only reinforces this feeling for me (Richard).  How can it be that something as basic as one meal a day is a hope for them and  something which we take for granted?

Holding hands and a hug... perhaps it is the lack of care and support which some childnren here experience.. but it was a moving sight to see many of our young people, (who might be reluctant to show affection to unkown younger children when at home)  walking around a school playing field with their hands being held, or with a child on their shoulders, or giving a cuddle.  Perhaps the need here draws the love out of us when we are amongst

Remarkable people... amongst the children are some heros and heroines who pour out love they have received from God into the children's lives... I met Jane and Petrus and Hector and Audrey... who work tirelessly with compassion and determination to serve these children.  They are incredible and all deserve a medal.

We were sorry to go at 3.30 but needed to in order to get back to base while it is light.  Having said that there are some exhausted young people  (not to meniton the older ones!)  They will not be blogging tonight as we are turning in early since we are off to the Kruger National Park tomorrow... a 5.30am  departure (!!!!)

Thanks for following and for your encouragement and prayers.

The team are tired, but we're that we have been able to link up with so many people so far
God Bless...

On behalf of all the team.... Richard

bus driving S.A. style

I'm not exactly sure how many miles we have covered so far, but it's further than Land's End to John o' Groats.
The roads in this part of S.A. present a few more problems than any roads in UK and most roads in other parts of S.A.
Firstly the phantom speed trap! Police cars hidden behind banks of earth ready to pounce on the unwary. We have seen about 5 police car traps each day. News on the radio tells us that 4 traffic officers have been susupended for corruption, including pocketing fine money, a nice little earner!
Secondly, the speed bump. Many of these are brightly painted and signposted, others have no sign and the paint has worn off. At any speed above 0.00001 km per hour these are more like weapons of mass destruction and I believe are sponsored by the S.A. equivalent of KwikFit.
Next, the other drivers. Overtaking happens anywhere at anytime. Overtaking a car which is already overtaking another is commonplace, giving a line of three cars travelling side by side on a single carriageway! Whether or not something is coming the other way is of no importance. In the UK, most drivers leave reasonable gap between themselves and the car in front. If you do that her someone will pull into it within 20 seconds. However if you don't leave a reasonable gap, someone will pull into it anyway!
Obstructions. If we ignore the various livestock which crosses the road at random (goats, and cattle mainly), we have had to negotiate 3 dead dogs, 1 dead chicken, 1 dead small furry animal of unknown identity, 1 dead cow, 1 wooden packing crate, 1 large metal bucket, and 1 drunken man who lay down in front of the bus after telling the driver (in fairly good english) that he was his best mate ever and he loved him!
All the above has happened on the proper roads which have tarmac. In the communities, the roads are largely flattened strips of sand, with potholes the size of dustbins and the odd randomly positioned brick or bottle.
Despite all this, we havent broken any bits of buses or any bits of the students, and are all jolly proud of ourselves.
Tomorrow we drive through Kruger game park, where we have been told that it is not uncommon for deadly black mambas to launch themselves through open car windows!! Sleep tight everybody!
p.s. to T.H.J.E. miss you lots, love you more. XXXX

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Thursday 14 July- Bush Buck Ridge (Hluvukhani)... home based care & sports

It's 6.30 & we've just had time to draw breath and take in a cup of tea/coffee/chocolate... we've had another full day in Bush Buck Ridge... 2 hours there and 2 hours back in the car... with plenty of waiting for people to be in the right place... there never seems to be a rush in South Africa... things happen when everyone gets there... which may take a while... greetings are lengthy, really meant and important, and one of the things about Bush Buck Ridge is that there is another different language to pick up key words for... Avuxhenee  (ave- oo- shen- ee)  I think is good morning, to which the repsonse is Ayeeee  (eye-ee)..

We all split up to visit local homes with volunteer care workers from the area, with a Hands@Work worker who caould translate for us. Many of the visits were to orphaned and vulnerable children... child headed households... who are vulnerable to crime in order to get food, of if the oldest child is female, then there are plenty of men who will offer food for " favours"... all of this is what makes the children vulnerable- if you have no food, and ho help, what can you do?

What the care teams hope to be able to to is arrnage a feeding programme, where each vulnerable child receives a hot meal once a day... to feed 80 children (in the area we visited) costs 5,000 Rand per month... (£500)  doing the sums this means it costs about £6.30ish to provide a meal for a child daily for a  month.  This seems a silly, small amount... and we want to do something about it.

After our home based care visits we went to a school field and gave out peanut butter sandwiches, oranges & juice (for 80 children) made by Mr Stokes, Todd and Jack  (well done... i don't think they will want to see peanut butter again for a while).  While all this was going on, the rest of us played with the kids... ther was even a boys vs girls football match and Chloe scored !  (all in a very ladylike style)

Polly, Celebrate, Nina (volunteers) with Pontos (Hands @Work)  & Matt & Andrew

Sandwiches are very popular... & Kelsey gives out squash
I'll let the team tell their own stories now after our supper...

herloo its me todd.
i dont know what it is when i'm out here in souh africa
 but when we go out on these home visits to help the young children out in different communites i always seem to talk to some one , when like to day we went out to bush buck ridge to do home visits. But because of yesterday i went out doing a home visit. so i said ill stop around in the van and do the sandwichs so me jack n barry did that. But as we was in the van a little lad came to the side door and opened it because he saw the balloons he started to cry because he wanted one. But he couldnt have one just yet because obvs reasons. but in the end we gave in but fair play to the lad he stopped around the van and he went atfer about half an hour but came back. he was watching us do the food and started to cry saying he was hungry i havent had food so i gave him a samwhich. he stopped around all day then untill we had to move away in the vans. but they was something about him i really took to for some reason. when it was time to come away i had a little tear come to my eyes. due to because he was living out in the community on his own as he mother n father have died. but wha really getts to me is i aint going to see him again. but how do i know where he is sleeping how he is. if he going to be safe for to night or untill his older. i just wannted to help so much but they is nothing i could do. south africa is really upsetting. but thanks to all the support of the lot who have been ear with me i have manged to get though the week..... bye from todd

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ryan & Rhiannon's Day

Ryan: Hiya! It's ryan, everything over here is amazing, i really don't know where to start, there's Boo the dog, a.k.a the softest rottweiller in the world, reminds me of Henry (our dog), this place is just brilliant, the views are beautiful, the people are beautful, and the way of life is beautiful. For example... today i met girl called Wendy, she wake sup at 6 every morning and fetches 75kg of water in leeking drums, along a very unflat floor, with a wonkey wheelbarrow, she then walks for 2 hours to school everyday, and back! for this reason, Joe nicknamed her "Hench Wendy" hehe.  In other topics, the church sessions are amazingly energetic, and unfortunately on sunday we met other people, who took our cameras, is the the simplest way of putting it, fortunately thanks to David Bentley and his consistency, we got them back with all the pictures on them :) so very happy. Some people are still cut up and sore from the adventure.

Been playing guitar every night with joe and shane, allowing them the privilege of listening to my beautiful singing (insert sarcasm), been writing songs with them aswell, also listening to mae's and lizz's beautiful singing :) who are actually really good at singing.

Last night we sat round a campfire sharing absolutley terrible jokes, was a brilliant night, and i also did not not stop playing guitar.

Don't mean to be dragging on, just letting family and friends know how i'm getting on, hope you're all well (:

P.s. Mom, there IS a washing machine, so the 42'389.5 pairs of socks you put in my suitcase means i don't actually have to wash anything, hehe :)

Hi, it's Rhiannon, still here having a great time. Really don't want to come home! Ive seen some really moving things over the past week, we all have, but we're all getting on fine. I have taken lots of great photos and cannot wait to come home to share them all with you along with all the our wonderful experiences. Hope you're all well, miss you all...much love xxx

Bush Buck Ridge...Orphaned & Vulnerable Children Wed 13 July

Hi Richard here...Today the team headed off for a two hour drive to Bush Buck Ridge... where some of the most needy people in South Africa live...  Many of the folk who live there are refugees (or children of refugees but born in South Africa) from Mozambique.  Many people have no papers, no birth certificates, no proof of ID and so are not able to  receive any help from the state so they are extremely vulnerable... parents often are compelled to work (without any legal protection) away from their children... who are somtimes left by themselves... it sounds drastic to us, but when there is no other way to get money for food, people will often do what they would otherwise never do.

Hands at Work aim to work with the most needy people... those who are not receiving help from anyone else.  When Simon, the key worker for the area, came to tell us last night about the situation of many of the children we were amazed and saddened and a the same time aware that we might be able to bring a little tiny bit of hope to some of these communities... simply by going there we are telling them that they are not forgotten.

I'll let the young people tell you how it went today...

Hi all it's Lizz; I didn't do any home visits today but made the sandwiches for the kids, and then walked into the building where they were sitting quietly waiting in rows for something to happen. I tried to communicate with kids that didn't speak much or any English, chatting a bit to the older girls and then games began as the rest of the team arrived. At the very end I was sitting with three girls around me as we closed in a prayer that prayed safety for them tonight, and I began to cry as I realised they'd been so happy playing with us but we had no idea what kind of home they were returning to and how vulnerable they actually are.

Hello its leah. Today there was two things that we participated in - homebase care and a school sports day but because it rained abit we came up with idea's inside the school hall. The children in the homes that we visited came to the school hall and they recieved a peanutbutter and jam sandwich, a orange and a drink of water. The girls and boys recognised me straight away and we started speaking (there english wasn't as developed as Senza Kugley but good enough to interpret) they braided my hair and found It halarious - all the children are so happy concidering what they've got. When we went all the children hugged us and then it hit me what they were going back to. missing home alot love you all :)

Home Based Care in Siphumandla- Tuesday 12 July

Hi Folks, here's a brief update on Tuesday's activities...

We went with the Hands at work team to the Community Based Organization at Siphumandla... a community about 45 minutes drive from our base.

As we arrived we were given a warm, sung welcome... which hopefully you can see and hear a bit of on the video. \

The local volunteers took us the people they visit each week, many of whom are orphaned and vulnerable children who have not other support to lean on. The volunteers have great courage and are so generous with their time and love tot he people they serve... and to us.

It was great that the Siphumandla local team seemed really encouraged by us coming to visit them. Hopefully some of the young people will be able to tell you on the blog about the homes they visited.

See you soon & thanks for following. You are encouraging and helping us.

God Bless

Richard Westwood

Monday, 11 July 2011

Home based care in Senzokuhle- Monday 11th July

We had a later start this morning... and went with Hands @ work volunteers to the community of Senzokuhle... about 40 minutes  drive from our base...
...One of the families we met  were three children, Beki (18) [Back right], Makhosazana (12) [front left] and Sibonisa (4) who live with their 81 year old great grandmother...[centre back] younger relatives have died.  We were able to help with some gardening.  This picture shows the family with their community volunteers (Rhoda nad Eunice) who are supporting them with practical help ... cleaning and care every week.  We  prayed with them and helped with som gardening.

Hi! this is ryan, lots of fun so far, diaries half full already, yesterday was quite eventful and will probably be a story told for a while lol. Hello to everyone at home, hope you're all okay :)

hello it's leah here :) missing everyone but its been really good so far abit of an eventful day yesterday but everyones well. Today we went to a local communtity and helped out with people in need it was upsetting but after while it was very good to see what people do to help each other out when they barely have anything themselves. Weathers hot but abit chily at night. Hope everyones ok at home :) see you all soon byeeeeeeee :')

hello, it's mae here.. the past few days have been completely surreal but absolubtly brilliant.
i have met some amazing people and seen some amazing things. it has been a real eye opener and i cant wait to see what the rest of this trip brings. yesterday went a little crazy and like ryan said, it will be a story that will be told for a while :') i hope everyone at homes ok, and i will try to keep the blog updated... see you all soon, bye :D

Hello it's kelsey, the trip so far is going really well, i have learnt so much already. Today we went to into the community and went off in groups to locals houses to listen to their stories and do any jobs that they needed us to do and basically be slaves for them. I thought that it was really good because it showed us just what their life styles are like and how they are completely different to ours. I thought one of the visits was quite upsetting but i think the visits went really well and i really enjoyed it. I hope everyone at home is ok and i'll see everyone soon :')

Hello everyone its Matt, what a wierd start to our South Africa trip! There's been a lot of things we have done already like get chased by some people who didnt agree with us taking photos and get chased down one side of the mountain full of thorns not what I had in mind but apart from that I know for a fact that it is going to change my life! See you soon people <3

Hello, it's Rhiannon, having a great time so far. Everyone has been lovely, couldn't have found a nicer group of people to come with. We have done so much already and there is so much more to come! South Africa is a beautiful place and the people are so welcoming - well most of them! I cannot wait to find out what else is in store for the week and there is no doubt we are all going to enjoy whatever it may be. I feel like I've had the experience of a lifetime already and cannot wait to share it with all of you when we return.\But, hope you're all having a nice time at work, missing you all, see you

Haiii! it's Chloe. Its been a bit of a culture shock and a tad scary at times but, in all honesty it's been amazing so far. I'm sharing the most life changing experience ever with some truely immense people, and I'm so greatful of their company. Africa is beautiful, and the people are beautiful, I've never met such an enthusiasic bunch ever, and their hospitality is second to non. It's only been 4 days and it's been amazing, so I can't wait to see what other experiences I'm yet to have :) see you soon ;D x

Richard here now... so you have a range of views of our time so far...

some good news is that all of the cameras which were "confiscated" have been returned to the charity base and passed on to us in good working order and without any photos removed or delete.

Our group have been visiting people in local communities who have been affected by HIV/AIDS... several of us met with children who have become head of their families  because both their parents have died from AIDS related illnesses.... they have such courage and he work of the Hands @ Work partners is factistic.  We are so impressed with these volunteers who give their time and care for free... generously over many years.

I'll try to get some photos up later.  Bye for now & thanks for following.  Richard

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A Challenging couple of Days...

Hi everyone back in the UK. Thanks for your support, thoughts and prayers.  Sorry that we have not been able to update the blog for a couple of days... we have not been able to get access to the internet, but have a dial up connection for a while now so hopefully we can do our best...

Saturday 9th July... We went to a village  called Senzokhuhle and helped to lead a sports/fun day for about 150 children, all of whom were classed as orphaned and/or vulnerable..  The Hands@work team had identified these children as being amongst the most needy in the community and it was good to get involved.... but with very little of the local language, it was quite a challenge.  But the children had a good time and our team were happy to do the sort of things we have come to get invol ved with.  The children were also fed at the end of the sports day and some of our team found it wuite hard to leave.

Sunday 10th July... and even more challenging day...
We went to a church in the local community today- which is forming links the the Hands@work charity... there was singing, dancing, prayers a warm welcome and a serom/talk (which was translated for us) we then had a cup of African tea at the end of the serivce... more than 2 hours after we arrived.

After a packed lunch we went for a guided walk up the local hill  "Legogote"  (meaning Lions Head)  all was going well for much of the walk, but we then  disturbed some  me local people who were having some kind of a ceremony and they were cross that we might take photos of this... of course we were not doing this, but it
was hard to explain this.  Eventually, we headed off quiclkly, and handed over our cameras as the only way we could prove we had not taken photos... we have been assured that we will get them back tomorrow...via other representatives of the Hands@work charity... hopefuuly we will.  It was quite scary, as the team was  abit split up at one point- but everyone kept calm and we all got back safely...

The team were fantastic... and everything you could hope they would be, calm, courageous and able to adapt to a very challenging situation.  We are so grateful to God that we are all safe and that no-one was hurt... and we don;t want to lose the feeling we had from the morning a the local community church and the welcome we received yesterday at the sports day... maybe all communities (here and at home) have a wide mix of people with very diffrenent fears and axieties and ways of doing things. 

This may sound calm now... we have had some time to settle and recover a little...but there were quite a few hugs and tears when we got back to base.

This was due to be one of our quieter days...but it didn't turn out that way.  However the coming days have activities which are in different parts of the area and we will be with more local people who are well known to Hands @ Work.

We have spoken by phone to all of the  parents and assured them that their sons & daughters are all well.

Hopefully we will be able to give a regular  update of some calmer days in the rest of the week.   This team are fantastic!!

Thanks for all your support and prayers.

God Bless,

Richard Westwood... Visit Leader

Link 4 Life Group 2011

The group just before they left Great Wyrley on Thursday. We all looking forward to charting your progress out there in South Africa. Lynn, Mike and Ruth Kearsey
Hi everyone, hope you've all recovered from your long journey and are well.  It was great to receive a phone call from Rhiannon to tell us she'd been out in the community yesterday and she'd really enjoyed it. we hope you get your internet up and running soon so we can follow you all and the great work you're doing out there.  Take care everyone. The Weaver family x

Saturday, 9 July 2011

paula dave

elo to all in south africa keep up the gud work lots of luv to u all paula dave karla tatty goerge xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Message from Africa

Hey everybody, I had a message from Richard and Rose earlier explaining that they had no internet at the lodge currently and therefore asked me to passed this message on to you.

"Today we helped with a community fun day for orphaned and vunerable children, Hard work but good fun. Many children that are very needy. Hope to be able to blog in the next day or two."

Wishing them all best and I shall keep you posted if there are anymore problems with internet.

Good Luck 2011 team!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Waiting at Heathrow

hello, waiting at heathrow just eating my sandwhich so excited now but really anxious ! Hope to be on the plane soon :)
can I just say another thankyou to everyone that sponsored us all, otherwise we genuinlly wouldn't been able to go

Love leah :)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Todd Green

48 hours and counthing until we all get ready to go now. look forward to go to south africa to see how they live there lifes over there. im getting excitted and nearly ready to go to meet every one at g w p a h s. thursday will soon be ear. from todd green

48 hours and counting...!!!

Hi eveyone... after counting down in months, weeks and days we are now counting down in hours until we set off for South Africa.

We hope to keep everyone at home up to date with what is going on the 2011 visit if we can.  So please pass on the blog address to freinds, family and anyone who you think might want to find out how the visit is going.

We have heard from Hands @ Work that we will probably be invovled in organising  and leading some sports activtity days with the young people in the communities which we visit... which will be fun and challenging all at the same time.  This means that the sports equipment which as been donated by members of out local community will be really useful.  We are taking out some un-inflated footballs and other sports kit whcih has been doanted by Hawkins Sports Club.... so many thanks to them for that and for all the other people who have gievn us items to take out to give away or pass on.

A massive thank you to the school leadership of both the high schools invovled for giving the go ahead for the students and teachers from their schools to be involved.  And ... and a huge thank you to anyone and everyone who have given money to support the students who are taking part.  We cannot thank you enough.  Hopefully, when you see the ways in which the young people on the visit are able to link up with people in communities in South Africa you will feel that your money has been well spent.

We leave from Great Wyrley Performing Arts High School at 11am on Thursday 7th July for an evenign flight from Heathrow.  Please pray for us and or think of us as we set out.... we all feel we are going on your behalf. ...And many of us believe that it is God who will put the people we meet on our hearts.
Thanks for your support.

I'd better go now... got some packing to do!  Richard Westwood