Monday, 17 December 2012

Link 4 Life has now been running since 2010 and the project has only contuined to grow since. Please look at our latest video where we reflect on our time and inform about the project itself.
Please Share.
To donate to Link 4 Life please visit
Thank you :)


Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas Charity Challenge 2012

Link 4 Life Project is taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge...
Donations which are made online in this challenge have been matched by local supporters and may also be matched by our Charity Champion- The Reed Foundation.

But it's a challenge - We are aiming to receive £2000 in online donations which can then be doubled up to £4000 through the challenge funding partners.

All the money donated will go towards the 2013 Schools team visit to South Africa - where the students involved will visit the charities we are linked with.

If you would like to support us in this way then please donated via our page on the Big Give Challenge website..   It is secure and donations can be gift aided.  Minimum donation is £5

Please ask others you know who would like to help- to support us in the Christmas Challenge this year.

Thank you and Happy Christmas from the Link 4 Life Project

Sunday, 18 November 2012


Just a quick hello! My name is Ryan Bickley and I'll be going with the Church and Community Team in 2013. Found out today my place is finalised, can't wait to go again! I went in 2011 with the schools team and have since longed to go back :) Very excited to go again! This time I'll hopefully take more pictures and write more down.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Hi everyone this  the students team from Great Wyrley High School we just wanted to introduce our selves and let everyone know how exited we are to be involved in such a great project,we all can't wait to start our long journey getting to South Africa, experiencing it all and then helping all the wonderful people we meet and bettering there lives.

From Ryan, Niamh ,Beth & Aimee

Monday, 17 September 2012

South Africa 2012 Schools Team Video

Hi everyone.
 Joe has put together this video for the schools team which we all agree sums up the whole experience for us all. 
Please take a watch :) 


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

St Mary's Hospital Durban- Monday 13 August

Richard Westwood writes...

Today was a day which involved all three of the Link 4 Life Project's partner charities.  All of the Church and Community Team were staying at the Hands at Work base ("The Hub").  Most of them stayed there to help with practical tasks (organising a donation of 2,000 shoes which had been received, and moving building materials to a different part of the site).  But also 5 of our team left early for the Mercy Air base, also in White River, to be flown by Paul Middleton to Durban - a 2 hour flight - for a visit to the hospital in activities supported by the Baby Bear Project.

The 5 fliers, were Ruth Crook, Wendy Heath, Laura Jovicich, Pauline Smith, and myself.  We felt very privileged to experience first hand some of Mercy Air's work, and also be able to visit the ' Baby Bear Hospital'.  Thank you to Andy Evans for doing all the arrangements to make the Baby Bear visit possible.

Our flight was excellent - thanks to Paul's flying expertise... (and some good weather)  The journey would have been pretty much impossible for us without the flight... 7 hours drive each way!

But thanks to the flight we were in Durban by 9.50am and were picked up by Menzi - one of the employees of the hospital.  We were glad to have his help... it took us 40 minutes to drive across Durban, to Mariannhill. the district nearest to St Mary's Hospital.  As we weaved through the streets it was clear that many of the people who live near the hospital are very poor and face many challenges every day.

We were met at the hospital by Helen, a hospital employee who helps with marketing who told us about the hospital's foundation, and it's current work.  We were amazed to find that the hospital, which has 200 beds, serves an area where 750,000 people live.  With all this information still fresh in our minds we were taken to 'Jabulani', a Self Help Centre set up by Sister Marco.  Jabulani means "be joyful"  and this seemed quite a tall order when we saw the crowd of people at the secure gates waiting for food parcels. The security measures were obviously needed, but it seemed a stark place in which look for joy.

Sister Marco with some of her team (plus visitors) at Jabulani
But when we met the people involved we soon realised, that the name was spot on!

We were shown round the different parts of the project by Gloria, an enthusiastic member of the team- and were amazed at the scope and variety of the different aspects of 'Jabulani'.    Sewing, beading, card making, carpentry, weaving, a community garden,  a creche and a feeding programme.- All of which were started from small beginnings by a German Nun, called Sister Marco.  When we met Sister Marco, we found her to be busy, engaging and clearly a woman of vision and courage.

Mathembi & Abigail busy making bags to sell

It was fantastic to see so many people whose lives were being improved by their involvement with the project.  It's a self help project, so it encourages the local people to develop the skills they have and learn new ones in order to be able to support themselves - all in a loving, caring Christian community.

It was a real encouragement for Ruth to recognise some of the material which the Baby Bear Project had sent to the hospital, being carried to the work areas ready for use by the sewing team.

Makhamahle & baby Petronella,
after receiving a Baby Bear Pack from Ruth crook

It was great meet Sister Marco but we were encouraged on, as time was short and we were still to visit the maternity section of the hospital.
500 babies are born in the hospital in a typical month and as many of the mothers are from very poor backgrounds so the packages sent by the Baby Bear Project  are really appreciated.  We were soon to have the privilege of seeing how the new mums responded.

It felt quite an intrusion going around the wards to see women who were either just about to give birth, or had just had their babies... but all of them were really grateful and surprised to receive the packs and those who opened them were delighted with the contents- a smile broke across all their faces when they unfolded the blanket to reveal clothes for their new baby.

Our time was almost gone and we soon had to leave... back across Durban, to the airport  and then in the plane with Paul back to Mercy Air base... this time with Laura as co-pilot! Which she really enjoyed.

There is much more to tell, and many more photos to show... but for now...I will sign off  and commend to you all the work done by all of our three partner charities which we have experienced during out time here.  We will soon be home and can tell the stories of those we have met in person.

God Bless


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Church in Delani Bushbuck Ridge

Hello from Brian We woke today to a strong wind and the local town of Hazeyview was certainly living up to its name. A group of 6 of us; Richard, Rose, Wendy, Leah, Maddy and me left at 8am for the journey to Delani to join Petrus at his Church. We collected Audrey on the way and arrived to a wonderful welcome by Petrus, his wife Julia and the Church community. The Church may be simple in construction, but the quality of the worship that we enjoyed was equal to any service I have had the pleasure of attending. As well as us visitors, there were visitors from local Churches that Petrus had invited and people coming along to worship for the first time. The service was lead by Julia and we enjoyed several songs before prayers and some of the congregation gave their testimony's which Petrus translated. Petrus continued to translate some of the service, but even listening to the worship in the Tsonga language, I could not help but be struck by the sincerity and depth of faith in the worship. It was an honour to be there to join in their worship and we were there with Hands at Work to continue to support Petrus as he cares for the orphaned and vulnerable children in his village. Audrey spoke about the need for the local community to be a part of taking God's love out to his children in need and this was repeated by Richard as he was invited to speak. Richard used the English game of "follow my leader" to illustrate the need for us to follow Christ's example. Follwing the service Julia very kindly invited us to their house where she had generously prepared a lovely chicken and rice meal for us. I know that I am not alone in being overwhelmed by the generousity of everyone we met and we will continue to pray for them as they pray for us. After a very adventurous trip to drop Audrey off, we returned to Hands for some rest and our evening meal. God bless.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Friday 10th August 2012 - Share and Delani Villages- Bush Buck Ridge

Hi from Ruth Wendy Cheryl and Pauline

Abi's nail bar!

Cheryl & Wendy join a bead party

Today was a very special one – it was our last full day working in the communities with Hands At Work. We spent the morning at Share with the Care Workers, on their own this time. It was planned as a pampering session and we had a variety of activities organised, beading, nail painting, hand massage, clay modelling and bracelet braiding. The day started as usual with singing, only this time using English choruses. Some of the team were involved with the washing of the feet of the Care Workers, which evoked spontaneous singing, a very moving experience for all. Wendy will elaborate on this part of the day later in this blog entry below.

It was lovely to get the opportunity to spend time with the women as themselves rather than as Care Workers. It was great to see them relaxed and having a break from their usual responsibilities. They really seemed to relish the chance to spend time on themselves. The beading was especially popular as they enjoyed the making and the wearing of necklaces and bracelets.

The end of the morning was difficult as we had to say our last goodbyes, emotional for all, lots of hugs and tears, but only after a hymn in typical energetic African style. Wendy and Rose were in the middle stomping with the best!!

We spent the afternoon at Delani where we ate together the lunch we had prepared earlier, children, Care Workers and our team. This is a smaller centre than Share with only 4 care workers at present, Petrus, Grace, Trifena and Eunice. We played games with the children with skipping ropes, balls and with the fabric parachute. We then assembled little aeroplanes together and had fun flying them. The children were a delight and it was another lovely visit.

A long drive back to the Hands Hub at White River which now felt like coming home!

Love to all at home x
Hi from Wendy

Following on from the blog entry above from the four of us who share a room, Pauline, Ruth and Cheryl I wanted to tell you a little bit more about yesterday (Friday) at Share.

Richard led the worship with songs that had actions: Praise ye the Lord: Jesus love is very Wonderful: Our God is a Great big God: Father we adore you: Liz led a song (We love you Jesus, deep down in our hearts) and then we sang Amazing Grace just one verse. We had a bible reading which was taken from Phillipians 2: 5 – 11, this was read in English and then into Shangani, the language of the Care Workers. Richard explained how Jesus was divine and yet human, how he was so humble and yet God - and how during the last supper Jesus washed the disciples feet as a way of honouring them and equipping them for their work. But Peter said he couldn’t let Jesus wash his feet - he wanted to wash Jesus’ feet. Jesus’ response was in love when he said “unless I wash you, you have no part in me.

We, the group from England, wanted to honour the work that these Care Workers do for their Communities and the children, because they give so much of their love, their time and their energy. Washing their feet was a way that we could show our love for them and that we honour them and all that they do. What we didn’t know was how they would respond to this offering.

Promotion, one of the Care Workers, who was sat next to me said “I really want this”. There were smiles all round, much to our surprise, as they waited expectantly for us to get ourselves ready.

There were three teams of three. One to wash, one to dry and cream and one to pray. In my group was Brian, Leah and me. Leah and myself took turns to wash and dry and Brian prayed.

The time of foot washing began quietly but gently singing began to move around the place, filling every fibre of your being. The essence of God was in this place. The words I heard were “thankyou Jesus, thankyou Jesus” echoing all around..

Those of our team who were making sandwiches in the background, said that the singing was very beautiful and very moving.

For me, it was a humbling and emotional experience, one I will never forget. In a way it was in the foot washing that we were honouring them, but by the Care Workers allowing us to do this for them, they honoured us.
We then moved into the bead making, drinks and biscuits and finally finished with an act of worship in true African style, singing and moving around.

Saying goodbye was very difficult, especially to two people who became very important for me, that was Promotion and Onny.

Love and prayers to you all at home.
God bless

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Wednesday 8 August 2012 – Share, Bush Buck Ridge

Richard Westwood writes…

Today was our second day with the volunteer care workers in the community of Share in Bush Buck Ridge. We arrived at the care point (a large tree which provides shade) at about 9am. Most of the our Link 4 Life team met up with the care workers for vigorous songs and prayers in a nearby church, whilst a couple of others used our mini bus to allow some of the care workers to transport a sick lady (We will call her Beatrice (who has TB and is HIV + ) to the local clinic. Beatrice was very frail and struggled to slowly make it from her house to the mini bus, parked a the entrance to her homestead. The clinic gave her a month’s supply of Anti Retro Viral (ARV) medicines and her trusted friend, a care worker called Constance was with her throughout. Taking ARVs is not easy; they have to be taken very regularly, with food, and the tablets are big… all of which makes sticking to the medicine regime very difficult. Audrey, the Hands @ Work area co-ordinator encouraged Beatrice, and her volunteer care workers – reassuring them that even though Beatrice felt so weak, that she had seen other people in a worse condition recover and progress well. This is hopeful for Beatrice’s daughter, 10 year old Andile – but it still leaves Andile vulnerable as her Mother isn’t able to care for her as well as she would like – and understandably this leaves Andile anxious about the future as well.

Sadly there are many more children in Andile’s situation in Share – and many in a worse state. This makes the role of the 20 volunteer care workers even more important, not only to feed the children (a hot meal every day after school at about 2pm) – but also to visit them in their home to make sure that they are safe from harm and well, and that they are able to attend school. Hands @Work in Africa call these The 3 Essential Services (food security, health and home security, and education). The care workers all live in the local community and so know which children and families are most in need or most vulnerable. Hands @ Work provide, support encouragement and guidance to the care teams, as well as trying to find churches and communities outside South Africa who may be able to support their work.

By about 11.30am all our UK team had split into 3s& 4s to go on home based care visits – usually visiting the adult with whom each vulnerable child lives to make sure that the children are being cared for and to see if the guardian needs any more definite support or help.

We returned to the care point at about 1pm, and by then water had been fetched and set to boil in some king sized cooking pots placed over an open fire. This was to make the “pap”- a kind of thick porridge made with Maize meal – along with sugar beans in sauce and cooked cabbage with carrots – all to be eaten with the fingers.

While the meal was being prepared all the Link 4 Life team played, and played some more, and then played a bit more – with all the children, a wide variety of games. The children are often short on a attention from adults in the their home setting so this was one job that we could try to do well – give the children our full attention.

I was particularly moved by Thabu- a young lad of about 10 years, but with limited growth –and he has a disability which means that it is hard for him to move his head, and his left arm. He does not walk well, but when I gave him a hat to catch the ball in he seemed to really enjoy this game- beaming a smile with every success.

Thabu, Believe and Tholiwe

You could not help but be filled with compassion for Thabu… here amongst some very needy and vulnerable children, was one who was even more vulnerable and needy that all the others. How hard his life must be: Thanks to God for the care workers and for Hands @ Work- who work amongst the poorest of the poor in each community.

There is so much more to say about Thabu and the other children and care workers- but that is enough for now.
Hopefully, we can explain the vital role they play in some more detail at another time.

Tomorrow is Women’s Day in South Africa and it is a Bank Holiday. So, as there is no care programme, we are taking the chance to visit the Blyde River Canyon and other tourist view points which are nearby. Hope to be able to show some photos of the day to you at a later stage. God Bless


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Tuesday 7th August 2012 – Home Based Care & Feeding Programme in Share village

Sam Bowers writes...
Pauline, Cheryl, Wendy, Abi and Ruth help to give out
the food to some of the 70 children- which has been cooked
for them by the care workers
Today we went to a place called Share. When we got to Share we were welcomed by the care-workers who seemed very pleased to see us. We went into the church and the care-workers sang songs while we clapped along. After that we played some funny games which was a great laugh for us all. We then got into groups with a care-worker. I was with Abi, Wendy and Cheryl and our care-worker was called Anna. First we went to a house to visit a guy called Lucky. Unfortunately Lucky never showed up which was unlucky, however his sister was there for us to meet. Anna showed us the back of Luckys house and we saw how the back room had fallen down and there was a huge hole in the wall of the front room. In fact the whole house didn’t look safe at all.

Rose helps with making 'pap' (maize meal porridge)
at the feeding point for 70 children in Share
After sitting in the glorious hot sunshine for a while we decided Lucky wasn’t going to show so we moved on to the next house, which was quite a walk. When we got there we met some teenagers and their younger brothers and sister. We chatted for a while then took some photos. We then made our way back to the meeting point where we a big group of us including Abi, Wendy and Alan played piggy in the middle. Then it was dinner time. While people ate there food I was sitting on a chair while two of the young children, a boy and a girl who must have been aged around 2 or 3, maybe 4, sat on my lap while pulling my beard and ear ring and taking my watch off which amused Brian, Alan and the girls. After dinner we got back into our groups and headed back to the house. I carried the boy all the way back and Cheryl carried the girl. The boy smiled and giggled and made noises all the way back which amused both himself and me. It was just lovely. We arrived back at the house and had another quick chat before saying our goodbyes. We then headed back to the mini bus. We waited for everyone to arrive back on the buses then left. All in all it was a lovely day and I’m looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Monday 6 August 2012 – Village of Clare A in Bushbuck Ridge

Laura Jovacich writes...
What we’re doing here in South Africa and the extent of it finally really hit me today -or more so what the people here are doing and the extent of that. We had the programme that Hands @ Work run within the different communities properly explained to us today and it really hit home what a difference they were making – like how they start relationships through home visits and make sure the children that need it are then matched with service centres ensured the three essential services (health/security, education and food.) We then went on to visit a service centre at Clare’ A’ and I really just fell for the place. Even though the language barrier was much stronger than at Senzo’ Kuhle and the children were not as initially as energetic, as soon as we found a ball to play catch with or initiated a game of tig, the children and care workers alike came out of their shells and the joy on their faces meant more than any conversation could. Today has truly been a wonderful day and hopefully a sign of what is to come for the rest of our stay.

I miss you all back home,

Hope everything’s ok,

Laura xxx

Making Friends

Today begun with a hands@work prayer meeting and it made me realise the importance of teamwork within such a large organisation, particularly when dealing with wounded children and families, and to have a team to discuss and share feelings helped me to comprehend what I’m doing here in South Africa. And support the amazing care workers and the important duty they do. Later in the day we moved on to ‘Clare A’ where we met a diverse range of children and care workers, initially the language barrier was difficult, but these insecurities were soon demolished with the help of a simple game with a plastic ball. Soon we were learning names and bonding together, this is when I suddenly realised the importance of a name. A little girl aged 11 previously mentioned her name was ‘Fortunate’ eventually I gained the confidence to sit by her and in the dust I simply wrote ‘Fortunate’ a huge smile grew across her face and from that moment on we were inseparable. And so the relationship grew simply on knowing her name. And so I learnt communication isn’t purely based verbally.

Thinking of everyone at home.

I love you.

Maddy x
Hello, Leah again,

Well kind of woke up this morning being a bit dim but at around 8ish Me, Maddy, Joe, Richard, Rose, Liz, James and Wendy went to the big Hands @ Work prayer meeting which I found really helpful and encouraging.

Then we travelled to Hazyview to pick up a lady called Sis Audrey – Audrey is a lady that works incredibly close with the communities Hands @ Work associate with. Once we picked Audrey up we then drove about an hour to the Service Centre in Bush Brook Ridge, Audrey then introduced us to her team at the care centre one was a 19 year old lad called Ralph and one was a lady called Yolande. Audrey then explained what communities are getting the three basic essentials; these are - food, education and basic health care, this was very interesting as it described what communities were being most effected by their unfortunate situation. We stayed at the service centre for about an hour and then drove to Witz (this is where we are all staying until Friday)so we very quickly dumped our stuff off and drove to Clare A. This was a community I have never visited before, so I was really excited. Once we arrived in the local church, we all scrambled out of the car and we introduced ourselves to the care workers then I walked over to a large group of children and introduced myself, every time I shook their hands they all ran off laughing and chuckling it was so adorable!! I then spoke to a young group of girls called Forgive, Nauay, Occasion and a few more they were all around the same age of about 13/14, we then played a game of catch but like a more intense version with defending it was really fun and I think the children enjoyed it(-: After a very intense game of sort of catch, the food was ready (today Rose, Sam, and Pauline were making the cheese sandwiches, while the rest of us played with the children) I gave out the oranges, while Rose gave out the sandwiches, I was shocked to see some of the older children bowing when we were handing them the food, they must have been so grateful. After when the children were eating I took out my camera and the atmosphere changed incredibly, they were all fascinated and a little boy started dancing, and the children were posing. It was good to see that they had smiles on their faces. What surprised me today was a young girl about 3 or 4 had a very small cut on her leg, and she wiped away the blood with an orange peel, and their was no emotion on her face to show anyone that it hurt, I then got her a tissue and the blood cleared up. I also met a little girl today who was 4 called nyboodley (not sure on the spelling) we skipped around the front of the church until it was time for us both to leave.

Had such an amazing day today, really stands out that the children don’t have much but when they do get something to play with they will really make the most of it!

CCCCCallam cant believe you’ve finished Chamber Of Secrets, why you gone completely Lady Gaga? And Danidooo best be giving buttons a big hug at night time!

Love you and miss you all!

Night Night!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday 5 August - A rest day

Hi everyone, Brian, Alan & Wendy here.

Got up to another incredible morning here in white River. We broke into two groups today, one went shopping while the rest of us went to the Church in Touzhill.

It was an amazing lively service, nothing like we are used to but very good, with a very thought provoking 40minute sermon, watch out St Michael’s. We were made to feel very welcome by many and had a good talk with Latisha, a nurse and Lesley, a primary school teacher and Katrina a local Doctor and Mike and Jean local farmers. He used to be book-keeper for Hands at Work.

After a meal of burger and chips we went onto the Botanical Gardens at Nelspruit which was very relaxing and those of us with cameras spent a long time walking around trying to photograph illusive birds and lizards.

After returning back to Hands, a group of us made a Sunday roast dinner which was extremely nice despite taking a very long time to cook. It left a lot of washing up, which some of us had to share.

It has been a lovely day to relax and reflect on the wonders of God’s creation in the midst of the situation we are here to observe, and help, in any way that we can.

We have just finished packing all the T Shirts, Track suits which we brought from our Brownies. They will be distributed to the Communities by the Care Workers.

Time to go to bed, we are very tired. Up in the morning at 6.30a.m. and off to Buskbuckridge Service Centre by 9.15a.m. 2 ½ hours away. We will be going to Witts to unpack by 2p.m.and we are staying there until Friday, then back here.

Enough for now.

God bless

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Day 1- Senzokuhle Community

Hey Leah here (-:

Had a long two days travelling to Hands @ Work, but today reminded me of why we travelled here. Today we visited a place called Senzokhule ( a place I visited last year)sadly I didn’t see anyone I recognise last year. When we arrived at the home base care centre about twenty minutes in and we were all attempting to sing along to the beautifully sung melodies in siswatti lead by a women named SisCindy who we collected on the way along with three other children. After the singing the children started showing of their talent some did this by acting out the issue of HIV/AIDS in their community this was taken incredibly lightly as during the performance some children laughed, when usually it’s a taboo subject then a group sang beautifully and then two young girls and a young boy divised poems to perform in front of us these were based upon the importance of education, one girl wrote what she would do if she was president, and spoke about the unfairness of the country and one did about the blackbird of Africa. After we all split into groups as there was many tasks that needed doing these were painting, gardening, and laying down tyres

I met some new children today and spent the majority of the day with a beautiful 12 year old girl called Lindokuhle, we dug up the garden and then she taught me a class hand singing game. Then Lindokuhle showed me how it was meant to be done (with another little girl) and well they were fantastically quick! We gave out food for the children: (and for us) a peanut butter and jam sandwich, and orange, a drink and some sweeties! This year we are eating alongside the children which I thought was so much better because there is away of equality about it. Today was very good a good way to start the two weeks.

Love to home and everyone! Missing you all incredibly, Danidoo even caught myself singing….Doctor nickibottey nickeybotte number 9.. and wallam still on page 50.. your so going to winnn!! Hope your okay Mum and Dad. I love youuuu

Good night love from South Africa.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Church & Community Team arrive safe and well... 3rd August

Hi Everyone,
A really quick note to say that the church and community team from Great Wyrley, Cheslyn Hay and Rugely have arrived safely at Hands at Work in White River.  Good flight, a bit of a mix up with car hire... and then a 6 hour journey (including breaks) with some wonderful views.  We had a warm welcome from Alicia Ralph, one of the folk who live here at the Hands at Work in Africa base  (called "The Hub") We were so glad to have a lovely evening meal whcih had been cooked for us.

Tomorrow we will be helping with some practical tasks at at community centre in Senzokhule which is about 40 minutes from here.  Painting, fencing (chicken proofing a community garden, and other bits and pieces as well as sharing out and eating sandwiches with some of the orphaned and vulnerable children who are cared for by the local community volunteers.  There may be over 100 children there tomorrow... so we made lots of peanut butter and jam sandwiches tonight... Yum !  or Yuk! depending on how you feel about peanut butter and jam...  I think we might get to like them.

Hope to keep you up to date with more info and news soon,

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

God Bless.... on behalf of all the team.

Richard Westwood

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Hey everyone. So here comes a rather overdue post from those left behind in Africa.
On Wednesday we went to visit a mobile clinic that travels and sets up in a banana plantation once a week. The workers there go to the clinic if they need to, and take their babies for their check-ups. Outside is the crèche for the young children of the workers. They get taken there early in the morning and are left all day, sometimes 30 children with only a couple of women looking after them, and they often fall asleep in the dirt or are left to cry.

All we were there to do was play with the kids, and it was so fun! They were too young to talk to us so all we could do was feed them yoghurt and play with them. I sat with a girl called Lebo who wouldn’t smile for half an hour. She would only smile when I tickled her but eventually I spun her round and she laughed, and I took her to play with a group of girls. She was suddenly a different child and I’ve never seen a kid laugh so much! She was climbing all over me and wouldn’t let me go. I stayed with her until we left. As we started to leave she must have seen people beginning to say goodbye because she wrapped her arms and legs around me and wouldn’t let go. I took her to another girl and put her down, and as I was saying goodbye and crying she was standing there beaming and waving. I cried as we pulled away in the van, but she had come to the gate to wave, still grinning.
Joe & James: We’ve had two days at Hands helping the maintenance team around the village. We’ve been doing things such as digging and repairing concrete foundations, making metal structures, helping Dave the mechanic and cutting building materials to size. We met a man called Bethuel who was a young orphan when Hands@Work first met him, now at 22 years old he works for Hands on the maintenance team and still provides for his two younger brothers. Another member of the team, John, is in his 70s (he doesn’t know his exact birth date) and still works 5 days a week 8 hours a day manual labour!
Hi from Lizz…

After a couple of days chilling at Mercy Air we’ve come back to Hands for the week.

I’ve been helping out with hospitality and office work, meeting loads of people who work here and getting far more of an insight into what goes on behind the scenes. I spent yesterday with three ladies who do hospitality up at the house which the school team stayed in, who clean and cook and prepare the rooms. They were great, funny women who live in Masoyi and I got to talk to them and learn a bit about them. Today I worked in the office printing and putting together books, and typing up a talk that George Snyman gave recently. His talk was on the Hands model, Nehemiah’s building of the wall. I got to see what the staff here do and understand more of the complicated work that has to be done to run a charity which spans southern Africa.

It’s great living at the Village and meeting everyone who lives here: the morning started which ladies’ prayer which was very special, and this evening there was a shared meal for the whole family.

We're praying for the community team as they travel out to meet us on Thursday. Hope the journey is quick and easy and you all get here safely. Lizz, Joe and James.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Day 7 - 20th July 2012

Hello everyone Abbie here again I hope everyone’s okay back home still and I’m still having an amazing time still getting on really well with the girls and Dan who I have to say is going to be a new man by the time he comes home.

Well just to fill you in on my own personal experience since I last spoke, on Tuesday we visited the centre for Hands for their one region and was talked through the hands model and ideology of proving and assisting through care workers in their home community three essential services of; safety, education as well as food via feeding programs for the children in communities who are recognised the most vulnerable. This was useful as it explained how hands try to tackle these problems on the ground with care workers behind them giving me a greater understanding of how hands work. Following this then when to meet Petros who has been ill recently but is an amazing man who whilst still not being well champions people in this fellow community to go into his village and the surround villages and try to assist them providing services to the children who need it most, all whilst he and this family live in the same poverty same kind of dwelling his youngest girl being on the most vulnerable list, this care for others whilst being in the same situation himself and trying to make a positive change to his community rather like Ralph I spoke about before just amazes me. Anyway to cut a long story short we then met the chief of the village at the feeding program due to his interest in our visit.

Then Wednesday came and we went to Share a region who’s program with hands has only really just begun here we met the care workers and in the morning we did home based care in which I went round with Anna who has three children 11, 6 and 4 years as well as a husband but still goes out into the community despite her other commitments to help the others, as well as another care worker, and Emily who is a trainer for hands for the care workers who looks after her niece and nephew. The first house we went to was with a young man called Lucky who was sixteen when his parents died in 2006 and ever since then has been looking after his three younger brothers who are 12, 13 and 20. Even though he’s twenty two that to me is still young to look after and provide for your family especially if at almost the same age as me he was pleased with that pressure, no disrespect to my lad mates I love them all but I couldn’t see or imagine them last year having to be the soul carer and provider for their family of three younger siblings no matter how lovely they are. To add insult to injury despite graduating high school like many people is struggling to get a job even though he was so intelligent and polite and spook perfect English, also there home, which was not elaborate and was somewhat newly built and the back of the building had collapsed so that the rain got into the room sand flooded and there was not security there being missing half a wall also at night I think it gets freezing, let alone how they feel when my baking is to them a cold winters day. After him we met Tabo (I think it’s the one who Hannah will talk about on her blog) his grandmother who was looking after him and where it cost twenty Rand to monthly take him to the hospital and who her son and daughter in law live with her to. After this we then did a feeding program with some of the children, but there wasn’t so much time to personally get to know individuals it was just a lot of play.

But the next day we then got to go back and spend more time doing the Homes Based Care Visit and then with the feeding program spend a long time with the young people and children who are regarded as most vulnerable or in need in that community. In the home based care we first went to visit a woman called Bosani who has three children two girls and one boy and who are 14, 10 and 6 years old the boy and her share a room and the two girls share another with then one other small room in the house, she showed us round and she was lovely showing us the girls Sunday best which stuck me as region is so important she had made sure that despite the state of the other clothes which compared to my wardrobe is slightly lacking she had ensured that they would look nice for church, the girls also shared a room and a mat, and Bosani also then showed us a mat she was currently weeding which was just a simple mat which she was now going to sleep on with a blanket with her son, with how cold it is I don’t know how they do that. She was so lovely and so proud for the little she had which just reinforced how ungrateful we all are for the opportunities and the clutter of stuff we have.

The second house we visited contained 8 people in one house that consisted off the one woman who was ill, then her three children aged; 18, 17 and 13 and then her sister Setsuwini with her three children aged; 7, 3 and 1, the three and the one year old we met and were shy but so so beautiful and I’m not just saying that.

Now don’t worry I’m finally coming to and end of the stories my family will not hear the end off but then after this we then did the feeding program again, this time I got to speak to some of the young people and I got talking to Sharon who’s the same age as me and likes business and wants to be a business woman when she’s older we got talking and I found out she lives with her older brother as her mom and dad both died as well as her younger sister, Issha, who’s twelve who I also met, once again she was so funny and intelligent and her English rivalled mine. Her and her friends, Dumisile who’s 18 and since the age of fifteen has lived with her brother who’s twenty also and her younger sister Cleverness since her mother died were talking to me about school and home and so touchingly which actually reminded me off my friends back home, asked me what I was doing Saturday. I didn’t want to say we were going to Kruger (which we did today and saw the big 5), as for me I just felt it insensitive, so I just said I couldn’t go when her and her friends asked if me and the rest of the girls wanted to come with them to ‘watch’ the boys play football, or just ogle them in other terms which made me laugh and reminded me of my friends but it was so touching they asked and both them and myself seemed rather disappointed when I had to decline.

Day 6 - 19th July 2012

Hey it’s Izzy, I had a great day today. Probably my favourite.

We went to share to do some HBC (home based care) and I went to see two houses. In the first house the mother Bosani was making a mat out of very thin straw like bamboo things to sleep on with a blanket on a cold stone floor. Their whole house was the size of my living room and there were 4 of them living there. She showed us her garden full of cabbage, tomatoes and beetroot.

In the next house there was a mother who was sick looking after 3 kids but she was only allowed 1 grant for 1 child in the family. All together there were 8 living in one house and it was only a tinny bit bigger than the first one we visited.

Back by the HBC centre Joe and Shane were painting a sign on the wall because the building was new. We waited for the kids to arrive and we had some pap, cabbage, beans and chicken. Pap is very filling. Afterwards we got out hula hoops, balloons, bubbles and the parachute. I was blowing bubbles for the kids and then giving it to them to try and they loved it! This boy called Manz Obedient was really funny and he loved the bubbles he was only 10. He thought I was 19! :D He couldn’t believe it when he found out I was only 14 he spent about 20 minutes asking me over and over again and asking other people if I was telling the truth. I didn’t want to leave because I had only just started talking to him properly and he wanted to take lots of pictures with my camera.

I’m having such a great time here and I really want to come here again.

Lots of love from Izzy xxx

Hey everyone its Hannah. Today was a really tough day for me today as we were back in Share. Yesterday I made a really strong connection with this 13 years old boy called Tabo an saw him again today. From a young age he had physio that stopped working eventually, which he no longer has. He has issues with his neck shoulder and left hand. Tabo was in grade 5 and I taught him how to swing a hula-hoop on his arm. As soon as I saw him today I was given a huge hug off him and greeted with a huge smile and it was really hard to say goodbye. Tabo lives with his grandmother who some others met when they went on home based care in share the first day. Hopefully he will continue to do well and keep making progress and hopefully if I get the chance to come back I shall meet him again in a few years time.

I’ve loved it here and cannot believe we have been here a week now, feels like I never left.

Miss you all,
Lots of love,
Hannah xxx

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Day 5 - 18th July 2012

Hi it’s Daniel,

Today is Walky Talky Wednesday and for the first time ever, I tried a chickens head and foot and it was “delicious”. It looked really unusual but the head; well lets just say you can see the brain. We went to Share village and we did home based care in the morning. We also met this care worker called Nhlnhla who had one of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard because it had so much passion in her voice. After that we did a feeding program for the kids and unfortunately we didn’t have time to play with them but luckily we will have a party with them on Thursday. When we got back to base, I decided to have a hot chocolate and when I cleaned the spoon in the sink, I broke the tap and water came spurting everywhere. Luckily for me, Sean came to the rescue and in the end the whole village had no water for an hour but its all good now.

Love to all my family and friends (especially Tina)


Day 4 - 17th July 2012

Hi its Daniel and Lex!

Today we went to Dellani and out of the ordinary we met the Chief of the village, which is a huge honour so we were all excited. We started the day with all the adults going to meet Petros and pray for him and his family and when they came out, we were told that we were off to meet the Chief and his wife! We arrived at the Chiefs house only to find that he wasn’t there, so we sat with his wife and had a few pictures. Afterwards we went to the church for a feeding programme and the meet the Chief himself. We played with the children and then we had pictures and a chat with the chief. We all went off and spoke to different children and played with them and Lex got called ‘Big Momma’ which apparently is a compliment…but we’re not so sure…

Speak soon!

Lex & Dan xx

Monday, 16 July 2012

Day 3 -16th July 2012

Hello everyone Abbie I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet as I do like to waffle and I will be here night if I have my way. Anyway I hope everyone’s okay back home, I'm alive and fine mom before you start worrying and having an amazing time as to be expected. Firstly I would like to say that everyone is doing so well out here although they are really really doing amazing they’re all loving it and doing so well and you can see change already.

Anyway on Saturday we went to Belfast and there was this little girl Tambuko and she was just beautiful I can’t explain how lovely she was, she was around 3 and tiny, she lives with her grandmother and her older brother of around 8 and her younger sister of around 2 but unfortunately I do not know their names. She was holding my hand and showing me round and kept wanting to be picked up and when I had her she didn’t want me to let her go, the worst part due to it being the saddest for me personally was when she called me mom, I put her down for a spilt second and she just looked up at me with her big brown eyes and then lifted her arms up and went ‘moma’ my heart bled it was heart breaking that she was doing that and then she wouldn’t let me go. Carleigh a Canadian woman who’s been staying at Hands for a while told me normally she was really bubbly and hyperactive but when I had her she kept on coughing and was all lethargic. The only thing that seemed to make her have the hint of a smile was if you tickled her a little.

At one point two of the boys stole her lolly pop and she was crying and crying so I rocked her to sleep singing in my awful singing voice and then she just fell to sleep on my lap for a good hour or so, when we had to leave she turned around and waved at me with the rest of the children the same age or younger she was walking home with. Much to my delight we went back to Belfast today to do the de-worming project and my lovely little Tambuko looked at me and ran through the fence, it has to be said she seemed lot better today which was an obvious relief and although she dropped her food on the floor (rather a replica of my clumsy self) and cried we soon calmed her down and she actually ate some things today as apposed to the other day where she didn’t touch her food. I know I’m waffling on now but she was so so beautiful, if I had it my way mom we would be having another child in the house.

Anyway I’m going to go now got lots of thing to do, love you all stay safe

Ab xxxx

Hey it’s Jess F or mouse, as Shane would say,

Today we went to a place called Sommerset in the morning to do home based care. Before we went off with our groups we played a game where you had to say to the person next to you saying “Mrs Mumba, Mrs Mumba, where’s Mr Mumba?” but without showing your teeth, I was actually crying with laughter. Then we went off in our groups with care workers, I was with 3 care workers called; Gladness, Martha and Linah. My group only ended up actually visiting one house and I was really surprised by it, as it was a really beautiful house. The woman we met who lived there was called Emelina who was 65, she had 2 sons, 1 daughter who sadly passed away and 3 grandchildren. She had many ornaments in her house, which looked like she had been collecting them for many years. She was making these really cool mats with bamboo sticks and she taught us how to make them, which I was quite proud of!

After doing home based care we went back to the same place in Belfast as the other day. We took the parachute for the kids to play with and it was lovely to watch they all looked like they was having so much fun. Then we everyone started dancing, but to be honest none of us really could and one of the kids showed us how it was done. I then met a little girl which was called something along the lines of Sing but I didn’t quite catch it and she was so sweet she kept coming up to me hugging me and telling me she loved me. It was quite sad when we had to leave as we won’t be visiting there again and the kids were all so lovely. When we were saying bye a lad about my age kissed me on the hand, which I found extremely cute!

Anyway I’m going to go now, miss and love all my family and friends

Jess xxxx

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Day 2 - 15th July 2012

Hey guys, its Lex again…

Today we went to the local church and I have to say, I don’t think I have enjoyed myself this much in a long time. We sat with all the local people, we sang, we danced and we were welcomed with open arms by everyone there. Everyone there had the biggest smiles on their faces and the passion they all have for life was inspiring. Some of the people I spoke to have a lot less than I do yet they are so happy and full of faith and love and they all wanted to share their lives with us. The way that these people express themselves is truly amazing, they sing song after song (with the most beautiful voices ever!) and dance around and make an effort to talk to people, which isn’t something I have ever seen or experienced before in my life. I can’t wait to go again and be a part of it all..
Speak soon,
Lex x

Hi its Daniel …
Today was a great day for me. Firstly we went to a local church and it had the most passionate and loving people I have ever seen in my life which was really inspiring for me because some of them are living in poor conditions yet they still have smiles on there faces. Their singing was absolutely incredible and when we joined in with them in the dance; it was definitely an experience that I would never forgot. I’m so excited to go again next week.
Love to all my family and friends (especially Tina)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Day 1- 14th July 2012

Hi everyone, it’s Izzy (Stirk) and I'm really enjoying it here! I’m not missing anyone too much yet but then again, it is only my first day. We went to Belfast today and made peanut butter and jam sandwiches. All the kids got a sandwich, some cheesy crisps like big wotsits and a very large orange with a very hard skin.

At first the kids weren’t really taking to me but when we had to split up into teams to go and fetch tools and manure for the garden they want to grow, I stayed at the youth centre to try and bond with the kids. There were a few that I picked up and they liked it when you spun them round and things. It’s really nice seeing them smiling and laughing J When I got my camera out the one boy was really eager to take pictures but he had his fingers over the lens but I do have a few of feet and half of my face.

I really enjoyed the prayers and singing today even though I’m not religious. Their voices are just so good (makes me jealous) and when everyone’s clapping along and really getting into it, it really gives you goosebumps and it gives you a chance to step back and really look at where you are and what you are doing.

Everyone there today really loved having us there and they even wrote ‘I love you’ on the minibus window in the dust. I am getting along really well with everyone and I have just come in from sitting on the trampoline singing songs. We played a one line game and all Daniel could come up with was ‘L---E----XI’ it’s very funny.
Night xx
<3 Izzy (S)
P.S everytime I smiled the kids stared at me because of my braces and one girl asked why I had earrings in my teeth :D

Hey, Jess (Burton) here J I had a great time today in Belfast. At first it was awkward because I didn’t really know what to say to the kids but they were really friendly and some of the girls were the same age as me. After we got back from collecting the mealy meal bags and manure for the garden they’re creating, a small boy ran up to me and hugged me. So I picked him up and rested him on my hip. It was a great feeling to know that he came to me for affection and he clung to me for the rest of the time we were at the village. It was great to know how much everyone appreciated us being there and I was sad to leave luckily we’re visiting again Monday.

I had a great night tonight we sat on the trampoline and sang songs and looked at the stars, it was lovely socialising with everyone and it feels like we’re getting closer already.
Talk soon x

Friday, 13 July 2012

2012 Schools Team Arrive at Hands @Work

Welcome to the 2012 Link 4 Life Project Schools Team Blog.
The 2012 Link 4 Life Schools Team as they left from Great Wyrley High School on Thursday 12 July 2012
After a  long journey via Dubai the Schools team have safely arrived at the Hands@ Work base  in White River South Africa.
There were some delays in sorting out the car hire in Johannesburg, but the journey went well and all the team are safe and well in Sanderson House, which will be their base for the next 9 days,. Andy Evans one of the team leaders sent a text message to tell us that they had arrived and were settling in- about to have the evening meal which had been prepared for them.

Sanderson House
It will take them a day or two to sort out their own internet connection via a mobile phone connection- but when they do we  look forward to reading about their visits and the people they meet.

We will all be thinking of them and praying for them as they visit communities in the Bush Buck Ridge region of Mpumalanga in the NE of South Africa.  Much of their time will be spent alongside care volunteers who visit and support orphaned and vulnerable chiuldren-These are the people who Hands@ Work are supporitng and who we are trying to build strong ties with.

Well done team! We look forward to hearing all about that you see and do.  God Bless you all

Richard Westwood (Back in Great Wyrley) 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

At the airport

Jess B here from the 2012 team, just at the airport waiting for the delayed plane. can't wait until we arrive in South Africa. I'm looking forward to all the scenery and meeting the children. When I get back I hope I will have a better understanding of the cultures of South Africa, I want to feel as if I've helped to make a difference no matter how small, I would also like to realise how lucky I am and be a lot more grateful for everything I have. I only have one worry which is that I will miss my friends and family but I'm sure as the two weeks progress I will feel as if I have a second family and a lot more friends. :)

Lex here from the 2012 team
sat on the floor of the airport shaking with nerves and excitement! Ready to go and start what we have been working towards for the past 12 months and learning so much more about the local cultures and lifestyles...when I get home I hope to feel like I have helped to make a difference and made new friends. I'm going to miss all my family and friends so much and I will be thinking about them every step of the way.

Hi Jess F here sitting around waiting in the airport! as nervous as I am I'm so excited, I can't wait to experience a new culture and learning a completely different lifestyle. I'm really looking forward to making new friends and hopefully friends for life! Going to miss my friends and family so much but they'll always be in my thoughts.

it's izzy, i really don't know what to write here apart from how excited I am! I can't believe I will be in south Africa for the next two weeks without family, good thing I have some great friends around me xxx :)

its Daniel , I'm really looking forward for this trip, this will be one of the best experiences ever, can't wait for this!!! love to all my friends and family xxxxxxx :)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tesco Bag Pack - 23rd June 2012

Hey everyone, Hannah here from the 2010 team and now from the 2012 team too.

Just thought I would share some photos from our bag pack on Saturday and mainly to say and big well done and thank you to everyone who took part, donated, came to cheer us on or even dressed as a panda! (all will be explained)

It was a long day working from 9-4 with everyone always being on their feet but everyone kept going offering to help, and sharing the word about Link4Life.

In Lexy and Ryans case they had a bit more of a harder job, being stuck in a panda suit (don't worry, many embarrassing pictures to come for the moms and dads to use!) so while standing on their feet waving to kids and getting even more donations, they also were sweating like pigs!

We raised £724.36 on Saturday which is incredible and will help everyone! Thank you to Tesco Heath Hayes as well for letting us go to your store and raise the money!

Seriously though, well done to everyone who came, I am really proud of you all and cannot wait for Africa now! Going to be amazing!

2 weeks 2 days to go!

Will blog again soon, Hannah x

Friday, 4 May 2012

Hello everyone it's abbie from the past 2010 and the current 2012 team. I would just like to say well done to everyone with their fund raising everyone has done outstandingly well in raising half the money so far or in some case's more in such a sort space of time! Well done to everyone, I know everyone's a little nervous or doesn't quite not what to expect, and to be honest it doesn't hit you till your over there, there's no words to describe the feeling you get, you will just know it when it hits you. So I will stop blabbing on, well done everyone keep up the good work, you can do this! I know you can, remember to use the blog to to say how you think it's going, it just gives you something recorded to look back on when your in Africa and your actually experiencing all of the emotions that come with the trip. Always here for you love you all Ab x

Monday, 19 March 2012

Hey Richard, Rose, Andrew and Sam!

Hope things are going well, Your doing such a good thing! see you soon.

Lots of Love
Leah and family xxx

Sunday, 4 March 2012

ASM and the help they offered the Gardener

The Gardener I introduced you to on 7th Feb has continued to come to my friend, Cathy’s, home to work in her garden once a week for the last month.

His medical needs became the main area of concern as she noticed that he became very tired each afternoon and worked much more slowly.

On the first day he had complained of pain in his back and Cathy, a nurse, diagnosed shingles. She asked him to go to the clinic at the School of Health at Africa School of Missions (ASM) in two days’ time. She would be teaching the student nurses there and would therefore be at the clinic while he was there. He was seen for an initial assessment by an auxiliary nurse and was then seen for a long consultation by a senior nurse. It was clear that, in addition to shingles, he had significant mental health needs and was suffering from depression.

His isolation from his family, his unemployment, poor sleep, poor food and ill health would have contributed to this.

Our gardener did not have to pay for this medical help as it was clear that he had no money

He was taken by ambulance to the nearest government hospital about 40km away where he was given medication for the shingles and the depression and was sent away. He had to hitch-hike back to his home because he had no money for a taxi.

Nursing staff at ASM clinic offered him a follow-up appointment to make sure that he understood how to take the medication he had received from the hospital. They did not need to do this but were very concerned about his mental health and were surprised to hear that he had not been admitted to the government hospital until his mood stabilised. They also arranged for a local pastor to contact him to offer support and gave him Christian literature to read.

The following week when he arrived for work in the garden, he complained of a sore mouth and had a swollen face. Cathy took him to the clinic at ASM again and he was prescribed antibiotics for a dental abcess. The nurses recommended that he should go to the government dental clinic the following week once the infection was under control in order to have teeth removed. When he arrived for work the third time he had had two extractions and was no longer in any pain.

Cathy still does not know much about the gardener. Why has his wife left him and why is he unemployed? Does he have a problem with alcohol abuse? Is he dishonest? He does seem calmer now and is less demanding; he was asking for clothes for himself and his family and he was phoning Cathy frequently. Perhaps he is feeling better; maybe he is sleeping well because of the pain relief. Perhaps he feels less desperate and a little more confident. Maybe he knows now that there are a few people at ASM who care about him as a person. They will not just send him away with a bottle of pills. Instead they listen to him and pray for his wellbeing, both spiritually and financially while trying to meet his medical needs. Cathy’s hope and prayer for him is that he will get to know Jesus.

He will have some good news next week because he will be offered a three month trial for another gardening job for an additional two days’ a week on Cathy’s recommendation.

If he works hard and is honest and trustworthy he should keep the job beyond the three months’ trial and should begin to earn enough money to support his family. How this young man uses this opportunity to change his situation is now up to him. I hope he can make the most of the chance he has been given.

We see so many young men waiting in groups at the side of the road for a day’s casual labour. It is an uncertain way to live and almost impossible to feed a family that way. I hope our gardener doesn’t return to that way of life.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Unrest in the Masoyi area, near White River

This morning several employees at Mercy Air were not able to get to work because of unrest in the Masoyi area yesterday and today. The protestors are objecting to the slow response of the government to provide adequate water and electricity to their area. Masoyi where the Hands S.A. hub is sited, has a population of a quarter of a million people and is the informal settlement near White River. Unemployment rates are very high as are levels of HIV infection. Most of the side roads are still dirt roads so that accessing them to supply water and electricity is difficult. President Zuma has referred to the service delivery difficulties in his state of the nation address last week. This may have prompted this protest and roads have been closed by the police.

The road to the School of Health department of Africa School of Missions was still open (Peebles Road) though the road is closed beyond that into Masoyi.  Numbi gate is closed which will affect tourists planning to visit Kruger National Park. I assume also that Hands village on the Peebles Road will be affected as the staff there may be unable to visit the communities they support in the local area.

Cathy and her colleagues teach the student nurses at ASM and provide a clinic for local people. People of all ages come to the clinic with whatever medical needs they have. There is no appointment system and people wait to be seen on a first come first served basis. (Unless there is an emergency of course.) The nursing staff refer on to the hospital as appropriate.
At this clinic the student nurses get the clinical experience they need under the guidance of their teaching staff. Most of this year’s cohort come from the local community…Masoyi…..and will probably work in their community when they qualify.

On Wednesdays, medication and medical equipment is loaded into a trailer and is taken to a private farm in the Kiepersol/Hazyview area. Here the staff and students see employees from the farm (a banana and avocado farm) and their families. Anyone in need of anti-natal care, HIV/AIDS advice and treatment or other medical needs can access the service provided they can get the time off work.
It is here that we have met the migrant workers, the men and women who live and work 20 or 30 km away from their families only returning to their families once a month for a long weekend. The housing is very poor and overcrowding is common.
Pre-school children stay with their mothers on the farm and are cared for during the day by child care workers. As soon as the children reach school age they stay with family….if they have any…..back in their home community as there are no schools available for them near the farm. The mother continues to work on the farm; this leaves her school-age children vulnerable in the home community. These might then become the vulnerable children we visit alongside the orphans in the villages.

Last year I met a lady,let’s call her Mary. She was lying on the floor with severe abdominal pain. She had four children living at home in Bush Buck Ridge (about 30 km away) with her brother while she worked on the farm. She had no parents to care for her children only her brother. She saw her children only once a month and she said it was hard. She was in a lot of pain and was assessed by the nursing staff and then an ambulance was called to take her to hospital. We don’t know the outcome as follow up is impossible unless the person can return to the clinic to let the nurses know how they are and this is unlikely.
The mobile clinic is vital for maintaining the health of the farm workers because they would be unlikely to travel off the farm to access the clinics in the town.

Tomorrow, Cathy would normally meet her colleagues at the Mobile Clinic on the farm but if, as expected, more roads are closed, the clinic will have to be cancelled. Not only will the trailer be unable to leave ASM but some student nurses and interpreters who rely on buses and who live in Masoyi will also be unable to get to work.

It is very hot here and we have access to hot and cold running water at Mercy Air but 15km away people are protesting because so many of them have an inadequate water supply. Who can blame them for protesting?

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Gardener

 7 Feb 2012.... Rose writing...

Today I began to see how difficult it is to try to help someone out of poverty.
A friend who lives here recently had a brief conversation with a car park attendant. It is customary here to pay the car park attendant a small amount of money to keep an eye on your car while you are away. He asked her if she had any work for him in her garden. He told her that he was not able to earn enough to feed his wife and two children and needed work. She felt she needed to seriously consider employing him. In deciding to do this she was taking a risk. He was a complete stranger and his story might be false. She risked giving him the opportunity to steal from her home.
She had a number of telephone calls with him and then today she met him at a nearby traffic junction and brought him home to see the garden. She had agreed to take him on for a trial period for one day a week.
I saw him arrive and felt for him so much. He had dressed smartly and carried a small bag containing work clothes and a phone.
He was extremely polite and listened carefully to the instructions. He changed into his work clothes and then worked hard all day pruning and weeding.
He told us that his wife had gone back to her family in Bushbuck Ridge with their two children because he was no longer able to feed them in their family home in Masoyi. He returned to Bush Buck Ridge (about 2 hours drive) each weekend with any money he had earned to feed his family.

At one point he seemed to feel unwell and my friend soon realised he had shingles. She encouraged him to go to the clinic later this week to get help.

This situation made me realise that my friend’s responsibility did not end once she had paid him for the day’s work, she also needed to help him with his medical needs and he was happy to accept this help.
She had taken a risk but he seemed trustworthy. He is desperate to do a good job and put her in touch with someone who would give a good reference and showed her his ID.
My friend has shown compassion and has made herself vulnerable. She has reached out to a stranger and has decided to trust him. She will need to continue to be wise as she gets to know him. He too has taken his responsibility as a father seriously. He could so easily have cut off all contact with his family and turned to stealing to feed himself. I hope this agreement works out for them both and that he can begin to rebuild his family life.
Rose 7.2.12