Tuesday, 31 January 2012

First day in Hluvukhani, Bush Buck Ridge- 31 Jan- Rose Westwood

Hluvukhani is the group of villages which the Link 4 Life Project teams from Great Wyrley have visited in 2010 & 2011. We spent most of today walking alongside care workers as they made home visits to orphaned and vulnerable children in the Hluvukhani area. Andrew and I walked with Linah and Leonkie. We walked along sandy roads and narrow paths lined with hedges of unfamiliar shrubs. We walked into compounds with one or two tiny breeze block houses. Sometimes there was a crop of maize or a mango tree. The stories of the children were very concerning. K is a 16 year old orphan who lives with a mentally ill and sometimes violent grandmother and her three older brothers. There was music coming from a nearby “Shabeen” (stall) where people can buy alcohol. She is clearly at risk. Two families had four or five children and an unemployed mother. There was no father around any more. The parents were refugees from Mozambique with no ID and so access to education and health care is very difficult if not impossible. Each family depends on the kindness and generosity of neighbours for food and clothes. I was struck by the fact that the careworkers have large numbers of children on their lists who need visits. These children live in their own communities. They work every day for no pay and come home tired. What must it be like to go to bed knowing that so many of the orphaned and vulnerable children you care for are going to bed hungry? … And any food you share with them, you are taking off your own children.

I felt extremely helpless in the face of such need, but even the little that is being done is making a difference to the children.  We need to work out how we can best play our part in supporting those who are giving the care to these children. It is complicated, but we can do something.  


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Settling in

We have had a busy weekend; buying dongles, SIM cards and airtime bundles to help us communicate with supporters at home. We have been to Touzhill Church where some of the worship songs were in Afrikaans. Apparently at other times they are sung in siSwati but mostly in English. Outside Andrew and Sam climbed avocado and mango trees. It was good to catch up with people we had met during previous visits to the Church. We received several invitations to visit these friends. Yesterday we spent a lot of time with Sibusise from Swaziland. His name means ‘blessing’ in siSwati and he certainly was a blessing to us yesterday. He is spending some time at Hands at Work learning skills he can take back to his own community later this year. We talked about the education and health systems in the UK and in Swaziland. There are many differences. He was amazed that so few people in the UK regularly went to church (2%) and he asked the question with some urgency that is challenging us all; ‘What is the church doing about that?’ Later I felt self conscious as I loaded the trolley with, what by UK standard would be considered a moderate amount of food for a family of four for the next few days. I wondered what he was thinking. Would that amount of food only be eaten at a time of celebration in the community he comes from? He has certainly challenged me to think about how much I eat.
Thanks for following this…..I wonder who we will meet tomorrow in Bushbuck Ridge.  Rose

Friday, 27 January 2012

Long Journey- Safe Arrival

Richard, Rose, Andrew and Sam Westwood here...

After a long flight courtesy of Turkish Airlines ( via Istanbul!) we arrived safely in Johannesburg this morning, and then drove through a beautiful, sunny and hot South Africa to White River where we have settled in to the Hands @ Work in Africa base.  We have enjoyed a meal with Paul and Cathy Middleton at Mercy Air (Thanks Cathy) and we're now looking forward to a good night's sleep.

Istanbul Airport is fascinating... we had a 6 hour wait between flights, but it seems that pretty much the whole world is passing through... Rose and Sam enjoyed a drink of Turkish tea and Andrew and Sam found a lovely moving pavement to test out (several times!)

Many thanks to the many people who have, in many different ways,  helped us to get here.  Thanks for your prayers - we feel very supported and loved.  God has been very good to us.

We stopped for a rest on the drive at  service station, (excellent drink of coffee!) and were served by a very kind man called David, who was from Zimbabwe... and as we chatted it became clear that there are many hidden parts to life here in Africa.  He is trained satellite engineer in Zimbabwe, but earns twice as much in South Africa as a waiter as he would plying his trade as an engineer in Zimbabwe, and his wife also works in South Africa... they both have to leave their three year old son (Emmanuel) with grandparents in Zimbabwe- making ends meet means that this is how it is.  They see their son every three months!.  "Is it any better there (Zimbabwe)?" I asked.
He replied with honesty... "It is .... for some!"  Perhaps it was too big a question for an interested but passing traveler to ask.  But we couldn't help feeling wildly privileged to enjoy our meal and drink and drive away... when he and probably many others cannot.

Our jobs tomorrow include getting hold of an internet dongle which will allow us to blog etc while we are in Bush Buck Ridge next week and Matlosane after that.  Starting slowly is important, as we try to orientate ourselves to what we hope will be a healthy pattern of life for us a family here.

We hope to keep in touch on the blog soon.  Take care, & thanks for reading.

God Bless
Richard. Rose, Andrew and Sam  x

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Meet the 2012 team!

After a few ours of being awake at our sponsored stay awake i managed to persuade our 2012 team to introduce themselves! We cant wait for this year, will be amazing :) So introducing our camera shy team of 2012!!!