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