Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Living a different kind of life... how the other half live! Wednesday 25 Feb 2015 - Day 11

Brian Taberonr writes...
This morning we went to visit the mobile clinic in Kiepersol with Cathy Middleton - one of our hosts at Mercy Air.  The clinic is 'mobile' and is set up afresh each time it arrives.  The location is a banana farm!  It sounds exotic, even romantic... but the conditions for those who work on the farm are far from great.  Many of them live on the farm in very basic accommodation, and only get to see the rest of their family at  'month end' [a long weekend once a month when they are able to go to visit their families]. Many of the workers are migrant workers, with few, if any, rights and very little control over their lives. The clinic is provided free of charge by Africa School of Missions, where Cathy Middeleton is a nurse trainer.

We arrived just as the student nurses were leading worship. After a Bible reading and a short talk, both of which were in the local language for the area (Siswati), we sat with the farm workers who were waiting to see the nursing team. Cathy showed some of us around while others got to know some of the patients. 

Waiting and playing with children outside the Mobile Clinic
We spent some time playing with the pre-school children outside, we played with bubbles, did some colouring and fed the children with some yoghurt. The children didn’t know us, so it was difficult to play with them but some were able to respond to us.
After a couple of hours we left the farm and returned to Mercy Air in silence thinking about  what it must be like to be a migrant worker, without documents forced to live in poor conditions with minimal pay.
After lunch, we reflected on our visit and what we plan to do when we return home and then some of us were given a tour around the facilities at Mercy Air by Paul and we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.
Thato prepared a Braai (BBQ) for our evening meal after which we watched a fantastic thunderstorm.
Tomorrow we start our return journey to Johannesburg airport.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Moving to Mercy Air - Tuesday 24th Feb 2015 Day 10

Rose Westwood writes...
After ladies' prayer in the chapel at the Hands at Work hub, we said our goodbyes to the Hands at Work volunteers and thanked them for the support they have given us this week.
We stopped at the local supermarket, PicknPay so that Natalie and Becky could buy the ingredients for a vegetable chilli which they had offered to cook us in the evening. 

Mercy Air is a mission aviation charity based in White River about 20 minutes drive from  Hands at Work.  As well as the hangars, grass air strip and heli-pad they have accommodation and hospitality facilities which they use to allow missionaries from Mozambique to come to have well earned rest.  The facilities are great and the welcome warm, and we were glad of both both of these as we arrived.

 After lunch at Mercy Air we visited Lowveld Botanical Gardens where we saw unfamiliar butterflies, trees and flowers. The one in the picture has fallen from the Powder Puff tree.

Afterwards some of us relaxed by the pool at Mercy Air while Brian and Jamie went to White River to replace the spare tyre from a previous puncture.

We had a lovely meal with Paul and Cathy Middleton  (Paul is a Pilot with Mercy Air and cathey is a midwife and nurse trainer and both of them lived in Walsall before coming to Africa) and learned about Cathy's work at Africa School of Missions.
We are going to the Mobile Clinic tomorrow where Cathy trains the student nurses.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Supporting the Hands at Work 'family' at the hub in White River, South Africa

Today started with the men’s prayer group at 7am this morning which Thato, Jamie and Brian attended, this was followed at 8am by the Monday morning prayer meeting for the whole hands family. We were given the opportunity to give some feedback and reflection on our visit. Brian, Laura, Thato and Rose spoke about their personal experiences and this was followed by a moving time of prayer for the whole team.

Following this our team host Alicia led us in a final hands de-brief session where she expressed the gratitude of the Hands team and then we ended with a hymn led by Thato.

Most of the team joined Devon, Kyver, Nevermind & Betuel to help dig a trench from the workshop towards the chapel using Pickaxe, Shovel, Spades and machete for a power cable to supply the chapel. Unfortunately one of the Hands team (it wasn’t us, honest!) pierced another water pipe with a pickaxe.
Brian spent the remaining time bailing out the trench while work continued to gain access to the pipe.
Jamie's Salon

Meantime Jamie opened a mobile hair salon and treated the volunteers, male female and children to a haircut and this service was very popular.
Over lunch, Alicia helped us to think of the stories we will tell when we went home.
After the meal, we had a de-brief which focused on what changes we would make following our experiences. 

The day ended with outdoor games on the field where we played Frisbee and Bocce (an Italian form of Boules). It was good to have fun with the Hands family, and to hear their stories.
Tomorrow we will pack our bags and go to Mercy Air for the next stage of our visit.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Worship and wonder and relaxation - Sunday 22 Feb 2015 -Day 8

Rose, Ipotseng, Thato and Brian went to St Peter's, the Anglican Church in White River Church this morning  and then returned to the Hands village to pick up the rest of the team and head to Blyde River canyon.

We stopped at Graskop for pancakes and drove up to The Three Rondavels  ( a stunning view of the Blyde River Canyon) where we are pictured in the photos.

Stunning view of Blyde River Canyon
We then headed down to Bourke's Luck Potholes and then Berlin falls before driving back to the village where we met some of the new intake of Hands at Work volunteers volunteers for 2015 and we enjoyed getting to know them a little and sharing a laugh.
We got back from our trip round Blyde River Canyon at 7::30pm
We had a great time and look forward to our day spent helping around the Hands at Work Hub tomorrow.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Big day - Big game - Early start and a huge tree! - 21 Feb 2015 - Day 7

We've had a really great day today in the Kruger National Park.  We entered at Orpen gate at 5:45am and journeyed down through the park to leave the park at Numbi gate at about 5:30pm.
On the way through, we visited Satara camp, this huge Baobob tree (!) and Skukusa camp and saw many animals including elephant, girraffe, jackals, zebra, vultures and YES, two lionesses. 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Volunteer Care Worker appreciation day - Day 6 – 20 Feb 2015

Children and their care workers from Share
and the Link for Life 2015 Community Team
Hands at Work like teams to spend the last day of their time in the community doing something different for the volunteer care workers or for the children.

We looked at the strength and skills within the team and decided that we would spend some time with the volunteer care workers.

Some of us massaged hands and painted nails and others made bead bracelets and Jamie, who is a hairdresser by profession, offered an oil treatment for their hair.

The most popular activity by far was the bead bracelets but it was also lovely spending one to one time with care workers that we have grown to know. It was also really nice to see one of the children waiting in line to have her nails painted and for the hair treatment.
This was our way of thanking the care workers for doing such a great job and encouraging them to continue with this work. After our meal we had our last play with the children who have become more and more comfortable with us as the days have gone by.

It was hard to leave but we have taken some lovely group photographs some of which we will print off and give to the next team who will pass them on to the volunteer care workers to remind them of our visit - to let them know that we will  not forget them or the children they care for.
We’re off to bed now because we have an early start for our day in the Kruger National Park  tomorrow- (4.15am get up!)

Brian Tabernor on behalf of the rest of the 2015 Church and Community Team

Care givers appreciation day 19 Feb 2015 Day 5 -

Today we were able to take part in a special day for care givers – the women, often grandmothers (Gogos) who look after the orphaned and vulnerable children in their homes; These special days to honour and support the care givers are organised every month by the care volunteers at the life centre in Share.  Showing appreciation and care for these care givers in this way is another part of ensuring that the children who come the life centre (care point) have a network of care around them.
We helped the care volunteers at the life centre to prepare food for the care givers (Vegetables, pap, soup and chicken)and while that was cooking we sang, prayed and danced with the care givers. When the food was plated it was a privilege to take it to them. Many of these care givers were known to us from home visits we made this week or in previous years and so it was good to deepen our relationship with them. It was great fun trying to learn the Shangaan names for pap, meat and water. It was a very hot day so we were able to learn how to say “Oh it’s hot” Ka Hisa. 

A typical journey through Share
to one of the homes.
 After they had eaten we accompanied them to their home, stayed with them for a while and learned their stories. Many of these care givers are grandmothers looking after their grandchildren because their own children have died.
A typical journey through Share to one of the homes.
We all finished the day back at the care point where we played clapping and dancing games with the children. Some of the children we have got to know over the past three days are now coming up to us because they recognise us.
Back at Wits after a lovely meal we met as usual to talk about the day; this time we talked about the social situation in the communities we have visited in order to understand the lives our children are living.  
Tomorrow we are looking forward to giving the care workers the chance to have their nails painted or create bracelets, however we will be sad to have to say goodbye.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Home visits - with a 'holy' aim... Day 4 Wed 18 Feb 2015

Brian Tabernor writes...

This photos shows most of the team preparing the Cabbage, Carrots, Beans and Onions for the children’s lunch at the life centre at Share.

After worship at the local 'life centre' (or care point), we spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon doing 'Holy' Home Visits* with the local volunteer care workers in Share and some of team from Hands at Work who are based at the Hands Service Centre in Hazyview.
Following the visits we played with the children as they came out of school until it was time for them to have their meal. We then said our goodbyes with the promise to “Sita Banana Mzuku” or see you tomorrow. 

We look forward to a special day tomorrow where the care givers are welcomed to the life centre (The care givers are usually grandmothers … who are know as  ‘Gogos’ or may in some cases be an older sibling or a parent).
*[Hands at Work in Africa call these visits to the homes of the children who are orphaned ' 'Holy Home Visits' ... This might seem puzzling name, but the idea is that those who are visited (usually an older relative - perhaps a grandmother  or in some cases the oldest sibling) are deliberately given time to be listened to fully and cared for - so that they can share their real needs and hurts.  The visit will often close with a time of prayer - asking for God's help through the Holy Spirit - for the children being cared for and the, often very stretched, care giver. Listening well like this also allows the volunteers doing the visit to understand the needs of the children and carers and perhaps adapt the kind of help being offered.  Hence a 'holy' time and outcome is the intention and longing of all these visits.]

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Visiting the community of Share - Day 3 - 17 Feb 2015

Rebecca writes…
The photo above is showing Jamie hard at work helping in the Share community, cleaning up the weeds. My highlight of today was when I met a child and he is 18 years of age and he seemed so inspiring to me; as he spoke and smiled it was like nothing was bothering him and he was loving life and had no worries, he also seemed very confident and wasn’t shy to speak to new people he had just met.

Natasha (Known to us as Ipotseng) writes…
The support that was there (in the Share care point) was very amazing especially from the care workers and the team.

Thato writes…
The phrase that have I learned today was the greeting …it was ‘Avusheni’ that means ‘Hello’ in English and ‘Yebo’ which means ‘Hello to you too’.

Natalie writes…
The first thing that I was able to experience today was the Women’s Prayer. I thoroughly enjoyed it; it was lovely how there was a sense of trust expressed by everyone even though they hadn’t even spoken to some of us previously.  I liked being made welcome and have been prayed for by Hands members, it helped me feel like I was a part of something wonderful.

Day 2 - Monday 16 Feb 2015 - Siyathuthuka

Here we are in Mpumakanga ;-) Mpumalanga!

At the care point in Siyathuthuka

After spending the morning learning about all that Hands at Work do, we visited Siyathuthuka and were very warmly welcomed by the carers. Jamie, Thato and Brian helped to tidy the yard; Rose and Laura talked to the care workers and Natalie, Becky and Ipotseng helped to cook and serve the food. 

We all had fun learning new games with the children. We have had a very positive first day and look forward to spending the rest of the week at Share.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Two teams become one in Johannesburg Airport

We are delighted to say that the Link for Life Project church and community team from Lichfield Diocese arrived safely in Johannesburg and were met by two church members from our companion Diocese of Matlosane in South Africa.  The photo shows a freshly unfurled South African flag being held by the now combined team.  The Matlosane team members were brought to the meeting point by Archdeacon Sydney Moghobotla from Promosa, near Potchefstoom.  The team were then taken by mini bus (provided by Lowveld Link in White River) to Mpumalanga where they will be staying at the Hands at Work hub before beginning their community based visits.  We look forward to hearing from them as they journey together and support those in need.
Richard Westwood

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Church and Community Team Depart for South Africa

The Church and Community Team  (Rose, Brian, Jamie, Laura, Natalie & Rebecca) left on time earlier today from St Andrews Church in Great Wyrley.  They were transported safely to Birmingham Airport (thank you to Saunders Travel) and are nearly ready for take off on their visit.  We look forward to hearing about their visit through this blog.  They will b
Natalie, Laura, Brian,Rebecca, Jamie & Rose
e met in Johannesburg by two members of the church from the Anglican Church in Matlosane - so the team will be a cross cultural cocktail as they move to Mpumalanga to the Hands at Work Hub near White River on Sunday.  Their first day visiting local communities will be on Monday 16th Feb as they walk with care volunteers who care for orphaned and vulnerable children.  We will be thinking of them and praying for them. 
                                                                                                       Richard Westwood

Friday, 6 February 2015

Ready for off!

Hello everyone, we are......Natalie Holford, Rebecca Holford, Brian Tabernor, Laura Jovicich, Jamie Richards and Rose Westwood. We are getting ready to go to Hands at Work and Mercy Air next week. Here we are at our Orientation Day at St Mark's in Great Wyrley. We are looking forward to going to Share in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga with our friends from Hands at Work. We will walk with the care-workers as they care for the most vulnerable children in their community. We will spend the last two days at Mercy Air. From there we will go to the mobile clinic in Hazyview where we will see the work of Cathy Middleton who trains student nurses at the Africa School of Missions, near White River. Please follow our blog as we try to post something every day.