Monday, 27 February 2017

Day 9 - 27 Feb Looking back on our time with Hands at Work in Africa

Monday 27/02/17
As the Wolgarston Link for Life team prepare to leave Hands at Work the students have been thinking about the experiences they have shared and the people they have met...

Some of the team at the Hands at Work in Africa hub

 A story that touched me this week was by a young man called James, who lives one of the communities that we visited. His father lived with him for a number of years but left him not long ago. But he didn’t move away far. His father moved into a house in the same village that he and his mother live in. This would be a hard thing to see as these villages are small and everyone in the communities talk to each other a lot. As a child you would think that your father/mom are incredible role models in life that teach you the main things that you need to know in life, imagine if you’re  a child and you see your father leave and create another family in the same community as you. This would be incredibly tough to see as your father is a main person in your life. James aspires to excel in economics but because of the family situation he may find this incredibly hard. James is one of the leaders at the care point, he dresses up in his Sunday best and his smartest shoes, this shows that he really does try hard and it proves to me that he will go far in what he wants to do.

Walking to a home based care visit in the village
 A story that touched me this week was at a home visit in Sommerset. It was by 'Gogo' (Grandmother) Hope who looks after her grandchildren. Her one grandson’s mother had died but unfortunately didn’t have a death certificate, and he didn’t have a birth certificate himself. This meant that he was at risk of being kicked out of school because of a recent change in the law by the Government.  This would mean that he wouldn’t be able to get any qualifications, so no job when he grows up. His grandmother only receives £60 a month by the Government for looking after her grandchildren. Because of this, she is struggling to support her family. When I visited the house of Hope she made us feel extremely welcome and she seemed to be very happy in herself but deep down we knew how much she was struggling to cope. It was a very inspirational story because it made me realise how much I take my free education for granted because this little boy was at risk of never being able to get a real job to support himself or his family and how a piece of paper could mean so much and completely change your life. 

This week a met a little girl named Faith who had really quite a sad but quite touching story. She lived with her Gogo (Grandmother) as her mother is not in a well enough mental state to care for her properly and her father has disappeared and nobody knows where he is. She was not registered at the care point officially but was allowed to visit and interact with the other children. I learned that she was previously extremely shy and timid for many different reasons but gradually improved over time and gained confidence from being at the care point. She had the most beautiful smile and laugh and her eyes were so full of love and hope. She sat and played with my hair and was so gentle and friendly, I think that she will grow up to be an absolutely lovely and well rounded person despite the struggles she has faced.

A time that really effected me was at one of the communities we went to. We were all sitting round a circle waiting for the care workers to arrive. A girl called Sonny came up to me and gestured that she wanted to sit on my lap so I picked her up and she leant back onto me. I could feel a lot of trust that she was giving me. She loved looking at the palms of my hands, so I played 'round and round the garden' on hers. When I tickled her at the end she was howling with laughter and made me so happy seeing her laughing and smiling despite her circumstances. This really effected me because I expected the children to be unhappy, so it really surprised me to see how fun she was having at such a simple game. 

Maisy -
While visiting Siyathuthuka on Friday, I experienced something that felt personally touching to me. After helping to sweep and mop the meeting room, the other girls, (Libby, Sophie and Daisy), and I played with a few of the children that were already at the care point. We were laughing aloud and enjoying each other’s company, until I looked across the  yard to see a small girl sat alone. Immediately I went over to her, without thinking, which I’m happy I did as soon as I asked if she wanted to come play with me, she grabbed my hand tightly and followed me over. She didn’t speak, not once. Looking into her eyes as she sat on my lap, I could see that she was traumatised by something which was keeping her so quiet. I used gentle gestures to communicate with her and soon she started smiling. We got along so well, just holding each others hands and playing with my hair. I could see that she needed a one on one relationship with someone who would care for her and shower her in love. It was touching to me as I was the one who had the opportunity to show her some love, although it was only for a short while, I could’ve sat there with her for ages. 

Sam -
On Wednesday and Thursday we visited a new village to Hands at work . This village was very broken and there are very few male role models, this leads to many of the younger men and boys to have no one to look up to. So as they do not have good example they don’t know how to act or be a fatherly figure so many kids get mistreated. But we all met two male leaders called James and Andrew. They had been mistreated in their early life but miraculously found a way to over come this and to try and set an example for the younger kids at the care point. Andrew was 18 and was in grade 11. But he wasn’t fully concentrated at school as every day he went home to his grandmother who was starving and was not very healthy. However he had a great ambition of becoming a lawyer, he wanted to become a lawyer as he would earn good money so he could support his grandmother. I really hope he fulfils his dream and can carry on being an example for the younger kids and one day be a good fatherly figure to his own.