Thursday, 27 July 2017

Thursday 27th - Flying back

Hello everyone and thank you for following our blog.
We have said our goodbye's to Paul & Cathy, negotiated the roads thanks to Paul at Lowveld Link and made our way through customs.
Now waiting to board BA 54 for the flight home.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Wednesday 26th - Banana Plantation

Well what a day! With our last day coming to a close, we are Braaing the night away with good company.

This morning we spent our time at the Banana Plantation seeing the other side of the story of the many women who work away from their families to provide for their families back home. Cathy and her team spend one day a week at the plantation providing basic essential medical care to the workers of the area and their residential children. The team played with the children and our brief time there put smiles on all of the little faces we encountered.

From leaving the plantation the team split into two groups to go to an Elephant Sanctuary and a Reptile zoo, the two teams had an amazing time, with my high light being reciprocation of a big sloppy elephant kiss to the neck and walking in tandem with them. We were able to touch and get a real perspective on the size of the magnificent beasts.

Love Ryan.

 Our team of Me (Harry), Bobbie, Jack, Dom and Brian visited a reptile zoo in Hazyview, although some of the group were very nervous about some of the snakes, monitors and lizards they would see the experience turned out to be a great one. After a light introduction to the zoo, only seeing a few bearded dragons and large monitors the real fun started when we came across the tarantula pen. One of the highlights of this was seeing the Brazilian Bird Eater Spider. Its sheer size was hard to comprehend even with it staring us all in the face. We then moved on to see some of the snakes the zoo had to offer. The snakes included Western Diamond Backs and Puff Adders before coming face to face with the infamous Black Mamba which luckily, we did not encounter on the roads of South Africa. The real fun for me however started when we arrived back at Mercy Air where we received a trip in two of the aircraft the charity owns. Me, Jack and Dom travelled in a plane of our own with the others travelling with Paul in a larger 8-seater Kodiak, As the avid pilot that I am,

 I jumped on the chance to fly the plane… or steer it at least. The views from the aircraft were incredible and every single one of the team loved our trips in the sky, we then landed to enjoy a final night together as a team, ready for our flight back home tomorrow.

This therefore brought to an end what was not only an incredible day but the most amazing trip of our lives. Every day has presented new challenges but together we pulled through and became stronger as a team. The people and the places will never be forgotten by any one of us and I, as well as the team are thankful for everybody for supporting us through this incredible journey, we love you all and we’ll see you very soon to tell you about the amazing individuals we have met on this trip. Thank you once again.

Love Harry


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Tuesday 25th - Last day with the Hands at Work team

I started the day with women’s prayer. We all gathered at the church, where there were women who are long term volunteers and part of new teams who had arrived. We started by identifying the praise points of the week. My praise point was that the team really connected with the children in community. Then we asked what we could pray for and I asked to pray for our team to stay connected with each other when we return home. Then we wrote down something we struggled with in everyday life and prayed that God will help us overcome this. I also prayed to be a more patient person. After this we played a game where the leader shouted out a bible verse and who ever found it first, won. These bible verses were related to trusting in God and they really helped me. The last thing we did was have a race as a gogo (grandmother). We had to balance a ‘baby’ on our backs, which was a hot water bottle, we balanced a large box on our head and then we had two large water bottles in each hand. We raced back and forth, trying not to drop everything. The purpose of this was to show that many gogos are on their own. They have to carry their grandchild, water and groceries all on their own. I massively appreciate what they do and they are amazing women.

Love Molly

Today was our last day at the Hands at Work Hub. We arrived early and our first task was maintenance. Herman wanted us to rake up all of the leaves because in the spring they provide a hiding place for snakes. This proved to be a long and tiring task! Some of us raked the leaves while others scooped them up into the net and dumped them. As a reward, Herman took us on a short drive in his truck. When we returned Herman explained that he would be going into town so we took a picture with him and said our goodbyes. This was tough but it felt more like a “see you soon” than an indefinite “goodbye.” We were then handed over to the communications team, Celine and Daytona. They had created a photo scavenger hunt and we had to run around the Hub taking the required photos. It was clear that we were all competitive and there were many scowls at the winning team (Jack, Bobbie and Alison) and Celine for torturing us! Once we had completed the scavenger hunt, it was time to say our goodbyes. This was the hardest part of the day in my opinion. The people that we had got to know felt like a family away from home. They will truly be missed. We made sure to get photos for reminders but it was clear to us all that we were in each other’s hearts and like I said before, it felt like we would be seeing them again very soon…

Love Dom

Monday, 24 July 2017

Monday 24th - De-brief at Hands at Work

Today we started with community worship where we were introduced to more of the Hands at Work family. They welcomed us and we sang songs and prayed for our journey and other teams who are coming soon. There was another team who had just arrived from Biggleswade. We gave them some advice about the communities they were about to visit and they were very friendly.

Next, we had our last debrief with Charissa and Herman. We had a beach ball which had multiple questions on about the visit and when we caught the ball we had to answer one of the questions. My question was ‘what bible verse has had an impact on you?’ My response was in James 2 there is a verse that says you can’t have faith without deeds. This really spoke out to me because a lot of people claim to have faith but do nothing to support it. So, when I am home I want to do more for people and to be a better Christian.

Another question was, ‘What made you laugh?’ Ryan’s response was that a boy in Mluti remembered him and came running up to him immediately. Ryan was so happy that their friendship had blossomed but what made him laugh was that he remembered Ryan’s name. The boy called Ryan, ‘Jackie China’. This made Ryan’s experience in Mluti even  more memorable.

Love Molly

In my last debrief we talked to Charissa and Herman and it was by far the best debrief that we have had while being on this trip. We had to play a game where we threw a beach ball with questions written on it and threw it to each other around the room and then we had to answer one of the question. The question that I chose was, ‘Why did you come to Africa?’ This question was very hard to explain within the debrief but my answer was that I haven’t had the easiest life and I have had multiple occasions in my life that I have been told I can’t do something or that I would never be able to achieve something but after each of these occasions my mom has always told me that I can achieve it and do whatever I put my mind to. Even when I say I can’t do something she always tells me that I can do it and when the opportunity came up to come to Africa I told my mom that I couldn’t cope with going to Africa and I couldn’t deal with the different aspects of life within Africa and once again she told me that I can do anything that I put my mind to and this gave me the motivation and the courage to come on this trip and experience the amazing things that I have experienced and as I explained within the debrief, I wouldn’t have done half the things in my life that I have done and achieved without my mom telling me that I can do it.

Today we also visited Chimp Eden and it was amazing. To see the work that staff do with rescuing the chimps was amazing and getting to know all the information like how chimps share almost 98% of the same DNA as human beings was amazing and listening to some of the appalling situations that the chimps have been through and how they are getting better because of this sanctuary was amazing. The whole team talked about when you get told by family members and friends that this trip is a once in a life time opportunity, you take it on the chin and just agree with them but when you are actually out here and when you have experienced the things that we have experienced it really does start to sink in that this is a once in a life time opportunity and the whole team would like to thank everyone that has supported us on this trip and gave us all the motivation and courage to do this we really do appreciate.

Love Jack

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sunday 23rd July - Blyde River Canyon

Today we started the day by getting some groceries from the supermarket for our evening meal.  Trying to accommodate everyone’s tastes and come to a consensus was a challenge to say the least. We then set on our way to Blyde Canyon, stopping on the way at Harrie’s Pancakes for breakfast, yum! Everyone was very happy with their choices and the sugar overload.  We had a look in the shops afterwards, the African wares are colourful and fun. After dragging Molly out of the shops because if left to her own devices she may have bought everything in the shop, we got back into the minibus - although we must say she is very good at haggling.

Back on the road we headed for The Pinnacle which is a 100ft tall pillar of granite; the views were fabulous. Next, we headed for God’s Window so that we could look out from the top of the escarpment across the surrounding landscape in all its glory.  We had to climb quite a lot with the help of hundreds of steps. This was great though as we could burn off all calories from the pancakes and milkshakes. The views were spectacular and the camera does not do it justice.

Next on our tour, Brian our tour guide for the day, took us to the three Rondavels that are at the other side of the canyon and are three natural round formations which look like the traditional Africa huts. Finally, we headed for Bourke’s Luck Potholes, these are a series of natural geological formations and are made up of inter connecting pools.  The potholes occur where the Treur River joins the Blyde River at the start of Blyde River Canyon.  Jack, Harry, Molly and Ryan bravely paddled in the very cold water, although Ryan did manage to split his shorts in the process.

Sadly, the road trip came to end all too quickly and we had to set off for Mercy Air to cook the evening meal and wash up. 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Saturday 22nd - Kruger Park

We woke up at 4am for an early start for our visit to Kruger National Park. Having arrived at Numbi gate for when it opened, we made very short work of finding the first of the Big 5, spotting some lioness in the grass.
We spotted most of the animals that we wanted to see; elephant, rhino, hyena, giraffe, wildebeest, hippo, crocodile, baboon, zebra, turtles and a wide variety of birds including vultures. We took loads of great photo's and look forward to showing them when we get back.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Friday 21st - Share

Over the last couple of days, I’ve spent my time with this young girl who was living with just her mom because her dad left them when she was just a baby. She was amazed by the colour of my hair and immediately wanted to braid it. We spent the day talking and getting to know each other’s different lifestyles. She had the biggest smile on her face and had the most amazing laugh when I couldn’t pronounce their language properly. We taught each other different games and handshakes and I feel as if she really is a friend. She started to touch my hand and she said my skin was beautiful and her skin wasn’t because of the colour. This broke my heart. She was saying how she eats with her hands and we can eat with cutlery; She thought she was below me. I then told her no matter what colour your skin is you are beautiful and I am not better than her and her face lit up. I could feel the love fill her face and for me being able to make her feel important, made me so honoured and I am so happy to have been able to connect with her.

Love Molly

When we arrived in the community, the children had already had their peanut butter and jam sandwich with a cup of tea, for breakfast. They were all in the life centre and had started their worship. This consisted of worship songs, reading passages from the bible and most important the sharing of the benefits they had gained from the Marantha workshops.  The care givers and the children shared how they felt supported by each other, the church and the work that is done at the life centre. Many of the care givers said how grateful they were for this support and the fact that they didn’t feel alone anymore.  I helped prepare and serve the food for lunch. Chicken soup, rice and beetroot.  After the children had eaten, tea and biscuits were given out while the team prepared some activities for the Maranatha workshop. With Floyds help, one of the service centre workers, we organised sack races, football and we got the children to put paint on their hands and place their hands onto a piece of paper, we then wrote their name under their hand prints.   I got everyone to sign my top as it is a great memory that money couldn’t buy. I connected with most of the children, especially the older youth leaders. Three lads who worked so hard in the community with the younger lads, helping them to understand their sins and follow the way of God.  It was sad that I had connected with these children over the past 3 days and we had to leave.

Love Bobbie

Today was the last day in the second community that we visited and it has been one of the best

feelings that I have ever experienced. The atmosphere that the team experienced within the Maranatha workshop was absolutely incredible. Everyone was so positive and happy and to see the smiles on everyone’s faces was the best feeling in the world. Everyone within the community has such a strong and positive belief and they have so much faith that he has a positive effect on everyone else and all in all this makes the whole community a very positive place. Also, I believe that the community seeing the team really take part with the singing and dancing made the atmosphere a lot more positive. When you think of Africa you have a stereotypical view of it and although that some things are similar that we thought it would look like, there is a lot more positivity and a lot of faith which is so good to see. I believe that there are a lot of problems that need to be solved within the African communities but to see the people’s faces light up when you say that you are from a different country and you want to know what their story is so that you can tell people back in another country is one of the best feelings ever and it makes our team a lot more positive and happy.

Love Jack

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thursday 20th in Share

Today was our second day in Share, we felt that a lot of barriers had been lifted and the children were warming to us. Old friendships had been rekindled and new ones formed as the children engaged and played alongside us all. Today our meal has been by far the best with a concoction of potato, ground beef, butternut squash and pap which the team thoroughly enjoyed (although not all ate the pap). The meal was to come in useful as the hot afternoon sun baked down on our shoulders and our feet bouncing around the life centre.
 Love Harry and Ryan.

Today, we joined Share community for the second day of the Maranatha workshop for the children, young people and we arrived in time to help prepare their breakfast which was tea with jam and peanut butter sandwiches. After they had eaten we went into the building for morning worship where we introduced ourselves to the wider group and the children learned our names. (Thankfully, we weren’t asked to learn all of their names). The children were then asked to say what they learned from the previous day, which was based on sin and forgiveness.

Following this, we went outside as the children split into smaller groups to talk about relationships and their own stories. We sat outside in the shade to talk about yesterday and what we have experienced and thought so far.

As the children’s groups finished, we went up to dish out the meal, which Harry and Ryan have described. The afternoon playing with the children was such fun and you could feel that they just want to be loved as they clung to our hands and stared into our eyes.


As the main driver, it would be fair to say that the driving has, at times been a little challenging. The pot holes here cavernous but the off roading has been a lot of fun! We’ve been entertained along the way with singing  and funny stories but we’ve also had some quite times on the way home reflecting on the day, the stories we’ve heard as well as thinking about the children we’ve connected with.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Wednesday 19th July

Today we visited another of Hands partner communities. Upon arrival, we helped prepared the food for lunch and washed the dishes. The children were involved in their Marantha workshops.  A group of the younger children came out of their workshop and were given a page each from a colouring book to colour. We were advised to try and connect with these children, this was difficult because of the language barrier and they were engrossed with their outstanding colouring. It was only when the colouring stopped and the care workers started singing a hymn that had us all joining in a march around the property that the ice was broken and we were able to connect with the children and play.

We were quickly overwhelmed by the attention the children sought and the eagerness of them to interact with us. Even though it was difficult to talk to them it was the universal language of care and love that they understood. The most difficult group to reach today were the teenage girls.  The Hands at work volunteers explained that even they find it difficult to connect with them.  However, it was pleasing to see that our two teenage girls, Molly and Bobbie reached out and we saw a great connection between them and they talked for a very long time.  There were a number of older boys too, some of these were training to be junior care leaders.  Their English speaking skills were fabulous and made it so much easier for us to communicate.  They played football with Dom, Harry and Jack and led the prayers and hymns prior to lunch a strong make role model for the youngest children to observe.

Jack, Harry and Dom watered the many vegetables that the care workers had planted. They also served lunch, Dom attempted to stir the pap but was laughed at by the care workers because he wasn’t as strong as he thought he was! A number of us helped the care workers wash up after lunch before playing some more with the children. We then said our goodbyes before travelling to our accommodation in Witz.

Ryan, Alison, Dom, Jack & Harry

The community that we visited have been taking part in a Maranatha workshop all this week. On Monday and Tuesday, this was for the care givers. The workshop gives them a chance to talk through their life stories, as Hands at Work have found that this helps them to heal wounds. The care givers are often family members who look after the young and vulnerable who the care workers help to support.

Today and Thursday are the workshops for the youth and young children with each age group having different sessions.

Writing the blog under beautiful African starlight.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tuesday 18th at Mluti

Today I went on a home visit with Brian and Alison and we visited a girl and her gogo (grandmother). When we arrived the grandaughter was washing the clothes and her gogo hanging the washing.  I went over to the girl and offered to help wash her clothes. She was so grateful and it was so nice to be able to help. Whilst I was doing this the rest of the team helped grind the corn. However Katherine, the care worker we walked with wasn’t happy with their work and kept taking over. When crushed, the maze becomes pap and it is much cheaper to grow and make the pap than buy it in a shop. We then swepped her house so she had one day rest from that job. She asked for us to pray for her granddaughter in school and also for security over her house. I will be praying for them and if you could pray for their challenges and pray they can overcome them.

Love Molly

Our home visit was to a small family of a mother and two children. We found that the son had a profound impact on us. He was 18 years old and it was obvious that he had big dreams. He is currently on school holiday but he couldn’t wait to get back to studying! He is currently studying Business, geography, English, Maths, Siswati And Tourism. Eventually he wants to travel the world. We all found it so inspiring to hear and from his athletic ability it was clear to see he was a very talented and intelligent individual. We sat with him and his family and it was so comforting to see that they appreciated us just being there. I’m sure that he will have a bright future if he receives the support and attention he deserves.

Love Dom

Our home visit today was to a family who lived up the valley, after a brisk 20 minute walk we arrived at the family’s house. Upon arrival we were greeted with open arms and chatted about the family and their situation. They told us of the family’s troubles; as they were from Mozambique they were unable to gain South African documents in order for them to apply for grants and support. In light of this they are selling African beer which give the family a small income. The mother explained that their house was too small to house the entire family (5 Children and 3 Grandchildren) so they live in the community with other friends of the family.

The youngest of the children lived with them but the mother explained that the child had learning difficulties which inhibited his ability to go to school, as he was made to leave at the age of 15 after completing just two grades of school. Although she reported he had been making improvements in his general ability to do things which left us on a high note.

Love Ryan

At the care point today we all helped by preparing the meal of rice, chicken and vegetables including grated beetroot and carrot, serving the food and washing up. The team all made Holy Home visits again as detailed above. When we got back to the Care Point we played with the children and talked to the carers. It’s amazing how strong the bonds are that you build up over two days. It was so sad to say good bye to both the carers and the children but the stories they have told us and the hugs we exchanged will stay with us forever.

Love from all of us:

Dom, Harry, Ryan, Molly, Jack, Bobbie, Jayne, Alison and Brian

Monday, 17 July 2017

Monday 17th July

Today we visited a life centre and did some holy home visits. We all agree that the high point of the day was to see how the community pull together supporting each other in times of adversity. The group split up into three groups and did three separate visits.  One of the home visits was to a home where a young woman of 22 had taken in her 3 nephews after their mother lost her life to domestic violence. The boys were clearly traumatised.  Their auntie explained that they had improved, more so since their youngest brother who is 20 months old came to live with them.  Whilst we were in the life centre we observed the 2 older boys joining in with games, prayers and singing. This was fabulous to see. Alison, Ryan & Dom

Another one of the holy home visit involved meeting a family whose mother was finding life
difficult, she has a daughter and two younger boys and is faced with mobility issues that meant collecting water was left to her children. This journey to collect the water is difficult for small children, which made us all realise of the dangers posed to the children and how they are quickly brought up to deal with adult issues. One thing stands out clearly in all of our minds after today, which is that the joy that has been shared throughout the community is incredible and the feeling the people gave us will stay with us forever even after just one day spent in community. Brian, Molly & Harry

The third holy home visit involved three other members of the team visiting a woman at her home where she lived with her five children and grandchild. When we arrived, we witnessed some people starting the foundation of a toilet that they were building and when we offered to help move some bricks that needed moving. The mother was very surprised that we offered to help them saying that we didn’t need to do that but we insisted and helped carry them across to the foundations. We also had a little sit down outside and asked questions about her life. She had six children and we were very interested in their names. When we asked we found out that all the names of the children had different meanings. For example, one name was described as meaning like ‘a light’ which meant something special to the mother considering the situation she was going through at the time of the birth. Today was a very memorable day being the first holy home visit and has had an impact on the members of the team in a very positive way and we are already feel like we are adapting to a different way of life to the one we are used to. Jayne, Jack & Bobbie-Rae

On our return from the Holy home visits, we helped to finish stirring the pap and after playing catch with the children, Dom and Harry served them their food.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

From Ryan


All is well In South Africa with the team, with a prompt landing in Jo’burg and a speedy arrival in White River, we have relaxed, eaten and settled down for the evening! Early start for all the boys tomorrow for Men’s Prayer and an exciting day ahead for us all.

It was also the first time flying for two of us. Emotions were high and there were a lot of worries but in the end we all survived!

We stopped at the services on route to White River where we saw not one but five white Rhinos! as well as  Zebra, Water Buffalo, Ostriches and Emu and that’s before we get to Kruger Park.

Love (Rhandza),

All of us here.

Nelspruit Bound

We had a fairly smooth flight and are now with Lowveld Link traveling up to Nelspruit and White River.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Saturday 15th July

Lots of hugs and kisses, a final toilet break and we're off.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Great Wyrley schools team July visit.

Only a few days to go before the Great Wyrley schools team head to Heathrow for our visit. We are all so exited to journey to the Hands at Work hub and make new friends or greet old friends for those who have visited before. A big thank you to everyone who has helped us on our journey so far, please continue to hold us in your prayers as well as our loved families who we will be leaving temporarily behind.