Here are some of the stories that have stuck with us over the past week:
There is a story that really impacted me on my last day at Mafambisa. When playing the parachute games with the children on the Kids day at Mafambisa, I saw a little boy around the age of 1 standing on the edge of the circle, not joining in with the game. I went over and tried to talk to him, he came across as very shy and isolated. I picked him up so he could see what was going on with the parachute. I took him with Me and Liz to set up the finger paints, whilst doing this I put him on a chair, he didn’t move until I had finished. Once again, I picked him up and sat down on the chair with him. Within the space of fifteen minutes he was fast asleep in my arms, I took him inside the church and lay him down on a mat to sleep whilst I helped the children with finger paints.
One of the Hands people that had come with us, Dan, told me about him and his story. Elton* is 18 months old, his Mum left him just before he turned one to go to Johannesburg to work and live with another man. She only comes back for one day a year, around Christmas to see her children and say hello. That is all. He lives with his eighteen year old sister and her two children without anyone else to care for them, they have no other family they are in touch with.
Dan, however, is there for them. He visits their house once or twice a week to make sure they are okay and are still safe. This gives Elton hope for his later life. Without Hands at Work and all their supporters, Dan wouldn’t be there to keep them safe.
That is Elton’s* story.
Obviously, over this past week of community visits I have faced a lot of emotional challenges, however something that especially impacted me was the story of Victoria*. She is a mother of four, who lives in a house that lacks security and has lots of problems, such as leaking roofs and cracked, broken windows. Since theft is prominent in her area, she and her family are at risk of getting broken into and robbed. However, she can’t afford to fix these problems herself, despite the inconvenience and danger they put her family in.
These living conditions are polar opposite to the ones that I have grown up with, and I sincerely hope that she and her family remain safe at home. For me, home is one of the places I feel safest. I cannot imagine the idea of living somewhere that lacked basic security essentials, such as a door that locks.
Luckily, the Hands at Work team are aware of this problem and plan to provide Vicky with what she needs to ensure she and her family are safe at home.
A few days ago when we did the children's day I met a girl called Teresa* she was a lovely girl she spoke really good English. Whilst we were there me and Teresa* made two paintings for each other. I did a painting of me and her with lovely messages and I did a painting with a flower on it with our names on it, she did a picture of me and her, she put things like "I love you Georgia," "good bye everyone." She also put "love you so much my friend good bye Georgia.” When at the end we had to say good bye I played one last game of catch, gave her a massive hug and finally I got on the bus. I really didn’t want to leave but I was happy I left with some good memories and she knows there is someone that cares about her.
When it was community prayer on Friday we prayed with the care workers and care givers, then we did home visits. I met this lovely lady called Gogo Sierra*. She was so kind and welcoming. We needed Harmony* translating for us that day. She had told us about her pain and suffering. A part of the story got me when she started getting upset, she told us about when she lost her husband around two years ago. The family had blamed her for his death and had kicked her out from the house along with their kids. She was left stranded, nobody to turn to in her hour of need. After a few weeks, she went to collect his pension that was split between his ex-wife, current girlfriend and herself. After trying to get her life back on track, she was hit by another emotional obstacle, her daughter had been murdered. This, along with the grief of her husband passing, had caused her to go back off track for the second time. She had lost faith from the suffering and the pain, but Hand’s at Work had helped her back on the path of God. She was left with more questions, but God, and the frequent prayer meetings, had helped her find the answers that she was looking for.
She started attending the care point, along with her grandchildren. She is now doing well and has a long, tough journey, but has stayed strong through it all. She now looks after three of her grandkids and her other daughter is staying with her, plus her two kids. Some of the children had been failing due to their loss, but she was determined to get them back on track so that they have a great life. She aspires to go back to school and get her old job as a teacher. She had said that the Maranatha workshops, that Hands at Work run, helped her overcome her grief and become the strong woman she is today.