Thursday, 27 February 2020

Thursday 27th February 2020 - Msholozi and our last full day in Africa

Today we went to a clinic in a community called Msholozi which is there for people who can’t reach actual hospitals and can only reach somewhere close by. These people are mostly refugees from Mozambique and are not allowed in most South African hospitals or clinics. Another reason is that refugees from Mozambique may be mistreated and taken advantage of is  because they sometimes d not have the correct documentation to register as refugees. Today I helped the young children be weighed, check their temperature and measure the width of their arms, which was mainly just to check up on weight gain and to make sure they are healthy. It was really interesting, but I didn’t realise what I was volunteering for when the nurses asked for one of us to help. 


On the way back from the clinic, we stopped of at the shop to get food for our braai. Paul from Mercy Air then proceeded to give us a tour of the offices and planes. We didn’t realise he big this part of Africa is and how far the planes fly. We had a chance to look inside the planes and sit in the pilot’s seat. 

We then relaxed by the pool before our final debrief of the visit where we all talked about the things we’ll remember most. This evening we had a braai which is what South Africans call a barbecue. Until finally packing our bags ready for our journey to the airport in the morning.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Wednesday 26 February 2020 - time at Mercy Air and reflecting on our time with Hands at Work

Paul and Cathy Middleton tell us about Mercy Air

Some of the view at the Mercy Air base
Yesterday we said goodbye to Hands at Work after a very intense, but very fulfilling time. It was sad to leave, but we were happy to have shared the experience with our hosts Alicia and Tyler, and the many other wonderful people there.
Before we left we had a debrief with Alicia and Audrey, then we were able to go down to the offices to say goodbye to everyone.

We then headed to Mercy Air via a stop off at Casterbridge for lunch followed by chocolate shots. Most of us went for whit chocolate shot cups but both milk and dark chocolate were also popular.

When we arrived at Mercy Air we settled into our rooms and said hello to Cathy, Paul and Erin - all of whom originally come from the midlands! Paul and Cathy were able to join us for dinner, where Paul told everyone about spoons and we had pancakes for dessert as it was pancake day. Then we went around to Paul and Cathy’s to hear about the various things that Mercy Air does. It was particularly interesting to hear about the relief effort following the cyclone that devastated Mozambique last year. It made us think of the refugees who’d fled the country during the war and the families and friends they’d left behind who have nothing and because of the cyclone now have even less.

This morning we went to what has always been known as the ‘banana farm’ but it’s now switched to macadamia nuts so should probably be called the ‘macadamia farm’ now. We met the ASM nurses that volunteer at the clinic with Cathy and saw the work that they do. Unfortunately, there were no children there today so we left in order to avoid getting in the way and cake back to Mercy Air where we had a chance to write down some of the other stories we’ve heard throughout our time in South Africa. We’ve written them below:  (Names have been changed to perserve their identity)

On the third home visit I went on I was going to visit a Gogo who looked after lots of children. When we first arrived we were shocked to see that there were three lads no older than four sat alone on the floor emptying an old saucepan of pap. When the Gogo came back the kids seemed happy to see her as apparently she had been gone for a long amount of time. She talked about how the mother had passed on an illness to some of the children as she did not listen to what the people at the care point had told her. The caseworkers said they would visit the family to see how they get on, but because the Gogo has to work to provide for the children there could still be times when they’re left alone to look after themselves.
Today was our very last day at Mafambisa care point and also my last day of spending time with the 11 year old I have made friends with, James. As he walked in he immediately spotted me and ran over to me. He gave me a hug he told me that he had something for me so I followed. He went into his school bag and handed me a picture that he had spent a lot of time creating.  He is a very good artist and puts a lot of effort and love into his drawings.  I realised how he will not receive the opportunities I have, but with his talent for drawing and his enthusiasm for life he is a very happy person and I hope he is able to use his talents to be successful in the future.

On my last day in Mafambisa, we visited the pastor of the church, Pastor Andrew. We were told he wasn’t very well and were going to take him medication and just to see if he was doing okay. As soon as we got there his wife welcomed us in and he instantly greeted us with a smile, he then went on to tell us about his cough and that when he is preaching he feels better because he is in the presence of God . Pastor Andrew wasn’t originally from South Africa but was from Mozambique, he walked through Kruger national park at the age of 7 sleeping for three nights around lions, leopards and cheetahs not including the patrolling police. After this he then told us an encouraging story, one day pastor Andrew went and sat on the side of the road and cried. He said he cried and cried until numbers of people surrounded him, he got mixed reactions but when he was happy with the number he pulled out his bible and began to read, teaching from it to those who would listen.  This was encouraging because he was happy even though he has lived a very tough life.

Whilst on a home visit with Audrey she told me about a woman who struggles with an alcohol addiction. She has two children who are 6 and 11. Audrey said that the woman had attended the care point, but was often drunk and would shout at the children. We were told that with the help of Audrey and the careworkers she had made good progress into becoming a responsible parent.

We met a Gogo called Virginia who was shelling ground nuts in her yard.  We helped as we spoke to her. She was looking after two of her granddaughters. She had two daughters and four sons.  She was looking after her two granddaughters permanently as their mothers worked in Johannesburg and they sent money to her to support for their children. The children were 1 and 2. She was really struggling to cope with the children because they wanted to see their mom who only visited once a year in December.  Her other daughter living with her who is 15 didn’t go to the care point because she said she had study groups after School then had to do chores.  Betwel spoke to Virginia and asked her to encourage her daughter to go to the carepoint before her chores so that she wouldn’t miss out on the support of the careworkers. Virginia agreed to go this.

We met a gogo called Louise. Gogo Louise came from Mozambique through Kruger park in 1998 with her son,  daughter-in-law and two older boys that no longer live at home. When they were in South Africa the daughter-in-law started disappearing off with strange men.  Gogo Louise is currently looking after two boys that are 11 and 6 and are the results of her daughter-in-law's disappearances. John (gogo Louise's nephew) came over from Mozambique in 2010 to help look after gogo Louise’s son as he was ill.  He died shortly after the youngest child was born. Then John lost his job due to having no identity papers and is currently trying to get money by selling popcorn on the washing line in their garden.  The two children whilst not only being cared for by gogo Louise are now also care givers as they are away from the home looking after their uncle – the brother of gogo Louise’s daughter-in-law. Whilst still attending school they aren’t being well fed so gogo Louise wants them back so they can get a good meal at the Mafambisa carepoint. Gogo Louise is trying her hardest to feed and produce even a little bit of food for the family from the fields (where crops are planted) which are over 5 miles away. However, there are stories that two lions are roaming around the fields as they escaped from Kruger park and gogo Louise doesn’t think it is safe to collect the crops for her family.

On Wednesday we went to Sommerset on a holy home visit and we met a family of three. Unfortunately, the mother had died quite recently leaving the gogo to look after two of her grandchildren - one girl aged 18 who recently stopped going to school after the holidays, which the gogo was upset about. Also, a little boy aged 5 who was quite shy but greeted us with politeness and a smile on his face. Unfortunately, the gogo was not very well and on antibiotics. The children were happy to see us and there were smiles everywhere. We were able to see their house which was relatively big compared with other houses in the community with bits of land for growing crops. The little boy was very possessive of the things he was carrying when we went to the carepoint, which may be because he is scared of losing things after he lost his mom. 

On Wednesday we went to Somerset and we visited a women names Precious. Audrey had told us that she had a very tough life following the very unexpected death of her husband after he had a bad headache. After she lost her husband she started to isolate herself and not talk about her feelings to anyone.  She would stay in her home and cry everyday and just not want to see or talk to anyone, after a period of struggles Audrey and the care workers decided to start visiting her and help to get her back on her feet and get better. It took awhile but she got there in the end and now she is back on her feet and she visits the carepoint often and has made new friends and is interacting with the children. She smiles now which Audrey is very pleased about.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Monday 24 February 2020 - our final day in Mafambisa

Today we spent time helping to improve the care point at Mafambisa. We helped build some new shelves for the careworkers to use to store food. We hand built the shelves from wood along with Betwel and Farzam from Hands at Work. The children helped saw and paint the wood. Even the little ones. We also spent time with the careworkers, some of the team took part in careworker appreciation which involved massages, foot washing, some craft activities and nail painting. After that we spent time playing with the children; we played catch and played with paper making aeroplanes.  

Saying goodbye to the children at Mafambisa today was really hard as we had built up a strong relationships with them. The children had remembered us from the last time we had went there and they were as excited to see us as we were to see them. When we said goodbye to them it was hard, but we know they are being looked after by some amazing careworkers. 
We have lots of stories to share when we get home about them. 
Leyton and Freddie 

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Sunday 23 February 2020 - Three Rondavels and Blyde River Canyon

Today we travelled to the Three Rondavels. When we got there we really enjoyed the view and spent some time looking at the three mountains. As a group we all took lots of photos and videos. We also had a go at some bargain hunting at the local stalls, selling things such as wooden and ceramic animals. There was also clothing that the locals would usually wear. Some of us tried a bit of haggling. Afterwards, Bourke's Luck Potholes was the second sight we visited. Again, we took lots of photos and also did some climbing on the rocks (carefully following the risk assessment at all times!). Where we were climbing had many views like waterfalls and different shape rocks of all different sizes, shapes and a variety of colours. However, due to the weather we didn’t get to visit God’s window as it was too foggy and wet. Mr. Leonard wasn’t happy as it was the fifth time in a row he couldn’t see it! 
On our way back we called in at Harrie's pancakes in a town called Graskop. We all had different toppings like cinnamon, sugar, chocolate, peanut butter and even bacon and cheese for Freddie. For our drinks we all had different milkshakes and mine was potentially the best chocolate one I’ve tasted. We all felt very full afterwards and are relaxed and ready for the next week of our visit. 
Harry and Skye 

Some photos from Bourkes Luck Potholes and The Three Rondavels