Tuesday 31 May 2011

Hello SA

On Monday 29 May 2011 we (myself, SJ, and sisters Jane and Kim) finally made it to Africa! It took 3 plane journeys, many sleeps and a great number of hours to get there. We played pink girl poke and red boy slap at the airports to keep us amused. We also saw lots of celebs (dopples!) including Yankee Doodle. When we reached our destination our luggage was missing, still stuck in Madrid. I shared digs with 2 others (Si and Glen) at a project in Westville. The girls were next door. So tired we were, we crashed out before too late and awoke at 5.45 a.m ready for further adventure.

The girls and I were crammed into a jeep with Jude, Maggie, Char, Katie, Ethan, Simon and Glen early on Monday morning - that's 11 people in a small wagon! SJ and I were lucky to be inside, as opposed to unfortunate others in the back of the pick up who were exposed to the elements. Before long we had reached a safari ranch. This was totally awesome, we saw hippo, giraffe, wart hog, impala, rhino, ostrich, birds and kudu amongst others. Fantastic! We really were in Africa! As if things couldn't get better, we went to a lion park afterwards. We were that close to a pride of lions that we could see their tonsils! Elephants were supposed to be nearby but they were most evasive.

Later on we went to 'Happy's School' aka Maison Lincoln Special School. This school was full of children (and some adults too) who mostly had severe disability. The school was housed in what looked like lots of out buildings. The kids were amazing and were full of smiles and eager to hug, play and very excited to interact with us. All the children appeared to have a huge interest in my watch, it was like they had never seen one before. Is hard to describe how this school made each of us feel on an emotional level. We played football, helped with homework and observed the happenings of a very busy school. Jane was showing off her favourite lion pictures on her camera, until a pupil grabbed camera and erased said pictures!

Monday evening was spent doing a few sit-ups along with SJ, Jane and Si. Jane was impressively naff, haha, and Si was king. I maxed out on 30. We rewarded our efforts with an Italian meal with Kim and Glen joining us. This was a goodbye supper for Glen really, as he returns home to Australia tomorrow. The group went mini golfing after, except SJ and I had alternative plans. On our return to Westville we were reunited with our lost luggage - hooray! (Think I had spent 36 hours in my boxer shorts, which is longer than I've worn lycra cycling shorts!).

Tuesday morning was spent at a poly-clinic. We were making and distributing tea and coffee to AIDS, HIV, TB and dental sufferers. The clinic was certainly quite full and appeared very old fashioned. Most folk were really quite grateful. Due to high levels of poverty we had to make sure none of our cups were stolen. Following this we went to a Township creche and were greeted by lots of lovely little kids. The idea of this trip was to spend time with the 'gogo's's (granny's), but the kids got all my attention. Only 3 grannies were present and other volunteers spent time with them. Our evening was spent at Happy's. Happy's is a great place and it is humbling spending time with seriously disabled children who are so happy, active and friendly. A lot of these children have major problems even walking and fall often. When they fall, they often bleed. I have not seen a single child cry, rather just pick themselves up and get on. The kids are so great and support each other better than a family member would. These children are teaching me how to live!

[This blog is a work in progress and whilst in SA, I plan to update every 3rd day].

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