Dutch visitors from Homeplan report on their trip to South Africa
The entire trip from South Africa
On Saturday we gather at the airport for check-in. Most of the group did not know each other, so here are introduced. It is a fun and diverse group, with more women than men. We fly to Johannesburg where we meet Ricus. From the airport we go directly to the hotel where we stay.
The next morning we head towards the Apartheid Museum. Very impressive to see how bizarre and recently apartheid was still there. The leaflet states “Apartheid Museum: the only place where apartheid belongs”, and that says everything I think.
In Johannesburg, Johan Viljoen also joined us, and then we fly to Durban with a domestic flight. There are two rented vans and depart for Pomeroy, a journey of about 3 hours. We are welcomed by the sisters of the clinic, who have cared for us. Evening meal arrived here After an introduction to the sisters and an explanation of the local situation by the sisters, Ricus and Johan, we go to sleep in a room at the parish.
Monday morning we attend first to the 7:00 am mass. Then we have a tour of the clinic is run. The sisters Very impressive to see how well everything is organized there and how committed the sisters. The clinic is primarily for HIV patients but also for patients with other disorders or diseases. Our group is also a pediatrician from the hospital in Roosendaal, for her it’s more interesting. She was impressed by how well everything is organized and how well they are aware of what is needed.
After the visit to the clinic we go to the construction sites. These are scattered throughout the area. The group is divided into small groups, each going to a separate building site and there is also three nights. (So during that time did not see each other the rest) We spend the night at the caregivers. These are people (almost always mothers) who have to care for a greater number of children, such as orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS. Or because the fathers to the big city are drawn to look for work.
For caregivers, it is also very exciting to get us. Home Of the sisters we hear that they have been preparing, like what to cook for us and where to sleep. Us busy for a long time The communication is exciting, but they speak English. Albeit somewhat flawed, but good enough to communicate.
I myself is in a building team with Suzanne, Kim and Gerry. There are two cottages built on our site. Upon arrival, however, it appears that is not built. At one of the two cabins But that’s no problem, we just go with the four to the other houses under construction. The first day we can not do very much, mainly fetch some water to create grout. The builders are not used to white people came to help and do not know how to handle it. Them here Especially since it also women that they find really strange. But after intervention Ricus and Johan will be fine. That gives us time to take our berths in use, and to anyone with knowledge. We sleep with two caregivers at home: Thembe and Misiwe. They are extremely hospitable and our bedrooms are very neat. There are even beds, something we did not anticipate. By the end of the afternoon we are taken along to a fairly large round hut which is arranged as a sort of chapel. It is spontaneously a South African song and dance performed. First with about 10 children, but there are many others out by drumming on the environment. Soon, there are about 30 to 40 children to sing and dance for us! Wonderful to see exactly what you imagine in South Africa. Then we are invited for dinner. We expected to eat all together, but that is quite different here. First we need to eat, then the local adults and then children. They’ll come down to us with food and prayer in the form of song. After dinner there is hot water for us cared to wash us. Actually, everything is much more comfortable than we expected.
We are asked if we want to have breakfast the next morning. At 7:00 am That’s fine. The next morning we’re at 7.00 am ready, but by the time breakfast is ready, it’s almost 8:30. But that does not matter to us, we have been set to a different culture with respect to time and appointments. They probably think we are very big eaters in Europe, because what we get served for breakfast proves enough for a whole team. So we have them explained in detail that we are small eaters, but they have the excellent care and we appreciate that. After breakfast we visit the local childcare. Very nice to see how they deal here with the kids. From a very young age, they learn all how to sing and dance. The little ones have never seen whites and even a little afraid of us and start to cry. But from a distance it goes.
Suzanne (the pediatrician) will have the opportunity to take a day to work in the clinic, something she wants. We go to the construction site. Here we can help with the cleaning of walls, protruding joints, removal of stones, picking up roofing, etc. There is work to three hours, after which we go back to our stay. Here we sit in the sun and read what I write this report. Wait until the kids come home from school and Suzanne comes back from the clinic. As I write this report, is one of the children at Kim with an English textbook and whether they want to help. That Kim of course, so now she teaches English.
When Suzanne comes back from the clinic, she says she has been able to help a lot. When she heard that she is the clinic pediatrician, she was deployed equal to weigh, measure children, but also vaccinate. That was ‘on the line’ and it was very special that Suzanne could help. So In the Netherlands, it would not be possible for an outsider to do this kind of work, but here the situation is obviously different.
The next morning after breakfast I go along with Ricus to visit. Other construction sites When visiting other members of the group I meet different situations. Philip and Mark are brought to a new location where they can go to work with masonry walls and lugging stones. Together with Werner and Najib They also have great contacts with the families and with the builders.
Philip and Mark may designate a goat which is then slaughtered for their dinner. Very special, because this is normally done only for special occasions such as honoring the ancestors. The identification and slaughter of an animal at all is strange to us but is quite natural. The families keep chickens, goats and cows for their own livelihood. They say, ‘That’s our food walking there. ”
By Renee, Leo and Moniek everything goes very well. They have a lot to build and have fun contact with the family. They have also brought some simple games to teach the children and their parents. In both Yvonne and Marlou as Astrid and Miriam have contacts with builders, families and caregivers less intensive. The people are all very friendly and welcoming, but some still some distant and their English is very poor. They all end up driving Ricus and me to visit, so they get a good picture of the whole project.
Upon return in the afternoon with my own construction site run four of the family for which we build. This is a grandmother who cares for her grandchildren because their mother is deceased.
The next day we have to wait longer than usual for breakfast, but we are enjoying the sun. We’re not going to build today, but with the caregivers visit all the families that they have in their care. It’s very impressive. One harrowing case after another.
People live in small huts, have almost no belongings and children are often sick. Here we are a bit quiet. Houses are being built for a number of families, but there is still much more to do. In many huts are also cooked in on fire, causing the blue smoke are not really healthy at all. To our surprise, there are two people who are very old. A grandmother of 96 years is in a hut next to the fire on the ground and did not respond to our salutation, until we we hear that she is blind. A cabin away is a guy who is a little younger, but already 92 years. He can not walk but is mentally okay.
Back at the sisters we live first Mass, along with all caregivers and families. It is a special Mass with a lot of singing. The Bishop of Dundee is specially came to Pomeroy to conduct mass. Then there are all sorts of outdoor performances given by the children. It looks amazing and the singing is beautiful. A girl from the family that we have built for doing the lead vocals, she has a beautiful voice. After the performances by the children arise kinds spontaneous songs and dances. After dinner there is much catching up, T-shirts are exchanged and it is goodbye to the families and caregivers. In the evening we met with the group a group discussion to exchange.
Friday morning we have breakfast early at the sisters and say goodbye, and then we leave Durban for the return trip. During construction journey we have seen terrible conditions. People who are so poor that they have no decent roof over their heads, not enough money for food. People who are seriously ill, children who have lost their parents. Grandmothers who care for the children but are dying themselves. And so on. During construction missions in Mexico to see the building trip participants conditions again are different but also very shabby and hopeless. ‘s building trip participants are very touched by this. If one sees such a poignant case one would prefer to give or to offer assistance. Another way a house But the problem is that a little further a distressing case and a little further back …
The contrast with our own lives is great. We become more aware of how fortunate we are. It also gives an uncomfortable feeling. Many people feel guilty because we are so well while so many people live in poverty and desperate circumstances. We also give them the life we have. However, we can not take the problems of an entire country on our shoulders. We can only help you with the opportunities that we own. If we give them the life we have, why we would not allow ourselves? To help, we have to ensure that our strength we stand by yourself. If we would make so to speak, out of solidarity for ourselves bad then we are not able to help others. We do not need to feel guilty about the fact that we have it good, guilty but we have to take responsibility and help where we can. The better it is with us, the more we are able to help others.
Participants also ask sometimes whether the aid is not a drop in the ocean, since the problems are so large. But a drop in the ocean that evaporates and is gone. What we do is permanent. Even though it is only a drop in the overall problem in the country, for the people we help, it is a change and turn in their lives. We make these people really know the difference. Anyone who has good, should promote people who live in need to help. This can be done via Home Plan but also via any other purpose or in other ways. How much help they offer and in what way is up to each themselves to decide and we should not judge, any help is welcome. If everyone in the world who is capable, would work within his or her potential and help would offer so many “drops” left behind would be that it could create a better world. “Life is all about sharing.