The internet here moves at a lightning fast 30 bytes a second, so I e-mailed this to Ron for him to post for me, we head back to South Africa tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some more posts up, possibly some pictures but I don’t know, but I have lots of great pics so far I think.
On Sunday we went to a church in White River, it was a church plant of sorts whose vision was to never have a pastor. It was abnormally (to what I am used to) populated with older folk (all white) but it was cool to see a church plant in South Africa. After church we drove to Swaziland which is about a 3 hour drive to the border and then another 2 hours to get to where we were going. I remember I used to tell everyone that we were going to be working in the mountains of Swaziland and I just thought there were mountains in Swaziland and we were working there. I never actually imagined that we would be up in mountains. But we are and I’ve never really seen anything quite like
Houses are much more spread out here and they are everywhere. People live in almost like little villages with their family. Older sons (at least some that I met) build little homes out of mud and sticks beside their parent’s homes and they live there. It is one of the most beautiful sites to drive through these mountains. Picture the Rockies, but a bit smaller with houses, livestock, farms, roads, markets and people everywhere. Very very few people have cars and if they need to go down the mountain for anything they can catch the one bus that comes in the morning and catch it home at night. The way of life here is completely different.
We are staying at a lady named Nomsa’s house. There are chickens everywhere and it is this family’s livelihood (the family has cattle too-the chickens are Nomsas way of earning money and the cows are
Samuels). We get a friendly reminder of that every morning around 4am when the rooster crows. The grandkids are the labourers of this place. They have done all the amazing cooking for us, skin chickens, garden, fetch water and basically anything that the grandparents (Nomsa and Samuel) tell them to do. Like the one girl we are staying with says, these children (ages 5-15) are like a well oiled machine, they never stopped all day long and we have been treated like royalty while being here. Family sticks together here, children don’t grow older and leave and are left to fend for themselves and the elderly run the houses and everyone else works under them.
We have spent the last two days working with the young orphan girls from the community at the Chief’s Royal Residence, which is basically used as a community centre, which is basically a big plot of land with a few open huts on it. There are about 28 girls in all and there ages
were from 12-25 and six of them had babies. When we first met them we walked into a big open room and they were all in chairs facing the front in one of the corners singing a song, with no one in the front to lead them. They sing often here and it is never front lead. Someone in the group leads the song by singing the words or the beat a few bars ahead and then everyone follows them. Every time they break out in song it is beautiful and the few times the song is in English or there are actions we try to go along with it.
It is the week of the Reed Dance so the kids that would be normally be in school aren’t. So there is organized lectures everyday for these 28 girls. The first one was a three hour lecture on how to start a business; it was like first year economics in three hours, so much information in so little time. The second day was teaching the girls about abuse and about their bodies (Shane and I took a walk to play sports with the kids). The girls learned songs about staying a meter away from their private parts, it was pretty funny. I got to do a little sharing with the girls and talked about loving your neighbour and what that meant. The highlight of my day came when every body usually went home but we all stayed at the place with the kids to hang out. Shane played soccer, the girls played games and learned new songs, and I sat with 5-6 guys my age and got to talk with them. We sat there for three hours and talked about everything, school, work, money, life, marriage, friends, opportunity, games…and it was in these conversations that I started to realize how much the
Western world really has affected negatively their world. (I’ve been try to save some of my posts that are thoughts on the laptop also, so I’ll hopefully be able to write a bit about this soon).
I went down one of the hills to see one of the guy’s house. He was 21 and lived in his own hut built out of mud, sticks, rocks and grass. Families live together here. When a child is old enough they build a new hut on the property and they move into it. They have chickens also, a big Avocado tree and goats to keep them alive. He was happier than anything else and he had no idea that he was missing out on air conditioning, big mortgages and dishwashers. Or maybe he did, and he just didn’t care. Can’t blame him.
The other guy we met is trying desperately to get into school. He hasn’t had much luck. The university here are government funded but he hasn’t got accepted and the colleges are just too much money. He spent a lot of money once to take a computer class to help him get his skills up and they guy took off with the money not to teach them a thing. He is spending another year to try to get into school, which he probably won’t, then he said he was going to give up and figure out another way to live. He was 23.
The way of life here is beautiful. We have been eating the chickens that have been running around every day, eating the fruit and vegetables that is growing all around us, and living life and taking
care of people that are in need. I’ll tell you more about Nomsa’s story tomorrow, it is my favourite story and deserves more space. Tomorrow we are of to a community garden that Nomsa and her volunteers are starting to help build a fence around it so the animals don’t get in and eat all their plants.