I’ve come to the end of my first week…and the smell of that red soil has done it again. It’s like the scent of home cooking which brings with it a deep, yet gentle reassurance of safety, family, of a future. Yet, simultaneously it speaks of discomfort, of a need to read against the grain, to go against the essence of oneself.
In this week I’ve gone from having an adverse reaction to genuinely falling in love with my crèche babies. Perhaps it’s the latent mothering instinct within me which is deciding to rear its premature head, yet the desire to protect and nurture has thankfully overwhelmed the fear that resided there to begin with.
I have also had my first experience of teaching – teaching children who are hungry to be taught. It has made me, on reflection, so grateful for the incredible (free) education I have benefitted from, yet also hopeful. Teaching children my own age has yes, on one hand, shown me how blessed I am, and how much I have to offer, yet it has also reignited in me that desire to learn, and to be unashamed to do so. The children at Msimude came with a bravado, with chatter and perhaps pride, yet within their letters, the veneer of control is gently stripped away. I have been reminded not only of the power of the written word, but the power of dreams. If these children can hold visions of becoming engineers, social workers, nurses and DJ’s, then I also can hold onto my dreams. Just as their letters have inspired me, perhaps my writings will inspire others. I don’t envision myself as a teacher, but I have always dreamed of going back to Nigeria and doing a year of Youth Core Service, and now I think I know what I will do. When I started Uni, I came with a pride, with an arrogance, and with my own bravado. Seeing them learn, seeing them hungry for the little I have to offer, has humbled me and humbled the way I view my own teachers.
In this coming week I will return to Edendale hospital. Originally a ‘blacks only hospital’ under the Apartheid regime, Edendale is still racially segregated with few whites even driving down the road which leads into its township. When I visited Edendale three years ago I was disturbed to hear that many of the children in the hospital had, quite literally, been abandoned. Either because parents couldn’t walk the long distance to visit their children, or because they knew at least there they would receive decent food, shelter and medical attention. I don’t know what to expect tomorrow, but I do hope that the work that two British Expats have done for years has continued to grow. To see more about Edendale Outreach please click here.
I will also start my first teaching lessons at Mountain Home Primary School, as well as continuing to help out at the Saturday Kids Clubs (Jabulani and Kulah), alongside the weekly life groups, Msimude High School, the Drop in Centre Creche and the Running (potentially walking) Club. Bring it.
Prayer for Day 7 – For a continued strength in the weeks to come. That the children would be inspired in the lessons. For safety for the Ithemba team and that a spirit of Joy and Hope would be upon us. That my eyes would be opened to new stories and I would continue (or begin) to be a light in Sweetwaters.