Monthly Archives: September 2012

#272 ~ Will the Sun Come Out?

Most people find their first year of University an out of this world experience. I found it a brutally humbling and disorienting experience. And now, as I sit here preparing to return, I am questioning what kind of an experience I will let it be. Part of me is excited to tread the familiar paths to lectures, to struggle to wake up in the morning, for the late night essays. I’m hoping I will have matured and grown from previous experiences, maybe i’ll even start my reading on time. Yet trepidation is also itching at my sides. I know people from my school are joining, friends from a former life, and I’m questioning how i’ll integrate with them, or allow them to integrate into my life. I’m wondering whether at last an excitement will burn deep into the crevices of my heart, whether my eyes will grow bright with expectant wonder. If the popcorn yellow hopes and dreams will come to fruition, or if a grey smudge will taint the boarders of my framed vision. Because I have to go back, I have to seize the day and make it mine; it is both necessary and important. I cannot live in a memory, but in a present reality. Yet, change…can be bittersweet. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and I worry that I am worried.

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#271 ~ Life Lesson No.34

Bring your memories, bring your family with you.

#270 ~ The Return

As hail streamed thunderous fingers against the temple

of tarmac stained streets,

dotted lines smeared with yellow streaks

as though an unhappy child had wrenched stubby fingers

down the black sheet of sugar paper

which pointed the way down the smooth roads of

my hometown,

I stepped back into its embrace, the anterior of

the temple of my unfamiliar familiar.

The groove in the dashboard,

the elusive gear lock no longer existed

but the hum of petrol, and the cloak of mist still persisted.

I was home, but far away from home.

From the pulse of blood-red soil which

jingled and jived through livingroom stereos.

The bond had been drawn taut, yet now it hung slack,

loose, a faint, fraying rope that had twisted

into the crevices of pumping cardiac chambers.

I was deep within the temple of my unfamiliar familiar,

yet now,

I needed to return, and turn, towards the memories, to re-create,

to create a very present reality.

 

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#269 ~ Ithemba Projects : Day 34

Sala Kahle

At some point or another, we must all say farewell. Farewell if not to friends and family, then at some point to life. Working with Ithemba Projects (and Zanini Bantwana), has at times been a harrowing experience, challenging, joyful and draining. To say it pushed me to my limits would be a lie. Rather, it exposed me to the limitless boundaries that existed within. That in fact, where before I would have given up at the slightest hint of being unwell or fatigued, here I was, on an ‘appetising’ cocktail of antibiotics, cough mixture, Sudafed and tissues, still ploughing through work, straining out songs and encouraging a waning appetite.

As a process of becoming naked, it explored the flaws, prejudice and darkness within me. How I despised those who were unwell, disfigured, and how through extreme grace, I began to see the least of the least, through, as Jethro in the Prince of Egypt professes, Heaven’s Eyes. I began to yearn to remove blood filled mucus from my creche babies noses. A patience to control my classes overcame me. An excitement to prance around gardens singing and dancing consumed me. I grew and became hopeful of life, just as Ithemba Projects desires to bring hope to the lives of the people of Mpumuza, Sweetwaters.

Three years ago I flew into South Africa and partook on what, really, was an act of poverty tourism. I spent 10 days sightseeing Sweetwaters. Glancing at the work of Ithemba Projects, gingerly holding hands with little Zulu children. If i’m honest, when I looked at the money I’d saved all year and considered buying a plane ticket back to SA, something stopped my heart. Every young Christian does Aid work in SA, it’s so cliche. Yet, the thought wouldn’t leave me.

I hadn’t entered South Africa with an agenda. I didn’t know I was being particularly ‘affirming’ in anyway. I just wanted to return to a place I had seen in a hazy dream, and really invest some time, invest my skills, and serve an organisation that I admire and respect. One doesn’t have to travel half way across the world to experience poverty, pain, desperation, abandonment, or any of the experiences I’ve catalogued here. We live in a world that reeks of such experiences.

Yet often, our eyes become focused when we step outside of our own environment, and then step back. When we begin to convert our pound Sterling into Rand, when we remember how we survived on x amount of clothes, then peer inside our wardrobes that are brimming with unworn, unnecessary garments. When we make the choice to embed these memories and experiences into our very veins, and let the focused insight we have gained, pulse through our bodies, through our very beings, and let it transform our very lifestyle.

I want to encourage everyone that has participated on this journey with me to be hopeful. I began this 5 week ‘diary’, with the statement: Ithemba means hope, and for the people in Sweetwaters, Ithemba means life. May your lives be transformed by this experience, may your lives be filled with hope, hope for tomorrow, hope for your communities, hope for the change you desire to see and create. May these experiences inspire you, and where you can, can I urge you to support the work of Ithemba Projects and Zanini Bantwana in whatever capacity you can. Either by telling people about the phenomenal work they are doing in rural Sweetwaters, by supporting them financially, or by volunteering. Their ministry is life changing, their progress forward-looking, and their vision ever hopeful.

If you have been touched by the work of Ithemba Projects, then I would love to encourage you to continue being involved in their long-term journey, by liking their Facebook Page, and by following the blog: Bridging Hope, which is run by my former colleague Stephanie, who is working this year with the charity.

Thank you for coming along with me. Keep a look out on the Ithemba Page for an article I will be writing for them.

Prayer for day 34: May God Bless and Keep you wherever you are. May Hope reign in your hearts, and may you continue to pray for the work of Ithemba Projects. For their protection, for their provisions and for their incredible journey.

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#268 ~ Ithemba Projects: Day 33

Zahara

When I stepped into the Ithemba office, my co-workers re-christened me Zahara in celebration of the famous South African artist of the same name, who I apparently resembled. Travelling through Sweetwaters, even without my guitar in tow, the name sailed through the air, as adults pointed and grinned. If you asked any of my students what my name was, Zahara and a cheeky grin would be first on their lips. So I became this elusive Xhosa woman from the Eastern Cape, the dual identity integrating me deeper into the community. I had never heard her music, never even seen her, but I was part of her, in some respects. In the eyes of my children.

On my last day working with Ithemba a surprise birthday party awaited me. Poems and farewell tributes were presented. I wanted to cry, but was unable to. My eyes were so dry they almost hurt; my heart hadn’t registered that an Emirates plane was waiting for me. Yet, in and amongst the farewell presents and cake, I was presented with my doppelgänger’s CD. With her hair scraped back, and her guitar cradled between calloused hands, I smiled at the sweet resemblance.

~

Packing, can be both a cathartic and painful experience. As Zahara’s rich voice filled my bedroom, twisting itself into the crevices of my folded shirts and skirts, I felt a loss. A deep loss. Because now that Zahara and I had met, we were parting. Now when South Africa and Ithemba had begun to mean something to me, we were parting ways. I was returning home to the sounds of Oasis and Tiny Tempah, whilst Zahara still had her guitar. She consoled me, telling me in her famous song Loliwe, to dry my tears and not be worried.

Yet it is painful,parting ways, moving on. Remembering, that in many respects it was just a dream. Not that one didn’t experience the pain, the joy, the hopes and fears, but that another reality, a tenable reality was awaiting back home. One where the slog of being part of a journey every day, where there is no get out clause, awaited.

Prayer for Day 33: For a smooth transition back to home life. For a hopeful attitude to overcome me, hope for what is to come.

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#267 ~ Ithemba Projects: Day 32

As I wrap up this experience, before I write two final posts evaluating my time in South Africa, i’d like to leave you all with a final montage of images. Below are some of my creche babies, who I was afraid of and fell in love with by the end. Please continue to pray for them and support them.

Akhona, one of the brightest students, full of life and intelligence.

Girl. Beautiful, precious child.

 Olwa, he would blink at you all the time. Blink, blink, blink. Great baby dancer too!

 My faux baby, we had a special bond. She cried whenever I left…

 Ma Cornelia. As her team grows, I have faith the crèche will become a wonderful establishment.

Prayer for Day 31 : Pray for the children and the crèche. Pray the education in the crèche blooms and sets the children up for an incredible life

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#266 ~ Ithemba Projects : Day 31

So, I don’t know how to reblogg, but here is my attempt to reblogg (as in, insert hyperlink) of a post by my Ithemba colleague Stephanie. I know i’m 3 days behind, and don’t worry, I have the posts coming, having just landed back in the UK today. But for now, i’d encourage you all to partake on Skedlemba Adventures (don’t worry the post explains itself) and also, to continue the Ithemba Projects journey by following Bridging Hope.

Be excited, look forward to finishing this journey with you in 2 more posts.