Tag Archives: Durban

#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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#260 ~ Ithemba Projects: Day 25

As i’m coming to the end of my time here at Ithemba, I figured it’s about time I start sharing with you some more of the my memories. Below are photos of the Jabulani Kids Club March through Sweetwaters. We walked throughout the community (up and down very steep hills), to raise the profile of JKC and to invite the local children. A challenging but exhilarating experience, we sang songs from Shosholoza to well-known isiZulu worship songs. With my guitar in tow, I was a bit like the Pied Piper of Sweetwaters. I hope you enjoy an excerpt of these images, and that they translate the joy, the music and the excitement of the day.

Prayer for Day 25: That JKC and Khula Club will continue to grow and be a light and source of inspiration in the community of Sweetwaters.

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#259 ~ Ithemba Projects : Day 24

Below are excerpts of some of my students written poetry. Enjoy and be inspired:

Prayer for Day 24: That the spirit of creativity will continue to inspire these children long after I’ve gone. That they realise there is power in the written word and use it to improve their futures.

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#256 ~ Ithemba Projects : Day 21

Unfortunately, I realised yesterday, that WordPress won’t allow me to upload my own videos unless I pay for a Video upgrade. Considering I’m not particularly wealthy, the alternative will be loading the video onto the Ithemba Facebook Page in the coming days. Once it is up I shall share a link and would encourage you to click it and watch the poetry video of the Grade 10 and 11 students at Msimude. I will also upload some photos of the poems they wrote to be marked this week, so you still have some fun things to look forward to.

In the meantime, Tuesday was a return to the Drop In Centre Creche, where we looked at the colours of the rainbow, worked on puzzles, drawing and outdoor sports as the weather is beginning to transform from an English Winter to an African winter (i.e the sun is shining at last.) Exhaustion is beginning to catch up with me, and by the end of my morning I found myself attempting to tap out a drumbeat on the body of the guitar whilst zoning in and out of sleep. I’m not a great morning person and consecutively for the past month almost, my yellow alarm clock has cried in the area of 6am.

However, in the afternoon i visited another colleagues Life Group, and it is was filled with my crèche babies. I never realised I would be so happy to see them, and that’s when it dawned on me, that they had become, over this month, my  creche babies. As we passed their homes, some of them ran after the car to where we did the Life Group, crying out “Tisher, Tisher”, and huge grins plastered on their faces. They had a relationship with me, I had a relationship with them.

One one hand, it was a disquieting moment, realising how much I cared for them, even had begun to really love them, and how much they at least liked me. It was painful, because I know I have just under 10 days left working for Ithemba. I’m not sure what it will be like when I leave. Maybe i’ll fade into a distant daydream, a girl who played the guitar, wiped noses and couldn’t speak IsiZulu. But maybe they will really have begun to care about me, and then, you can’t just leave them, can you?

Prayer for Day 21: Renenwed strength and energy for these last days. Wisdom about how I move forwards from this and what my future impact and role in/with Ithemba Projects will be.

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#254 ~ Ithemba Projects: Day 20

So, on Saturday, we marched through Sweetwaters inviting children to join the JKC. It was tough going, but I’ve been preparing a video of it to share with you all, so hopefully by the end of this week it should be up and ready to excite you all :) In the meantime, here are some photos to share with you all of my teaching at Mountain Home Primary, which I do every Wednesday.

 

Working on Question words and forming sentences, the lesson was divided into the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY categories.

Prayer for Day 20: Pray for the Teachers of Mountain Home, they would continue to be dedicated to their students and to teaching them.

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#253 ~ Ithemba Projects: Day 19

We marched through the Township

Singing out loud and clear

A song of Freedom,

to be heard from every corrugated rooftop

Behind every avo tree

Deep within the mud packed walls

The shout of freedom

We marched through the township

And sang it loud and clear

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#252 ~ Ithemba Projects: Day 18

National Arbour Day! Today, the Ithemba Team went en masse to the Community Centre to plant trees. 3 years ago, when I visited Sweetwaters, the land upon which the Community Centre is built, had jut been given to the charity by the Chief. It was an unmarked field of blood-red soil and grass. Today, after the hard work of the garden project team, it received its first plants! As we met early this morning, we were spoken to by a local business man and plant lover about the 4 kingdoms of this world. The rock and mineral kingdom feeds the plant kingdom which feeds the animal kingdom, and all three contribute to the survival of the human kingdom. The beauty of life. And then we got down and dirty. With each of us assigned a tree, we set to (back-breaking) work shovelling in the soil and compost before planting our little green babies. It was such a rewarding experiences, seeing the foundations of the crèche and community centre which will spring up in a few years. The whole site is being built using a new soil compression technique for the bricks, so although it takes time, it will be sustainable and truly a part of Sweetwaters.

 

Below are some photos. Enjoy!

Community Centre site, covered in mist. 

 Equipment!

 Indigenous South African trees.

 My Tree!!! (I had to get some help half way through planting, my back almost split in two, hard work!)

 My tree in all its glory (I did fall in love with it, and the idea that it will provide food and shelter for hundreds of years!)

 Our tree rows, encircling the food garden. 

 My hands caked in the beautiful rich red African soil of Sweetwaters, Mpumuza.

Prayer for Day 18: That the community of Sweetwaters would grow like these trees. That as the plants are nourished and flourish, they will provide a home and food for the community and local animals. They would be a sign of hope, strength and potential life in this beautiful community. That my tree would flourish and bless those who sit under it. For the garden and community centre projects, they would receive all the funding they need, and become a beacon of light in Sweetwaters. Amen!

 

 

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