Are you interested in going with a team to Hands at Work? Why not read below a blog from one of our teams who are currently in South Africa. Remember that every day is different!
Day 1 in the community!
For the boys in our team the day started at 7am with morning prayer. This was an encouraging session as we all shared our concerns and positive feelings with someone we had never met before. This was followed by a morning meeting at 8:00 where everyone from the Hands community gathered for morning worship. The meeting started with some general announcements followed by several birthdays and the learning of a new happy birthday song. Next followed some time to say a touching farewell to one of the members who was leaving after serving for one year. The worship closed with some prayers and several African songs.
Orientation was scheduled for 9am. Herman and Charissa met us and talked through some keys things we needed to know for our time here and in the communities. Serving with open hearts and being prepared to listen to people's stories were the key things we needed to take from the orientation. Before we headed out to Mluti, we had a packed lunch to prepare us for the afternoon.
At 12:00 we left for the community of Mluti. On the way we had to stop off at Pick 'N Pay as one of the care points had run out of food, so we delivered a cheque... this meant that those children could eat today.
Upon arrival to the care point, we met the mother of the house who welcomed us and taught us some Swati phrases.
Sawubona = hello
Kunjani? = how are you?
Kulungile = I'm find
Ngiyabonga = thanks
We then learnt a couple of songs in both Swati and English. The children arrived gradually, first a boy who was unwell and had been taken to the clinic by his older sister and then the others arrived. At first the children were a little shy but when presented with a basketball, skipping rope and some marbles we all soon become good friends. Skipping in Mluti is much faster than in England and Alice and Claire were not quite up to scratch, so were shown how to do it by the mother of the house. Just before dinner we all made a circle and sang and danced to praise Jesus and thank him for the meal they were about to eat. Alice and AJ served up the pap and beans, the children lined up in height order, meaning the late comer who happened to be the shortest got straight to the front of the queue. We filled their bowls up to the top as it was their only meal of the day and they did not leave a single piece of rice in their bowl. The children waited for clean water to wash their hands and for siblings to arrive to share their food. After all the children had eaten and had enough food the care workers were then able to eat what little was left.
After dinner we played some more games. They particularly enjoyed playing with our parachute and learning some hand tricks. A couple of boys were also extremely interested in Alice's camera, even digging into her pockets to find it, leading to some hilarious pictures. One girl we met was twelve years old and she goes to the care point every day with her sister. She attends school and enjoys going despite hating maths and hopes to become a teacher of English and Geography. Her courage and determination was inspiring and we were taken aback by her mature conviction at such a young age.
We thoroughly enjoyed the day and when we were told it was time to say goodbye found it particularly sad to leave as we had made a connection with the children. On the journey home, we were struck by the contrast in wealth and way of life throughout the area, with people living more lavish lifestyles with high walls surrounding them next to others living in more basic homes.
We were all amazed with the joy in the children's hearts, this was infectious and we learnt so much about living and supporting each other as a community, even when you have very little yourself. This was a very humbling encounter for us and it demonstrated that we do not need a wealth of possessions to be happy - a ball provided more joy for us in one afternoon than Saturday night TV. We are looking forward to joining the care workers tomorrow morning and visiting people's homes.