Thursday, May 3, 2007

April 30, 07

April 30,07

Wow. So it’s the beginning of my second week here in Cape Town and it feels as though I’ve been here for at least 3 weeks. We are so busy. They keep us on our toes. We are up by 6:30am and in our taxi by 7:45am heading off to our placements. We work there until 1:00 and then head back to the house for lunch, followed by one of the following or two of the following…..XhosA language lessons, sight seeing trips, guest speakers etc….

Moloweni, bahlobo. Usaphila?
Hello Friends, how are you?

I have already learnt the basics on how to introduce myself, say hello and greet others and ask how they are and believe it or not RESPOND.

Funny enough the other day, someone in passing asked me how I was doing in XhosA and I responded in English…opps….without realizing at first that I just understood what I was being asked in an moment of passing!!!! COOL!!!! I had a moment with myself. I was excited to learn more. The language is difficult as they speak with CLICKS here so C is a front click and Q is a Middle click and X is a side click and they have C Q X in many words here. OUCH…..very difficult but extremely funny to learn… friend here laughs consistently at my attempts to learn the clicks. XhosA is a tongue twisting language!!!!!

We had a guest speaker. A man who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela for 20 years. He was imprisoned in the same wing of the prison and Nelson was there leader as each wing of the prison would assign someone to represent them. He told the most amazing stories and is taking us in the following week to ROBIN ISLAND where they were imprisoned and we will actually see where he and Nelson lived. How amazing is that!!!!! I’m so excited.

We went to Simon Town the other day to see the Penguins. They are so cute. I got too close to one with Allan’s camera and the penguin attacked the camera….opps!!! It was scary and hilarious…..I’m not sure what scared the penguin more the camera close up or my laugh after the attack!!!! Both we’re frightening I’m sure!!!! Lol

Coming to Cape Town has been an eye opening experience already and I’ve only just unpacked my suitcase. They just celebrated FREEDOM DAY on Friday, but they are a long way from true freedom still. It is a very imprisoned country. The mindsets of people continue to keep them imprison although the chains have been removed. We can all relate to that type of thinking, but when it affects your very existence it can be overwhelming for even foreigners. The poverty here and the spiritual tabu that created the poverty is very painful to see. I hear the craziest belief systems and see my own story interlocked. I have lived in a chain of poverty thinking and crazy tabu spiritual thinking that has robbed my very existence as well. So in a small way I can understand and slightly relate to the mindset that continues to plague these people.

We have it so good in Canada and the US. I’ve traveled many places and never understood the freedom I’ve been given until NOW. This country has come far but much change is still required.

The children at my placement are the most beautiful creations I’ve ever laid my eyes on. They are the sweetest, kindest, most generous, well behaved, mannered children. I have never seen anything like it. They sit when they’re told, and wait QUITELY for their lunch. They crave education in any form it’s presented in. They take care of each other in a way I’ve never ever experienced before. They accepted each other in way that our children do not. There are children with strange looking sicknesses, open blisters that cover the entire body and deformed bodies but no one is left out of the group. The are all one. It is so refreshing to see.

One little boy couldn’t stop showing me his belly button which in all honesty was in the shape of a penis. I’ve never seen anything like it, but the other children looked at it with me and then I touched it by tickling his belly and then the other children followed suit and started lifting up their shirts too!!! It was so cute. I work in a township, which is the poorest area. The levels are as such……

You can simply cross the street from a township into a neighborhood the level of poverty is vastly different. It is amazing. I am amazed at my ability to handle my placement. The children pee in these bowls that you and I would eat out of and once they are full we must dump them on the ground as though we were watering the grass. I smell like urine everytime I leave and not from contact with urine just by simply sitting on the beds that these children sleep on. I am desperate to help buy them new sheets as the sheets they use now are a thin a paper, you can see right through them. I want to raise money for these CRECHES (daycares). I am working at one of the best ones, so I’ve asked to be taken to the worst ones, in order to compare. The heartbreak of it will be difficult but the children will brighten my soul. I can’t help but feel needed here, useful, able, blessed for the opportunity to give back.

There is so much to say. There is a story here that must be told. And I plan to help these people by raising money in some way to supple them with much needed toys, books, sheets, sleeping mats, educational tools. These kids are so smart but they have no form of teaching. I’m not a teacher but for these children I will try, because I have too.

On a side note……I have signed up to go SHARK DIVING as it is HIGH SEASON for GREAT WHITE SHARKS….we were suppose to go on Sunday but it got cancelled due to bad weather so we’re going on Tuesday as that is a holiday. We are placed in a metal cage and lowered into the middle of the ocean with experienced divers to be amongst the baited sharks…..hopeful they aren’t too hungry!!!!!!!!! OUCH…

I also signed up for SKYDIVING. I’ve always been in AWE of those who found the courage to do it and figured there is no better time or place to say I did it then when I was in SOUTH AFRICA. I never thought I would find myself wanting to jump out of a plane on PURPOSE but here I am, the day has arrived without notice. Well I’m trying to stay true to myself as I decided before the trip from now on I TRY everything ONCE and say NO to NOTHING until I KNOW FOR SURE IT’S NOT FOR ME!!!!!! So SKYDIVING and SHARK DIVING it is. And in all honesty something in me has become fearless. I’m not even kind of afraid. I feel alive again. It has been YEARS since I felt so free and alive. I’m back. I’m truly living my life again. No walls. No fear. No impossibilities. Just hope, adventure and opportunity to become whatever I desire!!!! Life is great. Life is good. Life is worth living. WoW. One week…..that is very hopeful. It took 7 years to get here but at least I made it. I didn’t quit or give up or let go. I’m still here trying.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me. To those of you who made this trip possible, I will never be able to fully repay you. You have given me a second chance at life and for that I am indebted to you. All of you have contributed something to my life in a special way and I’m a better women for having met you. Thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart. I wish you love and prosperity in all forms.


April 23,07

Dear Readers,

So I’m here in Cape Town. I arrived early Saturday morning to a beautiful home and found myself welcomed in to the country by an amazing group of people. The first volunteer group is smaller then all the future volunteer placements as we are the first TEST GROUP. We currently sit at 11 people. The next placement will be May 18th and there will be 30 volunteers joining the house at that time. Should be interesting. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by the attitudes of everyone here. We all came for different reasons but unite for the same cause. How refreshing to see that all age groups can live peacefully together, as we stand with ages ranging from 19 to 78 years old. The hearts of the staff and volunteers are simply remarkable.

I had the chance to see my placements today. We didn’t go in but we drove past them and stopped outside the door. One of my placements had about 40 of the most beautiful children ranging in ages of 2 to 6 playing outside and when we drove up they came running to the gate full of excitement and smiles. My heart was INSTANTLY overwhelmed with love and joy. I was almost moved to tears as I saw the faces of those who would share their love with me.

At the previous placement I met some HIV infected children, who were vibrant, alive, beautiful and joyful. I took an instant liking to them as they did I and as time drew near to leave one little girl grabbed me and kissed me, then hugged me, as she finished I saw a line form behind her of the other children who wanted the same opportunity. I welcomed their love with open arms. I knew in that moment that I was exactly were my heart desired to be.

During the ride home I found myself overwhelmed with JOY. God it felt so good to be looked at the way these kids looked at me. I felt needed. Wanted. Loved. Accepted. I felt like a gift. Although I felt the greater gift had been given to me. And that is when I knew I belonged here. The greatest gift is when both parties feel blessed for having shared the experience. And blessed I am.

I know things won't be perfect and I will be challenged far beyond what I prepared to comprehend but I welcome the challenge. I need it. I suppose I attracted the opportunity in order to grow and become who I desire to be. I have no idea what to expect but to expect the very best. Whatever I need I know I will find.

Much Love,
Hello Everyone,

I'm sorry it's taken so long to write you all. I have been so busy. It feels as though I've been here for a month already. I am shocked at the lack of spare time however I guess I didn't come here for a vacation. I'm hoping the wireless Internet will be connected at our home base soon as I have written you all a description of my experience to date. I don't really want to rewrite everything so I will try to get to an Internet cafe that allows me to connect my laptop. Please be patient as I'm still getting used to everything. I'm totally culture shocked, it isn't safe to carry anything on you that is of value so travelling to a location with my laptop is quite the experience. Locals do not recommend it at all. So its all new to me.

I hope to connect with you all very soon. Other then that everything here is great. Very beautiful city. I will download pictures very soon so you can see what I'm talking about. I'm learning. Growing. Experiencing things I never imagined. Including SHARK DIVING. That was amazing. I was face to face with a 16 foot Great White Shark, you can't imagine what that is like until you experience it. It's wild. What an adventure. I plan to go Skydiving over Cape Town next. I think for my birthday that is the gift I will give myself.

The children are amazing and beautiful and give me more love then I could imagine. They are in awe of my strange hair cut, they pat it, smooth it then spike it back up....they laugh and giggle at the many facets of my weirdness. They love my enthusiasm and treat me like a HUMAN JUNGLE GYM. I am so tired after 4.5 hours of teaching and playing with these kids I need a Nap. Wow, mothers and teachers my hat is off to you. You amaze me. I have a new found respect for many things.

I'm challenging myself in many areas. I'm working very hard to become the Best Me Ever. So far I'm very proud of myself. I feel alive even in the midst of the overwhelming circumstances I sometimes find myself involved in. I think this trip will reward me in ways I cannot even comprehend at this point in time. I'm alone in a country that is considered very unsafe. For the very first time in my life I have an UNDERSTANDING of the FREEDOM we so proudly have in Canada and the US. I never understood until I arrived in a country where there is very little to no freedom. I'm grateful for the lesson. I never understood how incredible it is to live in a free country, to feel safe on a daily basis. I was naive, what can I say. I've already in 11 days learnt more then I expected to learn in 3 months. Wow!!!

So I will post my journal entries as soon as possible. So you can better understand my experience thus far. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your love and support. You are a blessing to my life and I will forever be indebted to those who helped me get here. I love you so dearly!!!!!!!!!!!!

Much Love & Joy,