Helping Hands, Touching Hearts Act 4 Scene 3

6 Jun

Out of Africa…..

Dear Friends:

CJ, Wayne and I are settled in our African Rondavel in Bennde Mutale.  Our Host Family is Nelson and Aida Baloyi.  They have 4 children; Yshedza “Bright,” Phatehutshedza “Pray for the People,” Thompo “Respect,” and Usucika “Come.”

Our first night was a little rough because so many differences- outside toilet, outside gravity shower, no grass,   but we do have electricity with a marvelous little frig.

Aida spent 2 weeks creating an intricate design on the front entrance to welcome us.  We are adapting to the outdoor lifestyle and the absence of conveniences and normal USA city sounds.  The roosters take their jobs seriously and they are in surround sound.  Days are quite hot, mornings and evenings are fairly cold.  Days are short.  ALL roads require 4 wheel drive.  The Venda walk EVERYWHERE!  Except for the presence of cell phones it is a giant step back in time.  Quite an adventure.  The Venda’s main meal is corn mealie which they eat every day.  Our rental of the Rondavel includes a pail of water daily, they cook food we furnish and do laundry once a week.  Suddenly little things become luxuries which is a good thing.  I miss and appreciate my home pillows!

It is quite beautiful to walk out into the morning African air or experience the vivid sunsets, to see Aida sweeping her yard, Nelson working in his garden, feeding their chickens,  and the boys tending the Cattle and goats.  This family is prosperous in their culture and they work very hard.  Everyone must help to keep life going.  Most of the families are self-sustained and we work with the most deprived.

CJ, Wayne and I work with Vince and Erin Maher who have been here several years.  Erin is from Grand Rapids, Michigan and Vince is from the UK.  Their help is invaluable and their degrees and experience are in community work.  Vince picks us up at 8:00 AM  in his “bucket” (a little indestructible truck) for our daily rounds of the Venda Villages.  There are 7 villages but we will isolate our work to a few for now.  We roll back in at about 4:30 PM in time to take our beloved shower before dark.  The last 3 days have been very fruitful.  We are laying the ground work for our major projects.

Sunday, 6/1:
Drove many hours from Louis Trichardt to get here and got settled in our Rondavel.  Too excited to sleep.

Monday, 6/2:
Great day of preparing for our work.  Met Bennde Mutale Headman – another Nelson who has two wives and 14 children.  He welcomed us and blessed our work in his Village. Went on to Beleni and met Headman Alfred (respected older man) who is very cooperative. but speaks very little English.  Morris (young man who coordinates community projects and workers) just happened to pass by and came to help translate.  He calls Alfred his Chief – Headmen are very respected.  His workers are building a small Crèche (school and day care for little children) at this very moment.  The little 12′ X 12′ building is constructed of Mopani poles stuck in ground very close together then will be mudded; it has 3 windows to let in light (no electricity) and WILL have one door, cement floor and zinc metal roof.  It will be completed in two weeks.  The community workers get VERY LITTLE pay and work 4 days a week.  Though crude, this building will be effective.  There will be 20 little kids in that small space.  We found an ideal garden area right next to the Crèche and HHTH Charity will provide fencing, garden implements, wheelbarrow, water pipes and seeds.  We will also get them a large cook pot with big spoon and  blackboard, chalk, eraser and other schools supplies, ABC and Number posters.  They will be able to grow corn, watermelons, squash and tomatoes.  The community will supply the manure, cut Mopani poles – install them and labor to fence, plant and maintain the garden.  It will feed all the children in this Crèche.

Next, off to meet with Principal Gilbert Mbedzi at Fhetani High School which has 603 students.  At our last visit they had 83% graduation rate.  He now has them at 92% aiming for 100%  per cent.  Gilbert is passionate to get these kids educated as it is their only hope against the clutches of poverty.  Last year HHTH Charity  provided them with school supplies, shoes, clothes, wheelbarrow and medical supplies which helped them greatly in achieving their goals.  We are assessing how to best support their work this year.

Tuesday, 6/4
Met with Vince to discuss Chicken Projects and what will help the most. We will install a Chicken Project at Bennde Mutale  Crèche.! They would produce eggs to feed the small children, greatly improving their diet,  Eggs can be given to the needy and also sold to help with expenses.  We will do a few smaller Chicken Projects for other small Crèches.  We visited local Grant Day (some rec.. Gov. Check) Market to buy veggies.  (27 luscious oranges only cost $2.00). After we have distributed clothing to the most needy, Vince suggests we sell some if our clothing at a very low price, so they can still feel the pride of self empowerment.  Because of his knowledge of the Venda Culture and experience in community affairs, he is guiding us into decisions that help the people maintain their pride in self sustainability, so they are not weakened.

Met with with Hennie Van der Colff who is our major contact.  He brought us our sewing machines, wheelbarrows, and 250 mosquito nets.  Hennie recieves our shipments, handles our insurance, stores copious things and our vehicle, takes care of our insurance, makes purchases and helps us carry out our work… We could not do the incredible things without people like Hennie, Janco and Vince.  We meet with him again today to transfer the goods he brought to us at the Bennde Mutale Crèche.

This week recipients for the mosquito nets will be identified. And nets will be distributed.  The people are exhilarated we are here and sneak up just to touch us because we are so different than they are. They marvel that we honor our word and they are grateful.  Too often, promises are shallow or help does not reach them due to “loss” or theft.  We like being “at the front line,” the view is exhilarating and we get to personally witness the miracles of pure joy.

All of you have supported and encouraged us greatly in this hear touching work.  The innocence and radiant enthusiasm is an absolute “payment in full” on our part.  And every thing we do reaches the people who MOST NEED IT, and impacts them in a very large way.  There are not adequate words to express our heartfelt gratitude for your support and involvement, nor can we thank you enough..  When you lie down tonight, know  that you have made a difference.  You have personally touched the lives of little children and awakened hope in them.  God bless you mightily.

We are our purchasing  fencing, implements, tables, chairs, seeds, various school supplies, mealies, blackboards, copier, computers, school supplies, materials for chicken and garden projects.  We will update again later.

God bless you.

Love,  Sidney

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