If you know me, you know that “Dancing Gogo” (gogo – grandmother) is my hero. This woman lost all of her children, is burdened with raising her grandchildren (3 young elementary school kids), had a stroke and barely made it alive. Our amazing nurse partner Kandas sent us pictures from her hospital bed. She couldn’t move one half of her body, but the other half was smiling…and dancing. She recovered, miraculously – without proper medication or rehab, and is now even walking without a cane! We dropped off a solar panel system for her home today. She will place a panel on her roof and drag the battery through a window pane. It will light 2 LED lights (enough for her small one room home we built for her) and recharge a phone battery through the USB port. She was so excited! And it was awesome to see her baby and her twins (Xolile and Thobile) who are SO grown up now in grade 5. They translated her siSwati for us. So proud of them. And now, for the first time in Gogo’s entire life, she’ll be able to have light in the dark night.
Afterward we played at Nothando’s house. The group played keep-away, hide and seek, and soccer. We checked out the new chicken coop Kait’s team built for her (There are 3 egg laying hens incubating babies right now in the “upstairs” section – super exciting!!). We also dropped off the clothes we’ve worn so far this trip for them to sell in the rural area. It’s crazy that the old clothes we wear during the trip enable the girls to create a door to door business that makes them $120 per load (we drop with 3 girls, so $360 per trip – just from our old clothes!!)
After leaving Nothando’s house, we went to the Malindza Refugee Camp. It is a tough pill to swallow walking in and realizing that the hundreds of children living there (mostly escaping war in Central African countries) now have to live with no water, minimal food, and no resources. They will now experience peace but famine, dehydration, and cholera/fecal-oral diseases from the lack of sanitation and hygiene. So sad. We distributed toothbrushes, hair combs, soap, and stuffed animals (Thanks Mellissa Taft!!). Kait’s team from last month sanitized the used hotel soaps from the local hotels. They’re small. And used. But the kids at the refugee camp tried to come back through the line for seconds… and begged for thirds. After receiving the soap, the all smelled it, and smiled. It’s just soap. No scent. No fancy things. A simple tiny used bar of soap. Privilege...I feel it every single day.
After we left the hundreds of kids at the refugee camp, we went to teach/play with orphaned kids in rural Malindza Village. They showed us their handmade volleyball court and begged for balls (thanks Megan Kaser for old soccer balls you donated, that was the best we could do). They also practiced English with us. I played a flashcard “guess the English word as fast as you can and you win the flashcard” game. The boys ate it up. They frantically yelled the English word “Fox, elephant, lion, rabbit, dog, bird, cat…” and then we got to “skunk” and they all stopped dead in their tracks and looked at each other stunned. They mumbled the siSwati word. I asked them to repeat it, and then after hearing it, I prayed that I would never be required to repeat it in siSwati again! TWO CLICKS. Wow. Will practiced the whole ride home and got it as close as anyone would ever get it in our car…. But I still think he might make the locals giggle if he said it. After over a decade of trying to learn siSwati, I have given up. I feel like I have already learned the only thing I really need to know when working with these kids… Ngiya ku tsandza. “I love you.” And I sure do love them all! www.ifightpoverty.org