Sunday, July 20, 2008

I took over 2000 pictures... :)

25 of which are now up on flikr

Take a look!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


The last 20+ days have gone by wayyy too quickly.
I've spent my time learning zulu, working in the vegetable garden, helping out at the daycare, going to school with the bus to pick up the kids, and just trying to be available to them you know?

But mostly, I've been spending time with the housemothers- talking about the difficulties they face, about the various backgrounds of the children and hanging out with the older girls- most of the time not saying anything, just enjoying each others presence.. and being embraced by the solidarity of sisterhood.. i know its kind of cheesy, but I don't really know how to describe it.

It's like...

when you feel a connection
that blooms into affection
the action
of spending time together
will result no matter
how brief the first encounter
might have been.
This path would seem
a common road to most who lean
towards companionship.
Friendship, relationship, whatever the ship
is most enjoyed
with someone you feel that connection with.
And though near or far
these people are
the ones who keep your heart beating,
reminding you of what livin g
feels like.

Let me just paint a picture for you. It's unbelievably sunny and hot. The grass has never looked so green nor the sky so blue. you run to the shade of a tree by a stoop of a house to take a break from the sun beating on your back. The little kids are at daycare and the bigger kids at school so its quiet enough to hear the myriad of birds and bugs. The housemother who lives in the house comes out and we chat. Then a song comes on the radio and we start singing to it together. I pick up a broom and start sweeping while she fills up the pail to mop. Once she starts mopping, I pick up the knitting I left on her kitchen table from the day before and continue making a scarf which will eventually belong to her. She shouts across to the other house to another housemother to come over -"wozala" and we put up the wet laundry on the line together.

When the little ones get out of school, you roll around the grass together, run, jump, and skip around in smiles.

But its the night time you love the most. Helping with dinner preparations, getting to eat zulu food everyday- phutu/mealie, samp and beans... gathering around the tv together to watch the 8oclock soap(y). Then when the little ones go to bed, its just you, the housemother, and the older girls. You turn the tv down but leave the screen on, turn the radio up and the lights out and just sit there talking about life while you watch the changing lights from the television bouncing off everyone's faces.

I don't want to leave. I never expected to want to leave. But even though this feeling of the eventuality of reality is anticipated, it doesn't make it any less dreaded and the ache in my heart becomes the unpleasant indication.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


There is a girl here called Nelli (not her real name). She is 17 and absolutely remarkable.
She looked after her younger sister and nursed her mother who was HIV+ till she died in 2006, she then went to live with her father who died in 2007. She then lived with her older sister who would often leave her alone at home for days on end to be with her boyfriend. Nelli said that the whole community knew she was home along and it wasn't safe for her. She would often sleep on the floor, afraid of thieves or people who were trying to hurt her.
Through all this she was going to school. Since grade 8 she would walk a long ways through a forest everyday to get to school. She said it was very dangerous and she would pray all the time and God kept her safe.
She said that she was in a very bad situation (no food in the house, wasn't safe at home, friends who wanted her to do drugs.. ) and that she knew she couldn't live like that and needed help. She heard about MOP and was hoping that they would help her, though she didn't know how. She walked 3 hours to MOP, gave a hand written letter to Gavin, the man who started MOP in KZN, and 2 days later they sent a social worker to her house and now she lives at MOP. She is incredibly intelligent and beautiful and is going to finish high school this year.
I'm telling you her story because she is one of the most mature 17 year olds i have ever met. She is 17 going on 50 and her life experience is enough for several lifetimes. She is incredibly disiplined, right and wrong is black and white to her.. her moral compass, for what she has been through, is a gift from God.
For all her virtues, she's been giving a hard time at MOP by the older girls because she is such a threat to them. She has gotten into a physical fight with one of the more violent girls who attacked her, seldom leaves her house on the MOP property because she doesn't want to provoke the other girls to gossip or stir up any trouble.
It makes me sad that she can't fully participate in the community, but she says she puts up with it because anything is better than her situation at home.
I can't talk to the older girls for her or ask them why they act they way they do because they will accuse her of using me.. teenagers all over the world, no matter what country they are in, are all the same haha.
So I've been going to her house after school everyday just to hang out, to be available to her to talk you know?... getting her to come outside with me to play with the other kids, going over to her house for dinner almost every night and sleeping over sometimes.. I don't think I'm doing much, but we are great friends now and that is something.. right?

She is such an asset to MOP and a great role model to the younger kids.

But then there are people like Sara (not her real name). She has come in and out of MOP 3 time in the last year. She comes from an abusive household and is extremely willful. She's 15 and uncontrollable. There have been a few intense fights between the older girls in the last few months and Sara is always involved. She dominates through terror and swears like a sailor. It's difficult to deal with a case like her's because you know her behaviour is the result of her being victimised and she should be reprimanded, but you just can't treat her the same way as you would other kids.. not that any of the kids here can be treated like "other kids" anyway.

Then there's Cindy (not her real name). She is a child who has been raped countless times, is HIV+ and on ARVs and has been living at MOP for 2 years now. A few months ago she was told that her birth mother (who comes to MOP to visit her often) was very sick and while Cindy was preparing to go to the hospital to see her, she was given the news that her mother had died. She cried for a whole day and couldn't be consoled. But then word came from the hospital that there was a mixup.. that 2 people with the exact same first and last name were sick in the hospital side by side and Cindy's mother was still alive. So then she went to the hospital (and by that time her mother was deathy ill).. Cindy was so traumatised by the confusion and seeing her mother in such a state that she was too scared to get too close to her hospital bed.
Her mother's death brought Cindy a 2 week old baby half-sister and because her house at MOP was full, and because of the policy that they don't seperate family members, Cindy had to switch houses. The thing is, she was so close to her housemother whom she's lived with for almost 2 years now, so this adjustment was and is still hard on her and her housemother.
Cindy is only 7 and the world has wronged her.
She is as strong as they come and I feel privileged to be in the presence of such greatness as Cindy, Sara and Nelli .

Monday, June 9, 2008

5 days in

I put up a looong post and it just disappeared ... so i will try again on thursday the next time i have internet access...

technology bites sometimes doesn't it?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 2

So I arrived at MOP yesterday afternoon to the warmest most loving welcome I've ever received. Lots of yelling lots of hugs and plenty of smiles to knock the jetlag and long flight right out of me! I still can't believe I'm here though.. its like one of those out of body experiences because I've thought about coming back here so often, it doesn't feel real anymore!

Things have changed a lot since I was last here. Some housemothers left and new ones came, some kids returned to their families, others ran away, some came back, new kids joined the family, newer houses were built .., but the atmosphere is still the same. The goodness that is MOP still radiates from the pores of everyone who lives and works here.

This morning I spent some time catching up with the caregivers in their home, hung out with the kids while they were waiting for the bus to take them to school and helped out at the daycare.
I'm trying to upload some pictures I took today to give you an idea of what the place is like, but internet cafes have TERRIBLE speeds.. so I'll try my best to get them up next time!

I'm spending these few days just catching up with everyone and finding out how things have changed over the last year soooo the stories will come in the next entry yeah ?!!


Monday, June 2, 2008

And so the great adventure begins

This is it!

The second time around :)

I'm excited and feel like I'm in a dream.

Still can't believe this is all happening to me!!

I'm on my way to Mother of Peace again. It's a community for children who are abandoned, orphaned or vulnerable. I lived with them for a month last June and this time I'll be there for a little over a month. The reason I'm going is to learn from them (the kids, their house mothers and the administrators); to listen first hand to the problems they face and hear from them what they feel the solutions should be so that I can somehow help facilitate that.

This is how I want to live out the rest of my life.

But FIRST, I need to pack :)