Friday, February 25, 2011

African Nuggets

 Forever a mother
A very special person I have met on one of our feeding scheme rounds is a Gogo – who will forever be a mother.  I still do not know her name as her English is limited to “God Bless you”, but I do know that she has a heart that has imparted many blessings.  She lives in a tiny house – a 2-roomed house in fact.  One side is the kitchen / Bathroom / “lounge” (with no furniture) and the 2nd room a bedroom for 5 people.  There is no running water in the house – just an outside tap; and electricity gets bought when they have the odd Rand or two.  Her daughter died while giving birth to twins and thus left behind a young boy of 6 and twins (a boy and girl).  The daughters’ husband is never home as he is permanently on the road looking for work.  Which leaves the Gogo to act as mother to the children.  Often one will arrive and she will be sitting on the floor with the twins on either side of her – feeding, dressing, changing (the twins are now about 6 months old) – and the young boy also sitting at her feet “learning his numbers”, as they could not afford to send him to a pre-school.  She also looks after Ashley – an abandoned brain-damaged girl – from another family member.  Ashley spends her days rolling around on a blanket – is wearing nappies and needs to be fed, changed, calmed down at regular intervals – and is basically an adult baby.
Have I ever heard a word of complaint from this Gogo who herself should be spoilt and enjoying her twilight years?  Never.  Just expressions of thankfulness; praise to God for seeing her through yet another day and noticing a woman caring when she herself needs caring.  The photo is of the young boy enjoying his daily bath.  Isn’t life wonderfully simple?  Who else can brag about having a bath in the beautiful sunshine?

I just hope his work realizes that they have a Good Samaritan working for them
She was lost.  She had actually been lost from the minute she left the safe haven of her home – a Gogo (a granny) of about 93 years – who was frustrated and wanted to do something useful – not just sit around at home.  We had seen her wandering around Aphiwe in Tembisa from even before our classes started – but not really thought anything about it.  Then came the knock on the door.  Could we please take the Gogo back home?  Her legs were tired and even her spindly wooden walking stick could hardly keep her upright anymore.  Now the community spirit we experience daily in Tembisa came into play.  This Gogo had left home at 6h00 (we later discovered) . . . it was now past 10h00 ; she was more than 3km from her home;  couldn’t remember where she lived; could barely speak through a mouth devoid of teeth  - but was now identified.  A young gentleman on his way to the train station to get to work just happened to recognise her and realized her predicament.  He then plucked up the courage to come interrupt our class to ask if we could give the Gogo a glass of water and take her home later.  He was prepared to wait for us – and to be late for work.  How thankful I am that the community has accepted us – know that they can trust us – have the freedom to ask us favours.  We took the Gogo home immediately with the young man giving directions.  When we dropped her off she was muttering about “now she just has to sit around again” (once translated) – but soon cheered up when we invited her to join us for a cup of tea whenever she was near Aphiwe again.  The young gentleman we dropped off at the station – a good hour late for work! 
It made me wonder . . . would I have stopped to help knowing that I would most probably be late for work . . . would I have recognised my neighbour – let alone someone who lives some distance down the road . . . would I have cared enough – or would I have left it – rationalizing that it was not my problem.
Goliath is bullet-proof
On Friday mornings we are privileged to give Sunday School lessons at a variety of pre-schools (ages 0 – 6years).  The main aim of these lessons is to give the busy teachers a break (they start work at 5h30) and also to show how to teach concepts such as numbers, colours, size and shape by using stories from the Bible and simple resources.  Now – it is quite a challenge to teach at these pre-schools.  It is not everyday that a mago (white man) comes to your school – so all want to attend the class.  You are then faced with a range of ages – from 2 to 6; a class where at least 3 languages are spoken, and English is not a first language for anyone – and therefore you need to work through a translator; and often the space in which you have to do your lesson is no larger than a single garage.  But it is fun.  This Friday we did David and Goliath.  Someway through the story I realized that the teacher was struggling to translate.  I would say one sentence – but she would talk and talk and talk.  Eventually she said “There is no word for “armour” which the children would understand.  Hmmmm. Predicament.  But then a simple solution – Goliath was wearing a bullet proof vest – he was bullet proof. 
It made sense to her ; it made sense to the kids.  The children didn’t even question how it is then possible for someone who is bulletproof to be killed with a stone?  Modern technology obviously still has its weak spots.  They loved the story – I loved the moment.

You just never know . . .
“I was sitting at the hospital waiting for the doctor, feeling so sick, when I got a phone call saying my grandchildren were coming to spend the weekend with me.  I started worrying because I knew there was no food in the house and I was using the last of my money to pay the doctor.” ( C )
“The parents of the pre-school  have not being paying as most of them only have “piece” jobs – so by Friday I had used up the last of my mieliepap for the kids, but I had some bones which we were going to cook up for a stew with a tomato, and survive on that for the weekend.” (M)
“I really didn’t know what to do – the street kids and orphans were going to come in the morning for food and donations had been really bad.  There was nothing in the freezer and only some sugar in a container.  And sugar on its own is not food.” (G)
And to think that I had been contemplating whether or not to drop off the food that Friday – or freeze it and wait till Monday.  A catering company, Horn&Philips, have kindly been giving us their “left-overs” after big functions.  It entails us fetching it; sorting out what should go where and to whom; repacking it and then going to deliver it- a good 3 to 4 hour job.  On a Friday afternoon – especially a very hot African Friday afternoon – this is not a sought after job!  But something moved us that day.  Oh I believe now that it was an angel – but on that Friday afternoon there was just no rhyme or logical reason for doing what we did.
C wasn’t home (she was at the hospital) so we just left a donation of meat and vegetables on her kitchen table, and even popped some dessert in her fridge;  M and her family were cooking up the bones when we arrived – and a sparse meal suddenly turned into a feast (talk about turning water into wine.  I now know how big those smiles of the bridegroom must have been when experiencing that miracle);  G just found the nearest bench and cried.  It was good to cry with her.
From a small donation of food that could have been chucked more than 50 hungry tummies were fed that weekend.
You just never know . . . H&P didn’t know what a massive difference their contribution would make (it seemed so little) . . . we didn’t know what just a little extra effort would make to the lives of so many people that weekend.  Thank God we were prepared to be moved.  As Lucas said in an exhortation recently “nothing ever can happen until something moves”.

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