Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monkey Orange

S'up? Alright? (To those other than the English, 'alright?' is a general greeting and doesn't mean I think there's something wrong with you)

It's about 5 weeks to go till I return to Blighty and about 7 since I arrived from Australia and I'll give you some highlights of the last few weeks.

Clermont Jumble Sale/Dress Up
By far the most hectic and potentially random events have been the township Jumble Sales where we take a bunch of donated clothes to either Clermont, Lamontville or Marionnhill, sort them roughly into piles of 'Mens', 'Womens' and 'Kids' and then allow chaos to ensue. At Lamontville the ladies are literally pressing themselves against the windows to get a good sneaky peeky at the potential bargains before the doors are opened and they run to the middle of the room and then spin around a couple of times before making a decision as to which table to go for. The Sunday School kids at Lamontville are really cool and were helping us out in exchange for first dibs on clothes at even more discounted prices and a couple were helping me with making up the prices and taking the money. It tended to be a bit haphazard as our pricing structure largely depended on sugar highs and lows from a secret stash of Fizzers. We weren't that hard to barter with, because as soon as any kind of disgruntled look came from the customer we would usually end up in reducing the price much to the interest to all the beady-eyed ladies next in line who then demanded the previous discounted price as there starting price. However, even this didn't stop some of them throwing clothes out of the window to waiting accomplices outside. We sent the Sunday School security to investigate and the guilty individuals are recovering well and should be discharged from hospital in the next few days. Clermont Jumble Sale wonderfully emerged from the chaos as a kids dress up party.

Dance sesh at Inanda Dam
I had the pleasure of being an honoured visitor on the Marionnhill and the volunteers girls outing to a sweet place called Inanda Dam. So, 2 Yanks, 7 Zulus & 1 Brit went trekking off into the forest to find wild Zebras and we succeeded! Very cool. The other guys also succeeded in finding a Monkey Orange and convincing me that they had all tried one and it was gorgeous, obviously it was disgusting. I had an inkling as I suspiciously eyed their cheeky faces so I only licked it which was enough to make me shudder and contort my face. They hooted at that! Then on our return to the car we had a great dance session in the car park and returned home.

I gave the Sunday talk at Marionnhill a couple of weeks back which is always interesting because you never quite know what is going on. I was asked to come up and speak and just before I get up there the president starts singing and everyone joins in and I have to sit down at the front until they finish. Meanwhile the president goes to sit down in the audience whilst he is singing and I wait until I'm definately sure no-one is going to start singing again and then do my talk. It was about the law of Cities of Refuge and I started by pretending I was banging in a nail, and slipping with the hammer, and killing a brother in the audience and then pretending to run to the next township. I finished and sat down thinking my work was done and then got a bit of a surprise when the president also asked me to pray for the wine!

Yesterday we had our monthly food parcel run which is where we deliver 2 tons of food in 200 bags to those who need it. We deliver to two places, the first being at Wyebank in a library car park and the second is to a HIV clinic in Clermont. Wyebank has gotten a bit of a 'mare recently as we've found out that our list doesn't match up with the lady who organises it so we always have more people there than food parcels to give out! The food is supposed to be for orphans and this time we decided to take a picture of each child with a number so we could then make sure the same people got a bag each month. This turned out to take quite a long time and at one point we told a girl that she had to go find her brother so they could both be in the picture and she replied "oh, he's with my mother"! Ah, so you're not an orphan then. We asked the next boy and it turned out he had parents too. Flip. Rethinking required.

An exciting project Katie & I are working on are filming people's life stories. We've experimented on Mary Wilondja who works at the BEC and is from the Congo. She was chatting for about an hour, no idea how we're gonna cut it down. We haven't actually looked at it on the 'puter yet, so we don't know how well it turned out what with the background noise particularly one guy who constantly shrieks "Banana, one rand, banana, banana, one rand" in a high nasally voice. It's almost worth buying them all just to shut him up and then I suppose I could start selling them for two rand and make a profit. Anyway, hopefully the video will show how amazing Mary's attitude is. She sees everything as God directing her to where she is now. She had to escape the Congo when the war broke out and her husband was the other side of town so they had to escape seperately and she had her two kids. She and her husband didn't know each other were alive for a year until she found him in Malawi, by which time he had been baptised as a Christadelphian. They then came to Durban but she stuck to her Roman Catholicism until she had a horrific accident in a mini-bus taxi where the whole thing caught on fire and everyone else died apart from her. If your lucky she hoiks up her dress to show you some impressive scars from the skin grafts (not in the video!). In hospital she started reading her Bible and started listening to her husband (she's pretty stubborn and had refused until then!) and then got baptised. Our next interview will hopefully be with Pierre who is from Rwanda who apparently had an equally fascinating story.

Mary Wilondja
God Bless,


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A story of Africa...

When we visited a crèche in our area to advertise the crèche course the teacher told us about Thabile and Ayabonga.  Thabile is 17 years old.  When she got pregnant her mother was very ashamed of her and has been intermittent in her support.  In the confusion of giving birth Thabile gave the wrong surname (her mother has remarried so has a different surname) to the hospital staff.  Because her hospital birth card does not match her ID book she has been unable to claim the child support grant she is entitled to.  If her mother does not feel like buying the baby milk then little Ayabonga (6 months old now) gets warm water in his bottle.  Thabile drops Ayabonga at the crèche for day care every day and picks him up on her way home from school.  The crèche waives the R50 (£4.50) monthly fee because of her circumstances, which is getting the teacher in trouble with other paying parents.

When we heard the story our hearts went out to this girl.  We had some money from Meal A Day and Ben's sister so we visited with an emergency aid package of formula milk, nappies, wipes and a few items of clothing, plus some soap, toothbrush & toothpaste for Thabile – because it's hard to care for another if no one is caring for you.  We urged her to pray to her Heavenly Father for help and support, and to thank Him for these gifts.  We gave her advice as to the steps she can take to amend her hospital birth card to start the process of applying for her grant. We will keep in touch to ensure this is progressing. (The toddler in the photo is Ayabonga's uncle!)

Thabile is probably one of many thousands like her just in our area, but she's one we could show the love of God to.  We pray she will lean on Him as she struggles to bring up this child, pass her school exams and retain some dignity.........til Christ comes! Amen.

Caz Parsons, Margate Ignite 2020 team

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Update on Durban Projects in April/May

Durban Summary of Activities April-May 2011

Photo by Mikki Pogson
The"Jabula, Jabula" P2P team comprised of 14 volunteers arrived during the Easter holidays and holiday clubs were held at Lamontville and Clermont with over 100 kids in attendance. They also visited the rural township of Ndwedwe, where they camped without ablutions for 3 days and 2 nights, helping out the local community by collecting sand for their concrete slab, planting a sustainable garden and supplying some food for nearby orphans. They were involved in many other projects including distribution of food parcels, after school clubs, sunday schools and youth classes.  Many thanks to Hannah Wisner, Justin Allfree, Kate Harrison, Natalie Ferguson, Kelly Smith, Philemon Burney, Katie and Maggie Schlageter, Tamar Diephenheim, Mikki Pogson and the Hyndman family for brightening the lives of so many here in South Africa.

Photo by Simon Peel
An educational outing to Ushaka Marine World Aquarium was organized for over 30 students from Happy's school for the disabled.  The volunteers were able to deepen relationships with the students that they work with each week by sharing a special day learning about God's amazing sea creatures!

Photo by Sam Collins
Nozipho, a previous student from Happy's school and baptized sister in Westville, has recently undergone 6 months of surgeries in hospital and has received increased mobility.  COPT and its volunteers have arranged for her new housing in Cheshire homes in Queensburgh where she is settling in well. If anyone would like to write to her she can receive mail:
Queensburgh Cheshire Home

PO Box 132, Sarnia, 3615 
KwaZulu-Natal • South Africa
Nozipho Hlongwa

Waiting for parcels

The Clermont township feeding scheme program initiated by Simon and Emma Palmer and funded by an anonymous donor from the UK has been in action now for over 6 months and has fed 1200+ families of orphans!  This project has exceeded its initial funding and we are actively seeking new donations to keep this wonderful work continuing.  Email kimncamnfam@gmail.com to find out how you can help!  We recently had the wonderful addition of a local caterer joining us to provide hot meals to those families that are on the waiting list to receive food. This has provided a more positive atmosphere as there are many people that come to collect food parcels and there are not enough to go around.

Ngomusa choir photo by Kwanda Mzulwini
Photo by Sonya Szabo
We say a sad goodbye to long term volunteer Maggie Schlageter (USA) who has been with us since January.  She has brought light and life to so many of the projects: Clermont, Ndwedwe, Afterschool clubs, youth and the feeding scheme to name a few.  A quote to sum up the love she shared here:  Within 24-hours of landing she was driving stick shift on the left side of the road, serving soup at an HIV/TB clinic, playing soccer/football in the road in the clermont township and being lovingly welcomed to South Africa with zulu hymns and dance in an area that most white people wouldn’t venture. Blessings as you return to the USA!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

P2P team at work in Margate

Our small team here in Margate were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the April 2011 P2P team – we are kept busy with our regular events and there were many jobs being put off until the relevant manpower and expertise arrived – and arrive it did in the form of Mikki, Tamar, Katie, Maggie, Philemon, Justin, Kate, Nat, Hannah, Kelly, Rob, Leanne, Abi & Dave.
They managed to fit some shelves in our store room – we had been accumulating donations with nowhere to put them for some time, install our digital welcome screen and fix all the dodgy church chairs, which we were always hoping wouldn't find themselves under a first-time visitor! 
They gave a dramatic Sunday School lesson on the ten plagues to all classes together, and gave Cecilia welcome help in the Good News Crèche every day.  Some of them taught at the Lorraine special school and the orphanage crèche, some lent their expertise to teaching at After School Klub, some helped plant seedlings at the food garden, and most exciting for me (Caz) we were able to do our first crèche upgrade work, at the Masinenge Informal Settlement.  
The sight of 12 GNOTKOG T-shirted members singing and painting certainly made an impression on the community!  The jaded and somewhat dangerous jungle gym got a facelift, to the delight of the teacher and children, and the teacher got the sign she had been asking for since attending the crèche course in March.
Philemon & Justin's electronic expertise helped truly launch our computer network, and thanks to Justin's design skills we had a superb flyer advertising our classes which we managed to give out about 500 of at the crossroads in Margate, in about an hour!
What a blessing to have so many willing volunteers to be the hands and feet of the Lord in serving our local community, and spreading the Good News of the Kingdom to the people around us!

with love in our Lord,
Ben & Caz Parsons Ignite 2020 Margate