Day 14 – Another day in the Struggle
Since the 26th May, landing in South Africa, I’ve taken 1,138 photographs. Whilst any photographer will immediately inform you that this is no achievement (the idea is quality, not quantity) – it does give a good indication of the desire I’ve had to capture every moment to best relive it in the future. If I were to continue at that rate, I’ll have taken some 10,000 pictures by the end of the trip!
This morning was our first session working at the Lief en Leed disabled group. As with most of our activities, it got off to a slow start with little direction of what to do. After taking some initiative we got ourselves involved in the two areas – either stitching cushions or weaving baskets. I was keen to learn both, and floated around before joining a fellow volunteer to weave the initial layer for a basket base. Tomorrow we’ll be resuming and hopefully learning how to complete the task.
The afternoon was occupied with our first visit to the school, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola (like every single shop or building in sight, will do a feature on it soon!). When we first saw that, I said it’s like “schools in the UK being sponsored by Coco Pops”. A sports teacher explained to us about their planned trip to England in 2012 for a Rugby tour, appealing for help from the volunteers (if you have any connections pass them on!). He went as far as saying that the children they’ll be taking will never otherwise get a chance to leave the country – a statement that wasn’t hard to believe.
We then had our ‘weekly meeting’, running through the motions extensively before being handed our 180 Rand (~£17) pocket money. Most of the developments were raised regarding work placements, a matter which I foresee lasting the entire trip. The supervisor helpfully suggested for us to “keep a note of things, don’t run around like beheaded chickens.”
I raised an issue regarding the previous day’s petitions after a conversation with a fellow volunteer. Turns out her host family were very much against the proposal, finding out from a relative that the volunteers staying with them were actually assisting the ‘opponents’. She rightly said that, had she known of such politics, she would have chosen to stay out of the process. It was interesting to see the group’s response, as many were blissfully unaware of the ‘third party’ in the process. Seems that there are still tribal issues between the different peoples, divisions which have probably existed for thousands of years. Though slightly more weary of the process, discussions in the car yesterday affirmed to me that their aims were noble.
I felt very alone after our early dismissal, wandering the empty streets home to read and work. Time to reflect is good, but too much time leads me feeling pretty depressed. Strange things seem to happen when you’re in that state – I’ll never forget the middle aged man cycling past me – as he looked at me he sang “its gangster-eer, and I’ve got special ways to thank yer-eer” (yes, that Nelly track) or my reaction as he went on to sing out the next verse before saying to myself “What on earth…” After observing a bird jump and glide a few times, I came to believe I was losing my mind.
I eventually left to find some of the others, enjoying a humorous evening playing cards before being reminded that our curfew was up.
To another day in the struggle =)