It has been awhile since my last visit to Sabie, South Africa – just over two years. (To see those blogs go to Archives in the right margin on the home page and select Nov. 2011). During the four hour drive from Johannesburg I kept an eye out for things that are comfortingly familiar, like cars that pullover onto the shoulder to let a speeding car pass by, then the passing vehicle flashes hazard lights in a “thank you”. Very considerate, even at a hair raising 140 km/hr. And an eye out for things that have changed, like more toll booths along the major highway and higher toll rates. It helps that our Canadian dollar is currently strong against the local rand.
But there’s one sign I always look for on the first day of each visit here and, though not always lucky, this time I was … a few little monkeys scampered across the street. I managed to capture a photo of mama monkey and babe who took to the trees. A sign – this is going to be a good four weeks!
At the Sitabogogo project in the township of Simile the gogos were sitting in plastic chairs under the shade of the big tree. As I went around the circle greeting each individually with “Sawubona” and the African handshake (and several who wanted hugs), it was moving to recognize old friends I remembered by name, and heartening to meet several who were new to the program. Many were leisurely working on various handicraft projects – knitting, crocheting, and some very intricate and colourful beadwork. Others chatted with friends and explained apologetically that their eyes or trembling hands could no longer do this work. In a future blog we’ll see more detail of their handiwork.
Our immensely capable volunteer administrators, Vicky and Myriam, were busy supervising the preparation of large vats of soup (for later distribution on the back streets) and a hot meal of chicken stew and mealie pap for the gogos. Myriam was also counselling one gogo who takes a vat of soup back to her township of Harmony Hill to distribute from her house to hungry children. But word has spread, and young men from surrounding communities are also demanding not only soup, but that she find them jobs. Seems there’s no end of problem solving to be handled.
My intention is to keep these blogs brief, so I will continue next time with news of a wonderful young man whose misfortune (a bullet still lodged in his leg) has lent him as an invaluable asset to this project. Tune in a few days from now …