Rain has been pounding down in the past few days but this is, after all, their rainy season. So it has somewhat curtailed the gogos’ regular activities such as their outdoor exercise session with the physiotherapist who comes once a week. They are content to crowd into a shelter and chat and work on handicrafts in their laps. When the weather breaks they spill outside. The progress of their beadwork has been impressive, from single strand pieces a few years ago to much more complicated traditional pieces. Some of the gogos now sell their work and are allowed to keep the net profit. To help support these activities, Grannies à Gogo in Vernon gathered together three large bags of wool and various needles for knitting, crochet and beading. One bag was brought over by Lynn Hadfield on her full day visit two weeks ago, and I delivered the other two on my arrival.
There’s been a valuable new presence for the past year amongst the gogos and his name is Jonathan Malele. Our volunteer administrators say he is indispensable! When we were introduced he said, “I remember you.” It was my turn to be surprised. Turns out he was a student at the township high school at the time I was living in Sabie (2001-05) and running an after-school drama program at the school.
He graduated in 2004, did some college and work. His turning point came during a peaceful protest against municipal corruption in 2009, a gathering which grew so large it frightened local police who fired shots. Jonathan’s leg got in the way of a bullet (it’s still in there) and he’s had several operations. The months of recovery motivated a change of direction – he studied to be a lay minister. He’s now serving a period with the gogos where he inspires them with his talks and is vital as a reliable translator for the administrators. Clear communication where two cultures meet is essential, and Jonathan is our gem until be continues his studies in the ministry.