I’m sitting in the living room of our guest house, watching Carolyn and Kelly scurry around like Santa’s elves on a mission. They are so excited and so very energized. It’s 5:30 pm on Monday and they are attempting to unpack and organize the 250 lbs of Riverwood Care Packages we brought with us and arrange the additional 100 lbs of stuff we bought today. We’ve made our final decision on which Care Point we will be sponsoring and we can’t wait to introduce the people of our Care Point to you … tomorrow! But today…there is work to be done.
This afternoon, after meeting Gugu and touring her school (see the entry below for that story) we went for a quick lunch and then shopping. What we know about our Care Point is that they have attempted to start a school for the children in the area that can’t afford to pay the fees to go to a regular school. That school has nothing but a volunteer who has stepped forward to gather and teach the kids. It has no school supplies, no crayons, no blackboard, no paper, no desks, no chairs and no tables. So…our first stop was to visit a sparsely stocked school supply store in search of some teaching supplies. We managed to find a set of ‘early-reader’ books and bought those. Then we hit the ‘Shoprite’ and went a little crazy.
We bought school supplies for an entire school of 40 kids. We bought crayons, scribblers, pencils, pens, rulers, erasers, scissors, paper and games. Then we bought the teacher a soft briefcase and loaded it with pens, felt markers, a stapler, highlighters, calculator, a record keeping book and a few nice personal toiletry items just for her. After that…we went on a mission to load nine buckets with groceries and create nine special care packages. We created 4 for the Gogo’s (the volunteer women from the village who cook for the children at the Care Point.) Four more for the families we plan on doing ‘home-visits’ with in the village…and another for the teacher. The four of us made all sorts of suggestions of what we should put in the buckets…but Kriek vetoed most of our ideas. The reason for the veto was that we were shopping like Canadians. Most of what we suggested they had no use for and wasn’t essential. So we bought peanut butter (high in protein), sugar (a very rare grocery item in their homes), a solid bar of laundry soap, candles (their only source of light), beans, and some special treats… coffee and tea and jam.
We stood in the line of this very busy grocery store fighting back tears. (Some of us did better than others.) We looked at our two grocery carts full of school supplies and the most basic of grocery items and realized that for the people who are about to become our new friends in the village…these things we just take for granted are the very things they don’t even have. These small and simple commodities that overload our pantries at home are, for our new friends, rare and special gifts.
Anyway…we’re off to dinner with Jumbo and Kriek…but a couple of quick notes before I sign off:
First…a HUGE THANK YOU! to those of you who have left ‘comments’ on the blog. The four of us huddle around the computer or if we’re lucky enough, print them off and one of us reads them while we’re traveling. I guess we’re just saps, but most times there are a few tears in this experience too. We feel like we’ve been gone forever and your words have encouraged and strengthened us every time.
Second…I bought a giraffe! She’s a girl-giraffe and I’ve become quite attached to her…but she doesn’t have a name. Send me your best ideas and the winning name gets a present from Swaziland.
Lots of love…