Well…what a day. Our final day at the Bhobokazi carepoint and it was a crazy one! We began our day earlier with a quick trip to the Pick ‘n Pay to buy any teas and Nando’s sauce the team wanted to bring home. Then we were off to the carepoint. A few of our team members had picked up and taken the Gogo’s that cook every day at the carepoint out on a shopping trip….this is so special for them….not just a trip into town, but a chance to be ladies shopping without thinking about all of the pressures of what they need at home. So special.
Our day at Bhobokazi was very full and a bit crazy. We had a lot to accomplish today….handing out care packages & capturing photos. Fitting each kid for a new pair of school shoes. Lots of last day conversations. Of course we had our kids program and had to sing ALL the songs they knew. They sang louder and with more energy than I have ever heard today….and that’s saying something. We had the special privilege of having two of our team members share their testimony with the kids today…..so cool to see their personal stories relating to the kids.
I must say….being at Bhobokazi, seeing the hustle and bustle of all of the kids now coming there….and just seeing how naturally they are interacting….this carepoint is truly moving towards a thriving carepoint. We can’t say enough about how incredible Thokozani has been for this carepoint. His leadership, his care for the children, and his heart for God is something that is changing Bhobokazi. We can’t to see what God will do through him.
Today, Carolyn & I had the opportunity to visit a family that has been struck by tragedy. Later last year one of the young children that attended the Bhobokazi carepoint became really sick and passed away. It was a young 4 year old little girl that had become quite sick. She began by being very very tired, followed by losing her appetite. After being hospitalized for a couple of weeks, her body gave in and she died.
This is the first death we have encountered at our carepoints. Let me tell you, it feels incredibly unjust. That we have the means to first of all keep ourselves well fed and to find good medical help when it is needed, and that these families that have nothing and have such limited access to consistent and available health care seems so far from just.
We met this child’s family. The mom is 21 years old. She just had another baby in February. The little baby was SO precious. She is also caring for two of her sisters’ children that are currently attending the carepoint.
The family is desperate. They live in very simple mud huts, have no means of income, and struggle to find enough to eat every day. Thankfully the children have their consistent food at the carepoints….but it was an incredibly difficult thing to sit across from her, hear her story, see her surroundings, and to simply be in the moment sharing in her grief. I think of how many times her story is multiplied as I even look across the valley at Enaleni….and see the huts scattered around….how many tears have been shed for deaths that should never have happened. How many lives stolen from children because of HIV.
We had the opportunity to speak some comfort, to share with her that God is close to the broken hearted, to pray with her and to give her a gift of a bunch of bulk food for her household. She was incredibly gracious to welcome us to her homestead, to share her life with us, and to express her gratitude for all that we had done to help.
As we walked away, down the pathways that led back to Bhobokazi, I was so grateful that this carepoint has become a source of hope for the community. I was hopeful for the potential lies ahead as to the impact that can be had even further into the surrounding community. And I was also incredibly humbled that we would be invited to be a part of this journey….and realized how much the children of this community have become engrained into our hearts. They are not simply children in need that we are helping….but they have become our friends…..our children. They have become connected intimately into our church community.
Today we felt the contrast….the joy of being a part of a great day of smiles, laughter, joy, generosity, and connection with the children of Bhobokazi…..as well as the depths of grief of the reality that so many face. Each child at the carepoint likely has a story of loss….loss of a parent, a sibling, or likely multiple. It motivates us all the more to press on and continue to make an impact…..this is our calling.
Journey with us at Enaleni ( http://www.facebook.com/enaleni ) tomorrow. Continue to pray for our team. We have a couple of team members starting to get a bit sick. We look forward to putting everything we got into a great day at Enaleni tomorrow. Thank you for journeying with us….
Hello All. Today was the last day at Bhobokazi and there were lots of emotions beginning to rise as we realized this would be the last day. However we didn’t let that affect us. I had a blast today and I think that the entire team did. Regardless of our exhaustion I believe the kids were loved and also had a blast. There were many highlights of my day, and a few low points. I want to tell you about one of my highlights. The day started with a shopping trip with four of the Gogo’s from Bobokazi; we wanted to get them a new outfit. As a woman I surprisingly don’t like shopping, but I was looking forward to blessing these women for all the hard work they do at the care point. Grace is one of the older women and I spent most of the morning with her. I thought I was taking her shopping but instead she took me shopping. We still got her a beautiful new shirt, a sweater to match, a pair of new shoes, and some sunlight bar soap to wash things (which she said she never has) but she pulled me around. The last time I walked around holding an older women’s hand was when I was a young child, today I did that again and if felt so natural with Grace. I also learned how laid back she was; she looked at many items and laughed at how ugly they were, and when she found a skirt she loved and then realized how short it was in the front shook it off and moved on. In addition, she ended up leaving without a skirt even though she really wanted one, but you never would have guessed she couldn’t find what she wanted. Something I pondered was her insistence of getting soap rather than the sweater when she realized she might be over the amount she was allowed to spend. She needed a new sweater but she found soap to be much more important. At the end of the shopping trip she was dancing in the aisle, saying how happy she was and the smile was from ear to ear. Towards the end…I enjoyed shopping again. Grace is now someone I look up to and I will never forget her. I wish I could explain to you this woman…a picture wouldn’t even do her justice. At the end of the shopping trip we walked down the mall hallway and one of the Gogo’s proudly put her wash bucket she got and put it on her head. That’s not very common in the city but for her, that was her way of life and she was proud of it. They are truly inspirational.
Just want to say thank you to everyone that is supporting me personally and to everyone that is supporting our team. The kids lives are being changed and ours are to.
P.S Thank you for all the posts Grandma and Grandpa Ralph, I look forward to them and I know the team enjoys them. They bring tears to my eyes every time. Blessings all. – Cassie
Wow!!! Where do I begin??? This trip has been amazing so far…actually amazing just doesn’t seem like strong enough word. Well let’s just say that I am constantly amazed. Today was our last day at Bhobokazi care point. It started off with worship and then I shared my testimony of the marvelous work God did in my life through my cancer journey. This is the first time I have ever done this, and I was excited and scared all at once. The room was silent the entire time, you could hear a pin drop. They were captivated! I was feeling amazed and blessed. God was using me as an instrument to show proof of His great love. That he died and took my sickness that I may live to go on and share this amazing journey all the way in Africa. I am left speechless. I also went on a home visit with my parents’ special friend Zinhle. It was awesome! She was so excited and so was I. We both walked side by side to her home just beaming. I gave her a small gift bag with a few treats for her inside. She opened it, took everything out to see what there was then promptly started painting her nails with the pink polish that had been inside. She was so excited!!! And all I could do was smile and hold back the tears of joy. I told Zinhle that she was loved and prayed for daily, she replied with “me too”. AWESOME!!! I am so thankful to be here, to have this opportunity to experience all that God has to offer me. Words cannot fully describe or relay how my heart feels….fantastiggerriffical is a word I made up that comes as close as anything can to fitting.
Love and Hugs to all (you know who you are) Blessings from Africa – Sarah (Sari)
PHOTOS OF THE DAY: CLICK ON THEM TO ENLARGE
(sorry….lots of pictures again 🙂