As we arrived at Bhobokazi today, I can’t help but remember that not too long ago this place was called “the forgotten carepoint.” But today what we experienced could not be farther from that label! Six years ago when we committed to sponsoring this place, it was quite barren. Today, it was bursting at the seams with life!
We can’t help but all feel incredibly grateful and humbled by what we experienced today. From the moment we arrived on site, until we literally had to get kicked off….we felt a sense of community, belonging and connection. It didn’t matter whether it was those of us that had been there before, or those stepping onto the soil for the first time, we all felt so naturally connected and accepted. I loved watching our team help make the food with the bomakes today….to be welcomed in not just to visit but to help clean the pots, start the fire, fetch the water…the represents a sense of comfort and trust that meant a lot to us. There is something about being fully invited into another’s kitchen that represents a deeper level of intimacy…it may sound strange but this was real for us today!
We also found out that about a month ago, another nearby carepoint (not run by Hope Chest) shut down. This has created a sudden influx of new kids….and we saw it today! There were more than 120 kids there today….SO many new faces. We are excited to hear the news that the fence will be expanded with new land that the chief has given to help this place grow!
Watching our team connect with the children today was something inspiring. I wish I could communicate with words the scene at the carepoint…..but it was so ALIVE…that is the best word I can come up with. Laughter, screams, cheering, singing, even the sounds of a full on game of tackle football that Stacey helped create 🙂
A true privilege to be a part of this day. I will let the words of some of our team and the photos say the rest. All I can say is how honoured we felt to have been invited into such a sacred experience of community today at Bhobokazi.
Good night from Swaziland! – Jon
It’s my first time going to Swaziland and so far it’s been a great 2 days at the care points. The moment we arrived at Bhobokazi today our team was overcome with love and joy from the bomake women. I had to hold back my tears, it was just amazing to see how happy these women were to see us and to be doing what they do with the children each day. One of the bomake was jumping up and down yelling hallelujah and how happy, happy, happy she was. I had the opportunity to help out in the kitchen today, and even though I wasn’t sure of everything I was doing the women showed so much appreciation. I thought playing soccer in my long skirt with the kids yesterday was hot and sweaty but being in the kitchen was a whole new experience of heat. We laughed and danced while cooking and they made me feel right at home. It makes you realize that not only do we have a huge impact on their lives but they impact ours in an unimaginable way as well. Later in the day I spent some time skipping and painting nails with the older girls. They were so open with me and you could really feel the friendship among the group and the inclusion of me into their group. It made them feel so special that I was spending time with them and making them feel beautiful and loved. I’m glad that I can come from so far away and build these lasting connections with people I didn’t even know before. I’m looking forward to the rest of the days to come and the blessings I will give and receive from these kids. – hailey
I have been waiting to be back at our carepoints since I left last year. It felt so right to be holding little kids and being hugged by the ladies who run the kitchen. The day flew by so quickly and there were many exchanges with kids I’ve known now for a number of years. I love how much they have grown. At our evening debrief we acknowledged that the smiles and laughter hide the truth of difficult lives and fractured families.
As we arrived at Bhobokazi we were greeted by Gracie and that is an experience you can’t forget. You can’t help but love her because she leaves you feeling truly loved. A typical greeting would be a handshake but these women were coming to us with open arms and greeting us like family. A greeting by Gracie usually includes a dance as well J
We kept looking for our boy Phiso and didn’t see him. When we started asking around and found out that he had not been there for several months. Again this is heart-breaking news. On the good side his grandmother is going to call someone to inform our boys caregiver that we are here. Seeing him will be good but knowing that he will most likely fall out of the support program is almost too much to bear.
As I finish my day I realize that I am emotionally drained. I guess this is because I given everything to these kids and held nothing back. Tomorrow is another day and I’ll do it again. – bryan
Today was an amazing day in so many ways! The first person I saw was Gracie who greeted me with open arms and a huge smile. It was so great to see all the new kids at this carepoint and it was soooo great to see the kids I knew from previous years. So many remembered me. I started playing play dough and I was making bracelets and rings for them. I made about 7 of them and then this little girl took my hand and put one on me that she had made. It really touched my heart. She had the biggest smile I have ever seen.
We also had the honor of going on a home visit. I had met the Grandmother earlier that day her name is Margaret. She is such a sweet lady. Her son had passed away so she has his 5 children to look after plus 3 of her own. The home is very small but she was so happy that we came. We prayed for them and they were all so happy and thankful that we would care about them. In the end I am sure we were more blessed then they were.
Darlene, thank you so much for writing on the blog. I am feeling better. I still have no voice. I miss you too!! Gogo Brenda, I am so happy for you!!! Thank you for praying for me. I am feeling better. Please pray I will get my voice back sooooon. Brenda and Carolyn just want you to know I really miss you and think of you often!! My team at work, if you are reading the blog, just know I am missing you and thinking of you as well. Until next time. – cheryl
Today was THE day for me. So much going on in our relationships with the kids, the community, the Riverwood team, and those who make this carepoint run day in and day out. The ladies who cook and care for the kids at Bhobokazi are something else! The love, the care and oh that joy. The joy is ridiculous and it’s awesome. It spreads throughout Bhobokazi like you wouldn’t believe. We were smiling within seconds of jumping off the bus.
I also had the opportunity to meet our friend, Temantfulini. It was all that I asked for and more. Being able to connect with a child I only previously knew from across the world was something I will never forget. Your Riverwood team is amazing and giving all their sweat, their tears and their hearts. Proud to be here with these people. Looking forward to the days ahead – benN