At lunch today, Josh saw me looking over the bay, which is beautiful. He said “you’re gonna miss it.” You’re right Josh. When the weather is nice, it really is beautiful (and having space and wireless is good too). But its hard down here, like the whole communication thing. I realized that today when I got tired of not being able to hear Sweet Anna on our daily phone call and went to my room, fired up the netbook and Skypedout her at work. FINALLY, I can hear and talk with Sweet Anna! Man, my whole mood just changed radically. I felt so great after talking to her! I walked to the beach and took some pix. The sun sets here at like 530 this time of year (it comes up about 730. I will get a rude awakening Saturday when i’m back in the Heartland where the sun comes up at 4 and stays up till 8 or something (Hungary is a bit further north than S. Africa is south) So ANYWHO, the sun was setting, so I took off to see the waning light on the bay (see pic below).
It was all the better because of the warmer than I’ve ever felt down here and my general mood. Connection with our most important people (or person) is soooo important because we are beings who are made for community. I was thinking about this and how it is like when I fail to connect intentionally with God, my spiritual self suffers, have you experienced that too?
But there can hurt in community too. Today we invested the morning at a camp being run to serve girls who have been abused. The percentages of girls subject t such abuse (stated in an earlier post) are just staggering. Abby was an awesome leader on an intentional walk we took. Early on the little journey, she had us get a rock and carry it. We would stop and read a Scripture and someone would comment on it, then we went to this pond where Abby taught us that there are things we need to throw away from our lives, and she prayed as the kids held the rocks and then they threw their rocks into the pond. This symbolized that when we give our junk to God and really give it to him, we are free from it! On the way back they took a couple of turns in a little pick-up to get everyone back, but I needed to walk to get some exercise, I took the shot of the road to remember this little leg on my journey. There are people with awesome visions to deal with some of this hard stuff, they just need some help getting it done. I’m praying about how we might help them help these kids. But I have a few more things to see… hard things. But Josh has been telling me the saying down here: ‘Africa’s not for sissys’
A couple of powerful storms have come through here Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday causing some pretty awesome waves. While setting up to take some pix of waves, a vintage steam engine came through, that was cool.
As I promised yesterday, I will give you a hint on the situation in preschools. We visited a preschool in a township about twenty minutes from here. We were taken there by Yolandi, who we heard about yesterday.
This preschool once had 65 children, which blows my mind to think about given the size of the place. In fact that is why they only have forty enrolled now, since the health department told them to cut enrollment. It is a shame though because those absent kids are not being well served.
When we visited, there were only a dozen or so kids due to the weather. It was cold and raining and the conditions in the townships are notorius in the winter time (why do I go everywhere in the winter?). One cannot watch the news here without seeing the plight of people displaced from their homes by water. So, the director of the preschool told us that when the weather is bad, the mothers do not go to work and keep their little ones home. A woman will do domestic work in the homes of the more affluent for about $11.50 a day.
These mothers pay 55 Rand (about $7) a month for this day care/preschool. If a woman qualifies, she can receive about $28 per month per child from the local government. The local community provides about a dollar a day per child to offset the cost of this day care/education/nurturing place. I throw these numbers at you to get you contemplating the relative low cost of things in these preschools.
Last December, I was at a conference in DC that focused on the need for Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the developing world (which this certainly is). At this conference, I learned that studies show that if we can educate children well in the preschool years, a dollar invested in them is worth five invested in an elementary (primary) school aged child and worth ten invested in a high school aged child. Today, I began to see – – – and undertstand.
I have not crunched the numbers yet and have no ideas or proposals yet, I am still gathering information. But when I looked at those little faces and compared them to the faces of the drunk teen age boys I saw earlier or the faces of the girls giving themselves away after they have been raped, I am beginning to see where some wise investment here can be a Kingdom priority. We will visit more pre-schools next week.
Next: the church Josh and Abby help plant and serve in celebrates its first anniversary.
Next Week: a camp to bring Peace from Grace to young girls hearts who have been crushed by sexual abuse.
Today I felt as though I was transported back in time. Not because of the seeming era that South Africa lives in, but because I was reminded of my first visits to Ukraine at the beginning of this decade. CEO partners Josh and Abby took me out to visit the work of a woman working among the poor in this area.
It was cold and rainy at about noon when we drove out of town about fifteen minutes from Mossel Bay. We arrived at a house on a nice street which is serving as a Skills Development and Training Center. At this place I learned many things about life here for the non-white peoples. Most or all of which are tragic and, I suggest, bring tears to our Father’s eyes every day and night.
I was told that gang life is wide spread, organized and horrible. Gangs here, like everywhere else, are places that youths go to to find community, prove their worth, and provide for their family through the fruits of their crime. Apparently, these young men enter the gang through initiation and then perform crimes to rise in rank, each ‘promotion’ is marked by a new tattoo, so that, the higher ranking members have longer stretches of tattoos on their arms. Eventually they wind up in prison and some make their way back to the streets. It is here that this center’s leader wishes to have a place for them to go as a half way house to learn a skill and find a job (no small feat since unemployment in this region is reportedly over 50%). Thus getting them out of the cycle of crime, incarceration, release, crime…
We also heard more about the plight of girls in these communities. This was the second time this week that I have heard about these tragedies (among both black and white). There is apparently sexual abuse of girls in the poorer communities from very early ages affecting nearly 80% of the population. Once raped, these girls often become promiscuous because they have lost their purity. Earlier in the week, I met a couple who have a burden for a ministry to these girls. I will be learning more from them and will address this problem next week.
At the training center, we saw a young lady learning how to sew and make coats
and young men who were learning how to work with wood to make trays and garden edging. All with the intention of learning a trade to become self supporting.
This center is being run by two women, one white and one colored (‘colored’ here is a mixed race person of a lighter skin tone as distinguished from black folks). The driving force behind this tiny organization is a university trained woman who studied psychology and has been involved in social work for several years. She is a literacy volunteer who gets to know people in the community through her teaching and finds those who truly want to help themselves. We will meet with her again next week to visit more preschools.
When we visited the center and received the quick tour, a team of women were putting the finishing touches on a hot lunch of soup and fish cakes to be taken to a ‘creche’ or preschool in a nearby township. So after a quick cup of tea…
we loaded up in our cars and drove out.
Next: a visit to a township…