We were greeted by a 9 am temperature of a high 38 degrees Celsius (close to 100
degrees Fahrenheit) today, we are warm - and when AC is hard to come by, the natural breezes are our best friend. Early day for service learning, we traveled out through one of the townships - the Delft community and into the wonderful lands of MaAfrika Tikkun. We were welcomed to MaAfrika Tikkun with a surprise dance that the children had been working on for three weeks. 10 boys and girls were coupled to perform a ballroom dance number for us! We were enthralled and astounded by their dancing abilities. The kid's ages ranged from around 5 to 13. After their dance the young girls were asked to sit down, and 10 girls from our group were paired up with the little gents. It was absolutely precious. Then we all joined together to engage in a community dance lesson. Some of the kids dance rhythm was much more developed than us college students.
Not knowing any idea of what we were doing today after spending time with the youth, we set off in different vehicles and headed into the Delft Township. Greeted by stares, head nods and waves a somber but hopeful feeling is always evoked while entering these miles of metal shacks. Mind you - as unattractive as they are on the outside, there is a beauty that is evident and strung through the clothes lines, onto the childrens faces and through the one line of electricity going through each home. We were led by Anthea, a program director for MaT, and broke up into 2 groups. One went to visit a woman in her home who has diabetes, and the other group (the group we were in) strapped on face masks and went to visit a man who has been diagnosed with TB and is HIV positive. The nurse in MaAfrika Tikkun that caters to his needs explained to us that he has refused to take any medicine for the past few months so it was extremely hard for us to see this 36 year old lying there, practically skin and bones. Recently though he decided he wants to go to a clinic, so the nurses are trying to figure that out for him.
After we gathered everyone up we went to the Delft community hospital. A small, but very lively place where hundreds of patients are taken care of daily. A woman gave us a tour of the whole facility, and naturally the stares came rampant at our group. Normal for us now, but still tends to catch us off guard. We walked through in a single file line through every unit not excluding the trauma unit. As we walked past it was hard to not notice a small puddle of blood on the floor. On a brighter note, if you looked at the faces of the nurses behind the desk all were happy to be able to work at such a great facility. You could feel the energy through the hard work and patience that they clearly have to face each day. We passed many units were there were at least fifty people waiting for their service. In a place where disease runs widespread it is necessary to take advantage of free health care. You could tell that most were grateful for the benefits they receive. Although this was a heavy place for us to visit, it shows hope for the Township of Delft.
Getting back from the hospital we gathered in MaT's multipurpose room to attempt to debrief about everything we had seen throughout the day. Through the glitter in Anthea's eye you can see the passion she has developed for her work. She is such a strong woman, and inspiring none the less. She calmed our anxiety and nervousness with the relaxing tone of her voice speaking simple lessons that she has learned to a silent group of college students. We sat quietly, and tried to absorb everything that we possibly could. In the words of Anthea: all it takes is a simple Thank You to make someone's day better, you think you cannot come and do what I do but you can - you really can. The people I work with say you give me strength and I say no you have it all wrong - you give ME strength. You all are so strong for coming here already. Don't be scared to cry - talk about it, it is normal to be overwhelmed. I get up every day and I'm excited - you have to give your all every day even when you think it's the last shot and if you give up that could have been someone else's last shot. You do something good for someone, and they do something good for someone else and it keeps going and going.
After we finished our debrief we decided to end our day at MaT with the youth. We spent the remainder of our time regaining our strength in the energy of the youth. We mingled with them all and took pictures, they really enjoyed taking pictures with our cameras. It was an opportunistic moment to see the world through their eyes. We took turns jump roping, dancing, kicking balls around, and enjoying a Popsicle, a brilliant way to end a very trying morning.
Upon our arrival to our respective houses we quickly gathered our lunches and set out for another day of class. We were pleasantly surprised to find air conditioning in our intimate classroom. A brief discussion about Ubantu (I am who I am because of you), and a viewing of the film Amandla! (which means Power) is how our class time was spent.
We miss you all and hope that you're enjoying the cold weather :) we are all at least two shades darker! (Even Nate!) ;)
This message has been brought to you by your mixed race roommates Mary and Megan :)
P.S. SHOUT OUT TO FELLOW FAMILY MEMBER ANTHONY FOR TURING 20 TODAY!!!!