Friday, March 11, 2011

Home again

I've been trying to think of the best way to summarize the experience and trip to visit the townships in South Africa.  It is not an easy task.  There are so many challenges that the people in the townships face - even after having seen it I find it hard to understand.

I think it is best captured this way.  I'm not normally one to quote scripture or bible passages - but there is a song sung in church growing up that states 'whatsoever you do, to the least of (God's) people, that you do unto Me.' 

The people in the townships are the least of God's people. 

The centers provided by MaAfrika Tiikkun reach out into the communities of the least of God's people and find the people in most need, and provide a helping hand.  They stand as a beacon of light in a area in such turmoil and desperation - where hopelessness abounds.

If you are just now reading this blog - I suggest you start at the first entry and work your way up.  It will provide the best view I can into the work done by this wonderful organization. 

I then hope you consider supporting their efforts by reaching deep and donating here:

Monday, March 7, 2011


When we were in Joburg - we did have a quick visit through a center in Hillbrow.  There the children sang songs for us at the TOP of their lungs.  I compared this to how my son very "softly" sings at his grade school performances and had to laugh. 

Here is a great shot of Mike and the children of Hillbrow - taking photos and showing it to them:

Packing for home

We're getting ready to leave from Cape Town for our long trip back to Ohio.  I still have more to share from our day in Delft that I promise I will write about.  I've been thinking about how I can "summarize" our trip / my experiences here in South Africa - and I'm worried that I'm not a good enough writer to truly give it justice.  I will try.  For now I have to think about it some more. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Short video message from my son Nolan

Video message from my daughter Frances

Friday Continued - Delft

Upon returning to the center we went to work in the kitchens.  Brian and I worked in the kitchens - passing out food and cleaning pots/pans.  Betsy and Mike spent time cutting up veggies.

I'm quite certain that we did more to get in the way of the team of women in the kitchen than to help them - but I appreciated them letting us try to help.  Here are some photos of the team there:

This was the biggest pot I think I've ever seen - and
took me quite a while to clean! (I think they may have cleaned it
after I cleaned it - even though I did my best to scrub it hard!)

She was making fish cakes that were very good.  Each adult got 2  - and child 1

She was the mother of the kitchen team.  Always giving us a smile -
but keeping an eye to make sure we were doing it right.

Me, Brian and Mike being instructed by the kitchen mother

Brian and I served lunch to a long line of people that waited very patiently for us to begin.  The containers that we were handed to fill with 2 scoops of rice / 1 scoop of veggies and either 1 or 2 fish cakes were any type of container possible.  Things that we would mostly discard (or recycle I hope!) they depended on for food.  While most adults took the food home - many of the children stayed and ate.  There was a table that we setup and used for lunch that a group of children used once we were done. 

I posted a photo of a little boy earlier.  I went over to the table to see how the little guys were doing and noticed that one little guy was crying with the other children seemingly stressed.  It turned out that he had dropped his container/lunch on the ground.  I tried to comfort him - and the other children who where saying "I didn't do it, I didn't do it".  After cleaning it up I took his container (which looked like a butter container) back to the kitchen, cleaned it and refilled it and took it back to him.  I'm not sure if this was what they would have wanted me to do - but it was how I would have treated my children.

Here is his picture:

I put him back on the chair and carried him around buzzing like an
airplane - he loved it.  His tears dried up and he played and ate his lunch.

She had such a beautiful smile (as sooo many do)

These little guys were looking tough for me.  I would show them
their picture and they would laugh and laugh.

I have more to share about Friday - but don't want to create a small book per entry so I'll end this part here.

Friday Continued - Last day

As I mentioned before - our last day in the townships was on Friday.  Our friends at MaAfrika Tikkun arranged an entire days agenda for us.  After becoming acclimated to the center - we teamed up with health care nurses and went out into the community for home visits.  Betsy and I were teamed up with a home health care provider named Frances (which was very nice as my beautiful baby girl (okay, she's 9 now) is named Frances). 

Frances led us into a house that she referred to as a new client.  Her patient was an 82 year old woman who lived with her only son Henry, his wife and youngest daughter with her daughter.  They lived in more established area of the township in a house with stucco siding, established rooms with furniture (very tiny rooms - the largest room appeared to be about 6x6 feet - but very nice and you could see the pride for their home in how they kept it).

Frances took the mother/grandmother/great-grandmother into the other room to bath and tend to her and Betsy and I stayed in the front room and talked with Henry and his wife (who I can't remember her name right now).  Henry was about 65 years old and had just retired from working from the time he was 13 years old.  He had worked for what he called a stationary business.  You could tell by talking with him that he was a hard working man that was having a hard time adjusting to not having the responsibility of work outside the home. 

We talked about our families.  I showed him my photo of my family and he told me about his family.  He had 5 children - 3 boys and 2 girls. His oldest son was 40 years old (my age).  His second son died when he was just 28.  I did not ask why/how but you could see it was a pained subject in the way he said it and in his eyes.  They only had their youngest daughter with her daughter in the house - but I can't imagine how they would have managed to have a family of 5 kids plus 3 adults in this tiny (nice) home.

I have not met a family here that has had some level of crippling hardship - in Henry's case loosing his son. 

This family visit was not as "hard" as the first visit.  Even as a new "client" they were very open and warm to our presence and made us feel like welcomed guests.

I did not get to have a photo taken with them - as it did not feel appropriate, but I do have a photo that I took from the car of the outside of their home (not a great shot, but here it is):

This is their house

This is their street.

Please be sure to visit my friends sites to read about their home health care visits.  Brian and Mike met a 98 year old woman who was in such great shape mentally and physically - who said to them "now I have children in America" - which although I was not there with them touched me.  The spirit of these people runs deep - even though they have nothing and have faced hardships that would cripple most anyone.  I can only imagine what this 98 (with her 99th birthday right around the corner) woman has seen and experienced in her life.  Here are links to their blogs (make sure to check back as they may not have it all recorded just yet):

We then spent some time with a partner of MaAfrika Tikkun who took us on a tour of a local community health center.  The facility was setup like a relatively modern health care facility and was busting with people even though they referred to it as a "slow day".  They battle with TB - and face struggles with the balance of poverty and health.  If people are diagnosed with TB they are put on a government stipend that ends when the TB is cleared up (treatment takes about 6 months).  They find people will stop taking their medicine after 5 months just so they can keep on receiving the government backed stipend on which they live.  Many of the affected people have HIV/AIDS and risk their lives for the stipend.  Read more about TB here: (not related organization, but informative.

Wisely - the MaAfrika Tikkun team in both Joberg and Cape Town have partnered up with local governments and other "non-government organizations" (known as NGOs here) to try to make a difference for the communities.

I'm going to end this post here and start another for the remainder of the day on Friday.