South Africa on my mind
Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
160Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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Who or what was the opponent and why hadn't you realised there was a battle going on?
Strange questions to begin with, strange moods bringing them up.
This morning I turn on the computer after an unquiet night of bewildering dreams, snatches still lingering - what's troubling me?
There is a message from Travelpod's Louise Brown, telling me, congratulations Katherine, we are featuring your Sani pass photo today.
And there it is, and it makes me smile. I read my own entry and am transported back to, indeed, a place out of this world.
Lesotho, happy, happy memories.
I suddenly begin to realise something of what has been bothering me.
As soon as, no, even before, I left last year, I knew I would be back. For all kinds of reasons, I just had to return. Good reasons, I thought.
I suppose I had started to doubt those reasons.
Because of the up-coming World Cup soccer, South Africa has constantly been in the media. Inescapably so, and at first I was delighted, not because of the football stuff, but the features that followed, more often than not, the focus on the problems the country is facing.
Good, I thought, let the world see and take some responsibility, but little by little it started to bring me down.
What kind of voyeurism is this? What kind of arrogance, to look, and sigh, maybe send a few euros, spend a few months hands-on, thinking we might actually be able to help?
People like myself, compelled to do something, anything, as much as to soothe their own consciences as for the benefit of those in need - what have we really got to offer?
But still, you do feel you can give and you can see how well it is received .And you do, realise it is a mere drop in an ocean of injustice, of circumstances beyond our understanding, let alone control.
I have felt some hostility from South Africans who would prefer we mind our own business - haven't we done enough damage already?
It enraged me at first, how dare they criticize the kindness of those concerned about the future of their country's children, clumsy as it may be bestowed upon them?
Now I don't know, I am not so sure anymore. I am disheartened.
But this morning my mind drifted back to a good and warm and happy place, and I felt the joy returning.
And the longing, to be there, to reach out, and if I can make one child forget its hardships for a moment, I think it will be worth the risk of the sceptisism - how can you measure the value of solace, how can you doubt the smile of a child?
So, thanks Louise, for in a round-about way you helped me make up my mind about something that was worrying me.
In a few months time I hope to be reporting back, from a hopeful, resourceful, beautiful, brave South Africa.
If they'll have me - but secretly I think they will, if last year's welcome is anything to go by :)