16 beautiful kids and a thankful mama

Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
Trip End Oct 25, 2010

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Flag of South Africa  , KwaZulu-Natal,
Saturday, October 9, 2010

After three weeks of travelling together I was exhilarated to be on my own again.
To be part of a team, 24 hours a day, sharing time, space, well, the lot, means you have to let go, adapt and join the fun.
Being an independent soul, I felt slightly out of sync running with the pack, though Eddie thought I was being funny and reckoned I did a great job animating the tribe.
Kind of ironic, but I think I got away with it.

But now I must get to Jo'burg and find a flight to Durban. Hoping to get to Warner Beach before dark, so I can visit the children in Amanzimtoti the next day. Unannounced, through lack of communication, but I am betting on Sunday being my best option as school will be out. Besides, it is dawning on me, there is an end to my stay in Africa - my remaining days are precious, I don't want to waste time.
I make it to Durban but after a frustrating pursuit of a ride out of town I give up and spend what turned out to be a most interesting night, gabbing with my room mates, a Mexican and Englishman, both addicted to travel but in completely different ways. So all was not lost.
A 'public' taxi takes me to my destination the next morning, that too was an adventure in itself - not now, later maybe.

Sunday, October 10th

Finally I get to see the kids. I needn't have worried would they still know me - after a year and many new volunteers, it was as if I had never left. They hadn't even grown that much, all still very familiar and dear. Flocking around me, grabbing my hands, my legs, stroking my hair, telling me: 'Katherine, remember how you used to say this and that,' things I'd even forgotten, they still knew every little joke, secret, games we played, the silly and the more serious talks we'd had. It was incredible and I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude, for being a small part of their lives, for seeing how well they were doing.
One little face was missing. 'Katherine, did you cry all alone in Holland when you heard Cindy died?'
I had not heard and tried not to show my tears now as the children smiled and told me not to be sad, it was all right, she was in heaven now.
Faith - it seemed to be a real comfort.

The orphans were clearly benefiting from the volunteers efforts and money. Things were not so dire as last year, though still a far cry from anything we would call a dignified way of life, changes were being made. Renovation of the housing, a makeshift classroom, as some children could no longer attend school, two wooden cabins for the volunteers.
Your donations went directly to the children, as they would otherwise go up in the greater expenses. I thought it would be a learning experience and a real treat for the children to have money that is actually theirs, to spend as they please. But not on sweets.
'Katherine, just one?'
'Okay, just one.' :)
The older children, teenagers, solemnly accepted the notes, eyes huge, counting, looking at me, whispering to each other; they decided to hide it in their 'mummy's' room till she returned from a meeting. Then they came running back, eyes shining, all excited: 'Katherine, are you sure? Have you any left for yourself? 5 rand would be good, too. Shall we give some of it back? Can we really keep it?'
I assured them it was fine and how other kind people had given it to me as a gift to them.
So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and theirs, those couragous, wonderful kids.
I left them feeling reassured and happy; it looks like they are going to be all right.

I shan't worry any more, but I might say a little prayer
that they'll all still be there next time I visit.


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alan taylor on

You did a great job animating the tribe?? Hmmm. The mind boggles :)

katherine-anne on

i hope yours is the only mind that boggles or I might have to change that bit. trust you to come up with that alan! :)

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