Tuesday 22 May 2012
I've had the most amazing day
This is where I've been today.
There are two main areas in Olievenhoutbosch, namely the informal settlement area and the formal government housing area. In the formal community (government housing) there is electricity for all the houses, as well as water and sanitation. The informal settlement area, however, is crowded, lacks sanitation, electricity and all basic municipal services.
I am volunteering with Santa Shoebox and we have until today to register facitites to receive Christmas gifts.
Due to misspelling of a facility name, we were unable to contact one of last years receiptants, so I volunteered to see what I could find out.
Today I drove into Olievenhoutbosch to the secondary school on the edge of the informal settlement. I'd already asked at the Petrol Station if it was safe and I'd given a lift to a woman from another volunteer project to the area in the past and she had pointed the school out to me.
It was totally amazing, I fought back the tears as we moved from one day care to orphanage, people phoned their friends to help me, guys whistled at the end of the street, beckoning us to follow them to someone else that could help and eventually we found the Day Care Centre.
No bigger than a double garage, 2 shacks for toilets (they dig a hole, put a shack over the top, when the hole is full, they fill it in my digging a new one and move the shacks) A metal shed acted as the kitchen, no running water or electricity where they prepare food for the 62 children aged from 6 months to 6 years.
Parents pay between R200 and R350 per month for care from 5am-5pm to enable them to go to work and they must provide all the educational supplies. Out of this the facility employs 4 full time staff around R150 per day, supplies the food, water and activities.
The facility was clean, the children very well turned out and very quiet. They all stared at me for ages, I must have looked very odd to them. The guy who took me round said 'you won't see many people your colour here'
I completed the forms, I met the staff and spoke with the children and made an appointment to go back next week to obtain a list of the childrens names and ages for the appeal.
In the meantime I will be gathering educational supplies and baking cakes and as we are moving week a week thursday, I shall be having a good sort out of clothes, toys and other stuff to take back with me.
I gave my guide some money and thanked him for his time. The children all waved me off and as I rejoined the highway I'm afraid the tears came.