Monday, August 22, 2011

August 17: Off to a great start!

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early and on the road at 8:15 to head out to our various work sites. While we still had heavy cloud cover the weather was certainly nicer than Monday. We all finally got to hit the job sites and get some work done. Bob, Ken, Rob Parker, Kira and I were on the outreach team. Carmen, Harp, Kristy, Ryan, Angie and Tammy were on the construction crew. Rob Plowright, James, Cheryl, Jason, and Bruce were all on the garden crew. We (outreach) got dropped off at the SOS Children’s Village to wait for our contact there while the rest of the crew continued on to their respective work sites. We headed up to a small village in the hills outside of Mbabane called Mpholonjeni where we were introduced to an awesome woman named Jabu who does outreach in a children’s centre there. After breaking the ice by introducing her to Frisbee (which she had a natural affinity for) we got rolling to meet some local families. Our first stop was with a single mother with four children (two girls and two boys) ranging from about 3 to 12 years old. The kids were awesome. So full life and joy even though the do without so many things we never all take for granted. Balloons, suckers and a Frisbee had them beaming and then our girl Kira kicked in with the face painting… they just loved it!!! The youngest girl was literally strutting with her face paint, looking like a little model. We helped out mixing some concrete and pouring a few fence posts, pushed a truck that was stuck in the mud and were off to our next stops. Next we met a family with no parents. They are what is called a sibling-led family; where the head of the family is a 29 year old brother. Their youngest sibling was the cutest little 2 year old boy that I had the pleasure of playing balloon with. He was just loving tapping a balloon back and forth. I literally had to tear myself away from it because it was so cool to see him having such a good time, I could have played with him forever. We came to the realization that, although the older brother had a beautiful garden happening; the younger brothers and sisters didn’t have any vegetables to plant in their garden (the older brother has his own little, and I mean little, house behind the stick and mud hut the younger ones still live in). As a team we came up with the idea of building this family a cold frame to start there seeds and seedlings in during their winter months. Next we were off to the only single dad family that Jabu works with. The father and son were off across the valley collecting firewood to keep warm. We visited for a bit with the rest of the family before heading off to meet a mother-led family of 5. There was a group of teenage boys sitting in a corrugated steel dugout burning milk crates for heat… As you can imagine we were taken aback to say the least. We played some hacky sack with the boys and had to head off. Back at the children’s centre we had a crew of probably 40 children. The little girls face painting and playing an improve balloon game; the boys, Bob, Dr. Rob and myself playing soccer… What an awesome time!!!

The garden crew got off to a great start. They came up with the wonderful idea of giving away some fresh cabbages that, for some reason were about to get thrown out. They also planted a couple of hundred cabbage starts before they headed over to the construction site to help out over there as the sacks that are used for planting at the site were not delivered on time. The crew all reported having a great day, meeting some of the locals and coming up with the great idea of building a couple of compost boxes to help with long term soil improvement; both there and at the new care centre site (otherwise referred to as the "construction site").

As for the construction crew, they laid 250 bricks on the first day (with as I said, some help from the garden crew)!!! They got 4 or five full courses of the care centre done and not a complaint from one of them. Everyone had a great sense of accomplishment after all the travel and getting rained out on Monday. It was nice to finally be on the job site and get something done. They laid all the bricks on site and were hoping the next shipment came on time so they could continue on Tuesday.

All-in-all it was a great day for everyone. All the teams got a lot of work done and we got to interact with people from the communities we are working in. We finally got to experience some of what we all really came for. Personally I`d have to say it was both heart wrenching and heart-warming all at the same time. The heart-warming certainly won the day for me although emotions were definitely high…

Dan McGowan

DWC Participant 

Swaziland 2011

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