Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Donors are Coming and Another Goodbye

The young people of South Africa looked pretty good this week!

We have started to see posters advertising the Youth Driven Generation project around the city and on Thursday, representatives from the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation flew in from Johannesburg to see the project in action.  Lumka invited Sarah and me to travel with them to Nxarhuni, a rural area outside of East London, to meet Nwabisa’s group.  There was the standard astonishment when Sarah and I got out of the car but the ice was quickly broken when everyone had to share their most embarrassing moments as an introduction.  We moved on to group games which got everyone laughing, sweating, and forgetting that we were strangers just an hour earlier. 
By the end of it (and this is becoming a strong trend), we were all high-fiving and hugging each other like we had grown up together!  I think I attracted a potential future husband and got a huge wet kiss on my forehead.  Who knows?  I've had more than a few people tell me to just get married so I can stay here--now I know that I've got one lined up!

On the bumpy and dusty drive home, with our four sticky and sweaty bodies sandwiched in the back of the Chico, we gushed about how great the group members all were.  We agreed that it must be so disheartening to graduate from high school and then not have anything to do which was the typical answer to the question of "what are you doing now?".  One of the men in the group pulled us aside to say that no project for young people had ever been introduced to this area and how happy they were to be involved.  Sarah and I felt fortunate and lucky that we got to visit this area--how many Canadians can mention Nxarhuni on their travel lists? 

The next day, we had our final meeting with Sis Phumla, Sis Bongi, and the Peer Helper crew from the WSU counselling office.  They had prepared skits, poetry, and music for us before a big junk food pig-out.  The words and feelings they shared with us brought tears to my eyes and I felt honoured to be there.  They spoke about the change we had made in their lives and I hope they understood that our lives are different after meeting and working with them.  After the serious stuff, it turned into a big photo shoot with cameras clicking everywhere.  When it was time to get on the bus, we were still hugging each other before the giant sing-a-long.  As we got dropped off, the whole bus went nuts, yelling after us, blowing kisses and waving.  I wish I could squeeze them all in my suitcase!

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