During orientation we were introduced to our new team members, ours consisting of three UK volunteers, myself (Fiona), Patrick (our team leader), and Matt, and the two South African volunteers, Nontobeko and Katlego. Although none of us knew each other before the week began, we were starting to feel more of a team as we headed off to Tugela Ferry. The knowledge that you’ll be living with a group of people for eight weeks automatically breaks down a lot of walls.
Within the first couple of days we took the time to explore the area and meet those that manage and run the Khayelisha project. We discussed the work we would be doing, from schools to chicken coops, and became acquainted with our new accommodation. Being in such a remote area can have its disadvantages, but as we absorbed our surroundings these issues became trivial. We are situated in the heart of a valley, mountains filling our landscapes, rivers flowing beside us and the sun lighting us up. Each time we look out our windows we are blown away by the views.
Meeting the kids has been one of our favourite experiences so far. The boys bonded immediately through the wonders of football (known here as soccer), and myself and Nonto provided the calmer experience, appreciated by the few that were less energetic.
Already we’ve been facing a lot of challenges, having been thrown in the deep end at the local school. Despite our lack of teaching experience we have all been asked to lead some classes in the absence of five teachers, the subjects of which some of us don’t understand. Another is the library, which has descended into chaos with the latest donation of books.
As our days progress we are finding more and more things that need to be done but we are excited to be keeping busy. We hope to leave in eight weeks having made a difference to those that reside here.
The boys centre currently has no water, at the moment they have to buy packaged water, which is an expense they can’t afford so we pray that this is solved soon.
There is a massive issue with gender inequality here and something that we are becoming increasingly passionate about. If we could effect change within just a few of the young people then that would be an incredible thing.
Next week we will be starting the first, of many, of our life skill sessions at the school, we pray that these will be a success and that our messages come across strong.