Sawubona from the Inner City Team!

Sawubona from the Inner City Team here in Durban! We’ve finally gotten round to writing a blog post about what’s been happening during our first couple of weeks on placement.

Our Team: Lucy, Katie, Sarah, Amanda, Nonhlanhla, Sebe and Karen (not pictured but we love her (she made us say that))
Our Team: Lucy, Katie, Sarah, Amanda, Nonhlanhla, Sebe and Karen (not pictured, but we love her (she made us say that))

After an awesome but intense week of orientation, we travelled to what would be our home for the next nine weeks. We arrived at a hostel called Hippo Hide, where we are all living together for our placement. We are so fortunate to be staying here; the facilities are great (we have a pool!.. Not that any of us have braved it yet. It’s freezing.) And the staff are so lovely and helpful. It’s also been great fun getting to know the other people coming through the hostel, including a group of Jo Burg cyclists who left us loads of food (YAY!).

Sunset view from our hostel.
Sunset view from our hostel.

Our first weekend together consisted of getting to know each other better, coming up with a food plan and going shopping, resting, having a movie night, going to Glenridge church (which we all love!) and laughing during a game of Frisbee and a picnic at the botanic gardens.

Due to xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in the centre of Durban, we were unable to start our placement at the inner city crèches, but we have been working with a lovely crèche in a township called Chesterville. We started off doing manual gardening and painting work, but as our first week progressed we ended up doing more and more work directly with the kids (age 2-5) in their classes. The kids are amazing and we love them, but for the UK volunteers communicating well with the children has been a struggle, because they are all Zulu speaking. Thankfully this hasn’t been too much of an issue as our SA team members have been fantastic at translating! It’s been difficult for us to be thrown straight into support teaching, but it’s been great to see different gifts shine through our team. Early on in our first week, Sarah taught the kids ‘wind the bobbin up’ which has fast become a favourite! As well as helping out in classes at the crèche, we have still managed to progress with the manual work. We have done a lot of digging and weeding on the driveway, and have finished all the prep and priming on the metal containers near the jungle gym. They’re ready to paint now, as soon as we get our hands on all the bright colours!

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Action shot of musical bumps with the children.
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Clearing the driveway to the crèche.

Alongside our work at the crèche, we have been working with a great organisation called City Celebration which is fuelled by a vision to see kids come to know the love of Jesus through dance. Jade, Sindi and Margo are three very inspirational women who run the classes at schools, in and out of school hours with girls and boys between the ages of 6 and 17. It’s very clear how much the kids enjoy the classes and love the atmosphere that’s created there. As volunteers, our job is to support with the teaching and help keep the class in order – this is especially challenging in the larger classes (there can be up to 100 children!). To be honest, when we’re there it doesn’t really feel like work. Dancing with the kids is so fun, and they are so easy to love (most of the time). They are so full of energy and hugs so the City Celebration classes are a joy to be a part of. In our second week of placement Katie got the chance to help Jade teach around 100 girls some ballet, which she really enjoyed doing. As well as helping at the classes, in the coming weeks we may be helping Jade set up a website, child protection policy and behaviour and discipline policy which will be awesome.

City Celebration event.
City Celebration event.

As well as working hard on our placement sites and with the admin work back at the hostel, we have had a trip to the beach (ice cream was involved – oh yes!) and the zoo. Our first two weeks at the hostel have been tough – constantly being around one another has brought its challenges, especially when we come from different cultures and stages of life. But as we get to know each other, communicating and working as a team is getting easier and day by day our team times are filled with more laughter. On Monday we will get to find out when/if we start to work in the inner city crèches. The xenophobia situation seems to be improving so we are hopeful it will be soon! We have also found out that the crèche in Chesterville would like us to help them become a registered Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD). This is great and it means we can carry on working with them and hopefully help them take steps towards gaining sustainable funding. We don’t know what the rest of our placement will look like, but we are trusting that God has a plan for us in the city and that he will use us where we are needed.

Edit: Good news, as the violence has calmed down and the city centre is safe, tomorrow we will be starting our placement in the inner city crèches! We are all very excited but unsure what to expect. Our team will be splitting in to pairs (one SA and one UK). In our pairs we will be attending two crèches each twice a week. For all the crèches we are aiming to get them to government registered Early Childhood Development (ECD) status but they are all at different stages in this journey.

Uthando oluningi (lots of love),

Katie, Lucy and the rest of our team!

Some things to pray for:

  • Unfortunately Sarah has been ill for the past week so it would be lovely if you could pray for her speedy recovery.
  • That any anxieties about the rest of our placement would disappear as we trust in God.
  • That we can continue to learn from each other and grow closer together.
  • Karen and Lucy have been involved in meetings with churches about a response to the xenophobia. It would be awesome if you could pray for a way as a whole team that we could help the refugees and support the churches’ response to the xenophobia.
  • Nonhlanhla is sitting exams in the next couple of weeks, prayers that they go well as she has been studying extremely hard.
  •  That we settle in quickly to our new crèches and make up lost time.