“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Love it when a plan comes together...

Biltong and his sons
Evans (our regular taxi driver) had sent his friend Sam to collect us this morning, who was later than usual and given that we had to stop at the hardware shop on the way to the farm, to get varnish, a paintbrush and some nails, we were less than chuffed at being caught by the train crossing as well. Back and forth it went in front of us for an age, apparently trying to change tracks, but before long we were out in the serenity of the fields again, watering the newly planted maize, whilst Biltong set about sanding and varnishing the boodle hooks for us.
Boodle sticks hand-carved by Biltong
Tracey spent the lunchtime cutting and preparing carrier bags, whilst I made a sample bootie-type slipper for the ladies to copy. Elidah’s Mum turned up today for the first time too, a lovely lady called Virginia. With only a few days to go, the classroom was almost full; women were standing for lack of seats. We even had to shoo them out at 4pm to lock up as they were so engrossed; chatting, boodling and helping each other out when they each got stuck. A joy to watch and although exhausted, Tracey and I couldn’t help but leave smiling and elated. It was working, we were passing on skills and they were passing them on to each other.   We left the women walking up the street together, still twisting yarn around their hooks as they went.  Inspiring someone else to do something creative, free and enjoyable is a truly fantastic feeling.
Cecilia's half-completed bag
After an incredibly fast post-work beer and a change into relatively clean clothes, we were back out again to Zita’s house to teach her to boodle as well.  She had prepared some fish and rape with ground nuts for us to eat. She was hoping to make Nshima with us, but we had failed to tell the Sunbird that we wouldn’t be home for dinner, so after a one hour visit, we had to head home.
Zita lives in a single-storey block of rented rooms – each with its’ own bathroom. She has a small two-ring electric cooker on a trolley next to her bed, and buys her food fresh everyday as she has no fridge and nowhere to store it. Her entire home is smaller than our bedroom at home.
Martha's finished bag
Back at the Sunbird, we had char-coaled meat for dinner (neither Tracey nor I could be sure what kind) with potato and salad, followed by a couple of cups of tea and a big sort out of the donations we have for Linda Farm.  In order to distribute the donations fairly amongst the Ladies at Linda, we have agreed with Songiso to give them away as prizes for various achievements throughout the two weeks we have been there teaching them to boodle. This minimises jealousy and accounts for us potentially not having enough to give everyone something. So we have planned a small party for Friday afternoon to celebrate the new skills the ladies have learnt. They are all incredibly excited and the mention of prizes has spurred them all on even further to finish their bags.
We saw Marsha today outside the gates of Sunbird, or rather he saw us; he was on his way to fill up his water carriers – he is the oldest child of the “high fivers” that we met last year, who still live down the end of our road. He must see hundreds of volunteers where he lives and yet he recognised us and came to say hello - he remembered us and the donated pencil cases and mosquito nets we provided for him and his family. He has two grade 12 exams tomorrow, one for Civil Education and another for Commerce. He is doing well and we agreed to pop in and see them on Friday before we leave. Our social calendar this week is filling up fast.

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