- There is an ice cream maker in our lives
- We're looking after a house with a pool and internet!
- We're going on vacation for Christmas! Yea, and we're gonna pet baby animals!
December is a strange month here in South Africa. For one it's Christmas time, but it's really hot outside. I feel so empathetically uncomfortable seeing Santa in the full Santa outfit at the mall. I haven't been able to pull out any Christmas music, I think I'll save it for July when it's cold. For two, the entire country seems to go on hiatus...my office is on a skeleton crew--we are waiting to hear if grants have been approved so that we can start planning next year's good times.
I'm hoping to get funding for the drop-in centre/feeding scheme, I'm trying to get kick started at the site where the orphans are staying. Let me give a quick update on the last few months of fun times at my Childline project:
1. Korean Doctor Week: a team of Korean specialist (including an orthapaedist, internalist, dentist, OB/GYN, and pharmacist) came to Extension 11 for a four day free-medical services extravaganza. The area has no clinic within walking distance, in an area where most people are living on $1 or less a day. So over 800 people received specialized medical attention. It was very exciting to be part of the "planning" (it was a kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience) and to have it at my site!
2. Trees4Schools (supported by Puro Coffee) came and planted trees at the site, they also did an extensive training with community members and children on taking care of trees and how to plant more trees. And they provided a great, easy training on permaculture gardening using used tires. Tires are used because they are small, easy to start and it is easy to add more tire gardens--they don't overwhelm the gardener. Permaculture gardening is like taking organic a step further, it's creating a garden that protects itself by planting things strategically--not planting all your cabbage in one spot all alone, but mixing them with things like spring onions that will keep bugs out and other plants that will restore nitrogen and good stuff back in the soil. Tire gardens were planted for the houses where orphans are staying and at the church and day care center. (I'm hoping to train more community members on this style of gardening so as to increase access to better nutrition. I need to get funding for doing a large pilot project of it in the community).
3. I've stopped the door-to-door campaign in Extension 11 for the time being, the amount of children who are in need of emergency services is too high for the project to currently handle. As I'm not allowed to drive per Peace Corps rules, I have to depend on others in my organization to get people to the proper government department...this can be difficult as it is so time consuming and expensive. I'm trying to get caught up.
4. Written a bajillion grants! and reports on grants received! It's not that exciting.
5. Oh! and best of all, families have moved into the OVC site houses! 14 children who were living in crowded and unsafe housing have moved into new 3 bedroom houses, complete with bathrooms. The three other houses being built are almost finished and will be inhabited soon (I hope). 11 of the children who have moved in are orphans due to mothers dying of AIDS, when the children got to see their new homes for the first time, it was the first time I ever saw them smile or have any expression. For their caregivers it is a sigh of relief, they are safe. There isn't any furniture in the houses yet (working on it) but for them it is like living in a palace. The Korean missionary who is backing the project calls it the "Haven of Angels".
Lastly, Glenn and I have been blessed abundantly in the relationships we've been making with people in Potch. We are starting to call Potch 'home' and we thank all the people in this town who have opened their hearts and doors to us. We still have another year and 3 months to go in our service, I'm glad we get to spend it here.