Saying Goodbye to Missionvale ~ 2 weeks volunteering in South Africa

F3233A74-C2EF-472F-8C34-7FBE7105DFC6This post is originally from March 5, 2020

This week has absolutely flown by! It feels like we have found our groove both at the ‘frat house’ and at our placement at Missionvale. I knew going in to the volunteer experience that 2 weeks wasn’t long enough, but I can truly say – it absolutely wasn’t long enough!!!! Last week I feel like we had to prove ourselves with some of the Youth Development coordinators, but this week it felt like they trusted us. The staff in the Nutrition Centre and Mother Christmas (Rachel) also started to really open up and it was really only on our last day that we realized how much some of them really appreciated us being there.

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Some of the amazing staff at Missionvale

Over the course of the 2 weeks we were able to create bonds with some of the kids as well. Their smiles are infectious and their hugs could literally squeeze the life out of you…but in a good way. They loved to touch our hair (and maybe play with Kris’ long hair a little too roughly) and the older ones were enthralled with my tattoos and earrings as well. Kids are kids and the simple act of just playing catch is enough to fill their little bellies with laughter.

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This week we were able to create a lesson on dental hygiene. We made games and sung songs based on teeth. We also bought 60 toothbrushes and gave them to all the kids so that we could teach them the proper way to brush. This lesson was a bit chaotic with all age groups lumped together. The younger ones definitely only speak Xosa so we had to have most of what we said translated. The toothbrushes however were a big hit and overall I think it was a big success.

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We also brought embroidery thread and little beads with letters on them. One day we had the younger ones partner with the older ones and we got them to make friendship bracelets with the initial of their name strung on the bracelet. This was again complete chaos but such a success with them all.

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On our last day (yesterday) some of the staff got together and sung for Kris and I. Their voices are so beautiful and their passion for life is undeniable. While they were singing to us, Kris and I were in tears. The moment was so beautiful and touching.

Over the course of the two weeks we tried to figure out how we could best be of help. Is there anything that we can do that could possibly make a lasting impact? Kris fell in love with one little boy as he reminded her of her nephew. She wanted to be able to maybe send money for him so he might get the opportunity to get out of the township and build a better life. We had lots of conversations about this because in theory this sounds doable but when you dissect it, this could lead to more trouble for the child. Would this separate him and alienate him from his peers? Would the family members use the money for the wrong purposes? (Alcoholism is prevalent in the townships). After talking to the manager at Missionvale, she suggested that monthly donations to the Centre itself would be the best course of action. We could specify where we want the donations to go to. We definitely want to help the Youth Development so we decided that this is what area we will help support. Perhaps we could start an education fund whereby youth that want to seek out an education can tap into it. We have the resources in Canada to make these changes, perhaps as a whole we can make this a reality.

(**we haven’t started raising funds for this yet due to the current Covid crisis, but we are hoping that we can still fulfill this dream)

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It was really sad to leave yesterday but I can say without a doubt that my time at Missionvale was one that I’ll never forget. Once again Africa grabbed another piece of my heart.

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