Thursday, 29 March 2012

Peace descends

Oh dear I don't think I've got the hang of blogging- I think it's supposed to be short regular updates rather than fortnightly essays! Well anyway, last week was the Germans final week here, so the Village was a hive of activity, with the whole team beavering away from early in the morning until late at night in their attempts to complete the house they have been building for the last six weeks. It's an eco house, and they've done a great job and put in many many hours of hard manual work. I'm not sure whether the bits of grass sticking out of it are there on purpose or not, but it looks pretty cool. The house will be most probably be used to accomodate volunteers and hopefully it will free up some space in the current volunteer's unit. After one final braai/party on Saturday they left in the dribs and drabs over the weekend, and now it feels very quiet.

Perhaps the peace is also more noticeable because last monday there were riots in Grabouw. There were intiially some riots several weeks back over a school for black children, but last week the issue was tension between the black and colored community. The 'blacks' speak Causa whereas most of the 'coloured' speak Afrikaans, and there is a division between the two communities which I'm afraid of oversimplifying by my limiting understanding... but I think part of the mistrust and tension is residue from the apartheid era, where coloureds were given more priviledges than the black community because of their lighter skin tone. The roads were blocked and the police were out on mass, but I didn't witness any of this as we stayed at the Village all day. It was oppressive knowing that there was violence going on down the road from us, not because we were worried for our own safety (because the Village sheltered at the top of the valley, and is protected by gates, and by God!)but because of our concerns for the people of Grabouw. Since then there hasn't been anymore trouble, but it once again raises awareness of the fragile relations between different races. Riots such as these reinforce the idea that the townships are dangerous and crime-ridden, but the reality is more complicated. Many people smile and wave as you drive through the community, and they are just ordinary people living out their lives. There's a family who we drive past every week when we pick up the children for Rainbow Smiles, who sit outside their house playing dominoes!- mum, dad, aunties, uncles, children, grandparents, and friends. The townships are vibrant, buzzing, close communities, and as with any other community, there lies within a minority of people who express their frustration through violence. The violence and crime is more prevalent and noticeable however because of SA's history :-(

Since then it has calmed down, and the Easter holidays have arrived. The children are off school, so we're trying to keep them entertained with easter activities and some outings. Yesterday they made bunny ears which they enjoyed, although the little ones weren't so keen on wearing them and one little tot accidentally sat on hers. Squashed bunny ears. This morning we took the children to an indoor play area which they loved. I put one of the baby boys in the ball pool and a minute later I could only see two round eyes peering back at me over the balls! Last week Grace and I also took the Rainbow smiles children to the country club, where we played some games and spent time together, which was fun. We're still bumbling along with the club as best we can, but the children really enjoyed last week and we're trying to make it fun for them.

There's now just six volunteers as Lance and Travis, the two Canadian guys who were here for a month, left on Monday. I'll really miss those guys as they felt like brothers- brothers in Christ, and brothers on an emotional level. Homesickness has also often hit me quite hard these last few weeks- sometimes I long for familiarity, and to be able to see my friends and family. I find myself thinking of English fields, little yorkshire pubs, sheep, and drystone walls! But I know I'm in danger of idealising home, and idealising the past. I'm learning to live in the present, let go of what has gone before, and to accept change as the place where God brings new life and growth. I know I'm very lucky to be able to have this experience and I want to be able to make the most of it.

Anyway, another long blog post. For now I'll say bye bye xxxx

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