For the past few weeks Mum and Dad have been out in South Africa visiting me in the Village of Hope. It was lovely to have them here with me, although very surreal at the same time as I've been used to seeing them only on Skype with thousands of miles between us. They really embraced South African life and had an amazing time exploring the beautiful landscape, as well as getting to know the children, staff, volunteers, and the project leaders and their friends and family who also came out over Easter.
On Tuesday 3rd we took the children to the Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. There ended up being 9 children and twenty five adults, and I don't know who was more excited! The children loved seeing the jewel-bright fish flitting through the water in all their different sizes and shapes, and it was a great interactive place for children with lots to see and do.
|One of the little girls entranced by the fish!|
During the rest of the week the girls did some other Easter activities with the children, making little Easter baskets and eggs which were then filled with chocolate on Easter Sunday!
|A very shy bunny|
The idea was to 'ration' the chocolate that the children received, as there was loads, but unfortunately I think the spirit of frugality wasn't exactly embraced! It rained all of the Easter Sunday, so we had a very wet braai which Tim prepared in the wood shelter and which we all ate in the children's unit.
Another highlight was the Thembacare service which Tim, Maz, their family, friends, Kat, Pauline and me, Mum attended, alongside the usual group of Themba nurses who gather every Wednesday afternoon for worship and prayer. Thembacare, if I haven't already explained, is another Thembalithsa project, and is a medical unit and hospice for people in the community suffering with TB, HIV and cancer. The women hold such a deep musicality within them, when they praise God you can feel their souls and the Spirit of God reverberating in the room. It was an honour to gather with them to worship.
On the first Saturday that Mum and Dad were here, a group of us visited Robben Island. After a pretty choppy boat half and hour boat ride across the to the island we were taken on a guided coach tour around the main sites, before joining our tour guide around the Maximum Security Prison, a man who used to be an ex-prisoner on the island in the 70s. Robben Island is closely associated with Nelson Mandela ofcourse, who was an inmate for nearly two decades, but it functioned as a prison from the 1600s when the Dutch settlers arrived. It was used to isolate severely marginalised groups who posed a risk to society such as those suffering with leprosy, the mentally ill, and in more recent times, political activists. We were shown the solitary confinement house; the limestone quarry where the prisoners were forced to work, and which later became known as 'The University', a place where the men pooled their ideas and where their visions and aspirations were fed by their shared fight against racial, political and economic injustice ; the tiny cells, barely 8 by 7 feet, which until 1975 contained no beds.
|Nelson Mandela's cell|
South Africa's political history over the last fifty years is a myriad of racial prejudice and tension, most of which I can barely apprehend, but from living in this country for several months, it's clear that there is so much more work to be done. The vision that many of the political prisoners were working towards was one where there would equal economic opportunities for all- where skin colour would not determine the opportunities a person has in life. I believe it is only God who can bring this vision to the 'Rainbow Nation' in it's entirety, and He is already doing so in many ways. However, the change that is required needs everyone, and not everyone is willing to change!