The Urban Wanderer

Crossing Borders ~ Bridging Cultures ~ Traveling Responsibly

A Reflection of the Week

This post was originally from February 27, 2020

The last few days we’ve been able to settle in a bit at Missionvale and come to understand how things work … or not work. It’s like organized disorganization. Unless we assert ourselves with the staff regarding how we could help, we could easily spend the day doing nothing. The staff are all super nice and welcoming but don’t give a lot of direction.

Kris and I have come up with our own agenda of what units we prefer to work and how we can best be of help. I have to remind myself that we are on ‘Africa Time’ and things don’t run the same way as they would at home. Talking to some of the other volunteers they have said “what we get completed in Belgium in just one day, takes two weeks to get answers and complete the task here”. It’s just a different way of life and you have to learn to roll with it instead of get frustrated.

My mornings feel like I am running a marathon. I spend them in the kitchen where we get donations of food, prepare the food and distribute it out. I’ve cut so many loaves of bread that I’ve now got a blister on my hand. It’s complete chaos with hundreds of people lined up for their half loaf and cup of dry soup powder. Yesterday a fight broke out in line as a few of the young men kept cutting in front of the old grandmas and grandpas just to get a second helping, when the other poor souls still waited for their first.

Once that rush is over I then head over to Mother Christmas (where Kris is) so that we can either help wrap presents or prepare for a lesson that we will later do in the after school development program.

Yesterday we had a real treat when a bunch of 7th grade girls came out of the school and took a real liking to us. They played with our hair (yes, even mine), riddled us with questions and then asked us to join them to watch their ballroom dancing class. It was so cute as one of the staff members teaches the girls ballroom. The smiles on these beautiful girls truly melt my heart.


Finally at the end of the day we get to work in the After School Development Centre. Yesterday I created an art project for the kids. Kris took the little ones and I had the older ones. They were so cute and so proud of their finished work. Today the topic was literacy, where we would read to them and ask questions to see how well their comprehension was.

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The last hour of the day is so much fun. Working with the children truly makes my heart so full. It makes the monotony of all the lulls throughout the day vanish. You see these little munchkins and they are full of spunk and joy and they are just like children at home. Children are children. But when you take a step back it so sad to think that because of lack of opportunity and money, these talented, gentle souls probably won’t have a hopeful, promising future. Kris was saying to me “this kid could be a track star, or look at that kid who can do flips so easily”. At home they could be anything, but here you just hope that they make it out. The township is so brutal – crime, addiction and obviously poverty. The problem is so gigantic and it’s overwhelming to think about what each child has the capability of doing and where he or she will end up. Yesterday we asked one 6th grader how far she had to walk from the school to the Centre. She said “not far-just one hour”. Every day she’s at the Centre and has to walk alone in the dangerous township for hours. Life is so very different for the children here compared to the lucky ones at home.

We didn’t realize how dangerous the township really is. We were told that we might be able to do home visits however when we asked the Centre’s manager, she gave us the answer of a definite no. Apparently last week a group of Irish volunteers were robbed when they were doing home visits and over the weekend there were a couple locals that were murdered. Don’t worry, we are completely safe within the gates of the Centre, but it  just goes to show you how unstable life is for those who live outside these walls.

Safety is obviously an issue here but don’t worry, Kris and I are not out gallivanting after our placements. We stay within the safety of our home and listen to all the precautions.

Last night the amazing couple that run our house (Jeff & Arlene) took the entire group to an event. It was indoors with a bunch of food trucks, live music and vendors. It was so much fun and the food was amazing. We couldn’t get over how cheap everything was. Literally less that $2 for a crepe filled with Tiramisu filling!!!!! Huge meals for less than $5. It was so awesome and we had such a great time. Not only that, Kris and I were like kids in a candy shop as there were so many good looking men to ogle at. Edmonton might not have many beautiful eligible bachelors but hello Port Elizabeth!!!


This weekend ahead of us is going to be pretty fantastic. We are going to be doing some safaris but I’ll give you all the details in the next installment. Stay tuned 😉



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