Your lucky guide for today went on a food drop while the other group worked like Trojans. So today’s story will be a tale of two cities.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times...
The blue car and the silver car rushed off to site for a 7:00am start. One hour later came Baba Bhata, the foreman to tell us what to do. Always good to clock in early even if you can’t start work!
Setting out, the old fashioned way, with string, a tape measure and a few concrete blocks was slow thoughtful and accurate. An 8m by 6m rectangle may not challenge the average £8k GPS EDM but we had a tough time getting it right. Then the silver car had to go back to GGA leaving the blue car to lay the first three courses of blocks up to the level of the ground floor slab. The blue car, or rather its contents, mixed mortar by hand, shovelled, trowelled and laid level, straight and vertical. What more can we ask.
The silver car loaded up rice, mealie meal and bags of children’s goodies into the back of a bakkie (pickup) while we loaded up donated clothes and toys into our car. Off we headed past the familiar Spar and beyond, into the valley of a thousand hills. And what hills. And what roads. I say roads, but footpaths with tyre tracks, ruts, rocks and rubble. The clue to the terrain is in the words “a thousand hills”. All the 15 drops of food and clothes to the scheme’s families, usually partial, unregistered, with no other means of support and sometimes looking after a number of local orphaned children were at the ends of the earth (track).
The people appeared content, proud and smart; their Sunday best, for collecting the only reliable source of food they can get just once a month. Their children were an absolute joy. Happy playing with so little and making the most of every friend, every imaginary toy, every bit of love and contact offered from deeply moved strangers.
After the evening meal in our new home with our new family we headed off to the on site theatre to watch the Young Zulu Warriors training sessions. To call it dance would be simplistic. Rhythm, chant stamp and slap. The rhythmically challenged part of the group laughed, safely seated in the thatched theatre auditorium. The movers and groovers amongst us dedicated their evening to learning complex routines and so impressed Sizwe, the skilled teacher and leader of the group that they will be performing in the end of term show. More laughs on that later. Don’t be alarmed when I tell you that Angela discovered the true brutality of the Zulu regime when she saw the self inflicted bruise on her right thigh. We laughed.
And then the after show party...
After a rather cool arrival day, we woke up to a beautiful sunny day. After a quick breakfast, and an early exit, we were had a few logistical hitches before we set off to the building site. We visited the hardware store on route which neighbours the local community centre. After purchases of a few very needed tools; wheelbarrows, trowels, measuring tape & fishing lines, we made our way to the building site.
We were super lucky today and we had 6 other volunteers from the GGA to help us to lay the foundations. Today, we took on the task of concrete mixing, and energetically wheel barrowing it to the trenches. The team soon jelled into building concrete block towers, the “human chain” way of passing the blocks and preparing the site for the team tomorrow, to take the works to the next stage.
One car of the GGA team went on one of the monthly supply drops in the valley picking up Geraint on the way, delivering much needed food and clothes to the Cato Ridge Valley people which was a very emotional experience, in every way, big day for everyone!
In the meantime Lula and Theo made friends with some local kids and set up a photography & dance workshop. A truly amazing experience, in which the photos, we’re sure, speak for themselves.
This evening, we were invited to an evening with ‘Gogo’ Heather, (Grandma). It was a great honour to meet with the founder. The meal, which actually felt like a banquet, was followed by a most amazing surprise to us by an indepth performance by the young Zulu warriors. The energy was flying high and after the wonderful impromptu performance by GGA, the Brookfield GGA Team 2012 took a few lessons in Zulu dance. We must practice more this evening as Ceasar, one of the Zulu warriors, is going to coach us throughout our stay! Watch this space, there is talk of a UK GGA concert in 2013, we could be the backing dancers!!!
After much eager anticipation Team GGA 2012 had left for their 7000 thousand mile journey to South Africa! UK traffic, 2 planes and some serious bush later... We arrived safe and sound at God’s Golden Acre!
We have had a warm welcome from Myrtle Heather’s (the founder) sister at our accommodation, a Rondawel as you can see by the pictures.
We have been given a tour of their site and buildings by Julian, a helper here, the area and established buildings that have been built here is astounding. We managed to spend a little time with some of the children; you could see immediately the happiness on their faces and what exactly GGA is all about.
Our appetites have doubled so we are rather worried about the possibility of worms now...
The children at The College Nursery (Peterborough Regional College) have been kind enough to let their friend Gerald the giraffe join us on our adventure to South Africa!!
Gerald is very excited to visit all of his relatives on safari and looks forward to meeting and making good friends with the children as Gods Golden Acre.
The 'pre-schoolers' (aged between 3-4 years) have been learning about Gerald's homeland over the last couple of weeks and are eager to build friendships across the ocean with children at Gods Golden Acre. They have even been kind enough to send a gift to South Africa in the form of a story book about Gerald.
We hope this will be the start of a lovely friendship and The College Nursery is keen to raise funds in the future to assist the good work carried out by all at Gods Golden Acre...watch this space!
Barnaby Bear was a late addition to our team, after we learned that one of the original nominees (Ben Coleman) could no longer join us on this year’s expedition.
Barnaby has travelled the world and has become well versed with international culture. His talent in story telling and close connections with the Edward Betham (EB) Primary School children in the UK should make him a great representative to establish new friendships in South African Kwazulu Natal on behalf of EB school.
Barnaby is one very ambitious bear and once he learned of his good fortune about joining the trip he subscribed to a house building crash-course. We will be referring to his expertise when embarking on our house construction task!!!
The 'Gods Golden Acre Great Brookfield Bake off' was in full swing at 23 Hanover Square this morning. The first sign of success was the demolition of MaryAnn's cake...now you see it...now you don’t!
A big thank you goes to all who risked a slice or two and a generously donated!
We also can't forget to thank the bakers little helpers who volunteered to slave over a hot oven yesterday evening & donate their wares...Gemma B, MaryAnn L & Mandy TV!
A massive thank you to all!!!
In preparation for the 2012 expedition we have set ourselves a target of raising £500 to purchase toiletries, fuel, bedding and other items for the KwaZulu-Natal Children. That is why we are holding this 'bake sale' providing lovely cakes for you to buy!
Sept 2012 – 1st Meeting of the New Team
Firstly, I have to say that on behalf of all of those that were chosen for this trip, what a great honor and privilege it is not only to be picked but to take part in such a life changing experience, (for us) and for the ones that we can help in the 2 weeks we are there!
Nick Bailey, who initially introduced BM to GGA (George Assimakopoulos) was kind enough to attend out 1st meeting and give us a insight into how GGA came about and their lives.
A great start was to actually see the plot of land that we are going to be working on, currently a shack, made up of planks of wood, metal sheets, plastic sheeting, anything they could find lying around it looked like. We are awaiting on specifics of the house that we are required to build as finding out from Nick etc, the logistics for this house is very intricate due to the timing we have and the availability of materials. We really need to get the ball rolling and make sure we have what we need when we arrive!
Marina Ostroshchenko was kind enough to attend and give us a scope on how she found the experience and some finer details on the snakes and Spiders we can look forward to seeing out there! :-$
We really do have our work cut-out though, 6am starts to 6pm finishes, then it will be back to camp for some downtime. Our camp we have been told is near the kids quarters so keep an eye out for football games and basket ball with the locals!
If we are lucky enough we do hope to meet Heather as she is always very keen on seeing the volunteers that come to GGA. Her sister ? is actually going to be the point of contact for us through Aleks to co-ordinate jobs, travel etc!
So, it’s all go at the moment as the days approach quite rapidly now! We hope you keep an eye out on our blog but especially whilst out there as its going to be a WILD one!