Tag Archives: Children

Angels, miracles, and soup

I finally have a couple of pictures of the “girls” with their home stay hosts. However, this is still an incomplete report as super-host-mom, Sabine, was not yet home when I took the one of Kym, Jen, Crystal, & Courtney. You will see them with Yul, Loren, & Tia…I will do my best to add a photo of Sabine if I see her again. Also, here are Kjersten & Kelsey are with their adorable hosts, Patrick (Patty) & Beryl. When we asked for the photo, Beryl exclaimed, “Oh Erin, you should’ve let me know so I could’ve had my hair done!” 🙂 These hosts have been fabulous to our girls…we are grateful to GHS and their good care of us.

Wednesday was another day of practicum experiences. This week I went to Little Angels on Owl Place (such cute names). This is a day care center for children of single mothers. Today there were six little angels there (one was already napping and isn’t in the photo), as well as three “big angels” in Kjersten, Kelsey, and Jolene, the amazing woman who takes care of these wee ones each and every day. She does a wonderful job of establishing a routine for the crawlers and toddlers, and I saw a lot of evidence of healthy developmental strategies. It is a brightly colored, stimulating place where nourishing food, good naps, and lots of fun are present. The photos show this well through the healthy faces…the sweet nappers are Lolli with Kelsey and Devotion with Kjersten.

Next I went to Miracle Kidz, which is a new site at which several of the girls have already volunteered, and I think they all will during the remaining time here. The super-host-mom, Sabine, facilitated this opportunity for supplemental practicum experiences. It is a safe house for babies and children who have had a rough start in life. They can live at Miracle Kidz up to a year, at which time they would transition to foster care. I couldn’t take photos of the children, and Elsie, the woman in charge, was at the doctor with some of the kids, so the only photo is of Crystal and Courtney by the sign. In my short time there, I could easily tell that it is a very special place with people doing incredibly important work there…facilitating miracles.

I spent the afternoon helping at a soup kitchen in Cape Flats, specifically Mitchell’s Plain, a low-lying part of Cape Town that was a racially segregated area during apartheid. It was one of the areas people were forced into when they were removed from District Six. This soup kitchen was established in 2009 by the son of Stanford, our kind GHS driver (he was in the photo of the girls in front of the van at the airport back on May 27).

Tragically, this eldest son of Stanford – Quinton, age 45 – was killed in 2010, right in the neighborhood where the soup kitchen operates. The family has kept the kitchen going…just barely. They can only afford to feed the community once per week. Either Stanford’s wife, Lillian, or daughter-in-law (i.e., Quinton’s widow) make 100 liters of soup each Wednesday. Adults get 3 ladles (along with 2 slices of bread) and children get 2 ladles (plus 1 piece of bread). Stanford said he’s sure Quinton smiles down from heaven every Wednesday afternoon.

This was a very touching experience, reminiscent of the mealie meal I have dished out in Swazi preschools. The people are so grateful for the small portion they are given, and then the kids just want to play. 🙂 This was the majority of our time spent – holding kids, dancing, playing street games, taking pictures. They were hungry for our affections, as well as the soup. I believe it was just as nourishing for me as it was for them.

My students were at their practicum sites, but I was accompanied by seven other Good Hope students to the soup kitchen. They are all here learning English (as that is the function of GHS), and were a bit puzzled by why I am here. The composition of our group was as follows: two guys from Switzerland, one guy from Spain, one girl from Angola, one girl from Sweden, one girl from Colombia, one girl from Brazil, and me. The girl from Angola said my accent is like that of a movie star. On the drive home, we shared tongue twisters in our native languages. They REALLY liked my “she sells sea shells by the sea shore” bit…they roared with laughter as they attempted to say it. 🙂 It was a fun afternoon together, serving in this truly global community…I’m so glad I went.

First day volunteering

Today was the first day of the students’ volunteer/practicum placements. I went to Crystal and Courtney’s site, the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. We were warmly greeted by Ursula Hodgin, the volunteer coordinator for the past 16 years. She is in the photo with Courtney and Crystal…she is a very sweet lady with a huge heart for the children.

We learned that this is the only dedicated specialist pediatric hospital serving the children and families of southern Africa. It opened in the 1950s, and the wards are gradually being renovated. We looked down the dark corridor of an “original” ward and it was depressing…much different than the bright and cheery renovated wards with colorful floors and wall murals of the Big Five and other sites.

There are units that focus on renal and liver transplants, burn care, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other specialized care (e.g., TB), as well as an outpatient unit. There is also a preschool and primary school for the kids! Their goal is to provide the best medical care, despite the family’s income, race, religion, or place of residence. They also help parents (mothers were specifically mentioned) with donated clothing, toiletries, and food while they stay at the hospital, as well as transportation fares and groceries when they go home.

The role of the volunteers – with their cute and recognizable aprons and toy trolleys – is to play with the children. Ursula talked about the importance of a warm smile and playtime in the hospital environment. I was going to say in the healing process, but not all of these children will heal enough to return home. She described the emotional part of the “job,” and how if a child the student has spent time with dies, there are social workers available to help process the loss.

The plan is for Crystal and Courtney to spend their time dedicated to one of the wards so they can build relationships with the children and families. Today when I left them, Ursula was about to pair them with volunteers to shadow for the day. That is, after the 11:00 tea time that Ursula was going to get ready. 🙂

Of course, part of the job is to help keep the toys sanitized, so there will be a bit of that type of work too. There are always those less glamorous parts of any job we do, I suppose. I think this will be a great placement site with lots of lessons awaiting Courtney and Crystal. Some will be hard lessons, but I trust they will see how little things they do can make a big difference.

I look forward to hearing more about what ward they are on and how it went. Also, I am excited to hear from the other students on their placement sites, & I look forward to visiting them over the next couple of weeks.

Back to class tomorrow…and Robben Island if all goes according to plan. If not, we will get our Gumby on once again!