Tag Archives: foster care

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.

Sarah Fox sweethearts

Wednesday was another volunteering day. I met Jen and Kym at Sarah Fox Children’s Convalescent Hospital in Athlone. The stated objective is “to provide expert nursing and medical care in a homely and loving environment for children and infants who are recovering from acute medical and surgical conditions…these children are unable to return to their own homes for social or medical reasons.” That last part seems to be the key…it feels more like a medical foster home than a hospital. And the conditions seem more chronic than acute. Parents aren’t really around, so Kym and Jen (& other workers and volunteers) are so important in providing the TLC all the little sweethearts there need.

Jen and Kym are stationed in the baby room, and as the pictures show, they are very happy there and are making a big impact. The main conditions treated at the hospital are TB, HIV, and kwashiorkor & marasmus (i.e., diseases subsequent to malnutrition). I saw a baby this morning that looked like fetal alcohol effects might be present too. You’ll have to ask Kym and Jen to tell you about the babies’ personalities and who their favorites are (it happens…Kym is holding Tyana and Jen is holding Phelokazi). In my short two hours there this morning, I grew quite fond of Fatima, who was born July 5, 2011…I think the feeling was mutual.

The babies are delayed in their growth, motor skills, language, etc. As I sat there, I wondered who they are able to form attachments with and how this is affecting their emotional development. I often reflected on our daughter’s orphanage in China and the similarities…not much crying despite a room full of babies, very basic facilities, “staff” as caregivers. They are safe and looked after, but it is far from an ideal or even a “normal” setting that babies deserve. It was sad and happy all at the same time…bittersweet, I guess.

We have talked in class about having the mindset of what can I do at this time for this one. I truly observed that being lived out at Sarah Fox with every peek-a-boo game played, every dropped toy retrieved, every nappy changed, every nose wiped, every smile shared, every hug given. All six of these young women are doing great things – you would be as proud of them as I am if you were here and saw them in action!