4 months in South Africa is not enough time in this beautiful country. Although I’m in Cape Town for such a long period of time it is also very short time to see the country. As usual my fellow house sisters and I planned every second of our upcoming weekend. Happy and excited for the weekend to come, those plans had to change. One of the younger kids in group A, Nadine (one and a half years old), is in the hospital and has been in for about a week now. She was scheduled to stay in the hospital alone to receive treatment for 10 days. The orphanage did not have the funds nor ability to have a staff member on duty the entire time while she was there. Once the volunteers from that group found out they immediately took action and developed a schedule so Nadine would not be alone at the hospital. This schedule included 17 to 24 hour shifts, day and night in order to accompany her. Due to sickness or weekend plans there are not enough people to split the shifts any other way.
Immediately my thoughts started racing. First, no one no matter what age likes to be in the hospital alone. Once I was in the hospital for two hours by myself and I felt like crying. I can only imagination what a baby who doesn’t fully understand feels. She only wants to be comforted and loved through the entire experience. Secondly, I commend the volunteers for taking it upon themselves to do something about the issue. On the other hand, they shouldn’t over extend themselves and need a helping hand; therefore no matter what I had planned this weekend could be cancelled. My heart yearns to be there for Nadine just as I like to be there for my kids at the medical clinics. It doesn’t matter if I am sitting there for hours to see the doctor, but for the child to know someone is there for them is more important.
I am learning the art of sacrifice, dedication, and consistency that some of these kids need in their life. Their entire life has been made of disappointments and being alone. Now is the time that disappointment to end and help them gain the trust back. When the definition of being spoiled equals 10 minutes of one on one attention, my heart is saddened. I have so much love for these kids and I want each and every one of them to feel that love. Today a staff member said to me, “I do not want to be at this place the day you leave, because you have touched so many kids in different ways that it’s going to be heart breaking.” It’s going to tough, but luckily we don’t have to think about that right now.
(Pictures were from my second trip to the clinic.)
Until Next Time
As I sat in the hospital clinic for three hours waiting to see a nurse, there were many different types of people around me. I was in the clinic with one of my kids, Pearle, who was born extremely underweight. Every month she is required to see the nurse to get vitamin tablets and to have her weight monitored. Pearle is a petite young girl. I never suspected that she was underweight. Due to complications from her birth, she has significant developmental delays. She is about two and a half years old. She has verbal delays and is not potty trained. Many of the children at the home have similar difficulties due to the volatile nature of their short lives. They have speech delays, milestone delays with motor skills and emotional immaturity. The emotional impact of their situation takes a toll.
As I sat and waited for the nurse, I watched others in the room. Cute children kept staring at me. Here are some pictures: (None of these pictures are of my little Pearle)
Siblings sitting next two each other.
This baby had the most adorable smile I have ever seen.
This little girl was modeling for me.
The doctor’s visit was long and tiresome, but Pearle is slowly gaining weight. I was happy for some good news.
Until Next Time,
I am living my dreams out. For years I imagined what it would be like to travel abroad and to help other while I am there. Exploring Cape Town is amazing. I am enjoying meeting all the different people from different walks of life. I have been in South Africa for about a month now and things couldn’t be any better. I have wondered if people think I am having too much fun, and not doing enough volunteer work. Here are my thoughts on that; I came to South Africa to help, develop, love and care for my kids. I also came to South Africa to be immersed in the culture, to learn about what makes this country amazing, and to appreciate life in my motherland. Therefore, I am taking an opportunity to do all of this. South Africa has taught me several things that I can implement into my everyday life.
- I can play hard, but work harder. Working in an emotionally draining environment can affect your emotional health and the quality of work. I have fallen completely head over heels in love with my kids. When I am out of sorts, they can pick me up and brighten up my day in an instant. They can make my troubled heart melt with a smile. I have found my calling in life. Yes, this is not a job that pays a lot, nor a job that is always rewarding with happy endings, but this is a job that I absolutely love.
- Asking for help is okay. Although South Africa is an English speaking country, the simplest tasks have become difficult. People do not always understand my dialect of English or my accent is too strange; therefore I have to explain things a bit more. Whether it was to help me with my kids or help me pick out a product; I have found that asking for help from people is necessary.
- Americans are privileged. In South Africa there is such a large gap between the “middle class” and the “poor.” There are people living in a small four wall house made out of tin metal with at least 8 people residing inside ( below is a picture those are houses). Many people are begging on the street asking for food and money. There are areas in town where I must be extremely careful because people will mug me just for my cell phone. I have learned that I would never travel with an IPhone again to a country that majority of the people cannot afford one. American Privilege, allows you to take advantage of things that make life easier such as a washer and dryer, 3 day mail service, air conditioning and unlimited WiFi. My experience volunteering here has made me more sensitive to the luxuries that many people around the world do not have.
- Exploring is a must. Getting lost in Cape Town for hours, seeing an amazing view at Lion’s Head or trying sandboarding with new friends are all a part of what makes this trip awesome. I find it very important to explore where I am volunteering to understand and experience the culture more. While I build the structure for Something Amazing, I will always have activities and outings for the participants to see other parts of the country in which they are volunteering.
My list of things I have learned could go on for miles (or kilometers, something else I had to learn). I will continue to add to this list as my trip progresses. I am extremely proud of how Something Amazing and I have grown since the beginning of this trip. I cannot wait to experience more.
Something Amazing has been extremely busy with mapping out ways to help Christine Revel Orphanage and details on ways to help will be available shortly.
The kids here are very clever. They know the difference between a volunteer and a staff member. Granted we do have different accents, but the respect level is completely different. They will test and try every single volunteer, but wouldn’t dare try a staff member. This effects doing the simplest task, such as going to the toilet. They will kick, scream, hit, cuss and all sorts of things before simply going to the toilet. Lately the older kids have influenced my group into saying cuss words. I cannot say this word, because I do not know what it means and I cannot spell it. It is extremely difficult trying to accomplish activities when three kids are crying, two kids are running around not listening, two kids are just staring and just four kids are actually trying to do the planned activity.
Now I know I am working with a difficult age group, anywhere between the ages of two and three and a half years old. Most two to four year olds will not listen to anything someone tells them, but there are more factors that contribute here. The difficulty lies between the language barrier (Afrikaans and English) and the large mental delays that many of these children face. They spend the majority of their important developmental years in a place where they do not get the average parental contact, love, and discipline. Along with many other things effect the way the children act. The staff members do the best they can in order to give the children the correct discipline, love and everything that they need, but it is hard. For example, one staff member in the morning is in charge of bathing, dressing and feeding 15 kids in about a two hours’ time. Even for a super mom this would be hard. The other obstacle is the mental delays. Many of my kids act as though they are one and a half years old. I’ve found out that one of my kids, Kyle, a 3-year-old boy that doesn’t talk. He only says “no” and cries a lot. His developmental struggles come from his mother drinking alcohol when she was pregnant.
These children have so many obstacles and barriers. They must fight to get over their challenges and still find the ways to smile, laugh and play. They do not know the battle in which lies ahead, but I know they will overcome them. Every day I hug each kid very tight. I play with them while they sit on my lap and I think to myself;
“You are strong,
You are brave,
You can overcome anything,
You can do whatever you put your mind to”
If no one else believes in them, I know that I believe in them. Each day I hug: doctors, lawyers, teachers, pilots, nurses, soccer players, and astronauts. The road in front of them is not easy, but it is just one step closer to greatness for them.
Until next time, stay awesome! Jill Bundy
There is a South African philosophy, Ubuntu, which was widely taught by Nelson Mandela and many other inspirational figures. Ubuntu roughly means, “I am, because of you.” In order to impact the world you must impact a person; when you impact one person you then impact a community. Many people have donated to my trip and have sent many encouraging words. I want to publically say thank you, nothing anyone has done for me has gone in vein. The donations I received have put me in an amazing position to impact many children’s lives.
I love all of my kiddies from the top of my heart to the bottom of my feet. I give these kids all of my love each day. From the moment I walk into the room at 9 am, to the moment I leave the place at 4:30pm. Any one working with children will tell you that it is not a job for the weak at heart. Volunteering at Christine Revell is an extremely emotionally draining roller coaster that I must endure. For example, today the little boy, Immunati, he is a 2 years old and has been at the orphanage since the beginning of January and hasn’t made any noise other than crying. A 2 year old boy that does not make any joyful noises or say any words is a bit odd. Today his Aunt came to visit, in the beginning they discouraged the family to come visit because it was making the adjustment period worse for Immunati. In the last week, I have seen him smile, and today he actually started to make happy sounds while he was playing. The joy that filled my heart is something I cannot put into words. He has made such an amazing progress in the short three weeks I have been here. While his Aunt was leaving his cries were piercing to the ears and the heart; I can only imagine what his Aunt was feeling. Although Immunati may not truly understand what is going on now; she made an incredible selfless decision to give him a better home.
Nelson Mandela once told a reporter, “Ubuntu does not mean that people should not address themselves. The question therefore is, are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you, and enable it to improve? These are important things in life. And if you can do that, you have done something very important.” There are many days where at the end of the work day I am drained beyond belief, but because I was able to comfort one child it made it worth the while. These kids need me at my best; therefore I use my weekends to recharge and come back stronger than ever. The giant smiles I receive when I walk in on a Monday morning confirms my decision to volunteer here.
When there are good days, or slightly less emotional days I must write. I have been getting more comfortable with the children in my class, we play puzzle games, have story time and sing songs. Despite some learning delays in several children these kids are very bright, and they love to learn. I am also learning some Afrikaans, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, from my class. I still struggle to understand what many of the children; including the older ones are saying to me. These children are absolutely little bundles of joy and brighten up many parts of my day. Today I learned that I cannot adopt several of the kids in my class because they will be returning to their family. *Does happy dance!!!* Many parents who place their children in Christine Revell’s Children home is because hardships have fallen on the family and they want to provide a better means for the child. It is a relief to know that the families are being reunited and whole once again. I cannot contain the joy that fills my heart knowing that there are many happy endings to a sad beginning.
I have been feeling slightly food sick, it’s kind of like home sick but with food. I miss all the artificial ingredients, MSG, processed foods and many other unhealthy things that are home to many Americans. It is very difficult going into a store and not recognizing any brands that are on the shelfs. I tried to pick up Ritz Crackers or something very similar and I ended up with this healthy, wheat, cracker. To my dismay I was very disappointed. The inability to knowing exactly what I am buying, leaves an uneasy feeling in my stomach. The food is very healthy in South Africa, it’s not processed as much and there are a lot more options for healthy eating. Besides missing the unhealthy food I am doing very well in South Africa. The volunteers at my host house rented a car so we are officially driving on the other side of the road.
Something Amazing is working very hard to figuring out ways for individual persons, businesses and churches to donate in order to help the orphanage. Due to the high cost of mailing packages we may be forced to take monetary donations. 100% of the donations will be going to the orphanage. We are still in the process of figuring out the best solution and avenue of helping. More information is to come, I just want to keep everyone update.
Until Next time
Well that’s easy to answer. There is Immunati. He is a two year old boy who has been here since November. He hasn’t said a word since being here and the reason may be because he doesn’t speak English or Afrikaans. He requires a lot of attention and love. I love just holding his hand to comfort him while crying. But then there is Karan. She is 1 1/2 years old and is very tiny. She has been at the orphanage since a birth. She has a smile that will melt your heart. Also, there is Bradley. He has the biggest personality. A smile that lights up the sky and when he cries it hurts your heart. He loves playing with my rings on my necklace and making them disappear into my shirt. Wait, what about the twins, Asher and Aiden? They love to play rough house and get each other in trouble. Everyone gets them confused even though I can clearly see the difference. Both of them love it when I read the “dog book”, constantly screaming “DOGGY DOGGY!” Cecil (Cee) is my little angel from above. Most will say she is too much of a handful because of her autism. With a little tender love and care she is incredible. Don’t take your eyes off her, because she’ll be standing on a windowsill. I can’t forget about Tatium. She cries a lot, but a big hug and a push on the swing usually brings a smile to her face. Lastly Pearl. Pearl keeps to herself. She is very quiet; but, also very sweet. If you haven’t noticed, I can’t just pick one child. Each child has a very special place in my heart and adds character to the class. They teach me how to love and smile no matter what. They also teach me it’s okay to cry sometimes as long as you get back up.
Until next time Jill
The orphanage is not a place for the weak at heart. I have so much love and compassion for each child that lives at Christine Revel Orphanage. The staff takes wonderful care for the kids and there are many volunteers that come from all over the world. The kids that live here are either abandoned, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, neglected or the family could no longer afford to keep the kids. It’s heart breaking seeing and experiencing it first hand. Each kid melts my heart with their smiles and laughs,then when they cry because they need to be comforted. My group is one and two years old, they truly don’t understand what is going on, but simply have fun. Christine Revel does its absolute best to find a host/foster family, adoption, or any place for the child to go before they are five and head to another orphanage. Once they head to another orphanage it is difficult for them to leave the system. The thing is these kids can grow up to be anything they want, the sky is truly the limit. I try my best to instill love, hope, and patience into each child while dealing with him/her. I can not change any system, or way things are done, but I can impact one little heart. That one heart can then impact another and eventual the world starts to change. Now on my second day I am heart broken, but I have to be strong for the kids. I want to donate, or help the orphanage out in some way,. I am not sure how just yet, but a plan is now in the works.
If you, or a company wants to help sponsor a gift towards the orphanage at the end of my four month stay. I.E. Gloves, there are many kids that are HIV positive, there are not enough gloves to go around for the staff or volunteers. Please email me at ExperienceSomethingAmazing@gmail.com
Until next time, Jill
P.s. My cousin TaTiana is amazing for uploading my post for me since I cannot hook up to the Internet here.