2 Days, @ Townships by Regina Bosl

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Welcome to South Africa

I was very excited to go to South Africa for interning at Nourish. Leaving my every day routine, scholar work and the bad weather for three month in Germany. I wanted to see the different faces of South Africa, meeting local people, trying local food and of course … saving the world

And there we go, Sarah picked me up at Johannesburg, a quick stop in Pretoria and suddenly I found myself sitting on a rickety bicycle going through Soweto! It was an amazing time, for the first time ever I tried pap, saw Nelson Mandela’s house and had a vegetarian Kota burger – weird enough.Image

 

Soweto is the biggest township in South Africa, located next to Johannesburg. The people are living in little shacks, as big as a European arbour, no running water, no flushing toilets. And on the other side of the street, there are these beautiful apartment buildings. Only few minutes away is the city of Johannesburg with all its pretty shops, restaurants and pubs. It is so easy to forget, how close poverty actually is.

 

 

The bicycle tour was very interesting and disconcerting at the same time. Everyone was so kind, little kids were running to us, waving and reaching out there hands, to us, the tourists, that want to see poverty in Africa.

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The next day we – the three Nourish girls and some backpackers we picked up at our hostel – went to Alexandra Township to visit the Thuthuzela orphanage that Nourish works with. We met Lizie – a very friendly and affectionate lady, who runs the orphanage – parts of her family, and the cutest and joyful children who are living at the orphanage. We had a great time playing with the kids, making soap bubbles and loads of pictures.

 

 

 

For lunch we walked through Alexandra and had chicken and pap in a little shack. And it was so different from Soweto! Here too, the people were very friendly, saying hello and asked us to take pictures with them… but we were some kind of attraction. Everybody was staring at us, wondering what these three white ladies and the three white guys are doing in their home town. A little boy asked me, whether we were doing a project. Was it an expectation, a wish or a hope?

That day I left the Townships of Johannesburg confused, disconcerted, thoughtful, tired and excited to go there again.

 

 

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Estrelo Do Mar

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To see hardship and suffering can lead one to compassion and kindness—but it can also serve to illuminate the depths of inhumanity that many children experience in this world at the hands of their families or just cruel fate. Today’s visit was to an orphanage in Inhambane, a city near the tip of the peninsula in southern Mozambique. With Portuguese influence still pervading much of the architecture of the city, there is a romance and history here that serves to hide perhaps that this is still true Africa, a place where people experience hunger and hardship that many of us in the Western  world cannot comprehend.

Estrelo Do Mar is a government run orphanage situated in Inhambane.  The children living at the orphanage are dependent on it to care for them on a daily basis. Many are victims of HIV/AIDS which is so rife in Africa, have terminal diseases, or have simply been abandoned by parents who perhaps see this as their only escape. While life in Africa can be tough and these children are victims of that fact, Estrelo Do Mar provides them with basic shelter, food and healthcare.  While their needs are still huge, without even the basic support offered by the orphanage many of these children would be begging on the road, struggling for survival…and many would not be around at all to tell their tales.

During our visit two children lying in the passage in nappies caught my attention…and tugged at my heart strings… skinny kegs protruding, but faces wreathed in smiles. I have no idea what was wrong with these children, but that it was something serious I have no doubt. Flies were hovering around their beautiful big eyes, looking at me and piercing my heart as if to say “What can you do? What can anyone do?” Is it AIDS—that would explain the sores on their little bodies… I have no clue. My interpreter was sweet at best, but his English was probably leaving much to be desired. I did, with his help, manage to get a tour of the orphanage, nursery, kitchen, and for this I am eternally grateful. While I think so much more can be done to help these children, I must thank the women and men who are there serving and looking after these children. You are literally saving them.

A 17 week old baby, found in a toilet, lies warm, still and snuggled in a crib in Estrela Do Mar… without being found, without the orphanage as a refuge, this little life would hold no value in the world. Abandonment in the true sense of the word….

While many good things are happening at the orphanage there is much that still needs to be done. Monthly food supplies often run short, medicines are stocked through a hospital but often not available on hand, the fence is made of broken glass— my time there left me with an indelible sadness at how much pain and suffering there is in the world, but also the knowledge that where there are humans, there is capacity for human compassion and kindness. In the following  year Nourish hopes to be able to assist Estrelo Do Mar in looking after their precious children — through sponsoring base needs such as meals, infrastructure, clothing, medicines and education!

Aside

Wow- what an amazing weekend! To combine camaraderie and travelling, palm trees and little children, hugs at an orphanage, paint splattered faces, tired but satisfied hearts, with success, change, and the knowledge of a deed well done; these must surely be one of the most amazing combinations. And this was the recipe for our ACOSIDA Mozambique weekend trip.  In the weeks preceding the trip, over 200 litres of paint had been collected through different sponsors and donors, all of it  was piled into our personal taxi on Friday the 11th of November. We had an international group in the car, Robbyn from SA, to Lisa from Norway, Jenny from France, Lars from Germany, finally Shilo from the USA.  On the Nourish team  there was myself ( of course – as if I would miss out on this trip after all the nights wearing my fingers to the bone trying to get sponsorship! Lol) and Paul Mathonsi, who often acts as my community liaison when I meet with local chiefs in the village, etc.  Mike was our driver, music controller, aircon regulator and all round awesome guy… he navigated the border with ease, we had a great time with him… anyway, I’m jumping ahead of myself.

Friday we spent the day travelling, getting costly visas in Nelspruit for all the foreigners, and picking up last minute bits and bobs such as paint brushes, some more paint, and a giant watermelon ( to celebrate on the beach!) Of course. But with night falling, we hit the border, surprisingly managed to pass through rather quickly and easily considering the time spent trying to get the visas, and then Ta-Da… We were in Mozambique. You could instantly feel the balmy air, even just on the Maputo side of the border… or perhaps that was our imaginations 😉 but the mood lifted considerably just being in the country! Bem Vindo Mozambique.

To briefly recap, our mission on this trip was to paint ACOSIDA— an AIDS orphanage based in the Matola province just

outside Maputo in Mozambique. Over 80 children living in a grey brick orphanage, it was our dream to bring colour, and hope to the walls of the orphanage, giving light and cheeriness in a small way. So back to the story… We arrived at ACOSIDA, and decided that the best thing to do would be to roll up our sleeves and get straight in and get the first layer of paint on, so that it could dry overnight… so we angled the taxi’s headlights, cranked the music and bust out the white paint and rollers… painting till the wee hour of the morning getting the base coat of white on all the outside walls. In the light of the beautiful moon, we finished, and collapsed into the beds that had kindly been provided for us, paint still splattered in our hair and faces.

 

Morning dawned nice and early,as I put on my “Bossy Boots” cap -and had the team up and moving- having a quick coffee and surveying the work to be done by 5h30AM.. Yup… not much of a holiday, Minutes turned into hours and time turned liquid as we covered wall after wall in white paint, then started dreaming up colours for the kid’s rooms. Jennifer (who we appointed “drawer”) started outlining the wildlife scene on the outside wall with elephants, giant sunsets and giraffe kissing. Red walls, blue walls, painting ladybugs, drawing seaweed, whiter, clean brushes, lay tape, slowly
one by one the rooms started taking shape and forming.

 

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Lunch was a quick but necessary break late in the afternoon where we feasted on local bread (pao),I think the day was wearing on us all, but we were determined to make the most of it and finish what we could, so back to work we went… Lars climbing on a step ladder, up and down – up and down to finish the skirting of the outside wall, Robbyn painting a beautiful tree inside, Lisa dedicating herself to the task of an underwater themed room, while Shilo , Jenny and I flitted between animals, and alphabets, elephants and tulips… Paul, Mike and Dumsane (who runs the orphanage) also got involved, as well as some of the older boys, using the long rollers to cover the higher sections. With the kids lying along the pavement at my feet watching the brush strokes, afternoon turned into early evening, and we all started to feel the rush to finish…   As darkness fell yet again, after almost 24 hours of painting, we were just finishing up, cleaning the last brushes, adding finishing touches to warthogs and filling in words of love and hope on the walls…
dusted in flour, and grilled veggies covered in butter and garlic.

 

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In a thank you ceremony that afternoon Dumsane and ACOSIDA presented Nourish with an “honourable certificate”, showing us that our good work managed to change the whole look and feel! It was really exhilarating driving out and leaving a bright cheery ACOSIDA behind us (albeit in the moonlight)!deed had struck them right in the heart. We felt their appreciation in the hugs we received from the little kids as we left, in the firm handshake as Dumsane looked us in the eye to see us off. It had been an exhausting 2 days, but what an accomplishment…

Getting to Fatima’s Backpackers that night dirty and paint-streaked, happy and exhausted we simply ordered in pizza, and took our time taking advantage of the wonderful showers. Then we had celebratory drinks together as a team before hitting bed… spending the next day in Bilene, a little town balanced along a beautiful bright blue lagoon.The weather was lovely, and lazing in the sun, swimming and eating prawns was the perfect way to recover and relax after our strenuous painting.

Thank you to all my wonderful volunteers for your time, for giving whole heartedly all of your passion and energy to the project at hand, for never snapping as little kids covered you in paint and not complaining at the lack of water at the orphanage… you all made the trip what it was. To Mike, thanks for your driving skills. Paul, my partner in crime…glad you could join. To the kind sponsors and donors of the paint, including kind hearted strangers and friends, as well as local organisations such as Ecosteps, Josmacs Bushpub and La Pazzo Pizzaria—without you this would not have been possible. To Fatima’s for putting us up with a special offer for accommodation, and for allowing us inside all painty, we enjoyed our time with you!   Work is love made visible.

~ Kalil Gibran

Mozam Adventure

Thuthuzela vegging planting

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To give a gift that keeps on giving – that must be the greatest reward. It’s a gift of life and of love – one that will keep making someone smile long after you have left. That’s what we received after we left Thuthuzela Aid Centre on Saturday morning, after a few hours getting muddy knees, sowing seeds, and of course having a bit of fun with the water sprayer. Thuthuzela Aid centre is based in a very impoverished area inJohannesburg, calledAlexandraTownship. Despite the poverty, Thuthuzela does amazing work as they house and care for 19, adorable little children that are either orphaned or vulnerable. It was with a pleasure to have been involved in creating their first and much-needed vegetable garden.

 

 

Our first visit to Thuthuzela was in June this year got us involved and ever since we had our hearts and minds on trying to assist in whatever way we could. This is what saw us hopping in the car this weekend on a 6 hour journey from the bush to the bright city lights of Johannesburg and then on to Alexandra Township… !!

 

We filled the car with old tyres, fresh vegetable seedlings and some very smelly chicken manure. Later that sunny Saturday we began digging fingers deep into the dirt and transplanting green peppers, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, then filled some of the left over spaces by planting seeds for beans and mielies. With the kids looking on wide eyed and full of energy, occasionally stealing the tyres away whenever we weren’t looking –the time quickly passed. With the help of Joseph, the local handy-man, 2 hours later, the beautiful new veggie garden was in and looking spunky.

 

 

Let’s hope the new vegetables flourish and provide fresh treats for the little kids for years to come!!

 

A big thank you to Inge Olivier whose donation assisted this dream of a vegetable garden for Thuthuzela in becoming a reality!

 

 

Arbour Month Tree Planting

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Hoedspruit Christain School Volunteers

First of all I would like to thank all who were involved in Nourish’s Tree Planting for Arbour Month, where we planted 9 beautiful trees in the local rural village of Acornhoek.  Acornhoek is located less than an hour away from the world-renowned and lovely Kruger National Park, where biodiversity, flora and fauna are conserved and cherished. However, in areas where there is a scarcity of water, and where trees are more often used for firewood to feed families or create warmth, tree are more scarce, and few know of reasons to love or protect trees.

 
 
 
 
As the famous quote goes:
There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet.
~Brooke Medicine Eagle~
 
So our goal for Arbour Month was the Love a Tree concept. On 28 September 2011 we headed off bright and early into the community for what we anticipated to be a long sun drenched day of laughter, education and some muddy tree planting and it was!
 

We chose 2 schools to plant at, one was Sihlekisi Primary school – a lovely school of around 800 children.

Moses Ntlemo

Moses Ntlemo giving a talk on the importance of tree's to our Planet

The more senior kids joined us for a talk on trees, where Moses  Ntlemo explained concepts such as sustainability in using trees, the circle of life, how trees benefit people and how we can respect them in return. The children knew of reasons such as shade, oxygen and food – and this knowledge is a step in the right direction when it comes to “greening” the mindsets of the new generation. We were welcomed with such warm embraces as the children flocked to get a piggy-back ride, or just hold hand laughing as they posed for photos and trying to get us to play soccer with them.

 
We were joined on the day by students from Hoedspruit Christian School, who had raised funds to plant a few trees. Save the Elephants – South Africa also donated a tree, and made the trip out to join us in planting it, bringing with 2 international volunteers, for whom this was an eye-opening but special experience. Josh Hibbett and Prince Nakuna also jumped in and got involved in making the day run smoothly.To top it all off, we had a local home-grown SA celebrity join us, as Miss Humanity International SA-2011 not only decided to support Nourish by donating trees, but also to get her hands in the sand and plant them herself. It was inspiring for the children to see that no one is above caring for the environment!
With the sun striking noon, and all us pale tree planters turning a pretty shade of pink, we turned our attention to our second school for the day, a little crèche called Sigagule Nhluvuko Creche, where we found 82 radiantly smiling beautiful little hearts running around the yard. I truly think that if more of us had the purity and inquisitiveness of a child,the world would be a better place. We were happy to be able to plant 3 fruit trees at the crèche,which will hopefully flourish in the months to come and be useful to the school in their feeding scheme,as they aim to provide the little children with at least one solid healthy meal while at school. We also planted 2 indigenous trees to provide shade for little feet.
 
So with our hands decidedly more muddy, but little minds more educated, and the world a “GREENER” place, we decided to call it a day, and headed to a local safari lodge for a cold coke to refresh us, before all heading back our separate ways with the sun still warm as it started setting over the horizon.
 
I would like to thank Robbyn and Tersia Sharpe who assisted us with the logistics of buying the trees and transport on the day. I would also like to thank Leigh Coutts who donated 2 x beautiful lichi trees on behalf of each of her children. Then of course to everyone else who donated and got involved, as mentioned above~ a big THANK you! It was a pleasure to have you share in the day… it would not have been the same without you. You all made it more special, not only for myself but for all the kids involved!
 
Nourish’s first tree planting event this year was truly a successful one!
 
 He who plants a tree- Plants hope.
 
                                                                                                                                                           -Lucy larcam

I’d like some consciousness – and a cup of tea with that!

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Well I wish I could have a cup of tea actually— or a cup of anything other than water. But this is for a good cause, an inner cause really. I’m re-setting my moral compass and learning mental compassion, consciousness and gratefulness. How to look at those around me and feel true empathy for their needs, and their lack…

 Ever since I looked at the situation inSomalia, into the eyes of the children staring back listlessly on the news, at the updated articles in magazines giving horror story after horror story, I had to sit back. Take stock… How often do we hear about death, mayhem, famine—about people losing homes and family members, about starvations, wars, and terror…? Too often; that’s the answer…

 So much so that I for one, frequently take a stand not to watch the news, as the realities of the world that we live in are often so negative that I find myself crying the entire 30 minute segment… crying for the broken world that we live in. Broken not by its own creation, but by mankind’s involvement and mistakes…

 But then again, I’m soft hearted and the death of a bunny can effect me, so that’s just how I am… Having said that though – seeing the new level of need inSomaliamade me realise how luke-warm we have gotten with our empathy. When we see those pictures, they no longer reach their fingers around our hearts and rattle us awake; they no longer shake us to our core… And this I find sad, as a holistic humanity, it means that we have something missing… That link, fragile and beautiful between all of mankind has lost its ability to bind us together.

 Now while I can’t don a pair of pink combat books and be on the ground handing out food parcels in Somalia- while I can’t wheedle hundreds of rands out of corporate’s, or my own bank account to donate… that doesn’t mean there is nothing I can do… I can realise that I am d*mn lucky…blessed…fortunate (call it what you will!) I have food, I have access to food, my entire family is happy and well-fed…and this is something that my fellow humans cannot take for granted… Somewhere miles away from my life is someone who doesn’t have food in their belly, their children cry, their bellies rumble, and they realise with sadness that there is nothing they can do to change their situation. Knowing that my biggest offer to humanity and to those people inSomaliais to reach out – I have; with my heart and mind.

 

I have decided to fast for 3 weeks, to give up on any food and drinks during the day

( except for water—! Need to stay hydrated at work!) While I took on this challenge not quite knowing how or what to expect, I have been surprised… There are times in the day when all you can think about is food— times when you go weak or light-headed, when all you hear is the rumble of your tummy, and all you want to do is eat something. And this is just MY experience, and I get to eat every evening. I must say… its been eye-opening… come the end of the day I dream about that first cup of tea, and I eat each meal at night with a new reverence, knowing that its something iv wanted all day… knowing that my brothers and sisters out there in the world haven’t ended their hunger yet… the day has come to a close and they still fight their food demons, their children’s cries, and their aching bellies… they fight as the day comes to a close; with the hope that tomorrow will bring something better! Everytime I get to eat now I send a thought of true empathy, of mental compassion, and of love… wishing I could split whatever it is I have—

I’ve been accompanied in my fast this last week by a close friend of mine, Ryan, who wanted to know the pain and hunger that I was going through – and understand what drove me to fast… And what hundreds of people around the world experience, through no choice of their own, on a daily basis. Choosing hunger is a luxury for people like Ryan and I, who can give up what we have. But we must remember that others aren’t giving something up—they have nothing, their situation is very real!

 

So I guess in summary I want to just look at two quotes. The first essentially an answer as to why I chose to fast. The author is Stephen Batchelor (Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist), who says:

 “To embrace suffering culminates in greater empathy, the capacity to feel what it is like for the other to suffer, which is the ground for unsentimental compassion and love.” 

“And then I want you to expand with me, to grow, to stretch your heart mind and imagination, not necessarily through fasting, but however you see fit. As Gloria Steinhem says in Revolution from within. “

 

“Empathy is the most revolutionary emotion”

 

Let’s start a worldwide mental-consciousness revolution!

 

Beyond Beauty

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Exciting news for Nourish, as we partner with Natasha Claire Pretorius, the South African Representative for Miss Humanity International 2011.

Miss Humanity International is an innovative beauty pageant based inBarbadoseach year. Its sole objective is to promote and raise awareness about humanitarian causes worldwide. This pageant is about more than beauty – and these representatives all give forth strong passion for community & humanitarian service. All national representatives are expected to engage in social activities with businesses and governments to benefit all of humankind through charitable causes. As George Moore said: “After all, there is but one race: humanity.”

And this is where Natasha has chosen to work with, and represent Nourish not only in the coming weeks and months, but also in the foreseeable future; which is exciting news for us both. As you all know, Nourish is about being hands-on, and being a uplifting grassroots initiative, giving care love, and base needs the attention that they deserve.

We look forward to – through the platform of Miss Humanity International, gain much public awareness for Nourish, and for the rural communities inSouth Africa. In these communities lie radiantly beautiful hearts that could soar with their dreams, if they have the right support, can be assisted to stay in school, and can be nourished to “flourish” whether through core needs such as food or clothing, education, or simply having someone believe in them.

For more information on Miss Humanity International check out:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Miss-Humanity-International/129920677048661

You go Natasha – make Nourish and SA proud! xx

Growing Roots

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Nourish blog

Well here we are- the first official Nourish Blog entry on our snazzy new blog. (thanks to Ryan Stevens.)

We hope to have lots of exciting project news to keep you updated with in future. Nourish is at a very exciting phase in its development, with dreams and projects growing from strength to strength. We have done some amazing things already, such as getting registered (finally!) and getting a bank account (you know what that means…. Time for FUNDRAISING!) We have also had some fun-working with existing operations on some fledgling projects. It’s always an amazing feeling to start walking the pathways of your dreams.

In June 2011, Michelle, Colin and myself (Sarah) paid a visit to AACOSIDA, which is an HIV/AIDS orphanage in the Matolo province, just outsideMaputoinMozambique. We spent some time there talking to an inspiring man, Dumsane, who started this vision of fostering children. Thanks to Sole Mates for Peace, we were able to distribute 36 pairs of colourful flip-flops to the children there. The kids loved these bright gifts, with messages of love, peace and hope drawn on them by children in theUSA. Great to be a link between two such beautiful concepts. We hope to be able to assist AACOSIDA in future with more funding to complete a resource centre for the children.

Early July saw Jess, Colin and myself meeting with one of the local chiefs in Akornhoek, the rural community bordering the KrugerNational Park. We also were introduced to 35 orphaned children, who were living with relatives, or in child-headed families throughout the area. Sharing bread and juice with these kids- we chatted about their needs, and one rung out more loudly and clearly than any other: the need for school uniforms. We find this an encouraging stand for children to be taking responsibility for their own futures, and seeking education above all. We hope to partner with Kit-a-Kid in the next couple months to be able to assist these children with their dreams.

A visit to Alexandra Township in Johannesburg was another land-mark for the Nourish team, as we, along with JHB city parks, met and discussed areas throughout Alexandra where trees needed to be planted. We hope to be able to run out a “greening initiative” there, with funding raised by our Parties 4 the Planet projects. So hey guys- if you hear of an event near you, dig out those wallets and come support out, knowing that your “entrance fee” will be going to buying a indigenous tree ( food, or clothing ) for the local community. It is not often in life that one comes across a person so amazing, so passionate and so inspiring that one is left floored. But we were privileged enough to meet just such a person in “Lizzy” who founded and is running Thuthuzela Aid Community. Thuthuzela is a small orphanage in Alexandra township in Johannesburg. Lizzy looks after 19 small children- all victims of abuse or neglect. Sleeping in 1 small room in a warehouse, Lizzy’s courage and determination shine through. The love and care she nourishes these children with is truly inspiring, and we look forward to being able to assist her with housing, transport and other needs in the future.

All-in-all a busy 2 months for Nourish, but a great start off. There is so much work to be done, so many battles to fight- battles to open peoples eyes to the world around them. These battles are worth them though; in the smile of thanks of just one child, ones world can explode into millions of pieces. Pieces that make life and reality all fall into place, and make life so much more meaningful… We will try to keep the blog updated with our latest projects, and events as well as any fundraising projects that we are trying to do.

Also follow us on facebook, or twitter to keep abroad with the latest and greatest… and most of all ; spread the word… tell your friends, tell them to tell their family. The more awareness and love we can spread, the bigger our fingerprint on the world! 

We can do no great things; only small things with great love~