After three fantastic and eye-opening days, we went to the Township of Delft. It was a more rural area and the staff at MaAfrika Tikkun welcomed us with huge smiles. We took a quick tour of the facility which consisted of several trailer-type structures, some connected to others which can get VERY hot, even on seemingly mild day. It was a very hot day, at least by our standards.
We then toured a medical clinic in Delft South which is run by the government. They partner with organizations like MaAfrika Tikkun who will work at the clinics as their "foot soldiers". All of us though the clinic was packed, but Friday's are typically a slow day. They treated everything from child immunizations to TB, HIV/Aids, drug addiction ("Tik" is the term for methamphetamine or "meth" which is the most popular drug being abused), and other medical ailments.
We went back to the centre for some lunch--rice, vegtables and fish. Betsy and Mike went to peeling station. Matt and I went into a very hot kitchen, dawned our hair nets and started serving food to the clients.
All of the clients were very grateful. For most, they only get fed here. Some may say that this creates a dependancy. But, the MaAfrika Tikkun program does so much to foster independence. Each person or family that comes to the centre has a file, with an assessment and a plan. It's a wholistic approach which looks at a child's life on a continuim--not just in the moment.
After lunch, we split off and worked with the kids in various settings. Betsy and I went to a program called Hero Book in a VERY HOT metal trailer/container. We asked the staff how much a fan costs, we pulled out cash and said, "we'd like to buy the fan for the room." The kids were a bit shy b/c of us in the room, so we asked the staff to tell them that we bought a fan. They smiled, clapped and cheered. An inexpensive box fan that most of us never use b/c of air conditioning meant the world to these children.
The children sat in a circle with a facilitator and talked through things that make them happy. Several of them were happy to have vistitors from the US. One little girl caught my eye. When I waived, and smiled--nothing. I made the smile motion-nothing. Then I tried the trusty "remove my finger trick.
Her eyes opened a mile wide. She motioned for me to do it again. I made the smile motion, asking her to smile. She cracked a very cute smile. I kept up my end of the bargain and did the trick again. They then paired up and went on a "trust" walk--one was blind-folder, the other leading him/her around the centre. They then talked through each of their roles, how they felt, etc.
We went into the parking lot area for some group exercise and singing, etc. Occasionally, particular children will catch your attention for one reason or another. One girl was strikingly beautiful. Having just left the building dedication in Alex township where Miss South Africa spoke, I thought, wow--this little girl, given the chance, could be Miss South Africa. She has greeen eyes and a smile that would melt your heart. She, by the way, also led some of us in a dance routine that she herself choreographed. The look on her face, watching ME dance, was priceless.
|Here she is....|
That evening we went to dinner in downtown Cape Town as an authentic African restaurant, the African Cafe. We were fortunate that Catherine and Geila from MaAfrika Tikkun could join us. We shared with them our experiences. They were most thankful to us for not just "visiting", but rolling up our sleeves, working hard and immersing ourselves into the centres, the cause, the children and the families. During our dinner, it was emotional at times, as we reflected on so many things. I asked Geila how much cataract surgery is under the public system. Geila is involved in a Lions Club that assisted with glasses, eyecare, etc. It was $80 US dollars under the public system. I told her I wanted to pay for Elizabeth's cataract surgery. Mike wanted to chip in, so Geila promised to try to make that work. If not, we told her to make it happen for some other elderly client. For Mike and I, it didn't matter if Elizabeth left this earth the day after the surgery--if it meant she could see the smiles on the faces of her children and grandchildren one more time.
It was the perfect ending to another extraordinary day.