Well we are finally online and able to edit the blog! We were hoping to use the internet at our guest house but unfortunately it is not working so instead we bought a sim card which can be inserted into my phone or laptop and used for internet access. This does mean that the connection is quite slow so we may have to limit the number of photos we put online. This is Africa!
So to recap the last week…
We arrived safely in Johannesburg this time last week (Saturday morning). Waiting for us was Isabel who helps run Misty River, the guest house where we are staying. We remembered her from the last time we stayed here over a year and a half ago. She is super helpful and makes us very welcome.
Our first day involved us catching up on some sleep and doing not very much. We stayed at Misty River the whole day and didn’t plan on going to the orphanage until the next day.
At the guest house we met a few of the other guests and some of the other residents.
First off were the two young dogs, Monty and Yorsi, who guard the property and were very excited to have some new play mates.
We then met Jet (pronounced Yet), who is also working at the orphanage and who was having her day off. From Holland, she has come on her own to volunteer for 2 months.
In the evening we also met Rosita, a lady from Austria, who again is volunteering but for even longer, 3 or 4 months we think.
Rosita was staying in the room that was joined to us. It was a bit strange since it was only a door separating our rooms and we could hear each other quite easily. Even though our room was very nice and had everything we needed, it also had another problem in that one of the windows didn’t have curtains and so the light would stream in each morning.
A couple of days later Isabel told us that we were actually meant to be staying in a different room and so we ended up moving.
Our new room is next to the one we stayed in last time we were here. It’s actually meant to be for four people so we have lots of room! All the rooms here are self catering style so they have fridge, microwave, cooker, toaster, kettle and plates and cutlery which is perfect for our needs.
On our second day, we went to TLC (the orphanage) for the first time. We were wondering how we would travel to and from TLC from Misty River. Even though it’s only a couple of kilometeres away, it’s not very safe to walk. Luckily, Rosita was being taken every morning by Isabel and then someone from TLC would bring her back in the evening so we just went with her.
When we first arrived at TLC lots of the children we met last time remembered who we were. We can understand with some of the older ones, but even some of the very young children who were only a couple of years old remembered us and all the things we did together!
We also met some of the other volunteers; Mary, a student from Plymouth and Becky, a student from Portsmouth. Both have previously been to TLC and returned on several occassions.
Later in the day we also caught up with Sue, a lady also from Porsmouth, who has worked at TLC for several years and who we met and worked with last time we were here.
Sue or Teacher Sue as the children call her is an amazing energetic woman who is nanny to the group of children called the Tigers. Each age group at the orphange has a different name. From youngest to oldest they are Nest (0-6 months), Grubs (6-18 months), Creepies (18 months to 3 years), Lions (3-5), Tigers (5+) and then the older children. Most of the Tigers and older children have been adopted into the Jarvis family who run TLC. This means they now live in the main house and that is there main home for life. The other babies are adopted into South African or foreign families where they begin their new life.
This is a small video we made last time we were here so some of the children here have grown up a lot and some like Stuart have been fostered by other families. Still it gives you an idea of what the orphanage is like…
Many of the little babies that arrive at TLC have very sad stories. Many babies have been abandoned in the worse circumstances imaginable and others are here because their parents are too sick or have died. TLC does an incredible job of taking in these little bundles of life and giving them a life and hope where none previously existed.
All this work requires an incredible amount of resources both in terms of human resource and money. Volunteers arrive here all the time from all over the globe to help in all the daily tasks that need doing from feeding and changing the babies to the laundry and washing etc etc.
The fundraising for the orphanage is mainly done by the Jarvis family who run the orphanage. Thea Jarvis and her daughters Pippa, Joanna, Zoe and Faith do an incredible amount of work both in South Africa and overseas to raise the necessary funds to cover the huge running costs. Thea’s son Reece also lives at TLC and is currently researching and implenting farming techniques to enable TLC to become more self sustained.
Today is Saturday and after being here a week we’ve already done loads! We seem to be working mostly with Teacher Sue and the Tigers in the main house as well as doing lots of odd jobs here and there. The children are currently on school holidays but from Wednesday they will be going to school at which point our routine will change again.
At the moment, our day begins at 7:30 when we have breakfast at Misty River and then get driven to TLC at 8. When we arrive, the Tigers have just woken up so we help them eat breakfast, get dressed and wash their teeth. They then go out to play giving us time to do various jobs. So far we have sorted out all the messy and disorganised cupboards that store the many blankets, towels, bedding, satchels, clothes and other bits and pieces that need storing.
For some reason I have given the impression that I’m good at DIY and a few jobs have been thrown my way. So far we’ve put up four mosquito nets for the Tiger’s beds, fixed some drawers, attached a towel rack to the wall and made safe a shattered window. Not bad a?!
At 1pm it’s lunch time so we gather up all the children, get their hands washed and sit them all down at the table where we serve them their food. Food times are always a bit of an ordeal. Some of them are very good at eating but others for various reasons don’t like to eat much food at all and it always requires a real effort to finish their plates. For a couple of Tigers food is hard to eat due to previous abuse they have experienced before coming to TLC i.e being made to eat things that are not food.
After lunch it’s playtime again. During this time we either finish off some of our jobs or play with the children right up until 5pm when it’s supper time!
Soon after dinner we prepare for the conveyor belt that is bath time. 7 of the children need undressing, bathing, drying, applying their skin cream, changing nappies for two of them and getting their pyjamas on ready for bed.
The children then go back downstairs where they all take their various medications and we put on insect repellent to protect them in their beds. Once that’s finished they brush their teeth and we take the young ones up to bed where sometimes they quickly fall asleep.
By now it’s after 7pm and Rosita finishes in the nursery and together we take a lift back to Misty River. When we get back we take a relaxing bath, watch a DVD, pig out on snacks and fall asleep ready for another day.
Even though it’s hard work, it is very rewarding work and every day is different and brings a new exciting challenge. Today is our day off so we are relaxing and taking it easy. Sue was very nice and took us to a shopping mall midweek so were able to stock up on supplies and sort out the internet etc. Maybe on our next day off we’ll go the mall and treat ourselves to a meal out or even catch a film at the cinema.
Overall its been a very enjoyable week and the other volunteers we’ve met have all been very nice. We look forward to updating you again next week. Every week we’ll try and give more information about the place and the children. Byeeeee!
P.S – Happy Birthday to my Mum!! Happy Birthday!! x x x