It’s an absolutely jam packed blog post this week. It was our last week at TLC and we managed to really make the most of it. Also, just in case you haven’t seen it, the blog post before this contains some great photos of all the children at TLC.
Our Typical Day
This is a video of a typical day being main house volunteers squished into a short video:
We had our last day off this week, as we leave next Monday so want to make the most of our time left. We spent most of the morning making sure we had everything ready for the next leg and booking places to stay at later parts of our travels. We then headed off to the Glen to buy some presents for people and pick up the last minute bits we needed. We had a lovely meal in Ribs n Rumps – a really nice steak, rib, burger restaurant and then watched Morning Glory at the cinema.
It was also Murphy’s Birthday today and she asked for some shoes similar to Heidis and guess what…she got them! She was very pleased:
On Sunday we spent the day playing with the children and doing some driving here and there. We made chocolate chip cookies with 9 of the children (yep the kitchen was very messy especially when we got the electric blender out!) The eggs were gathered from the TLC Chickens and so were nice and fresh! Even though they looked a bit dodgy they tasted really nice and the kids realy enjoyed it.
Some of the Tigers also had their haircut by George who decided to give them all some stylish mohican hair dos which they all really loved.
In the evening George and Reuel (One of the oldest kids) came to the cinema to watch The Fighter. This means we have successfully taken all of the children bar two to the cinema! This was something we had aimed to do at the start.
For most of the day it followed the normal pattern; school run, homeschool, homework. However in the afternoon I (Heidi) went and spent some time with Zoe (Theas 3rd biological daughter) at the Jackson Squatter Camp (I don’t know why it is called this). Zoe has a big heart for the community and a system has been set up whereby any donations that are not used by TLC get passed on to Zoe who then takes them to the Squatter Camp. This means that whatever anyone donates to TLC it will be used somehow.
In this camp there are over 12,500 people living there with no electricty and no running water. They get water though tanks that are filled up by the Government but these often run out. In this area a Priest has set up a school which continues to grow and shortly there will be a big community shack built for the use of the people. school is a series of tin shacks that contain 30-35 children inside. The toilets for children have just been condemend and they are in the process of raising money to buid new safer ones.
In the middle of the Squatter Camp is a creche run by a lady called Tracy. This was set up to provide child care for those parents who go out to work. When I visited there were about 30 children there. This creche consists of two shacks and a place in the middle where the children play. This creche has really helped a lot of people and Zoe is trying to help support this vital service. The shocking thing for me was that the children do not wear nappies and they mostly just pee on the ground or go around in wet pants. Nappies are 2 rand each (20p) and are just too expensive for most people. Again Zoe is trying to get on the case and find ways to support this.
The squatter camp is filled with row upon row of tin shacks. Each shack costs £500 to build. Zoe has a waiting list for people who need a shack. If any of you feel that this is something you would like to contribute to please let us know and we can collect any money and pass it on to her. These shack are so easy to build they only take a day and they provide shelter and safety for on average 6 people.
Two minor things happened today. George and I fixed a shower curtain and shower head holder to a bathroom in one of the volunteers cottages (it was so professional we may end up going into business together as handymen).
The other event was a couple of American students who had flown over to Johannesburg to make a documentary on HIV. They visited TLC and interviewed Pippa as part of their film. They had some really nice film equipment with them and the children were very intrigued.
On Wednesday we took Kieran and Benji out to mark the end of us doing home school with them. After this day, Nick and George would fully take over teaching them.
We had asked the boys where they wanted us to take them and there was one unanimous answer: Gold Reef City!
So off we went 10 minutes down the road to Jo’burg’s theme park, Gold Reef City. It’s a very nice park with some surprisingy good rides. We first went on the Golden Loop. Kieran was a bit scared but Benji was loving it and it became his and Heidi’s favourite ride. It basically accelerates you really fast into a loop the loop and as you come out of it you rise vertically up until gravity pulls you back down backwards back into the loop and out the other side still travelling backwards.
We got soaked on the rapids (Kieran was very angry at getting his favourite purple trousers wet) but then we dried off on the very fast Anaconda (like Nemesis) and the Jozi Express (big runaway train ride).
Another great attraction was the 4D cinemea where we watched a two movies in 3D at the same time that the chairs moved, air was blowing in your face and water sprayed at you.
It was a great day out and we all really enjoyed it. We’ll miss teaching and hanging out with both of them!
We awoke to some bad news today. Benedict, the newest of the babies to arrive at TLC (see earlier post) had died during the night. He had been taken into hospital on Monday with suspected meningitus and never recovered.
It has been a very difficult time for lots of the volunteers, particularly those that worked in the nest becoming one of his care givers. Once the babies go into hospital it can be challenging for anyone to go and visit them. This meant some of the volunteers weren’t able to see him once he had been admitted to hospital.
The mood was lifted later in the day when two of the babies new families came to TLC to collect them. Two more little lives will now have loving families to look after them.
In the evening we went with George and Kayla to listen to Tommy’s testimony about his life and how he came to TLC as well as his struggles with HIV. He often visits many different schools and churches talking and inspiring young children.
It’s a very sad but inspirational story from an amazing person. He has been through so much in his life but he says that through his faith and reliance on God he can still see and focus on all the positive things in life.
He was born an albino, discovered he had HIV and was given three weeks to live by doctors. Thanks to the daily use of ARVs (medicine) that he was able to receive, he made a dramatic recovery and now lives a relatively normal life. He is very thankful that he can be on them as there are many people who aren’t given that opportunity.
Those children at TLC who are HIV positive take ARVs on a daily basis, it is amazing how much they have to take and how horrible they taste (Heidi tried all of them). Specific people and volunteers are trained to give these vital meds. This means that their illness is well managed and is not progressing further.
This morning was the final school run. It has been so much fun taking the kids to school even if we did have to wake up early every day.
Today I also drove the buckie (the van thing) to Midrand, about half an hour North of Jo’burg, to help Uncle Les pick up some donations. A furniture making company had donated a load of bunk beds and a butchers a load of meat. It was my first time driving a big truck with a trailer attached to the back and apart from reversing I thought I did quite well, particularly on Jo’burgs roads!
We managed to load everything successfully and the race was on to get all the frozen meat back to TLC to stop it from defrosting!
Friday evening was great fun (unless you’re a vegetarian)! We went out to a restaurant called Rib and Rump for Heidi and I’s leaving do. The volunteers that came with us were George, Adam, Tom and Mike and Maria, Tamara and Lizzy.
What made the night really good fun was that George, Adam and I undertook the Rib and Rump challenge. Those that complete it successfully receive a souvenir steak knife and have their photos posted on their website.
The challenge involves eating two of the restaurants biggest meals on one plate. They are none other than the Man-O-War 1KG Steak with chips and the Full Rack of Ribs with chips.
Us 3 challengers were acting very confident and manly before the dishes were brought out at which point our jaws dropped. This thing was Huuuuge!! It’s like they had just killed a cow and literally cooked it and put it on a plate, whole!
After the shock of realising what we were about to do, we got stuck in much to the amusement of the others on our table who spent the whole evening laughing at us!
George is a big rugby player so I expected him to do well, however it was young slim Northerner Adam that was the dark horse. He tucked right in to his 1KG (35 ounce) steak and polished it off in about 15 minutes before moving on to his ribs, chips and salad garnish!! He didn’t speak or say a word once, he was completely focused on finishing this thing off, which he did very quickly. An astonishing effort! He didn’t seem phased at all.
George and I struggled a bit more but George finished soon after Adam with me coming in last. It wasn’t how fast you did it though it was IF you did it which we all did.
I’ll be honest, I struggled towards the end…actually I struggled from the beginning. By the end I was feeling very ill with a very sore stomach which felt like it was going to explode. I had to drink many pints of water, wipe my face with refresher towels and towards the end have a little lie down where possible.
When we arrived back at Misty River I went to sleep immediately and now I have woken up, I feel absolutely normal and fine. Thank you stomach for digesting so much meat so quickly.
Fortunately I was feeling fine this morning because today we were going to the Orlando Towers in Soweto to do some extreme sports! The other morning I woke up and remembered a dream I had about doing the swing inside the chimney tower. I was really intrigued by being inside a massive cooling tower so I decided, yep, I want to do this.
So as Heidi doesn’t like heights, I recruited George to come along with us so I had someone to be scared with. We drove to Soweto and parked under the twin cooling towers in the power plant which once provided electricity to Soweto. They are monsters!
We could either do the internal swing which allows you to swing inside the tower, or a bungee jump between the two. We chose the swing and soon after had our harnesses fitted. The open air lift on the outside of the tower was scary itself and when we reached the viewing platform at the top we were very scared but very excited too.
I decided to go first since I didn’t want to wait around and pronlong the pain. I was attached to the rope swing and slowly edged out to the jumping platform. Everyone began counting down and after 3 I jumped into the centre of this colossal tower. I freefell for a second or so screaming and shouting before swinging and nearly hitting the other side of the chimney wall. After swiwinging to and fro for a bit, I dangled and was lowered down. What an adrenaline rush! It was an incredible feeling!
This video was taken by Heidi at the bottom who managed to get me once I had jumped and was swinging inside the tower:
From the bottom of the tower I stayed to watch George do his jump who loved it just as much. It was amazing seeing his sillouhete falling at the top of this mammoth chimney tower. It was an incredible experience and George is going to go back soon to do the bungee jump too!
After that we headed to an amazing mall in Soweto to buy some bits for a final games party we are having on Sunday.
Our final day at TLC!
We had planned lots of party games and they all went really well, we had a great day!! About 18 of the children played games with us throughout the day including Pass the Parcel, Musical Chairs and Musical Statues, Sardines, the Chocolate Game (where you had to dress up in karate gear and a fleece and then cut and eat some chocolate whenever you threw a 6 on the dice) and Pin the Tale on the Donkey which ended up being Pin The Tale on the Rhino!
There were prizes throughout the day and the kids had a brilliant time. We ended up watching a movie on the big projector screen before saying our goodbyes. It was very sad leaving these children who we have done so much with. We will miss them a lot. We have left them in the good hands of our successor volunteer George who we’re sure will do a great job!
If the children or anyone else at TLC are reading this, we love you and miss you all!
Tomorrow we leave for Livingstone, Zambia and the mighty Victoria Falls! Let the rest of our adventure continue.