Verbal Description Diary

Thursday 23rd July to Friday 24th July 2015

Day one … and two…trip two…flight one… Edinburgh to Amsterdam… after a busy trip through security it was time to get on our way. Our adventure started here and so did our plans for this and our future Crossing Countries trips as we thought about the different needs each traveller will have on each trip. Going through Charles De Galle and Jo’burg we took note of ease of access, the need for different currencies and the possibility of starting our journey by train to London to meet Travellers from England thus giving us a wider choice of departure airports. It wasn’t all business… there were laughs too, Laura being excited about the movies on the long haul flight and Suzi finding a husband at passport control in Jo’burg.

Ntuthuko, with his Bambi eyes, was there at the airport to pick us up. It was raining and cold so as soon as we had dropped off our bags at the house we went to start the sim card saga. Without proof of residence and ID you can’t buy a sim card… so we failed.

Internet access would become a novel in its own right.

After picking up some essential food (like cake, bread and milk), we decided to take a drive along Durban’s beautiful sea front. Unfortunately, as we had brought Scotland’s weather with us, all preconceived ideas of sunbathing and paddling in the Indian Ocean were replaced with images of huge grey waves and rain lashing off the palm trees.

After an exhausting 48 hours, a carry out from Nando’s and a planning session for Bobbi Bear the next day, bed called.

Saturday 25th July 2015

When we woke up we realised that the weather was still very Scottish. This put a dampener on our plans for the day. We were going to go to Bobbi Bear, a wonderful project that helps young people who have been sexually abused, the only problem was that they met under the arching branches of a huge tree in a field and with weather like this the young people were unlikely to be there. So what to do with our first full day?

Sim cards and Internet… and jumpers!

The closest shopping mall to us was Musgrave. We jumped in the car with the ever wonderful Ntuthuko and headed off.

The Sim card saga continued, Ntuthuko didn’t have the correct paperwork so off he went to get that while we tackled finding warm jumpers. This wasn’t as much of a task as we thought, the first shop we went into was the only one we needed to. We all got exactly what we wanted at the crazy price of around £3 each. Now time for food.

Mugg and Bean has been a favourite place to grab a bite before so it was only right that Laura got to experience this too. In true South African style the service was slow but the food was yummy. Taking our last bite at just the right time, the lights went out… load shedding!

South Africa doesn’t have enough electricity for everyone so they practice load shedding, turning off an areas electricity for a time to provide other areas with electricity, in our area load shedding was 2pm till 4pm.

We jumped back in the car to find 3 sim cards ready to go and headed home.

Coming home to no electricity was strange. It was a wakeup call to how much we rely on it. Various attempts to continue our day as normal failed. We use electricity too much.

Using a different kind of electricity we transferred all our numbers on to our South African phones.

At 4.03pm the lights went on and it was time to get ready. The Jabulani project had invited us to a lovely restaurant for a welcome dinner.

Sunday 26th July 2015

The first of our early mornings and Laura’s first trip into Umlazi. We were off to church, which meant hats and leggings under our skirts as we knew it would be cold in the large brick building. We drove through the rain to R section to pick up Mah…the areas of townships are known by a letter… the legacy of the Apartheid years… When we arrived at church we shook hands with all the pastors at the entrance of the church before we took our seats, two rows from the front of the hall (where all the older respected women of the community sit). All the women were dressed in white, wearing hats, we would only see at weddings. Then the singing started…a solo voice directly behind Laura started the song, then the rest of the congregation joined in with the melody. Live surround sound engulfed us. An amazing experience. The visiting pastor, from a rural area, translated the sermon for us while we sat with rugs round our knees to keep warm. We left before the afternoon social, during which all the various church choirs, from the Sunday school group to the grannies’ (Gogos’) choir, would sing. Lunch and laughter at Mah’s house and then the ride back to Durban.

Mxolisi Sithole, the art teacher from Nombika High School in Ndwedwe, a rural area about an hour from Durban, joined us before dinner to plan all the art activities and lessons for our time at the school. We had a short break for a carry out from Cubana, then really got stuck into our plans. The school had asked us to teach other subjects as well as art so not only did we plan our art project but also some study skills and drama lessons. We felt it was important to get the learners to lead the art project. This would mean they would own it and be able to transfer the creative and team working skills they would learn to other areas of their study.

Monday 27th July 2015

5.30 am and we are up and getting ready for our first day at Nombika. It was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation we left Durban in the dark and saw the sun rise over the sugar cane fields. As we travelled north the country changed… fewer houses and more cows (much to Suzi and Laura’s delight). An hour later, curious learners looked and waved at the ‘umlungo’s’ (white people) driving into their school, a random assortment of single storey, brick buildings arranged around a quad. We had just missed assembly and classes started in 5 minutes at 7.45 am. A quick greeting from the principal Mrs T K Mdlolo (Kim) and Mr Phakathi (Mr P) the deputy and we were thrown in at the deep end. The learners had already collected materials such as plastic bottles, cans and CDs, which they added to throughout the week. Apart from art and drama the learners don’t move classes when they change subject so the classrooms are bare. The walls are painted cream, the floors are concrete, there are bars at the windows and the 1940s wooden and metal desks are usually shared by three learners.

The first lesson was with Grade 11, we introduced them to a “starter”, a way of focussing young people at the start of each lesson, where we asked them to make letters in groups using their bodies. Then we began to talk about our theme, identity. The learners brain-stormed all the words associated with it and we began to make plans as to how this would translate into an outdoor learning space/art installation.

The second lesson was the same but with a grade 10 class. It was so interesting to see how the young people responded to a new method of learning… letting them make choices and decisions. We found them to be quiet and very polite always saying ‘yees’ even when they didn’t understand. This was a challenge for us as we really wanted to make sure they understood and with some learners having poor English we had to rely on other learners to translate for us. Our plans had started to come together.

One lesson later and Laura was solo taking a creative arts class like a seasoned pro.

At 10.30 the learners get a meal provided by the school. Many of them travel extensive distances by bus or on foot (some walking for an hour and a half) to get to school… this food maybe their only meal of the day.

We carried on with the planning ….

We had two learners from last year’s grade 12 class, who were now studying art at Durban University of Technology. Sanele and Zibonele were our mural gurus and helped the other learners make sketches for the walls outside. They focussed on the green rolling hills, rivers and valleys that surrounded the school as they felt this landscape was integral to their identity.

By 2 pm we were starving …it was worth the wait…the hospitality class had cooked a three course meal as part of their assessment. Small portions but very tasty. Most of these learners will never have been to a café so this class enables them to gain skills which may help them find a job in the future.

At 4pm we were back in the car… the only snippets of conversation we could manage arose if we had sudden idea for the installation or if we saw something we could recycle lying at the roadside.

Although tired we decided we needed to get on the internet so we walked to Europa Café on Florida Road. The only connection we could get was on Jean’s laptop, there was little chat as we ate and digested not only the food but the day’s experiences. Some photo editing and a movie and it was time for bed.

Tuesday 28th July 2015

No early morning but we still had plenty to do. Jean got busy on the phone, organising meetings… some for this year… and others for next year. Trying to keep up with the expenses, the blog and the photos is frustrating with no internet and Jean having lost her charger cable meant we only had one laptop to work on.

We took a walk down Florida Road in the sun to the African Art Centre to look at the traditional Zulu bead and wire work. The centre has an array of needlework, paintings, pottery, wood carvings and brightly coloured bowls woven from telephone wire.

Jean went to a meeting at the Tourist Office to discuss accessible accommodation and places of interest for next year’s trip while Suzi and Laura looked for somewhere to have lunch.

Then a further challenge for Laura as she had calamari for the first time. With Crossing Countries fortitude she met the challenge and surpassed herself. Squid of the world beware Laura is converted. The waitress thought we were a bit crazy as we kept the mussel shells…they could be recycled at Nombika!!

A browse in a second hand book shop and it was time for us to do a bit of essential food shopping and get Ntuthuko to take us to Umlazi for a little girl’s ninth birthday party. But first we needed to buy paint for the mural and gloss for the tyre seating area etc. at Nombika. Everything is complicated here…double parked, during the rush hour in the  busy, lively centre of Durban we entered a trade shop… confusion reigned…after a lot of explanation and signing we only bought the gloss… anything more was sold in tins too large and expensive…one step at a time!!

As often happens here, the family we were to visit in Umlazi were at another function and were running late. With no idea of when they would return we decided to pick up Sthembiso, who was coming with us to Nombika the next day, and head home for boerewors and maize pasta before bed.

Wednesday 29th July 2015

Our second day at Nombika, we were out on the road by 6.30am and in school an hour later.

Jean went to teach study skills for two hours with the Grade 12’s. The lesson focussed on learning styles and how you can apply them along with their imagination and creativity, to understand any subject in the curriculum. They also made little booklets from a single sheet of paper which they could use as pocket sized revision aids… with one pair of scissors and some language difficulties… this took a while. Never having had a visit from white people the learners were shy at first but after making silly pictures from their names (as an example of visual learning) they opened up and were desperate to take photos with Jean to show their Gogos (Grannies) when they went home. A large percentage of the learner were orphans, their circumstances evident by their clean  yet thread bare shirt collars, shoes held together by elastic bands and holey jumpers.

Meanwhile Laura was in the computing class explaining how important computer skills are and showing them how to lay out a letter in word.

Suzi then disappeared off to teach an English class, while back in Scotland she had prepared a few lessons on South Africa for a 2nd year modern studies class, as part of this they wrote letters to the learners in Nombika. The grade 11’s task was to write back. They did this with such excitement and were very happy to have a letter all the way from Scotland to take home with them and show others. They were even more excited when they found out where Scotland was and how far away it is. Then it was off to drama for her, her favourite place to be. Luckily, it was with a lot of the grade 11’s that she had just finished teaching so there was no need to give them time to relax into her teaching style. They performed their monologues for their exams and Suzi spend time helping them improve and change them to make them more powerful, although the quality of the acting was outstanding as we were all to find out in the coming days…

Meanwhile the installation was beginning to take shape…

The tyre seats were dug in and painted in primary colours, a CD mobile glinting in the sun, hung on string between two trees, one of which was decorated with burgundy leaf-patterned material and the other with plastic bottles attached by their caps. Decisions had been made about how planters should be made, where they should be placed and who would bring plants for them. The girls group had made a table from painted wood and tiles decorate with pine cones and another group had made flower head spikes from planks and painted tin can flowers.

On the way home we were able to find an art supplier to get the paint for the mural and to go to Musgrave shopping centre and replaced one dongle with another which had a better bundle deal and a sim card, as the awesome Sthembiso had ID and proof of residence with him. FINALLY SORTED…

Too tired to go out we ordered half a Nando’s chicken each, instead of the quarter we had previously ordered, we are definitely turning into meat loving Zulus.  Conversation centred around our reflections on the days experiences and all the lessons learnt … by the learners and us.

Thursday 30th July 2015

A lie in…well until 6.30 am. At 7.00 we travelled west to Umlazi, we were going to Dloko High School in J section and we needed to get there for their assembly at 7.30am. The learners were gathering in the quad as we arrived and yet again we were blown away by their singing. The Dloko Choir performed three songs for us, they are going to singing in the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh during this year’s festival and will leave in a few days’ time. Jean said a few words to the school before we headed off to our classes.

Jean took two grade 12 classes for study skills, this time concentrating on how to use mind maps. Challenged by maths herself, their choice to use this subject as an example of a mind mapping exercise was fun, to say the least. Spelling is not her strong point either so the learners had their hands full teaching her!!

Suzi and Laura took an art class because the children do not do art in the school. They did simple art games based around portraiture, then after a quick visit to Jean’s class, Suzi took a Life Science class about the Endocrine system.

Suzi and Laura went out with one of the teachers to buy Gwinya, a township savoury doughnut stuffed with cheese and pholoni…very tasty but not good for your heart or waistline!! We were then treated to a performance from the choir. Their powerful voices and obvious joy were infectious and inspiring… not enough to make us sing but enough to make us get up dance with them.

Our next stop was a small crèche (65 children) in R section where we had some much needed silliness and cuddling with the babies. It is run by a Gogo and some aunties in a converted double garage at the back of her house. With a few plastic chairs, a sofa, a TV playing quietly in the background and numerous posters on the walls it is a cheerful place to be.

We had organised to meet some friends at Max’s Lifestyle, a Shisa nyama (hot meat) restaurant in Umlazi. You choose your meat, they grill it and deliver it to your table outside on wooden platters with small piles of salt and pap in dishes to slice and eat it with. The Zulus love their grilled meat… and so did we. At the weekends, Max’s is throbbing with music and people… on a Wednesday afternoon it was quieter and we spent a few hours chatting and laughing, comparing our lives and taking selfies…a popular pastime here as well. As the sun set you could smell and hear the township come alive as people came home and started to cook their evening meals.

Home and some final planning for tomorrow.

Friday 31st July 2015.

Our last day at Nombika. We were up at 5.30 am to be at school for assembly. We didn’t make it as we got stuck in traffic because of an accident. It was cold and raining when we arrived…Zibonele and Sanele had continued painting the mural with some of the learners, there were more tyre planters and plants. Sadly, someone had stolen our CD mobile overnight so we decided to redo it but cut the CDs in half so it was obvious that they could not be used and were worth nothing. The mural painting continued, wreaths were made from tyres, crisp bags, cling film and painted cones they were then attached to the trees, the teachers table for the drama area was sunk into the ground and four brightly painted signs saying ‘Our World’, ‘Respect’, ‘Rejoice’ and ‘Recycle’ were positioned along the entrance pathway. Old desks were dismantled to use as a metal sculpture for perspective drawings, their nuts and bolts to be used as a wind chime later. The learners were getting more and more creative with the few materials they had…it was great to see their imagination, creativity and teamwork blossoming.

After lunch, cooked by the hospitality learners, we went to the show that the drama class had been preparing for us before we had even arrived.

Jean spoke about how the learners had created something beautiful from their imagination and creativity and that they could apply this to all their subjects in school and flourish. She spoke about the philosophy of Ubuntu and how we are all one and how spirit of community was evident the art instillation. The principal then thanked us and said that although the actual instillation would perish what we had shown the learners would be indelible.

The performance started with songs from the choir, rousing, powerful and harmonious are words that come immediately to mind. Then the grade 12’s drama production. A play based on Zulu tradition… The performance began, the chorus entered and sang a haunting melody about Mandela being in prison, then a girl stood up, her words “I am an African, not because of the colour of my skin but because I have a heart shaped like a question mark” Her monologue spoke of what made her African. It was more than inspiring. Then the drama began. The first scene focussed on the traditional methods of courtship between a Zulu man and woman. The acting was fabulous. They used dance, song and acting to communicate the story, a lot of which was in Zulu but we still understood. The play continued, the man dying during a traditional stick fight and the Sangoma, a traditional healer, bringing him back to life. Then a touching scene between mother and daughter, the mother explaining that the daughter had to be a woman now. This was the point the two families met to sort out all the finer details of the marriage. This was a noisy affair but great fun to watch. Then they were married and this signalled the end of the play. We all wished it could go on for longer as we enjoyed it so much but at least we have a film (taken by Sifiso a friend and cameraman who translated and generally ran about after us all day).  It was time to say goodbye. We took some photos and not surprisingly a few tears were shed.

Nombika was a place, is a place, where we had challenges but ultimately fell in love with the students and their never ending smiles.

Tired, emotional and happy we returned home.


Saturday 1st August 2015

After a stock take of our arts and crafts materials and decisions about what we would take and how we would make windmills with the kids at Bobbi Bear we left home to pick up Philani, a first year student at Durban University of Technology, who we hope will be one of our Travel Pals next year. We drove south to Illovo where, on a Saturday morning, any child who has been sexually abused and supported by Bobbi Bear meet under the Tree of Empowerment. Saturday morning, at the tree, is a time and place where they can learn to be children and have respite from their responsibilities and their past traumas. When we arrived they were doing a health workshop with medical students from the University of Kwa Zulu Natal.

Sitting on the grass, Jackie, the founder of Bobbi Bear, told us about her fight to protect and empower South African women and children. How she change South African law so that the victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse are no longer forced to sit next to each other in court. South Africa was the first country to bring in such legislation in the world.  For us it is almost inconceivable what she has achieved and yet she has done it. Inspiring is an inadequate word to describe the battles she has fought and continues to fight for humanity and her beloved South Africa.

We needed some time to reflect and gather ourselves so we went to a typical surfers’ café on the beach at Amanzimtoti for lunch where Laura had her first bunny chow (Curry in a quarter loaf of bread).

The team split up on their return to Durban…Jean, back to the house to do the essential admin that every organisation has to do but at times like this is really hard to do, while Laura and Suzi headed to Durban’s Golden Mile for some well-earned R&R on the beach with Philani.

Laura and Suzi walked six miles along the beach with Philani taking photos and paddling in the sea before they introduced Philani to his first cocktail.

Jean joined them at Moyo on the Pier for a cocktail and we watched the orange African moon rise over the Indian Ocean.

Sunday 2nd August 2015

…and the saga continues…we are so use to being able to use unlimited data that we have no idea of how much we use. Suzi and Laura spent the morning picking photos for Crossing Countries face book page only to find we had no data left so they had to make a quick trip to the shops. First world vs. third world problems… we need to remember to keep a perspective on what stresses us. On their return we found we had purchased land line data and not mobile data… ARGH

Luckily, Lucia came to save us from our battle with technology. She took us to the Catalina Theatre at the harbour to see a production called The Working Man written by a drama undergraduate at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal. It was one of the most powerful theatre performances we have ever seen and Philani’s first. The story was of a son, whose Mother understood that he needed to break away from the traditional Zulu male gender role, (working in the mines, having a girlfriend and doing the gumboot dance) whereas his father did not. It depicted the complexity of relationships…the violence, power struggles and tenderness within families and cultural pressures that are universal and still current.  All our faces were tear stained as we left the auditorium. We needed time to process what we had seen so we went for a drink. We were lucky enough to be joined by the musicians and actors later. We would love to be able to help them perform at the Edinburgh Festival.

Busi, a young jewellery designer joined us for dinner at home in the evening.

Monday 3rd August

Back to work…a leisurely start…we had to be at Open Air School for 8am. The school is a ‘special needs’ school in the suburbs of Durban. We had two arts classes and a drama class scheduled. The arts classes were based round the theme of identity. After mind mapping some ideas the learners created mixed media pieces about their own identity.

In the drama class Suzi used the Dylan Thomas poem Do not go Gently into That Good Night as a stimulus for the learners to create and improvised piece which they performed to us at the end of the class.

Jean had a meeting with Bianca to discuss the possibilities for accommodation and members of their staff joining the project next year.

Suzi had mentioned the bites that had swollen on her legs and was quickly marched off to the nurse who said a doctor’s visit was essential. Joanne, the teacher we had been working with, drove us to the nearest GP, where Suzi was given antibiotics for cellulitis and spider bites. She was told to keep her leg elevated so a night in was prescribed. But first, Nathi, our new driver picked us up, as we had decided to check out the accessibility in Mitchel Park and the Blue Zoo first. We found it was the perfect place for some  R ’n’ R, beautiful flowers, interesting animals, birds who said ‘Hello’ to you and an outside colonial style café…all wheelchair accessible.

We spent the evening relaxing.

Tuesday 4th August

Suzi’s foot was still swollen so Laura and Jean went to a meeting with Ari Seirlis in Gillitts near Pinetown. He is the CEO of the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA), the organisation which we had hired the van from last year. The meeting was fruitful and we came away with many new exciting ideas for future trips… the possibility of disabled members of his team joining us in Durban and in Jo’burg where they have an accessible vehicles and accommodation with a pool…plenty to think about and plan.

There was only time to change before we went out for dinner. One of Jean’s friends had invited us to his house. He is an art connoisseur and collector so we had a lovely evening eating good food and talking about his wonderful art collection.

Wednesday 5th August

Jean’s birthday…Suzi and Laura had been planning since before the trip started and had enjoyed winding her up about what the activity would be… with the help of Philani. We drove north through some beautiful, green, rolling countryside, a patchwork of sugar cane fields, before we reached our destination…Rain Farm…a safari drive. Our ranger told us little-known facts about the animals we saw, zebra babies tummies are the same height as their mothers so predators can’t see them…giraffes sleep with their heads resting on trees as their blood pressure is too low for them to lie down…and Egyptian geese mate for life. It was everything and more that a safari should be…from seeing all the animals, to having a picnic next to a lake, where the girls sunbathed on rugs and cushions while Philani tried his hand at fishing, it was perfect.

On the way home Jean thought that they were dropping something off at Zinhle’s house in Umlazi but in reality Zinhle had prepared Jean’s favourite township specialities and all her other friends were waiting in the kitchen to wish her many happy returns. Even the load shedding could not spoil such a lovely surprise.

Thursday 6th August

Change of plan… the organiser of the project we had intended to visit called and said could we come on Friday instead. Quick re think and a unanimous vote for a walk then brunch at the highly recommended Freedom Café. It didn’t disappoint and the area at the front is accessible …in the diary for next year.

Our driver then took us to Victoria Market in Central Durban…it was time to get a few gifts for friends and family at home. Pam, one of the stall holders always gives you a good bargain. This year she had won Woman of the Year for supporting and selling jewellery made by a women’s literacy project. The market is in an old building and has various craft stalls, brightly coloured clothes hang from the shop fronts, along with garlands of silk flowers, Zulu shields and batik tablecloths. Inside there is an array of bead jewellery, wooden statues, banana leaf pictures, wire animals and craved masks. Stall holders beckon you in to buy braai spices for fish or necklaces made from seed pods you can even buy a quarter of a toilet roll for 50c.

Our purchase chosen and a gift from Pam and we were on our way back to the doctors to check if Suzi’s leg was getting better. She was given the OK and we did a food shopping for our dinner guests that evening and for the farewell braai we were planning for Saturday.

Mohdli and Sifiso joined us for dinner and the conversation centred on the similarities and differences in our education and political systems.

Friday 7th August

On a Friday the crafters bring their designs to the African Art Centre that have been ordered the previous week. Half a dozen women and one man either sat on the floor on rush mats or gathered round a table to finish their pieces and chat. The table was strewn with delicate Christmas ornaments and thick necklaces made from small glass beads strung, twirled and woven into intricate designs. One of the gogos tried to teach Jean how to finish a white and red star decoration for a Christmas tree. She had trouble seeing the glass beads never mind the tiny stitches needed to finish the work off. Suzi had better luck. There were also highly coloured animals made with wire and beads and more stars for the Christmas tree made from telephone wire.

Through another friend we had arranged to meet a student at UKZN, Zinhle, who volunteered in a Health Centre and school, that we thought might be a good placement for next year.

She invited Crossing Countries to take part in a fashion show they are running with the disabled students at UKZN…exciting …we will need to work hard on our return to get a video ready to send to them.

We travelled to Mandeni, which is over an hour from Durban to Ikhwezi School which caters for children with learning disabilities. Set on the top of a hill looking down to the river in the valley it is a tidy and well laid out school with excellent facilities for skills training. We saw a computer room, an art room, a wood workshop, a cooking class and a hairdressers unit… all used to help the learners access work after they leave school. They sell their art but also the bead work that they make. Their work was very good, some designs were innovative such as the beadwork tie and the crocheted slippers. We left just before the children boarded the school bus which takes them directly to their homes …and before our presences made them too excited. Even as it was there was a mass cuddle and photo session next to our car.

A short drive and we were being ushered into Ikwhezi Welfare Centre, a compound containing various painted single storey buildings, their walls once painted with colourful murals, now faded. We were met by the finance officer Christopher Ndokweni and Sokhulu Mthiyane, the son of the lady who had started the school and the centre after finding two disabled children eating out of a rubbish bin.

The complex is wheelchair friendly throughout, whether it is on the pathway or the large areas of short grass, another beautiful view down the valley greeted us as we went to visit their elderly ladies bungalow. We braced ourselves for the smells and suffering we expected to see. Instead we were greeted by thumbs up signs and broad smiles, one lady was even excited to see Jean again as she hadn’t seen her for such a long time! Although the old hospital beds and bedding was shabby the two rooms were immaculately clean. We passed a well-tended vegetable garden as we entered the art area, a large building with a kiln, ceramic display and two ladies doing bead work.  The kiln was broken so they had been unable to do much recently but there was still enough for us to buy some work to sell when we arrive home.

We then visited the accommodation for the young children, all confined to bed, some sleeping, some lying making sounds to themselves, few able to speak. We all struggled to hold our emotions in check. We moved on to the dormitories for older girls and boys who were very excited to see us. No child is turned away or asked to leave. Christopher came as a child and had lived there since, with a short time away to get his qualifications in Durban.

The centre do their best but with the little government support they get going to pay their staff, everything else is make do and mend, from the old hospital beds and bedding to the children’s clothing, there are no toys, the paint flakes off the walls, everything is so basic but as far as we could tell the children were happy and treated the centre as their home with all the freedom that entails.

On the journey home and during our dinner at the Cape Town Fish Market in Suncoast much of the conversation (when we were not chatting about the excellent food) consisted of how our volunteers could work with Ikwhezi. Ideas abounded between occasional tears, mobiles for the children’s dormitories, knitting with the gogos, painting with the older kids. Although outside Durban, the school and the centre are places we want to work with.

Saturday 8tth August

Zibonele had invited us to the Velobala art class at Durban University of Technology which he attends on a Saturday morning. Some of the art we saw there was very accomplished and some of the artists had exhibited in and around Durban. Jean bought a hyper realistic pencil drawing of Ghandi. We were all tempted to purchase other pieces the students had produced but we had not brought any money with us. Laura was in her element and made many contacts which was one of the things she wanted to do while she was here. We also got some good contacts for placements next year.

We returned home to get ready for the braai we had invited our friends to.

We were ready for our guests at 1pm, in true African style, people dropped in throughout the afternoon, the last guest arriving at 8pm…

Sunday 9th August

Our last day…breakfast out at Europa then home to pack. Philani joined us. We reminisced over all we had done and speculated on the next trip when Philani will be one of our Travel Pals. We were all finding it hard to leave…there were things we still wanted to do ….return to Nombika, start the projects we had thought about for Ikwhezi do more planning and find more placements ….the list is endless.

Nathi arrived and drove us to the airport, it was hard to say goodbye to him and Philani but the sadness was lightened by the knowledge we had achieved what we had set out to do…we had challenged ourselves and those we had met hopefully we had changed lives …and we would be back.