Monday, October 6, 2008

July 2007 Days 4, 5, 6

Well, three wonderful days have gone by since last filling you all in on my travels here in South Africa. So, time to get busy!

Friday was spent visiting two new potential sites for Infinite Family expansion and having the opportunity to spread the word about Infinite Family to all the employees at Bombardier SA at the very generous invitation of their VP in charge of operations, Dave Berry.

The first site I visited was the Tomorrow Trust run by Kim Feinberg. Tomorrow Trust focuses on educational support for orphaned and vulnerable children. They help by enriching the learning opportunities for really motivated children from some of the poorest circumstances and then enabling them to be successful in college by providing life skills, academic and emotional support. This support is invaluable as these vulnerable children make the huge transition from poverty and group living situations to independence and success.

My biggest surprise of the day was walking into The Techno Centre, the most high tech and well maintained computer center I’ve ever seen in South Africa. Not only were the machines the best technologically, but there was a sound studio and video production room, too! All this is available after school for children from the squatter camp and orphanage in the neighborhood. Interestingly, the computers are not connected to the internet, because the role of the Techno Centre is to encourage creativity by providing the latest in software so that the children can create their own video games, music videos and artwork. These kids are really primed for Net Families who have a personal interest in technology! The staff there were totally jazzed about partnering with IF!

On Saturday I spent the whole day at Refilwe…! What a wonderful group of kids! I gave all of them hugs from you as well as snapped lots of photos. At the beginning of our time together I gathered all 20 children together in the computer center for a recording of The Dana Winfrey Show! The kids passed around the mic while I manned the videocamera. I invited them all to share the best and most difficult things about being a Net Buddy. Every child talked about their appreciation for you, the wonderful adults in their lives. They talked about the love they feel, the closeness and warmth of the relationship, as well as the things they have learned from their Net Families.

All of them also said that the hardest thing about being a Net Buddy was all the questions they are asked…particularly at the very beginning of the relationship. (I have heard that all Americans ask a lot of questions over here…particularly this one with the red hair!) I explained that the questions were our attempts at showing interest and being friendly. One insightful Net Buddy explained to all her peers that she was surprised by all the questions, too…but then decided that this was just the way Americans were. So, in order for her to help her Net Family feel comfortable, she brings questions for her Net Family, too!

Today was a quieter day. I finally slept more than a few hours…and then was taken to an African Market by my host, Niven Postma, the former CEO of Noah. I spent the latter part of the day holding babies at TLC, where they are terribly short of volunteers. So many HIV+ children are living fuller and longer lives due to ARV treatment, which is a wonderful thing, but there is very little hope for them to find adoptive homes. This keeps places like TLC fuller than ever as they continue to care for these lovely, bright-eyed children as well as the constant stream of abandoned newborns to which there is no end in sight.

Tomorrow it is back to Nkosi’s Haven…lucky me!!!

All the best!


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