Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seventh Street Guesthouse Perspective

Seventh Street Guest House….

I am so aware of Shannon’s “first day” perspective on South Africa. The nice homes, the big city lights, the sophisticated billboards…all the glam of Johannesburg. It looks so lovely and modern….so European…so expected, that Shannon proclaims a lack of culture shock.

As we walk from the guesthouse, past the homes with the modern sculptures and backyard pools…we pass a walkway lined with the graceful and fragrant blossoms of the bougainvillea. I reach out to trace the petals of a bloom and find just beneath the blossoms the geometrical outline of gleaming razor wire.

The danger beneath the beauty.

So much of South Africa is beautiful. The rich, cultural heritage. The modern, booming economy. The lovely, sophisticated cities. The vibrant art and intricate history. But running just beneath the surface is fear and danger.

Fear engendered from living in a country of have’s and desperate have-nots. Fear that comes from promises made to right old injustices that haven’t been realized rapidly enough. Fear that grows out of political turmoil in a nascent democracy. Fear that is heard and felt and realized in home after home in every neighborhood throughout South Africa.

One of the communities where our net buddies live is about to be wiped out. M., S. and N. all live in an informal settlement that is being demolished in the near future. Where will they go? What will they do? When will it happen? No one has the answers. But the simple fact that these children will have their homes bulldozed by entrepreneurs bent on building a golf course is not to be questioned. These children live in fear of their future.

Today, M. and J. had an open house. They have sold their businesses and are leaving the country. They are moving themselves and their livelihoods to Vancouver. They are tired of living in fear. They are through with wondering when they will be attacked or car-jacked. They are done with wondering when the next awful, horrendous thing will happen in their country. This family is done living in fear of their future.

October in South Africa; the jacarandas are in bloom and the sun shines every day. We bask in the warmth of the sun and revel in the gracious hospitality of our Seventh Street Guesthouse proprietors. Yet we look over our shoulders as the bougainvillea graze over our fingertips. We are cautious. We are wary. We have seen the razor wire and the appraising glances. We read the headlines and know the risks. Yet we still have hope for South Africa’s future and that is why we are here.

Infinite Family brings hope to South Africa, one idealistic adult at a time. We bring you, with your faith and your concern, your tender love and nurture, to these children who live in a world of impermanence and fear.

One of our Net Families recently said, “Relationships can change the world.” We believe that. You believe that. Your Net Buddies believe that. That is why we all set aside a half hour each week to meet face to face. To prioritize a time to talk. To use our time, the biggest commodity of all, to invest in a relationship. A relationship with a child who lives in fear, whose future is uncertain, who has limited resources and few adults to guide them. Infinite Family relationships CAN change the world…the world of the children of Nkosi’s Haven, Refilwe and Alexandra.

You inspire us. You inspire your Net Buddies. You do indeed change the world….one relationship at a time.

Tomorrow – Shannon’s second day perspective…

Stay well!

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