Saturday, 29 October 2011

Excursion with influx

Excursion with the "Below-8" kids of Project Playground today.
64 little trolls on the loose! ;)

Before I tell you what we did during the day I will tell you what happened before...

So, previously:
Registrations were handed out to all parents, just a few days before the actual excursion was about to take place.
EVERYONE applied. EVERY SINGLE kid! The parents practically threw their kids at us!

I was stunned. I mean, this should not even be possible! Some kid MUST have other plans....
But noone was pre-booked. Because they all live in a township. In such a place you find: gravel, dust, small shacks, trash, asphalt and absence of money (thus also toys). What "stimulating weekend acitivities" can the parents come up with to offer their children under those conditions?

Now, today's events:
Soaking rain.
Breakfast in the Project Playground cafeteria in Langa. 
In the form of letting the children watch a cartoon in our new "cinema room". This room is (at most) 4x4 meters, with a recently donated TV and not even cushions to sit on. We all cozily squeezed on the floor with towels (and whatever other "coverage" we could get our hands on) preventing as much as light as possible from slinking in through the windows. They loved the surprise!
In your face Murphy! 
Roadtrip with our troll-army to a park near the ocean.
They were ecstatic just to get out of Langa, just to sit in a bus really. In the middle of the park premises there was a huge green lawn.
Shoes off everyone! Hurry! Run! Feel the grass tickling under your feet!
They were caught by some kind of innocent and complete happiness I had never witnessed before. Like nothing in the universe could rob them of this moment of perfection. You might ask yourself if there is a limit to how good it can feel to simply lay down and perceive the softness below you and the sky above you with all that you are. The answer is NO, today I saw IRL that there is not.
Pic-nic lunch.
Play under the sun. 
Go go go!
Roadtrip home.
With a snack-fruit to go and one of those all-through true smiles on their little faces.

Friday, 28 October 2011

I am invisible

I have got to know quite a few black friends here.
Something strikes me when I spend time with them and talk to them about their living situations, their expectations and how things function....
They are a bit too submissive. Too oppressed. Too accepting. Too faded. Too indifferent. Too tired on the inside.

Then it hit me that this people has been mistreated, abused, looked down on and despised since... FOREVER!

They do not know what equality feels like, because that has never existed for them!
They do not know what it means to be taken seriously by the government, because noone has any record of that ever occurring!
They have no idea how it would be to have the same life prospects as "the others", because honestly, they do not!

With all this inside of you....

Why should you feel that you, only because you are you, matter?
Why should you think that this time someone up there will actually listen to YOU?
Why should you believe that it can be, and even more, ever will be different?
Why should you stand up for yourself?
Why should you fight for your rights?

Of war. Of fighting for justice. Of trying. Of being put down. Of retrying. Of nothing happening.

Of people not caring.

Of not being seen...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Feel the wind on the face

I am still in a state of chock.

This afternoon we went out to Langa to visit the families whose kids we want to engage in Play on Wheels.
The living conditions of these families. And of the disabled children.... Unimaginable.
Some of the kids could communicate, others could not. Some could move, others could not.
Some of them smiled at us (most of them!), others were a bit shy and looked away.
Some things they did have in common though: they were all dirty, cabined up inside and neglected by society, they had no dignity of life whatsoever and no idea how the world looks outside of their four crumbling walls.
The stench in some of the houses was unbearable while the love of the caring relatives was overall heartbreaking.

I cannot in words describe what I have seen, smelled and felt today.
I do not think that such misery can be contained by any vocabulary.
One would hope that it can not....

Imagine giving these children attention & stimulation by having fun and just letting them feel the wind on their face.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Hunt down for facilities

We just had a very positive meeting with the manager of St Francis regarding Play on Wheels. There is the practical detail of having somewhere to put all our new kids when they come...
Anyway, he was very optimistic about being able to give us more time at the facilities of "Project Playground Mansion".

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Color obsession/obliviousness

People here have a thing for race. Or color, would be more accurate.
When someone talks about a person, it is always added what color this person has.
Like "my white classmate" or "a black guy I work with".

It's like racism is so put into everyone's head that it is not a choice to think differently.
It's just "natural" for everyone that the whites eat at the restaurants and that the blacks serve them.
Noone here seems to question the absurdity in the concept that "one color" walks this street while "another color" takes another one.

Obsession at the one hand. Obliviousness on the other.

Friday, 14 October 2011

First impression

I arrived to Cape Town yesterday. My first time in Africa.

I visited Yolanda at the Red Cross children's hospital and I was struck by everyone's inexplicable positive thinking. And their smiles. But also the horrible conditions of both the hospital and the children!

I went to see the centre of Project Playground in the afternoon.
Witnessing it IRL just kept me thinking: "It is possible to make a difference. Anything is possible!"
The children.
All thrilled to meet and hug a "new playmate" (me!) and just overall grateful to get the chance to play football or dance together. And feel safe for a while. Sanitary disasters, wrecks for a home and torn little shoes.... Small people so cheerful and yet living in such a misery!
The staff.
All being there for the kids.
Giving them a safe place where they can feel that they matter in this world and a decent meal before they go home at night. Trying to help them build a better future for themselves by changing their self-esteem. Encouraging the parents to bond with the kids.

A numerous amount of smiling persons said this phrase to me yesterday...
This whole place makes you feel it, really.

"Welcome to Africa"