Monday, 29 October 2012

Frozen in time

Time flies.

Seconds turn into minutes. Minutes turn into hours. Hours eventually turn into years.
The future becomes the present. The present becomes the past.
What was once now is but a memory of it.
Time is fair and simultaneously it shows no mercy.
Time does not care nor does it retaliate.
The strident voice of time calling the same words throughout history:
"Try evading me and I will capture you. Try capturing me and I will flee you. Leave me be".
Time just is.

Two years earlier
An NGO opened their doors to the people of a black South African township called Langa.
Their idea was to empower children, increasing their self-esteem through play and by doing so improving the prospects of the up-growing generation and of society as a whole.
Change is possible.
One big family.
Respect & justice.
The right to a childhood.
The two Swedish women who founded the organization named it Project Playground.

The day before
Everything must be ready for tomorrow.
Clean the toilets.
Put up the photo gallery.
Buy the missing supplies.
Clear the square.
Decorate the various fore- and backgrounds.
Dim twilight.
Set the tables.
Look through the program & rehearse again. And again.
Complete darkness. Stars.
Hang the welcome sign at the gate.
Fettle the whole area.
Close up the Big Hall.
Sleep. Dream now.

The afternoon
All the staff came early to attend the meeting.
Circle of chairs.
Words of gratitude, nostalgia and seriousness.
Words of where we've been, where we are and where we're going.
Everyone in suits and dresses.
High-heels and ties.
The guests will start arriving at 18:00 sharp.
Only a few hours away.

The evening
The air throughout the night was so over-brimmed with feeling, one could slice it up.
Even without one of those special "feeling-slicers" (which are so hard to come by), the attendants were served the emotion-desert of their lives.

Images tell more than a thousand words, hence:

The thoughts after
Some fractions time cannot touch.
As if there were some guardian out there who could perceive their true significance, and therefore protects them by never letting them fade out.
Moments frozen in history.
A stray night like this.

Project Playground's second anniversary.

Time flies.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

This is the story of crystal clarity

Something's up at PPG.
Something that has never happened before.
A lifechanger is taking place at the center.

[Life, part I]
It may occur, every once in a while, far too rarely, that people astonish.
The size of their hearts blast every expectation and lets no tunnel vision unbroadened. 
They literally blow your mind.
For what they have on the inside.

A team of opticians booked a flight to Cape Town not long ago.
Equipped to their teeth with lenses, optic machines and frames.
They had an objective. One star to follow. One common goal. Crystal clear.
Make people see.
Make trolls see.
Trolls who can never and will never afford to pay to see.
The eye-team aims to give a herd of trolls one of the five senses.
No chance of giving up until every single child has been examined.
Open your eyes.

One guy could hardly read and write.
Mentally disabled, was the conclusion of the board of education.
They shipped him off to a "special school".
He stayed there.
The eye-team found that this boy was nearly blind.
He could merely count his own fingers.
As they put the correct lenses in front of his eyes something happened.
Something that had never happened before.
He could see.
Full vision. Crystal clear.
As he red the letter-board tears filled up his eyes.
Pure, sincere and uncontrolled happiness.
This is what it feels like to see!

[Life, part II]
More than half of all trolls need glasses.
Without the eye-team, their vision would never have been considered or even thought of.

Your effort has blown minds.
You are a group of those people. 

The boy, who now is able to see, is 20 years old.

Friday, 19 October 2012

The weight of the world

A day of pain.
Weight on one's shoulders.
Wobbly to stand.
Tough not to fall when the wind starts challenging how much storm you can put up with.
The air feels a bit sticky and heavy to breathe.
Surrounded by poverty, drugs and injustice.
The echo of the loneliness leaves the eardrums bloody.
The smell of the tears of the people corroding both heart and mind.
The vision of a neverending struggle like a thick grey fog, closing in from every direction.
Make it stop hurting!
The dark temptation of just letting go. Give in. Give up.

Friday in Langa.
Around lunch time at the center.
The rain was pouring down as if this were its last chance to wet the earth.

A long staff meeting had just taken place.
A really good one.
At Fridays lunch always follows. One of those together-lunches. Bonding through food.
A circle of lunch-eating PPG employees.
A team of friends.
Smiles, more grins and chattering.
Hopes and ideas for the improvement of the future of the little ones.
A better life.
Beliefs. Dreams. Fight. Action.

In that moment the load was lifted.
Just like that.
That instant could not fit heaviness and despair.

The weight of the world.
Its ponderousness was overcome by a lunch in a township somewhere in Africa.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

That thing

As the car turned left from the highway at the sight of the "Langa" sign, I felt it flow through me.
As the trashy sidewalks leading up to the roundabout whooshed by outside my window, I could almost taste the purity of it.
As I glanced at the typical township kiosk to the left, I got the soft chills.
As I saw the people sitting down in the sun at the side of the road, just being, I heard it as if being shouted out loud.
As the bricked PPG-walls appeared behind the gates, the air filled up with it.
As the staff came to embrace me, one by one, with all their uncomplicated sincere joy, I was overwhelmed by it.
As I sat down in silence on the porch letting the dusty Langa-winds take a hold of mind, I perceived nothing but its peace and warmth.
As I hugged the smily Play on Wheels-trolls again, my veins would almost burst from the content of it.

This is it.
This must be it.
What else could it be?
The closest you can come to the core of it.
The true meaning of it.
As pure as its essence can get.

The L-word.

I'm back in Cape Town.