Friday, 11 October 2019
Arriving at First Step Right this morning I saw that Nicole, the Indigo volunteer was busy with rope and tape on the jungle gym, the scramble net had worn through and was unusable so Nicole had decided to make some repairs.  Luckily she has done some rock climbing in the past and therefore knows a thing or two about ropes and knots, which combined with my rather hazy recollection of knots from scouts, we put to good use as we "wove" a new grid into the scramble net. As we were working the bell rang and it was break time, therefore we had an interested audience watching us!  Whilst we didn't have enough of the thicker rope to make good the mesh, we were pretty pleased with the out come, as we reinforced the joins with cable ties and, gingerly invited the children to try out our work!  All was good and now we have a fully functional scramble net at First Step Right!
You never really know what the school day is going to bring, we had a lovely time celebrating a birthday in Grade R with an amazing cake and the birthday girl looking fabulous in her party dress!  Whilst the smaller children enjoyed the birthday celebrations the older children did some quiet reading in their classes, I joined Grade 2 and just before the home time bell rang, we played a game of "Simon Says" and "I went to the shop and I bought..."  You'd be amazed to hear of some of the things this shop stocks... everything from ice creams to the moon!

It was good to have the opportunity to get to know some of the teachers better today, I spent a little time chatting to a few of them and it is always so inspiring to hear of their ambitions and hopes for the future.  After school finished one of the creche teachers, L was waiting for a taxi (that's what all the public transport is called, unlike a UK taxi, this is a minibus service which runs certain routes around the province) so I offered her a lift in the bakkie.  She wanted to go to the nearby town of Hammersdale to the hardware shop, as she is in the process of fixing up her house and has saved enough for two new windows.  So we set off on our adventure, the guys at the hardware store were a little taken aback at these two women asking for windows and lintels…. They brought the lintels on the forklift and I casually asked L whether there was going to be any help at the other end to off-load! The forklift driver didn't seem to keen to follow us along the way! Luckily, she assured me her husband would be home and so off we went (slowly and with hazards flashing as the lintels were sticking out of the back of the bakkie!).  Sure enough the arrival of the GAGA bakkie laden with building supplies caused a little bit of a stir as we travelled to L's home, but we soon got off loaded with the help of said husband and her youngest son and L showed me the two rooms that would be getting new windows.  One being a new room that can be used for a Dining Room and also a place for the children to do their homework and the second being the kitchen (which currently doubles up as a living / dining space).

Now feeling much more familiar with the valley, and my visual memory from the January trip kicking in, I realised I was very close to Ithembalihle, the orphanage we often visit.  However, I didn't drop in on this occasion as it was a busy time with the older children coming home from school and having homework to complete.  Within 30 minutes I was back at the lodge, another reminder of just how physically close these two widely different communities are in South Africa.  As I reversed the bakkie into the carport I was entertained by the resident monkey troop performing an acrobatic display in the tree opposite.

Back with WiFi I was able to check my emails and … write this blog.  All in all a good couple of days for the start of my trip.  Now, as the crickets start chirruping and the sky darkens with the swiftly approaching sunset I say, "sala kahle" (stay well)