One term down, three to go…mmm seems like I want the time to go but actually it is more like…”stop the world I want to get off”.
I would like to tell you a story.
In 2014 Eric and I were delivering some food parcels in the Kilmon area which is quite far away from Bulwer and not an area that we usually service. While we were chatting to the family a boy of about 12yrs came and stood next to us, really close to Eric. He had seen the box of biscuits that was part of the food parcel (Christmas time) and wanted some. He was from a neighbouring family. We immediately realized that he was disabled. We promised to bring him some and Eric went back shortly afterwards to introduce himself to the family and keep his promise. On investigation he discovered that the family was a fractured one with conflicts and disagreements and our young friend was under the care of the grandmother but was allowed to roam around freely, unsupervised. At the same time Eric was introduced to another family right next door with a young boy of much the same age and also mentally handicapped, also being cared for by a granny.
We were concerned about these two boys who had never had any educational or therapeutic input into their lives. Although there are many in the rural areas that need help we always trust that the ones we need to help are the ones God will bring along our way, otherwise one becomes so overwhelmed by the needs out there. So we decided to offer these two boys a place in our new residential facility at the beginning of 2015. Both the grandmothers were overwhelmed that finally someone was taking an interest in these two souls and prepared to try and help.
Well I wish you could have seen them when they first arrived. This was their first experience in a structured environment and they had no idea how to behave or how to assimilate into this new way of life. N and T already knew each other and this gave them some feeling of security but they were undernourished and depressed and unresponsive to start off with. N had no idea how to behave in the classroom and would walk out at any time and do his own thing. He would go around opening taps and leaving them running and go into Eric’s house unannounced whenever it pleased him. Because of their depressed states, especially N, we had no real idea of the extent of their handicap and even if they could be helped at all. On top of that they both suffer from epilepsy and this was not well controlled.
Fast forward a year…and you won’t recognize these two boys. They didn’t take long to settle down under the diligent, tender care of Mary and the classroom staff, and in the residence, with Nokwazi the housemother, and her quiet, wise and loving ways. At one stage N hid the car keys from Eric because he didn’t want to go home for the weekend. With a good diet and new medical regime they have flowered and grown to such an extent that we have now decided that they need to attend a school and have enrolled them with the Pholela Special School from the second term onwards.
Last week Nokwazi took them shopping for their new uniforms. This was an extremely emotional time for all of us. They have never been to a town before (yes, Ixopo is a town!), had never seen so many people and cars altogether and definitely never, ever experienced the joy of owning brand new clothes. Can you imagine getting to the age of 14 and you have never been inside a clothes shop and certainly never received even one item of clothes bought specially for you? They were overwhelmed by the experience. The next day they had to “model” their new outfits and Mary took some photos of their smiles and I wish that I could have published them but for their own protection I won’t. We never thought we would ever see those two boys smile like they did that day, with such pride and joy. And boy, do they look smart. They are very excited at the prospect of attending a “real” school and we are hoping and praying that they will continue to grow and develop under this tutelage. Although Mary is almost sad to let them go they will carry on boarding with us and we will keep a close eye on their progress.
We have 6 boys in our residence now and have also made a space for Nondumiso to sleep over during the week as the fetching and carrying became too problematic. It is working extremely well for her as she is getting more regular therapy. Another young lady with similar problems has joined Nondumiso as a weekly boarder and the two “girls” enjoy each others company and Cynthea and Florence are always at hand to assist them with their needs. More about them next time.
All our love to all of you.