Footprinter Report: Lewis Murray in South Africa

Lewis Murray HTF

Time is flying and by since I last did a report so decided it was time to give you an update. In this report I will be covering some of the travel I have done in South Africa, both with friends and family as well as an update on project life and let you know about the new projects, I have  managed to set up.

The month of December was jam packed. I managed to fit in some travelling in which I had some of THE most incredible experiences as well as meeting some really interesting people. I started my travels before Christmas with a 12 hour bus journey to Durban from Jo’burg in which our bus broke down and we had to detour to make way for traffic travelling to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral, a momentous time for the South African Nation. We then travelled to Coffee Bay which was probably the most spectacular place I have ever visited. It is situated in very remote part of Eastern Cape, everything is so lush and the sea crystal clear. Unfortunately it rained 3 out of the 4 days but that didn’t detract from its beauty. We then continued our travels down the coast toward Cape Town. Mid way along the Garden Route – a very beautiful stretch of coastline – I did something I thought I never would…a Bungee Jump. The suspense before I jumped was unbearable and then 3…2…1…Bungee and a leapt off a 216 m bridge into the gorge below.  This definitely was one of the craziest things I think I will ever do! We arrived in Cape Town for Christmas and New Year. There were many highlights in Cape Town including spending Christmas Day in a cave on Table Mountain and watching the sunset on top of Table Mountain on New Year’s Day.

Arriving back in project, The Hamlet celebrated its 60th Birthday which was very exciting for all. There was a party where I was given the responsibility of decorating the hall. I thought I had made an amazing job until one of the residents came up to me and said “I can’t see you with a future in interior decorating”.

Towards the end of January my Mum, Aunty and Uncle flew over from Scotland to visit me. It was such a weird feeling to see them at the airport after not seeing them for over 5 months. I was looking forward to a very chilled few days with them, much unlike December. However, my family were not in quite the same mind set. The route my Uncle had planned meant that we would travel most of Kwazulu-Natal. As my Mum had never been to South Africa she wanted to see as much as she could in the 8 days, during which I celebrated my 18th Birthday.  I think visiting my project and meeting the residents really put my Mums mind at ease. She found it to be a very happy community, where people are encouraged to reach their potential. Then just like that, they were gone.

After this time, things began to change in our project.  In December we had emailed both a children’s home and The Hamlet School (school for children with disabilities) to see if we could set up a secondary project in order to experience volunteering with younger people.  Both places replied to say they would love to have us. So with the help of The Hamlet, we were able to set up a new work schedule for the last few months of our time in South Africa.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays I am spending my afternoon’s working at St. Mays Children’s Home: and on Wednesdays and Thursday mornings I now work at The Hamlet School. This means I am still living with the adult residents at my original project and working there on Tuesdays and every evening, so we can help with evening meals, recreation time and putting some of residents to bed.

 

 

St. Marys Children’s Home

I love it here. St. Marys is situated fairly close to The Hamlet in a Rosettenville. There are 53 children at the home and our work usually ties in with helping them with school work, playtime as well as accompanying them on hospital visits.  Around 50% of the children are HIV+. We often come here on weekends now so that we have more opportunities get to know the children. On weekends there is usually something going on, whether it be other people coming to visit the children, or to cook lunch for them or  going on an outing. Last weekend was amazing as Fraser, a house father called Uncle Raman and I took all the boys to a Barclays Premier League day.  This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and the boys got to meet some of the legends of the Barclays Premier League. Many of them as you can imagine want to be professional football players when they grow up.

I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to support these amazing young people.  I am humbled by their life stories and the challenges they have overcome in their short lives so far. Faith in God underpins their lives and through God’s loves they are able to face life’s hardships with hope and optimism.  They are all so grateful for what they have, never complaining of what they don’t have. A true lesson for us back home.

The Hamlet School

The Hamlet school is part of the Hamlet Foundation I already work for. This is a chance for me to see where many of the adult residents I work with have come from. When I applied for Project Trust I stated I did not wish to work in a school or teaching environment however I am so glad that I have been given the chance to work in a school for people with disabilities. There are 4 phases to The Hamlet School: the first for the younger children between 6-8. This is like pre-school. The second is for children between 8-12, here the children learn more basic literacy and math skills as well a more recreational activities. The third phase is for 12-16 years and advances literacy and math, however, it more focuses on activities such as African craft or the different seasons of the year. The fourth and final stage is for 16-18 years. At this stage the boys and girls and split into boys and girls classes, this phase is meant to prepare the students for life after school. For instance the boys take part in a lot of craft work. The girls learn a lot of domestic skills such as cooking. These skills as well as the work placements are meant to advance job opportunities when they finish school.

I have loved the opportunities I have been given at the school working in all the different phases as well as extra-curricular activities such as coaching the football team and athletics teams. I attended the summer games where the students in the athletics team competed against 11 other schools from all over the country. The students did us proud and we retuned with many medals. In my last few months here I hope to continue to involve myself with all phases of the school and keep up my extra-curricular teaching. This term I will be focusing more on the football team as in 2 months the football team will compete at the winter games.

I have now been given my return date, June the 23rd.. I can’t wait to get stuck into the rest of my time in South Africa. Thank you very much again for all the support you have given me.

Lewis

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