First Day. January 13, 2011
I arrived in South Africa at 7AM. The 10 hour flight was long, but I slept most of the way. I was awake to see my first sunrise in Africa though! It amazing and it's still sinking in that I'm in Africa...it has been my desire for the last 2 years and God has been faithful. After going through customs and collecting my baggage (praise God that it wasn't damaged or lost). I went to wait for the driver of Lambano to pick me up. He got there a little after 9AM and his name is Philemon, or Uncle Philly to the children. We talked a bit on the drive to the orphanage. He thought is was amazing that it was 11PM back where I came from and that everyone was going to bed...I thought the same lol. I wasn't tired at all though from excitement of getting to Lambano.
Upon arriving at Lambano I met Martha, the lady I'd been in contact with since April. I also met my roomate, Miriam, a 17 year old girl from France. Martha introduced me to Peggy and Lyn who are part of the staff at Lambano. Then she took me to see the homes.
Lambano has 5 different homes all within 5 minutes walking distance. 4 of the homes are for the permanent children and one house serves as the hospice. They have 29 kids in the homes and 12 in the hospice now. The older children were at school which had just started the other day back from holiday. So I mostly met the “mamas” of the homes. The babies and younger kids were not in school of course and so when we went to the hospice to of the younger ones, a boy and a girl, ran over to me and hugged my legs I picked up the girl then knelt down to hold the boy too (I don't have the names down yet). They were very intrigued by my watch and kept pushing the button to make the glow light come on.
There are 2 homes right next to the hospice. We call them 34 and 36, the address number. I'm staying in 82. So we drove to see 78 first then went to 82 to put my bags in the room. I met Mama Emma and Mama Barbara who our the house mothers of 82. After putting my stuff in my room Martha and I walked back to the office which is located at 36...it's a short walk just a block or 2.
Back at the office I sent a quick e-mail to family and friends letting them know I made it okay. Then Martha went of some guidelines etc. about Lambano and went over a bit what I'd be doing. Mostly teaching the kids in the hospice and doing swimming lessons with them which I was excited about! I get the weekend to rest then start work on Monday.
After that, Miriam came in and we went back to 82 and I started unpacking. We made a list of groceries because we were going to go shopping with Jenna (a long term volunteer from Ireland at home 36) later that afternoon. For lunch I took a Reliv shake and me and Miriam shared mango which was delicious. By the time I was done unpacking Jenna came and we drove to the mall. It was quite a big shopping mall, way bigger than the one back home near my house lol. Miriam got some new sandals and I just browsed and people watched. We met back up with Jenna then went to Pick and Pay where I will be doing most of my grocery shopping. We got enough food for 2 weeks which altogether was R260 and we split it to R130 which is pretty good!
Joburg isn't really different from home. There are shopping malls, grocery stores, coffee shops, movie theaters, etc. I guess South Africa isn't the “Africa” people picture, it's more Westernized. Still have to be wary of surroundings though. Like knowing where to go and when. Not going alone anywhere after dark etc. Walking to and from the homes and down to one of the shopping mall during the day is usually fine. All of the houses are surrounded by walls and fences with spikes or razor wire and most have alarms systems like Lambano. Window are kept open during the night as long as they have bars across them.
When we got back to 82 and the children were just getting home from school. They were all climbing out of the Combi (little bus) with ice cream cones and ran over and I was bombarded with a million questions at once. “Auntie Rachel how old are you?” “Auntie Rachel do you know how to knit can you teach us?” etc. Also they asked me to say water to see if I had the same accent as Mama Barbra (who is also from the US) I thought that was funny and said “wader” they all laughed. Miriam said in Africa they pronounce in WaTer, the way is it spelled :) They call the volunteers Auntie as a sign of respect.
There are 5 boys and 2 girls at 82. The boys are Siya, Junior, Mandla, and Tebogo (Tebogo doesn't have HIV but Mama Barbara is adopting him so he still lives here). The 2 girls are Tshepsio and Noma. Miriam said they had been asking for days when I would get here. Since school was out Miriam was going to take me to the other homes to meet the children. Noma said the Auntie Rachel was going to walk slowly behind Auntie Miriam because she was so tired lol. It was almost 4 by then and I was starting to feel tired.
We got back to the office and Miriam started helping some of the older kids of 34 cover their school books with lamenting paper. Lyn came in and I was sitting on the floor just watching and apparently looked like I was going to sleep. So Martha drove me back to 82. They were going to take me out for supper, but said they would do that tomorrow.
I walked back to my room and all the kids were asking me what I was doing and where Auntie Miriam was. I said I was going to sleep because back at my house it was dark right now lol. I took a shower and went to bed at 5AM and slept for 15 hours. When I woke up Miriam said that the kids kept asking “Is she getting up now?” “How about now?” last night and this morning before they went to school. She said they also prayed for me to sleep with her last night that I would sleep well :) I feel completely rested now and going to walk over to the office to get on the internet and post this. I don't have internet for my laptop yet so I'm just drafting this onto a memory stick :)
The weather here is warm and is so green, quite a change from 3 feet of snow back home and zero degree weather haha. It has been cloudy in the morning then sunny in the afternoons the last few weeks Miriam told me.