SOuTh AfrIcA - LIvIng ZuLu was I have never forgotten that it that RLD WO THE UND ARO HANDS and launched me into a new dimension a as nce because of my experie on Dev at job volunteer got me a Development Education. It’s just that since I came back from to Kwa-Zulu-Natal in 2001 I never seem gs thin of list get to the bottom of the a ling jugg n bee to do and have in p kee to ng tryi with multitude of jobs e. touch with the pre-schools out ther ing gett in I had not been successful l I unti ing link schools interested in s’, doll sona ‘Per started training with s seem that idea an n but having hit upo the ing mak in time no ted popular, I was area excuse to return to the Centocow on MA to do some research for my ng taki tity, Culture Language and Iden , iwe Lind , doll my half Zulu persona with me. There are many details of life and culture that fascinate me. We are steeped in our culture and don’t even recognise it until we encounter something quite different. Often we can’t quite put our finger on what the difference consists of, but if we are going to really grasp hold of another way of being we have to fully embrace it, not just do a tourist trip. The first thing I reflect on is the self assurance of the Zulu people, which they radiate and extend to include everyone they meet. This is a rural community, the beauty and a relaxed pace of life are appreciated by its inhabitants despite being a community in crisis where death by HIV/ AIDS and TB are still cripplingly high and orphans and the children of teenage mothers are a constant worry to teachers and elders in the community. The situation here is tragic. There is employment in the hospital at Centocow, but I was told the official figures for HIV/AIDS and
deaths is grossly underestimated and unemployment is around 60% here. There are gender imbalances and gender violence. Teenage pregnancies are high and by the age of 25 half of the women in the region are HIV positive. How can a community come to terms with this mass human devastation? There are taxis full of laughing smiling people, playgrounds full of children engaging in exuberant dancing and singing, but in between the lines there are the silent unspoken moments. Those with courage are tackling crime and violence, giving counselling, working with young people, talking about AIDS, but there is a long way to go and no easy answers. Life doesn’t stop here unless you die and then there are just more vulnerable people to care for. Whilst the communities struggle to get to grips with what is happening to them, life is changing rapidly. The traditions of the Zulus stand uneasily alongside the mobile phones and rapid changes in technology, education and communication. An enforced rural way of life with all the beauty and charm of a picture book is a hard life when there is no money for food if you can’t grow it yourself. Carrying the water to the house is hard if your illness leaves you weak. If the mud brick house you have made is washed away gradually by storms then you have to start making bricks to make a new one. Nursery Education When I first visited the crèches in the area, there were 18 of them. The organisation, ‘Isibani Sezwe Centocow Association’ was officially launched in November 2001. Throughout the whole Association was a great enthusiasm for the young children’s future, a great commitment in time and energy, but also the realisation that building effective provision was a major task and the energy needed was often sidetracked by family and community issues. Resources were very scarce and the teachers were paid a pittance if anything at all. The parents were supposed to pay for attendance but many could not afford it and the children turned up anyway. Now, in 2011 I have visited 14 pre-schools and met members of the Association at a workshop. There are at least 30 crèches and morale is fairly good despite ongoing problems. Many of the original crèches are now in permanent buildings better than the original ones, but there are still some very dilapidated, overcrowded and rundown buildings in use. The resources are still very poor although there has been some improvement. Some of the teachers I met in 2001 are still going strong. And there are many new ones, but many of these have had no training.
Using a Persona doll at Kuhle Ukuthula crèche Using Persona dolls Lindiwe is a dual heritage ‘Persona doll’. Her mother is a South African, Zulu, nurse who works in Exeter and her father is an English bus driver. Persona dolls are used to encourage young children in this country to explore, talk about and appreciate diversity. In South Africa persona dolls are used to help children to understand and come to terms with loss and illness caused by HIV/AIDS. For the Zulu children in this rural area the persona doll training is something which would be a huge benefit but which is denied them through lack of funds. My aim is to introduce pre-schools to each other through the doll, so that pre-schools in Devon can make a more tangible link with rural African pre-schools. What has impressed me is how much more confident and well organised the crèches have become even where little or no training is in place. Workshops and the support of the committee have helped create a recognised pattern of learning. Evidence of children’s drawings on the wall, construction play, more physical play and use of home corner equipment as well as the usual singing and learning days of the week and months. For communities who have had only formal learning by rote and for some, little training, this is a great step forward. The children are cared for and respected for their own unique qualities. Jane Habermehl A full version of Jane’s report can be found on our website.
KENYA PALuOC JuST NEEDING A cuDDLE Four of us were in Kisumu, Kenya helping to complete a carpentry training workshop for vulnerable youngsters. Every day on our way to work we passed the ‘Lutheran School for the Mentally Handicapped’. Having worked for many years in the U.K. with children with learning disabilities, I was keen to visit, to see how schools in Kenya compare to those back home.
One evening I asked the guard on duty at the gate if it would be possible to arrange to meet the Headteacher, and visit the school. Within a few minutes we were talking to the Headteacher and a visit was arranged for the following Monday. Lyn and I duly turned up at 8am in readiness for the school assembly, where we were to be introduced to staff and students. We sat at the back of the hall, listening and watching, as students came up to the front to give their news or sing a song. Some of the youngsters spoke in English – the language always used in Kenyan schools, but others were only fluent in their mother tongue - Luo. Despite only being able to understand some of the information given, we were struck by the humour, warmth and happiness of the occasion. After we had been sitting for a few minutes, one of the students, aged about 12, got up and wandered over to investigate ‘the visitors’. He promptly sat on my lap, and played with my watch and earrings, gradually snuggling up to me. As I put my arm around him he cuddled up a bit more and was very soon asleep! Towards the end of assembly one of the teachers got a mattress out of a cupboard and we gently laid him down to continue sleeping. As we toured the school later that morning we saw our friend, now awake and in class, working on his coordination skills – stacking old shoe polish tins. When I asked about his background, the teacher explained that they knew very little about him – he had been abandoned at the gates of an orphanage. Because of his learning difficulties and lack of speech, he couldn’t say where he came from, give his age, or even his name. And very important in Kenya, he couldn’t say which tribe he was from. We were impressed with the care he was receiving at the school, and how resourceful the staff were, with very few teaching materials. The teachers were keen to hear about life in a similar school in the U.K. and they attended any training courses that were available to them in Kisumu. On a HANDS AROUND THE WORLD trip, not only might you get your hands dirty, but you may just end up giving someone a cuddle something we all need once in a while. Gill Sampson
hE hAD TO bOrrOw A hAmmEr One of the joys of any HATW project is a visit to the host’s home. In our case, Kisumu, Kenya 2011, Paul Ochieng wanted to show us not only his town home in Kisumu, but also his family home in Sega, about 100kms away to the north near Uganda. We hadn’t long been in Kisumu so the journey through the city out towards the airport was interesting in itself. We had travelled to Kisumu by minibus from Nairobi so this was new territory to us. For much of our journey the road surface was very good but we turned off down a side turning, and then off down a track. We were looking for the home of the wife of someone who had been supported by one of our team through his education some years previously. The track was deeply rutted; it was hard going for the donkeys loaded with water containers and not really suitable at all for our Toyota Corolla automatic. Our team members did offer to get out and walk and eventually did so. Unfortunately the damage had already been done. The car would not engage gear to go either forward or backwards. We were well off the main road, it was very hot, but at least we had quite a few hours of daylight left. We thought we were a long way from anywhere but it was surprising how quickly a gaggle of interested children appeared to check out the marooned “mzungus”. Thankfully all of the locals had their mobiles to hand and very soon a mechanic appeared with his toolkit, on the back of a motorcycle. We were a little anxious as to whether 3 open-ended spanners, a small adjustable wrench and a screwdriver without a handle would be sufficient to sort out the problem! Oh ye of little faith. He adjusted the gear changing mechanism to no avail, and then set about banging the oil sump back into shape. To do this he had to borrow a hammer from another local; it arrived with a youngster out of the bush. Before we knew it, having sent for some more oil, we were back in the Toyota and back on the main road. I wonder how many people reading this know that Toyota Corollas have a protective device which stops the automatic gearbox engaging if the oil level gets too low. I certainly didn’t. Our Kenyan mechanic did know, diagnosed the problem and remedied our little mishap. How much did this service cost us? The answer is Ks 200 (less than £2). Fantastic! Amazing! Very gratefully, and much relieved, we were able to get back on our way. And ... during the time that we had been delayed, the person we were looking for, and had given up hope of seeing, discovered where we were and turned up for a joyous reunion. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than rich! Later, much later than we had planned, we arrived at Paul’s family home where a feast had been prepared for us. Our crate of Fantas went down well too. A very memorable day out. Nigel Sampson
who set up the Paluoc Gill, Dan and Nigel with Paul,y proje ct carpentr
LIVING ON ThE STrEETS One evening, two of us went for a night walk to see how the street children lived. It was arranged for us to meet with Alex from Pandipieri Mission, who has worked with and befriended street boys for seven years. I asked him how and why boys (and occasionally girls) end up begging, stealing, glue sniffing on the streets. As I expected, the extended family break-ups due to many members of large united families dying from HIV/AIDS, puts enormous pressure on the remaining adults, who just can't cope with many children to care for, and often abuse them or send them away to look after themselves. Already boys were appearing in the dusk, in twos and threes, glue bottles held in their teeth or stuck to their lip, so that the fumes are constantly with them. Several boys were climbing out from a broken culvert - a deep storm drain which in the rainy season must be filled with fast flowing rain water and rubbish, leaves and vermin that the water collects on the way through the drains. But they were dry now, and provided some shelter for the boys living in them. Many of the boys slept in the open air market area, where there are permanent rough stalls they can sleep under, and there is also all the waste fruit, vegetables and fish lying around which they eat. Many children scavenge on the town rubbish dump at night. Some of the boys were in a group outside a small lighted duka (shop) squatting on the pavement gambling with small coins or bottle tops. The fumes of cheap shoe glue which emanated from the boys were very strong; many boys were sky high, drunk, incoherent from the fumes, unable to stand without support. We saw where they buy glue... which is sold to street shoe-menders quite legitimately. Alex said that many of these children (who were aged between 8 and 15, I'd guess) had been abused in the home and had run away; girls who had done so were rounded up as soon as they were seen, by female street workers, and taken to a children’s home. Boys who show an interest in moving off the streets are investigated to see if their natural families can in any way take them back; often there are problems either with the child or the adults such that they can't or won't. Pandipieri Mission copes with many ex street boys, and has an 'informal' school to educate boys up to a certain level... informal because it is outside the state system, and runs mixed age classes. We later learned that the workshop site foreman builder had himself been a street boy once; he was taken in by the mission and trained as a builder; now he is married and has a child, and he is also a fine artist. It CAN work! Lyn Harper This article has been shortened. A full version can be found on our website.
Stephen, the ex street boy now a builder
hOuSE Of LOrDS rEcEPTION On the evening of Wednesday 6th April, I joined current and prospective HATW supporters from across the UK at a reception hosted by Lord Joel Joffe at the House of Lords. It was a sunny day and it was a relief to arrive at Black Rod’s garden entrance after a typically hot and sticky journey across London from the airport. Security checks completed, and clutching my formal invite, I was shown through the inner court and to the reception area to be met by familiar faces. Joanna and Mandy saw all the guests in, and recommended the lift to go up to the magnificent River Room, where the reception was to be held. This room is the principle State room of the House of Lords, and is made available (sponsored by a Peer of the House) for charitable events. It affords a wonderful view of the River Thames and across to the London Eye. Gradually the room filled up, with familiar and less familiar faces, including other Jersey supporters, past volunteers and invitees as well as the charity’s Patron, Kate Adie. Drinks and food were served and the room began to hum as friends and past project groups met up and exchanged memories and discussed new initiatives; I myself met up with someone that I last saw in rural Kenya! It seemed as though all of the eighty-five invitees were able to attend, as the room was packed. Soon it was time for the formal reception and the Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman, welcomed the Hands Around the World charity and Lord Joffe to the River Room. She reminded us all that this was, indeed, the room with the infamous and expensive wallpaper (hand-printed at around £300 a
Patron Kate Adie talks to HATW trustee Jim Oliver roll!), but that we – and a variety of other charitable organisations – had benefited from the expensive re-fit which brought the rooms back into use and to their ‘original Victorian glory’. Lord Joffe also greeted us, and encouraged us to enjoy both the venue and the opportunity to meet and build new links and friendships. David Steiner then addressed the group; he reminded us that HATW has been working now for over 15 years and expressed his pleasure at this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of HATW with many past supporters, as well as with new faces. In the midst of the splendour and affluence represented by the ostentatious setting, he spoke of the 25 million orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa – up to 10% of the population in some countries. How, he asked, would we cope in the UK if we had 6 million orphaned children? It is the need to change the life chances of these children that has driven Hands Around the World to work in its local partnerships across Africa – currently benefiting 2000 children and young people every day.
A SuCCESSFuL DAY AT TrEOwEN Thanks to the generosity of the Wheelock family, we had the use of the 17th century Treowen House near Dingestow for a sunny day on Wednesday 1st June 2011. Being half-term, the afternoon fête attracted lots of families, with children enjoying storytelling and the inside of the St John ambulance (not as a requirement, thankfully) as well as the usual bouncy castle and games. Almost every child attending had their face painted and an added attraction was watching the adults staggering around on a pair of very technical looking stilts! For the adults, guided tours of the mansion and interesting stalls could be followed by a cream tea on the front lawn with its beautiful herbaceous borders and stunning views across the ha-ha. In the evening, the serene sunlit approach to the front entrance, through the beautiful garden fragrant with shrub roses, rather belied the energetic ceilidh dancing that was to follow inside, thanks to the music of ‘Riga-Jig’ and Dick Wheelock’s humorous calling.
Flagging dancers were sustained by drinks from the bar and a delicious hog roast. Thanks to all concerned for a most enjoyable and successful day in a beautiful setting, raising both awareness and profits of over £1,000. Jill Ingram, HATW Events Team
This occasion provided the opportunity, he said, to thank volunteers and supporters for their work over the years; more than that, it is an encouragement to continue that work in the future. He spoke of his vision for giving bright and lively children, trapped through no fault of their own in impoverished circumstances, the chance to have educational and vocational opportunities which will change their circumstances and those of future generations. He encouraged us to work together to make this vision a reality – making partnerships, involving corporate social responsibility schemes and maintaining relationships which we have already built with people and projects where we have worked. And here, at the centre of UK Parliament as the dusk began to fall over the Palace of Westminster and lights illuminated the river banks, I found it almost believable that it would be possible to change the world. That with renewed effort and hard work, injustices and inequalities that give plenty to the few and leave the majority in poverty, can be addressed and children can face a brighter future – let’s make it so. Heidi Sydor, HATW Jersey trustee
The River Room
INDIA SARBERIA Rosie and Steve Casburn spent a month at the New Life Centre in Sarberia, West Bengal earlier this year, helping at the vocational training centre. Steve and I may not have looked forward to getting up at 6 o’clock every morning, but the sight of so many smiling children’s faces always made our hearts sing. As they arrived at the school gates, either by ‘school bus’, or on foot, they couldn’t wait to shake our hands and say eagerly “Good morning auntie!” or “Good morning uncle!” Their hands were cold and thin but there was plenty of warmth in their greeting. Some clutched a dry crust, some had runny noses, some had holes cut in their shoes to let their toes grow through, but all of them had a bright smile for us. When they lined up for morning assembly, we got a chance to study them more closely as they prayed sweetly. Only about half of them could afford a school uniform, but most were grubby and held together with safety pins. A few of the little girls came to school wearing intricate and sparkly dresses, probably their one and only outfit, purchased at great cost for a family wedding. Their little arms were cold and their skinny legs could not hold up their grey cotton socks. They had the most gorgeous eyes and smiles. During morning break or ‘Tiffin Time’ they queued up for a small portion of warm lentil curry, served on a saucer made of banana leaves for a few rupees. After eating it quickly with their right hand and a drink from the water pump, the boys asked permission to get out the cricket bat. It caused a great stir when ‘auntie’ joined in the cricket, hitting a few good shots when ‘uncle’ bowled to her. They weren’t used to seeing a female play cricket. It definitely improved my street cred amongst the boys!
The girls preferred badminton and skipping with the new skipping ropes we’d taken with us. We’d also taken along table tennis bats, balls and a net. We knew they didn’t have a table tennis table to play on, but we had a plan to resolve that. W e a s k e d M r N a s k a r, t h e headmaster, who was letting us stay in his home in the village for a month, where we could buy some wood. Steve wanted to make them a table to play on. Mr Naskar wouldn’t think of letting his guest make something and sent for the local young carpenter to discuss it. After studying Steve’s scale drawing, he was dispatched to sort out the timber for it. A few days later, a huge tree trunk arrived in the village sawmill, to make the table tennis table. We watched amazed as this heavy tree trunk was placed on a trolley and pushed by hand along a rusty, old railway track about 20 feet long, under the massive and lethallooking band saw with huge teeth which was rotating by the power of a very noisy, smoky generator. I winced as the man’s hands and head got nearer and nearer the sharp metal band. ‘Health and Safety’ people wouldn’t have been impressed! The tree soon went from one massive chunk of wood to many, many slices and then into even more planks. Later the same day, the skilled young carpenter was seen holding planks steady with his bare feet as his hammer and chisel quickly chopped pieces off the wood. The children weren’t told of the table until it was finally completed. It was slightly shorter than normal, as the biggest piece of plywood they could find was 8’ x 4’.
We unveiled it to the teachers – who’d never played it before - and Mr Naskar, and I could see his many worries about the school and its finances were soon forgotten as he concentrated on his ‘killer serve’. By then, the more curious, older children of Classes 5 and 6 were caught lying on the floor trying to look under the door where we were playing! They were a little confused when they saw the table, but soon they were all whooping with delight as we taught them how to hold the bat and how to serve. They obviously thought it was like badminton at first, as the ball kept being hit up to the ceiling like a bullet. We were amazed at how quickly they picked it up and after a few goes we managed to have a proper game with them. Mr Naskar said he will soon invite other schools to come and compete with the New Life Centre, which will give the children a sense of belonging, healthy competition and will promote the school in the community - game, set and match! © Rosie Casburn 2011
PASS IT ON! If you've already volunteered with HATW, you know what a life-changing experience it can be. Please spread the word to your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintences!
We need volunteers to go and help build a dining hall and kitchen at the Misthy Cee Development Centre (a children's home and school) in Ghana and classrooms at Zumbo Primary School, Uganda in autumn/winter 2011/12. We also need teachers, foster carers and social workers to help at Misthy Cee at any time, but particularly between October and December this year. If you've already volunteered, but fancy another go, please let us know! If you haven't yet volunteered, and would like to give it a try, please get in touch. For more information, please see the 'Volunteer' pages on our website and get in touch with Joanna by phone or email. We will arrange to meet up with you for a chat and can put you in touch with plenty of past volunteers for the low-down on what it's really like to get involved in this way. We look forward to hearing from you and your friends!