On Friday, we ventured into the heat and even deeper into the South African countryside. We started with a visit to Neville’s Newtown Philipton Primary School, where the 2007 group spent a full day. This year, we had tea with the teachers and got to meet the schoolchildren and hear their phenomenal choir. We’ve attached a recording so you all can share in their music.
Then we traveled on down the road to Bedford for our work project. The children and parents from the Thembani Day Care Centre greeted us with music and dancing, and then we attended an assembly at the Xhosa church where we were entertained with music from the Centre and local school children’s singing. The highlight was a local boys’ group of “gumboot” dancers who did a stomp performance to welcome us to the township. We’ve attached another sound file of their welcome.
I planned to write last night, but I just couldn’t do it. We had done a LONG day’s work, and I just couldn’t formulate a cohesive thought. Plus, there was so much yet to be done the next day – it was too overwhelming to put into words. I am doubly tired tonight, but everyone back home needs to know about all that we have accomplished. In two days – TWO DAYS!!! – we were able to spackle and prime (with oil-based paint no less) and then paint six rooms, tile and grout a kitchen floor, install new rain gutters, rip up linoleum and then paint and seal the floors, paint two extra-large sets of shelves, weed the Centre’s and the church’s yard, and paint the entire Xhosa church. The whole group worked hard, but our “team leaders” – Rod, Kathie, and Carty – deserve a special word of thanks for their expertise and direction. If someone can teach me, of all people, how to grout a tile floor (thanks again, Rod!), then you know they must know what they are doing!
The whole week we’ve had to come to terms with “TIA” (“This is Africa”). It’s a slower pace, and as one of the locals said today, she wouldn’t even trust the paint to dry in the time the can said that it would. Our American pace and way of life may get the better of us in other settings, but these last two days, I think it was the only thing that allowed us to accomplish all that we did. And excuse me for bragging on the group, but Dawn said that Americans work harder than any of their other international visitors! Apparently, when we set our mind to something, get out of the way, or you’re going to get a layer of paint slapped on you – and unless you want to take a turpentine shower, you’re not going to enjoy trying to get that off!
Right now, I feel like a kid who has played hard all day long but who is up past her bedtime, so that’s all I’ll write. Check out our “before” and “after” pictures of the Thembani Day Care Centre below!