Second Group Visit To Kruger And Kodumela
The 2009 visit to South Africa followed the same format as the 2007 visit. A self-funded group of Choko supporters spent a few days in the Kruger National Park before travelling to Hazyview where Rissington Inn hotel owner Chris Harvie kept us up to date with news and views about the general election which was held on April 22nd, the second day of our visit to Kodumela.
We spent three days visiting schools, individual homes and the Morabudi (Special Needs) Centre which we worked so hard to raise money for in 2008. The new building was well under way and all the equipment for it was in storage and ready for use. As soon as the actual building work is finished, the young disabled people who are poorly served by local schooling and who have so little, will have a wonderful accessible place to meet every day.
The following pages are a brief account of the three days we spent in Kodumela. It would take a huge amount of space to include every detail, so if you would like to know more about the trip or Choko itself, please get in touch and we will do our best to answer your questions.
Kodumela Day One ~ Nice To See You Again
Tuesday 21st April 2009 dawned overcast and chilly in the Limpopo region of South Africa and so it would stay for the next three days but the grey skies did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Choko group during the 7am photo call and the long days of the official visit
Cars had been loaded the night before so the tons of clothes, toys and books generously donated in the UK were close to their end. Visit the photo gallery to see pictures of our time in Kodumela.
The first pleasant surprise for those who had been on the 2007 trip was the tarred roads replacing some of the deeply rutted dirt roads we had encountered on our first visit. The cows, donkeys and goats wandering about in the traffic hadn’t changed!
We were officially welcomed by the Kodumela ADP staff in one of the rondavels in the World Vision compound. They sang their welcome, which touched each of us and the two years since our last visit melted away.
We first visited Masekane School, which has been linked with Crowmarsh Gifford CE Primary School since September 2008. The children poured out of their classrooms, carrying their chairs, and sat down to enjoy the recitals, songs and dances performed by representatives of each grade in the school. Apart from some of them not having shoes and nearly all of them not having both parents, they’re like primary school kids the world over – fidgeting, giggling, and day dreaming!
Barbara O’Dwyer, Headteacher at Crowmarsh, was able to present a scrap book containing information and pictures about her school and its pupils to the acting head of Masekane.
Over a picnic lunch at the ADP, we were entertained by children from Metz School. Some of them danced and others performed their award-winning Choral Verse.
We then visited the partially built Morabudi Special Needs Centre, which Choko has raised the funds to build and equip. The young disabled people and their carers sang us a welcome then showed us the beginnings of their new building. The foundations and about six courses of bricks were in place, with building materials and equipment stored locally ready to complete the project. Bev Butler, Chairman of Choko, presented Mrs. Mashumu, leader of the Special Needs Group, with a plaque commemorating the Choko contribution to the new centre.
Later, we had just enough time to visit a local soccer team who had been provided with matching shorts and shirts, goal posts and footballs from Choko donations. They were very keen to pose for pictures and show off their skills – unfortunately most of us were way too tired to field a team against them!
Kodumela Day Two ~ A Real Highlight
Our second day coincided with the general election so there were no classes for the children and many people had the day off work; most people were keen to vote and long queues formed at the polling stations.
The day was a real highlight for the child sponsors among the Choko group, because they were able to spend time with the children they usually only see in photographs. It’s a big occasion for the sponsor, the child, the whole family and, quite often, friends and neighbours too!
For those who do not sponsor children, the day was spent learning more about the work carried out by the ADP staff, touring the on-site dairy, meal grinding area, Resource Centre, market and trading area and the goat compound. An informal question and answer session with Ledile, the ADP manager, gave the Choko group a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the people who live in the Kodumela area and those trying to help them.
Visit the photo gallery to see pictures of our time in Kodumela.
Kodumela Day Three ~ We’ll Meet Again
The last day began with a visit to Mamokaile School, which is ‘twinned’ with Cholsey Primary School.
The whole school had turned out to greet us, and the children performed a programme of recitals, songs and dances – from the little tots in the reception class counting from one to twenty in English to the oldest students doing modern and traditional dance routines.
We toured some of the classrooms and were thrilled to see that since we were last at the school a water supply has been installed which means they are now able to cultivate a garden so they can cook their own fresh food for school lunch. There are some orphans at the school so they help out in the garden after school in return for taking produce home to feed themselves. To meet the staff and children of Mamokaile, visit www.mamokaileschool.blogspot.com
We then visited the Lafata Women’s Project, affectionately known to us as “the beadwork ladies”. When we last visited them they had one bare room and not much else but, by virtue of their own hard work, they now have a four room building where they make beadwork, jewellery and accessories, wall hangings and table covers and clay pots, they also bake scones, run a chicken/egg business and feed orphans and vulnerable children once a day. They are now fully independent of project funding and have made the most spectacular success out of nothing at all. There is more information about Lafata at www.lafataprojects.blogspot.com
We then visited 22 year old Mokgadi who cares for her younger siblings and her 2 year old daughter. She has two rooms built as separate dwellings with an open “kitchen” in the yard and a patch of garden where she is growing tomatoes, spinach, chillies and beetroot. When we visited, she was fetching water from a nearby stream to irrigate her crops and to boil for drinking, but since then a stand pipe has been installed in her yard. She has gone back to school and has ambitions to study sociology and we all came away with the impression that she will realise her dreams because she is a very determined young lady.
All too soon it was time to say farewell, but it was easier to leave this time than last because we know we’ll be back!
Visit the photo gallery to see pictures of our time in Kodumela.