On the 16th April 2015, 16 CHOKO supporters set off to South Africa. After an overnight flight to Johannesburg it was time for the four hour drive to the first part of our visit, Kruger National Park.
The CHOKO Team spent 4 days exploring the delights and wonders of Kruger, it also meant that we were able to get to know each other, which would prove to be invaluable in the coming days.
On the Monday we left Kruger and travelled to Rissington Inn in Hazyview, which would be our base for the next 5 days. To some of us Rissington was new but to many of the team it was a return visit to a much-loved place.
Tuesday – Day 1, Kodumela
It was an early rise as breakfast was at 6am and then we started out on the 2½ hour drive to Kodumela. The first stop was the ADP office to pick up Ledile, the project manager. Then after experiencing the long drop toilets, it was off to Mamokaile School.
As we drove into the grounds of the school we were greeted by a majorette band, who were very enthusiastic, and the whole school. After meeting old friends and new we were seated and entertained by different groups of children, who sang and danced for us.
We then moved to the new intervention classroom, which is set up to support children with special educational needs and has been based on the additional support that children in the UK are provided with. In this classroom we saw a lesson and this could have been any classroom in any school in England, except, maybe, for the exemplary behaviour of the children. It was then the turn of the teachers and visiting government officials to explain how the support of Choko had changed and improved the education of the children in the Limpopo region.
After some dancing with the children, conga included, we returned to the ADP centre before the drive back to Hazyview. On the way back Harry got stopped by the police for allegedly speeding, an occupational hazard when driving in South Africa. For Harry this was to become commonplace.
It was off again at 6.30am for the drive to Kodumela. Today we separated into different groups, one group (the teachers) were spending their time in the school and the other group visited the disabled centre.
On the last trip the disabled centre had been at the very early stages of being built and today everyone got to see the finished building. For some this was one of the biggest achievements that Choko had made possible and it is now supported by government and helps people who had previously been sorely neglected. As is obviously the South African way, we were entertained with singing and dancing by the children from the centre.
For those of the group who have sponsored children the afternoon was spent visiting them and their families. Gifts and food were taken and with great sadness the sponsors had to say goodbye to the children that they had got to know over the past years.
The day ended with a visit to a water project farmer.
For a change, Harry got stopped going to Kodumela and found that World Vision t-shirts are very useful for avoiding fines.
Today we visited the other link school in Kodumela, Masekene School. Again we were greeted by speeches and celebrations of singing and dancing, followed by a visit to their intervention classroom.
In the afternoon the ‘teachers car’, as it had become known, went back to Mamokeile School, while the rest of the group visited the other projects that Choko has supported. This included the piggery, Gloria’s Creche and the Lefata Ladies (bead ladies) and their chicken project and orphan feeding centre.
It was then time to say goodbye to Ledile and the other workers at the ADP, as tomorrow only the teacher’s car would return to Kodumela. It was sad to know that this would probably be the last time we would be in the area as the World Vision project there is coming to an end.
Our car returned to Rissington over the Drakensberg Mountains, stopping off at Blyde River Canyon and the 3 Rondavels. Harry probably got stopped somewhere on the way back!
It was then time for the group to go their separate ways: some back to the UK, some to stay at Rissington and some to venture further afield in South Africa and beyond…….and yes, Harry did get stopped by the police again!