Born in 1976

The prompting to this post came recently when I finished “Life after Life” by one of my favorite British authors Kate Atkinson. The wonderful book deals with decisions and choices and the big “What If” of life. It made me take a real hard look at my life choices so far. (Find an excellent summary of the book Here)

I think 1976 has been an amazing year to be born. Not a world war to fight, just some wiser Hippies to inspire our parents some way or the other. A lot of people whose work I truly admire where born that year. And who doesn’t enjoy Sherlock! Best actor to ever portrait him has been born in 1976.

Since I emigrated to South Africa, of all places, I wont be there for our 20 year school reunion. I see it like a huge international train station from which all of us born in ’76 departed to somewhere.

By now, we should have arrived somewhere and be able to assess if this is where we wanted to go, if this isn’t at all where we wanted to be, if we are well on our way to where we need to be or if we should make a serious U-turn!

Up to finishing High School (Gymnasium in Germany, qualifying for university) it is not really anybody’s choice what track we put our life on depends mainly on our parents. I was born in East Germany, behind the “Iron curtain”, as a child of Christian parents. The role of an outsider in an all-communist environment was not a chosen one.

I sometimes wondered what sort of person I would have turned out to be had I, lets say, been born into a wealthy British family who sent me off to a posh prep school.

May_0020No, I think the tough years in East German underground Christianity made me who I am today and I would say i am the better for it. Going to Africa helping kids and all that stuff rather than trying to find a perfect match or something. Just kidding.

One of the biggest questions I recently started to wrestle with was, however, had I made the right decision not to follow my absolute passion for acting, theater and film and do a MA degree in educational science and become a therapist instead?

As a small town girl with serious traits of Aspergers syndrome and  impeccable grades  I was absolutely being realistic about the life ahead trying to become an actress or even director without any connections whatsoever into the industry.

I had read every single book in our school’s library and been to 12 nations before my 18th birthday, including some dangerous adventures during a student exchange to Israel and mission trips into Eastern Europe as well as heading to the U.S. on my own at only 17, but I was very insecure in myself.

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Student exchange to Israel in 1994. I spoke quite a lot of hebrew and had prepared myself through learning the alephbet and essential Jewish prayers by heart, which astonished a lot of the youth in the secular kibbutz in which i was privileged to stay.
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17 years old and going to the US on my own for the first time. I have been there many times now, even traveling with a band for 6 month through 23 states.

So I thought, instead of becoming one more embarrassing struggling wannabe starlet playing dorky roles in Berlin soapies (which I used to love as a teen since they provided me with the kind of insight into secular culture that I didn’t get in my pastor’s kid home), I would rather dive into the real world adventure and see if I can make a difference somewhere.

During my university years I spent 6 months in South Africa to do a thesis on post-apartheid education and almost wanted to die afterwards, having been confronted with some serious religious lunatics! So I took a break in my studies and “escaped” to the Caribbean, on my own, to try to find myself, God, and a positive outlook on life again.

I did a couple of university documentaries and continued Christian drama performances and leading youth, Royal Rangers, etc in my home town.

johnny 006kleinMy first job, living with children that had gone through severe trauma, and assisting them coming back to a more stable lifestyle, was challenging. My second job as a children’s reverend in a large Evangelical church was even more so, and I found no matter how wonderful my intentions and no matter how much I enjoyed working with the kids, me and the upper class west German moms I had to answer to, didn’t have very much in common!

After a trip to Kenia, on my own again, I was faced with the wonderful opportunity to play the violin and do lights and multi media for the gospel band Vinesong and live with them at their headquarters in East Grinstead near London, UK.

Playing as a university student at friend's weddings ... my bestie Sandra (left) also chose an adventurous life involving moving abroad and having a family!
Playing as a university student at friend’s weddings … my bestie Sandra (left) also chose an adventurous life involving moving abroad and having a family!

I was a roadhand and performer at the same time. We traveled the UK, Scotland, USA, Nigeria, South Africa with out music, visiting many different venues and even performing in front of the Nigerian President. I enjoyed the different lifestyles of LA, Las Vegas, Tucson, Baltimore, Houston, Edinburgh, London, and even organized a tour of the German speaking nations on which I acted as an interpretor as well.

Doing powerpoint shows during the gigs of the gospel band I was traveling with.
Doing powerpoint shows during the gigs of the gospel band I was traveling with.

East Grinstead was a rather sleepy but charming town, a Manour house looking down onto a great meadow served fresh scones only a minute away from our homestead. Bike tours through these totally English landscapes complete with little hedges around the fields were awesome. We were even treated to a performance of Les Miserables!

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At Daystar TV
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In Hollywood (Planet Hollywood in LA)
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The Grand one.

What followed was a total shock to the system when I followed the call of an old buddy to come to South Africa where he was pastoring a small country church and help him assist the people in the trying times South Africa is going through. So in 2005 I became a pastor’s wife and in 2009 a mom!

In a nation where 2 people are murdered every hour and a child is raped every 3 minutes, you can imagine that counselors are bombarded with trauma on a level that movies would not be able to handle.

Just the previous thursday we sat with farmers at a home cell group and one of them testified how he had been victimized in an armed robbery, a bullet going straight through his head. His life was spared, he gives God the glory for it, but the shrapnel remains in his face as the surgery to remove it would be too risky to do. A few days later he had to be back at work, as there is no social security here to provide an income when you are traumatized from anything.

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Providing orphaned children in South Africa with food.

I am teaching the children of my preschool about staying safe, and am supporting the local Magistrate courts in their efforts to bring child abusers to justice.

I think the most celebrated actors and playwrights of our times would still struggle to take this all in. A few weeks ago I went with my kids to Germany to enjoy a few care free days just roaming the parks and visiting family, riding the trains and not worry about hijackings.

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Did I make the right choice in career?

I am still dreaming, and that’s okay, right?

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My 2 sons, playing at a beach in Germany on a much needed short time-out from the African challenge. We do try to spend a few summer weeks in Europe every year.

When reading biographies PS_20140806184046I often see the enormous struggle inspirational characters have in choosing a career versus sustaining a happy family life.

I’ve always wanted kids. I even wrote letters to my own children when I was 9, 12, 14, 16 and 19 years old!

I am glad I made the choice to settle down and have a family rather than feverishly chase some dreams that with my humble background wont be so easy to fulfill early. My father said a wise thing: up to 30, it’s your looks come from your parents. From over 30, your looks depend on who you have chosen to become.

Now, you do not have to die like the main figure in Kate Atkinsons wonderful book, to adjust your life.

I believed from a young age that I must be realistic about what I have, and slowly and steady build the life I want to have. Gain life experience, help people, make friends, build a foundation, give my children a better start into life then what I had. And then, even if it will be with 50 or 60, be ready to reach for my ultimate life goals.

So, while some have given up raising a family in order to pursue their dream in young years, I have put some of my dreams on hold to raise a family. Doesn’t mean I wont ever get a chance to pen down some great adventure story or walk up and down in the background of a movie hey?

Tomorrow I will be out and about teaching African preschool kids some life skills, and I can’t wait for the next season of Sherlock. The well-read, thoughtful personality behind the role is truly an inspiration and my kids will love the Penguins of Madagascar. I love this life, it never seizes to amaze me.

I wonder if I should maybe ask some actors to get involved helping down here in Africa, since the work seems to never end.

 

 

 

 

What can we do – what are we doing? A call for churches to be actively involved

Originally posted on Bridging Worlds:

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My husband and I build a big jungle gym-castle for our churches kids. A lot of people from other schools came and asked for the construction plans and costs. Churches can mobilize volunteers to do amazing things that otherwise would cost fortunes.In fact, churches are THE experts in raising armies of volunteers who could change the world.

Hi there, dear cherished audience.

The “likes” on a wordpress blog do not necessarily represent the audience we are actually reaching with our scribblings. I am delighted to know a lot of people from the South African educational reform community as well as interested entrepreneurs have been reading up on my opinionated evaluation of the trouble with the South African educational system in my previous posts!

Some commented on twitter how a government subsidized free education system could create a sense of entitlement counter productive to the sense of self-responsibility we are trying…

View original 1,559 more words

Our youth expressing themselves against abuse

Fighting the rape epidemic in South Africa
Our young dancers have started work on a dance drama Jan Venter and I developed a while ago, and I am positive this is going to be instrumental in raising awareness in young men and women that we’re all responsible to intervene and prevent abuse!
check my post about the topic here.
So thankful for our youth worker Jan Venter to give our town’s youth a shot at expressing themselves for a good cause!

 

Discussing education with the care takers.

Special Needs school: So many needs!

May_0005Today my husband, myself and a very good friend went and visited again the Tshilidzini Special School.

In a previous blogpost I described this school more detailed.

May_0007We had decided to go and visit specific classes at separate visits to bring specific aid to the different departments. There are 360 learners at the school and it is impossible to bring something for everyone at one visit.

Today we went to visit grade R-3.

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With the help of friends from our church and Hope for Limpopo and using my own ressources I had purchased different educational materials such as CD players, educational CDs ranging from sound effects such as weather and animal noises to nursery rhymes, stories and songs. I also made shape, number and letter sorting boxes that can be used by deaf and blind children alike since the letters are made from wooden shapes that must be matched to the appropriate shape fixed to the box.

Discussing education with one of the care takers.
Discussing education with one of the care takers.

May_0020 I had also been making several educational tools myself such as letters and numbers to feel and match.

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winter clothes

We brought modelling clay, toy animals, puzzles, toys, clothes and blankets. The children enjoyed me singing a few songs with them and Roelien handed out some sweets for everybody.

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Trying to be of some inspiration to the carers of the school.

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The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you're happy and you know it" for them.
The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you’re happy and you know it” for them.
singing for the children
singing for the children

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the children singing along happily

 

sweets!
sweets!

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We went to the very drab and depressing dorm rooms to take measurements for the mattresses we are going to order for the children.

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In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?
In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?

I so hope we can find some sponsors to help renovate this boarding school for the visually, hearing and physically impaired children!

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That’s where the 4-5 year old children live and sleep.
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Cafeteria for 160 blind and visually impaired kids …

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Bringing Horse back riding to preschoolers

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Field trips are great, and field trips that come right to your preschool are a lot of fun too because it is safer!

Horses are magnificent animals. Horse riding and interaction with horses is a proven aid to education, concentration, honing fine and gross motor skills, muscle development and social skills.  Unfortunately many children do not have the opportunity of the benefit of getting to know these amazing creatures.

 

Therefore we are offering our children at Emmanuel Kinderland Preschool  a very special chance every Monday morning.

We provide our students with a chance for horse interaction and an introduction to horse riding with experienced horse trainer Sarah Coronaios from the Rondebosch Riding School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah explaining the basics of horse grooming

My trilingual toddler sings his ABC’s at 24 months.

Blogging about life in South Africa, I sometimes forget to include the challenge of raising my kids trilingual, with German as their first, Afrikaans as their second and English as their third language. Both kids can hold conversations very well in all three languages and also translate from one to the other. I thought you might enjoy Sammy’s ABC out there in the South African wilderness.

He is also chatting with me in German, telling me that to him, the mountain is his playground.

 

His brother contributes an Afrikaans folksong for you!  The song is a bout a baboon climbing a mountain, telling a farmer not to grieve, not to cry, the girl from Stellenbosch will return. Alas, Steven does not know what Stellenbosch (South African college town similar to Oxford)  is. However, he knows a skelm (South African for thief), so he is singing about the skelm bos se boys (thief bush boys) who will return. Funny if you know several languages.

Seems that google includes some clips from my Preschool as well, in English and Afrikaans …

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Thank you from the courts

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Intermediary Salome Phaho and myself when I handed R 4000 worth of comfort over to the court. Yeah, sorry we had no professional camera with us, just cell phones. But that’s exactly it – helping is gritty and not about looking pretty right?

Thank you from the courts

Today I received this letter from the intermediary for child witnesses and victims of sexual crimes at the Magistrate Court in Sibasa about how our Comfort boxes now are helping even children in the Musina court:

Good Afternoon Mam,blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus who causeth us to triumph through Christ!

I am simply excited for the foundation that has been laid because for this vision to manifest like this means Victory!

My colleagues Nthabiseng Dzhivhani has just given out a 12-15yrs box yesterday @ Musina and I heard the girl couldn’t put it down.

This project is really working as I realized that most kids come dejected and rejected with little or no support from parents or relatives as if they chose to be victims.

But when they find LOVE in that little box is like their WORLD has suddenly changed as they understand that irrespective of what happened and how they feel and what others take them for, there’s still HOPE in life because someone out there loves them and care about them so much.

DSC02559Thank you once again Woman of God for your heart for souls.

Pass my regards to Pastor

Salome Phaho

So wonderful to hear about those boxes really making a difference in children’s lives.

Of course I cannot post details about the children involved, but share some photos of the people who work with the children and pictures of the court:

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The ladies working with the children who come to testify in court.
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the entrance to the court room
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the tiny space available for children to wait for their court hearing. Our boxes make it so much more comforting for them.

Make today with your child: Deliciously quick and easy home made chocolate eggs!

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So you have some time with the kids over this Easter weekend and would love to do some baking, but grandma already did the Easter egg cookies?

I have something fun for you. An edible dough to shape Easter eggs from and dip them in melted chocolate for a wonderful taste feast.
(Inspiration hit me when dipping my teaspoon in a bit of Nutella and some peanut butter and enjoying the taste together.)
If you love Reese’s peanutbutter cups, these special chocolate Easter eggs are perfect for you!
I made them yesterday with my preschool class, and everyone had a lot of fun.
The peanut butter – Nutella dough is easy to make:
To make that super elastic and delicious dough, put equal measures of peanut butter, Nutella and mini marshmallows into a plastic bowl. It renders a lot of dough, so work with 2 Tbs each in the beginning to see how far that gets you.
Microwave on high for no longer than 3 seconds. The marshmallows will crack if they are overcooked, which will give you lovely little, chewy candy pieces in the dough, but you will add and warm more marshmallows to get the softness into your dough. Take it out of the microwave, stir vigorously. Add the same amount of icing sugar as used per ingredient.
Microwave a few marshmallows for about 10 seconds if you like crispy-chewy candy pieces in your chocolate egg: immediately incorporate into the dough while still warm, they will break up and form delicious crispyness for your soft chocolate eggs.
Knead till all ingredients are incorporated beautifully and the dough is soft and supple. Add more icing sugar if needed. Process into any shape you like, coat with chocolate, yumm.
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Marshmallow candy inside the dough, yumm.
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Lovely soft peanut butter – Nutella dough. Not sticky at all, ideal dough to work with children.

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At the Magistrate Court in Sibasa

A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls.
A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls. A typical carebox contains a friendly stuffed animal for girls, hotwheels (matchbox cars) for boys, a book, sticker activities, a snack, some sweets and a fruit juice. Many children come hungry to court and have to wait for hours until their hearing.
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Discussing with Magistrate Kellermann the need for a more comforting environment for underaged victims of sexual violence. A lot of cases can not go to trial because the children are not able to testify due to nervousness and stress.
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Handing out my first set of 40 comfort boxes containing R4000 worth of items such as fruit juices, snacks, a lovely stuffed toy, sticker activity books, toy cars, crayons etc.
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To get to the rural Magistrate courts one drives about an hour from Louis Trichardt in the North of Limpopo province. A truly underdeveloped infrastructure in the rural courts makes serving justice a challenge.

As many of my followers know, here in South Africa we deal with child abuse and child rape in a severity that is unbelievable.

Today I went to the Magistrate Court in Sibasa delivering 40 care boxes.

The boxes contain high quality toys, stickers, activity books, snacks and a high quality fruit juice. Many children have not had breakfast when they come to testify in court and often they wait for a long period of time.

I had been talking to a friend about the plight of the children in Limpopo, with child abuse rates soaring so high. She is a Magistrate judge and I had asked if there is anything we as a community could do to make testifying easier for victims of child abuse.  After Magistrate Kellerman got the permission by her head of department, I started making of these boxes to help the children bridge the uncomfortable time at court. The boxes will be used in rural courts such as Sibasa, Waterval and Musina.

This has also come up as a topic with the Guardian Angels, our local High Schools care group, who helped me with the collection of boxes while we informed them about their own responsibility to step in and step up when they see abuse happen.

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Teaching our local high School students the importance of getting involved when they see abuse happen instead of lookign the other way is another leg of our efforts to fight the rape epidemic in our province.

How an individual responds to unpleasant events in their life is crucial for their future.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

To assist a child and young woman or young man in overcoming the trauma of abuse is a call we all need to take up in this nation.

To end this, there are many different steps needed. We as a church are going into schools, training learners how to prevent abuse, how to interfere when you know a peer faces abuse, how to report abuse. We train parents. We try to get the community involved.

It is very important that abuse cases to go to court and the perpetrators get sentenced.

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Packing out in total 40 care boxes (more will come the next months as the project takes of) in front of the court staff.
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Magistrate Court in Sibasa- the family courtroom in a mobile trailer! The infrastructure around the court is basic, to say the least. The judges and lawyers work tirelessly under challenging conditions, even in protable offices. The main road leading to this court is a dirt road.

 

As I wrote in my post about courts, http://cvheerden.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/going-to-court/ this is a crucial part of the right against rape in South Africa.

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The court staff responsible for keeping the children safe during the trial. They have a very tiny office and it is not easy to keep children comfortable there. I hope the snacks, toys and books will be of some help.
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The children are testifying through a CCTV system so they do not have to face the criminals.
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The office where the children are waiting for the hearing or coming to for delivering their testimony via CCTV.

 

The stress is very high. A case can only be processed when the judge finds the child capable of making a statement. For that, the child must show an understanding of truth, understanding of consequences of lying. Since most children only understand tribal languages, the have to be able to communicate via a translator and intermediary.

The judge says that unfortunately often children stress so much, they tense up and refuse all communication. The case can not go to trial then.

The comfort boxes will be handed to the child by the intermediary. This will give them a positive start in their communication. The child will be more positive about the experience and also have juice and a snack. They often come to court without having had breakfast and without a lunch box. These comfort boxes cover all that.

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Magistrates Pieter and Hanlie Kellermann who brought my attention to the situation of the child witnesses in court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Talking to the court staff about the importance to support the under aged victims when they testify at court. Intense words for an intense situation.
Talking to the court staff about the importance to support the under aged victims when they testify at court. Intense words for an intense situation.
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Intermediary Salome Phaho (left of me) shared with me her challenges in keeping the children busy. Some NGOs are coming and going with own project ideas, not always practical. they are looking for long-term commitment in a cooperative way. I prefer to first go in and assess the real needs at the base.

 

 

 Statistics from the South African Police regarding child abuse

 

 

 We later received a BIG thank you from the court staff.

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Wendy house for young victims at the back of the Sibasa court.
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We also visited a Wendy house in the back of the court property where we were greeted by a volunteer who had put up his office inside of it. The purpose of the Wendy house is for children to spend their waiting time in.  It seemed a bit unpractical as according to the court staff the young girls get separated from their mothers and during the warmer month it becomes a “hothouse” and can not be used. The toys inside are broken and dirty. The tiny room is filled with the NGO’s computer, coffee table and feels not very inviting.

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Visiting orphans in Uganda and equipping their carers

Yippeh, my husband just returned from a real intense trip to Uganda/South Sudan. He went to encourage Christian leaders, ministers and educators, conducted leadership seminars and visited a lot, a LOT of orphans ministering to the children as well.

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The best room in his hosts house – no electricity, just a gas stove. They shared their food with him, beans, a little rice, a bit of pineapple.
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So happy to have a guest from South Africa!
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Many people came for prayer
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Children from the orphanage presenting an item
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All the children are eating a day: one cup of liquid porridge and maybe a fruit for tea. Resources are scarce.
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Preparation of the porridge
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Traveling on the back of a pick up truck to the next destination.
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Sunday lunch. although Uganda has fertile soil, people lack the knowledge to generate wealth from farming. Much more training needs to happen for people to be able to look after themselves. Many rely on the bananas that grow everywhere for food!
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Leadership seminar
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Equipping pastors and educators who are the ones looking after the needy in their communities.

Here is what he saw: IMG-20140312-WA031 IMG-20140313-WA002 IMG-20140313-WA003 IMG-20140313-WA004 IMG-20140313-WA008  IMG-20140313-WA011  IMG-20140313-WA013 IMG-20140313-WA014 IMG-20140313-WA015 IMG-20140313-WA017 IMG-20140313-WA018 IMG-20140314-WA014 IMG-20140314-WA016 IMG-20140314-WA018 IMG-20140314-WA020 IMG-20140314-WA024 IMG-20140314-WA025 IMG-20140314-WA028 IMG-20140315-WA002 IMG-20140315-WA003 uganda (2) uganda (6) uganda (13)

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My Preschool

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I started Emmanuel Kinderland Preschool in 2012 as I identified the need for quality preschool education in rural South Africa. Many preschools are simply creches run from somebodie’s backyard with little or no educational stimulation let alone a curriculum.

South African schools have now even opened their own grade R (Kindergarten) classes because learners arrive in grade 1 who do not know a word in English, never held a pencil, never played with modeling clay, do not know numbers, shapes or colours!

I am following a German curriculum and place a lot of emphasis on early learning. I even teach our students classical music.

In Africa, there is not much money for anything. So you gotta be creative.

Last week I asked my husband to cut me 26 10×10 wooden blocks. I cut out the letters of the alphabet, glued them on and, voila, there you have Montessori style educational toys. The children love to trace the letters with crayons to get a feel for writing.
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We also made our own sand-art by colouring ordinary river sand with food colouring and sticking it to our numbers. Fun!

 

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Myself working with children in rural South Africa.

Care Packets for Children testifying in court

In a previous post I have talked about the high rate of child abuse and rape resulting in death in South Africa. Only an estimated 10 percent of all cases do go to court and the children as young as 3 have to testify under horrible conditions against the perpetrators. To encourage the children and bless them while waiting, often for hours, in the drab corridors of rural courts, I put together these care boxes containing a fruit juice, a snack, a new soft toy, a mini book and some stickers to keep themselves busy for a moment and be comforted from this unpleasant setting.

A box costs me about 7 US dollars to make seeing that these items are all new and the fruit juice and snack are high quality.

If you want to help me make more boxes, please donate to my paypal account. You can find it on the left hand side of my blog. Thanks.

If you are from around Limpopo you are welcome to provide us with new soft toys, fruit juices and snacks!

Thanks,

Christiane

 

Pray for the mothers

Bridge Builder:

South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and infant rape in the world.[22] In 2001, it was reported by the South African Police Service that children are the victims of 41 percent of all rapes reported in the country.[23] Although there are varying numbers on the number of reported rapes of children, one report states that in 2000, 21,538 rapes and attempted rapes of children under the age of 18 were reported and another from 2001 states that there were 24,892 rapes.[23][24]

A trade union report said a child was being raped in South Africa every three minutes.[25] Some cite a 400% increase in sexual violence against children in the decade preceding 2002.[26] A third of the cases are committed by a family member or close relative.[27] Child welfare groups believe that the number of unreported incidents could be up to 10 times that number. The largest increase in attacks was against children under seven.

A number of high-profile infant rapes appeared since 2001 (including the fact that they required extensive reconstructive surgery to rebuild urinary, genital, abdominal, or tracheal systems). In October 2001, a 9-month-old girl named Tshepang was raped by an HIV-positive man and had to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery in Cape Town.[28][29][30] In February 2002, an 8-month-old infant was reportedly gang raped by four men. One has been charged. The infant has required extensive reconstructive surgery. The 8-month-old infant’s injuries were so extensive, increased attention on prosecution has occurred.[26]

A significant contributing factor for the escalation in child abuse is the widespread myth in HIV ravaged South Africa that having sex with a virgin will cure a man of AIDS.[31] This virgin cleansing myth exists in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.[32] The child abusers are often relatives of their victims and are at times their fathers or providers.[31]

Sexual violence against minors older than the age of infancy is also extremely prevalent in South Africa. According to the Medical Research Council,[33] more than one in four minors experience physical violence at home daily or weekly and more than one third of girls have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Its study also states that by 2009, 40% of all victims who reported rape to the police were under 18 and 15% were under 12 years old.

Originally posted on Intercession:

South Africa has extremely high levels of sexual assault. “The prevalence of rape, and particularly multiple perpetrator rape… is unusually high,” according to a 2012 report by the think-tank the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
Lizette Lancaster, manager of the ISS Crime and Justice Information Hub, says there are many complex reasons South Africa has such a high sexual offence rates.
South Africa is a very paternalistic society where women are not seen as equals, contributing to abuse. “Rape, as you know, is not a sexual act but a violent act,” Lancaster said.

“Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in South Africa,” noted the NGO coalition Shukumisa. It points to research, conducted in Gauteng in 2010, that found one-quarter of women questioned in the study “had been raped in the course of their lifetimes, while almost one in 12 women had been raped in 2009. But only one…

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love-island-art-wide

Heavenly minded

I do not know about you, but sometimes I feel like the prophet Asaph:

Psa 82:1-8 A Psalm of Asaph.

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

Here in South Africa, I often drive by shockingly pompous places like this one which is a game auctioning facility where buck are sold at astronomical prices:

Antique furniture imported from Belgian castles decorates game breeders offices and the antelope lodge in amazing architecture. No problem at all, everyone do as they enjoy.

On the other hand I am faced daily with the lack of appropriate educational facilities and the most basic of provision for people. In South Africa, 10 % of all 0-4 year olds are malnourished, according to UNICEF 84 percent of South African children do not have any access to educational stimulation before they start grade 1.

Our magistrate courts have no facilities for the hundreds of victims of child rape they process every year, those poor children have to sit next to the perps in court.

Yesterday a boy drowned in a school toilet in a rural area that was basically just a long drop.

We labor hard and sometimes it hurts, to be nothing in the eyes of the great and mighty who so easily could make a tremendous difference.

Being measured by the size of your car and the interior deco of your home can wear down the most spirited fighter over time. So that’s why I share this bible verse with you, because I strongly believe that this world is not everything.

love-island-art-wide

The kindness you share here, the compassion and love, will carry over to the next world, where God will make up for all the unrighteous mocking. I believe Mother Theresa will be a royal princess there!

Currently I am in the process of collecting, buying and making educational material to be taken to the Tsilidzini Special School next week. We need Montessori materials to count, weigh, feel, etc which can be sent directly to the Emmanuel Church where I am working.

I am also trying to purchase 360 waterproof mattresses for the boarding school kids at the Special school as bed wetting seems a major problem.

As to the rape victims: the state of social services regarding under aged rape victims is saddening and really typical for Limpopo, where the triage of services is not working as effectively as in other provinces.

I am handing out the very informative Rape Response protocol posters by the Viva organization at own costs to be put up at public places as to inform women of what they can and should do in the unfortunate event of rape.

If you are interested in the report, pls send me your email address. I am also in the process of putting together these parcels for the young victims: Out of years of experience in a South African setting my friend at Viva suggests a soft toy, a chocolate bar, kiddies juice, a hoodie or cap to feel safe in and maybe something to colour in or sticker activity to have an outlet for nervousness.

NGOs are the ones doing all the little steps to help where the need is greatest. Do not give up your good work, everybody!

Find more information in the discussion below.

Collecting and making

Schools have opened again in South Africa and my little preschool is working hard to deliver excellent schooling to all children.

At the same time I am working hard on creating and purchasing sensory teaching aids for the blind and deaf children at the Tshilidzini Special school. I will be going in about 2 weeks time to help and assist the teachers. We also want to get a local African artist to paint a nice mural to brighten up the drab environment of the doormrooms.

I need to purchase paint, ornaments, fruit and veg for a better diet for the children, mattresses and some CD players. I have put together a collection of music CDs that are ideal to teach with.

The South African educational system lacks on every level. Education, public schooling, is expensive. The government is not putting the taxes into education (nor into roads, health care etc. It goes into villas and luxury cars). Teachers haven’t heard of pedagogics and are very little schooled in education theory, educational psychology, scientific background.

Sigh.

In Africa, you do never know where to start. Jump in and believe that every drop of sweat you put in has the power to drive away the darkness. Prayers are welcome.

Making history.

Thanks a lot, fake interpreter! #MadibaMemorial making history.

As somebody who works in the education field in South Africa, I am tremendously impressed with what happened at the Madiba Memorial. A genius planned a fantastic stage act to expose some of our most pressing issues.

For those of you who do not know, millions across the globe were inspired and moved by speeches made at former President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

You can read about this inspiring event everywhere in the web. Maybe you were also amused at Obama’s selfie shoot,

and Michelle’s angry expression resulting in her even switching seats with the Potus during intermission since he seemed to get a little too comfy with the blonde he was seated next to.Great photo-story here.

But what the international community was really outraged about was this sign language interpreter who was not signing in South African or any other known sign language, but seemed to have stepped right off a star ship :

Or was it true Anti-American activism at work here, really really subtly?

history

Watch him “translate” President Obama in his historic address to honour old president Nelson Mandela for his life’s work here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azTaR8stqdE

The man, who signed for a portion of the ceremony including Barack Obama’s speech, was simply making up his own signs, say the Deaf Federation of South Africa. David Buxton, the CEO of the British Deaf Association, said the unidentified man, who was supposed to be signing in South African, was “waving his hands around but there was no meaning.”

Mr Buxton said it was “childish hand gestures and clapping, it was as if he had never learned a word of sign language in his life.”

He said sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern, but his were just repetitive hand movements.

“It was hours of complete nonsense. He is clearly a fraud who wanted to stand on stage with big and important people. It’s quite audacious if you think about it.”

I beg to differ. I am saying:

Well done, Comrade!

You accomplished what many of us tried before but always failed: to raise awareness on an international stage of the outrageous South African habit to employ someone for any other reasons than qualification.

When it comes to former-cleaner-come-high-paid-municipal leader, nobody cares if a non-educated buddy of another functionary gets to decide that raw sewage can safely spill into drinking water supplies. And when thousands of Limpopo villagers have no access to running water because Julius Malema well received millions of Rand for a government tender but failed to complete the pipeline he had promised to build, this raises not even an eyebrow internationally.

Let us learn the lesson. Maybe talking about headmasters of special needs schools who receive outrageous pay but do not bother to learn about education should get an reaction?

Will the CIA hold the ANC responsible for allowing a mentally unstable, unqualified person such close access to the president of the United States? Are we ever going to be able to discuss qualifications in South Africa?

Blind children who sit in dark, empty rooms while the donated Braille typewriters stand unused in the shelves because the principal has no idea what to use them for (but he did bother to study the car marked before buying that high end SUV) can maybe draw attention to this problem.

tshilidszini 020Or a fully equipped computer room that does not get used because, as I am told in no uncertain terms: deaf children can not learn words. Just like that. When I am informing the teachers that you can download loads of visual vocabulary games for free online, they do not even look up from their whatsapp chats on their cell phones.

tshilidszini 005a
These facilities built in the 1970s house 400 physically challenged, hearing or visually impaired and albino children who do not get sufficient stimulation or adequate education. And nobody seems to care.

Applaud this comrade who was bold enough to show how the cadre does not bother a bit about educating the special needs people of South Africa!

Now the national “ministry of explaining things away” claims this poor person is schizophrenic http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Fake-interpreter-says-he-is-Schizophrenic-20131212

Well, whatever episode you are suffering on the mental spectrum, you are normally much more likely to regress back to old habits rather than making up non-intelligible signs. For him to sign: mama makes great stew, or at least repeatedly use the SA sign for Mandela, would have been more likely. Which means this interpreter probably never knew how to sign in the first place.

Singing together with the parents of my preschool’s first ever Christmas Concert.

Living in South Africa can be frustrating, to say the least. I learned: involve some topic that matters internationally, like offending the international deaf community, and you might draw some bit of attention to major South African problems. Will things change? Not through international outrage.

At always, it will be the tedious works of love by dedicated individuals that will continue making a difference.

Here is a great blog summarizing the correct steps that should have been taken in appointing an interpreter for such an historic event:

“This whole thing makes me sad. So terribly sad. What has happened to Madiba’s dream? A country ruled in fairness to all it’s peoples? A just government, portraying the hopes and aspirations of a wonderful nation?

“Let us hope that clear minds and cool heads consider the questions raised. The interpreter is just a symptom, you guys. We need to address the disease, not blame that poor man for the real problem.”

PS. It gets even more bizarre. In a weird turn of events the South African Government now admits their interpreter who was entrusted with the task of translating Barack Obama, president of the USA, does not really understand English.
“For you to be able to interpret you must understand the language that’s being spoken at the podium.  He is Xhosa speaking as his first language, the English was a bit too much for him. So yes he could not translate from English to sign language,” says Bogopane-Zulu.

South Africa, please wake up. Now even the African American (black) president of the USA fell victim to BEE.

If you can do with a little chuckle, check out what the “fake interpreter” really said:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG57ncLTCNc

Care for the Children

Care for the Children

There is too much abuse of children going on in the world and especially in South Africa. God is watching over the little children. If you minister to them, God will reward you. If you hurt and harm their body, soul or spirit, God will surely punish you. Pray for the safety of all children! Keep praying for the Children, that they will be brought of in the love of Christ and the Integrity of the Word of God!

Adventures between cultures

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