I am now 3 weeks into my 6 months PULSE journey with the NGO: Project HOPE UK. I am based in Munsieville, a township in the west of Gauteng in South Africa.
Why am I here? To create an operational plan for the Early Years Development Center (EYDC) which will provide a dedicated space for the health service providers to further contribute towards affording orphans and vulnerable children an opportunity to emerge from childhood as healthy and productive adults.
How has the journey been thus far? Very different in an incredible way…
During my first week we had our COO and CEO for Project Hope UK visiting, during this time they ran a workshop on the new approach to ensure sustainability. This provided invaluable understanding of Project Hope UK and the Thoughtful Path Munsieville. This created a wonderful opportunity to meet the team which is now like a family. WOW! What a team: dedicated, passionate, hard working, creative and selfless all working hard to help chill drew have a better life and future.
During this first week, we did not only learn but we had lots of fun as a team. We engaged in various activities – as cold as it was, these were not ice-breaking activities but reinforced for me why we are here – children’s wellbeing, sharing not only food 🙂 but skills and having fun while we were at it. The activities included “musical chairs”, sharing awesome food like the dumbling (steamed bread) made by our dearest, wonderful sis Betty.
What are the Highlights in the 2nd and 3rd week? There is much but I guess I should remember this is a blog – something new to me …
The Thoughtful Path team hosted a Holiday Program for children in one of the centers Fhulufhelo which is in an even less developed area of Munsieville. This hosted children across ages up to 16 years and included multiple activities both fun and educational. As part of understanding the health services that will be a part of the operational plan I engaged in health talks with the team and co-hosted my first one with a Public Health volunteer; Odi. We asked the adolescent girls what topic they would like to have – to my shock, they requested one on “sexual interactions”. WOW! We would have not gone there ourselves but understood that it is still very taboo in these communities for parents and even teachers to discuss and educate on a topic like this – that being said we had a very interactive, excited and engaged team two days later with a request to please carry that on an ongoing basis.
One of the most fascinating observations was how very very little food was stretched to feed a multitude of people bringing to live the biblical story of the 2 fish and 5 loaves.
Educational talks around either health, nutrition, hygiene, safety etc. are always embedded into the gatherings and delivered in simple, relevant and creative ways to either children, youth, adults or the older people. No PowerPoint fancy presentations with numerous slides 😀.
Let me sign off for now – will update you again in a few weeks.