What a year.
It’s been just under a year since we first went with Mum to visit Fakazile at the Zenzeleni Community Center in Mpophomeni. Now, almost 12 months on, the team is feeding 175 kids, 3 times a week. Remember it started with 30 kids about this time last year but the needs in that area are huge. The family hardships that have to be endured are mind-blowing and the manner in which the community gathers round with their own generally very meager resources to comfort and help where they can is immensely heart warming. Lula Isandla’s contribution, including a heavy load borne by the volunteers at the Zenzeleni Community Centre being cooks, listeners, somebody to hug and wipe away the tears, organisers, teachers, substitute mothers and fathers, and playmates, goes a small way towards making life more bearable for the children and give some small hope for their future. Lula Isandla volunteers also help with counselling and have arranged several functions for the kids.
Here are some brief highlights of 2008 at Lula Isandla:
- With some extreme generosity, Lula Isandla kicked off with a bang in January.
- Roberto Confessore and the Shosholoza team ran the Comrades Marathon to raise money for Lula Isandla
- To match their efforts, Lula Isandla organised a fun run through Mpophomeni for 80 kids.
- Lula Isandla got their own bank account and also, with the help of Fuel, got an official charity number
- 300 litres of Belgian yoghurt donated by Fairfield Dairy.
- We had a craft day where we taught the kids how to make paper flowers.
- The area behind the community centre was prepared for vegetable gardens. The children were separated into groups and given the responsibility to look after the gardens themselves. There has been great enthusiasm in this, almost equal to that of the goats in getting to the ‘fruits’ of the children’s’ labours.
- And most recently, Lula Isandla took 170 children on an Educational Tour to Queen Elizabeth Park nature reserve in Pietermaritzburg for a Christmas treat. The staff at QE Park were extremely kind and took the children on a guided tour of the park in the boiling heat, and then the kids all sat down for a boerie roll as the heavens opened! – check the website for Ma’s email about this.
But for next year, and with your continued extreme generosity, we hope to get bigger and better. So the plans for 2009 are:
- With the help of some amazing donations, we are going to build a KITCHEN!! - right now the kitchen is about the size of a small built-in cupboard and the cooking on the gas stoves is done on the veranda where the stoves, pots, preparation tables, cups, plates etc. have to be moved for each meal.
- FC Consulting Engineers are donating the design and the plans
- Crystal Lagoon Construction are going to build the structure – including materials and labour
- Span Africa are going to donate steel frames for the cupboards for the kitchen
- And with the amazing donation from Bradford McCormack in JHB, we will furnish and plumb the kitchen.
- We want to increase the meals from 3 times a week to 5!
- We will be trying to give the HIV+ children a fortified porridge / drink to have each morning, at home, before setting off for school.
- We would like to have enough money to give the Vukaza Project (the care givers / cooks – and Vukuza implies ‘Nurturing’) a stipend for the invaluable contribution they make, without them Lula Isandla would not function.
The year has been an amazing one, and it’s been an unbelievably moving and emotional experience to be a part of. The response of our friends and family, and also from people who we do not know, who have given with complete trust has confirmed an opinion of ours that we find ourselves having to increasingly fight for – that this country is blessed with a humanity, goodness and loving positivity, that often tends to get lost in amongst the sensationalist drama stories that the media prefer to propagate.
We thank you deeply, but ask again, to not forget about us in this festive season. This dream has only just begun, and we desperately need your ongoing support for it to continue to flourish. And if you are ever in the area, we would be honoured if you could drop by the hard working and selfless Zenzeleni Community Centre one day, and see what an amazing difference that your contribution has made.