THUBELISHA - GREEN VILLAGE
Green Village is on the way to Tshepisong which we know quite well now, but still we managed to get hopelessly lost on the way there!
Lindi had arranged this distribution with the help of Sibongile, who works with the children at Thubelisha and had come across one of Lindi’s Tshepisong sewing groups - that's the way it happens !!!!
Now with the best will in the world, it has to be said that road map directions are just not possible to get to grips with in any kind of manageable form in this part of the world!! Not from Sowetans, anyway, bearing in mind that the vast majority are not drivers themselves - nor will they EVER sit behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle. Also, map instructions contain strange words like, "short left" which, after all these years, I still cannot fathom out.
We do laugh though ... and this was one of those occasions.
First off, we drove past "Green Village" sign several times, going back and forth along the main road looking for what had been described as a large painted sign. Suddenly we saw it, large indeed and painted along a long stretch of wall, but SO FADED it was almost non-existent! Great jubilation after 20 wasted minutes. Then, after many "short lefts" which I invariably misinterpret and do the opposite of what I am being asked to do .... U-turns, reversing stints (not easy in the KASvan specially when it is full to the brim) and periods of idling alongside the pavement while Lindi received equally oblique instructions on the KAScellphone, we finally found Thubelisha ... about an hour after the appointed time. PHEW !!
It was a FREEZING cold day with gusts of icy Highveld wind blowing … and disorganised because Sibongile was nowhere in sight. Lindi called her and found that she had gone to a meeting of some sort and left vague instructions with a colleague who we could not identify at first.
We found 6 or 7 special needs kids waiting, huddled in a shipping container fitted out with tables and chairs which had been made ready for a wedding, it seemed!! We wrapped them up and took some pics.
Lindi called Sibongile again and she said that the rest of the kids were "writing exams" which was strange as it was the week of mid-term break!! Curiouser and curiouser !!!
More kids suddenly pitched up in a Winnie Mandela taxi which sped off, leaving them in a cloud of dust. It appeared to us that 50-60 blankets, beanies, handwarmers, soft toys and other items, plus the apples, chicken soup and loaves of bread would be of no use. Lindi was explaining that our gifts were for pre-schoolers and no sooner had she spoken than 10 very little children arrived from the Green Village Creche and we happily wrapped them all up and took more pics.
Then, as we were repacking the van with the left-overs, suddenly around the corner came 30-35 more little ones, appearing as if by magic. So in the end ALL the items were distributed in a rather haphazard manner and the community of spectators grew larger and larger.
It was a bizarre morning altogether among a very poor and quite dislocated community, it seemed, where there was no pattern or grasp of events - bewilderment is the word.
Thoughts often turn back to that day ... with real sadness for the dysfunctionality of our social services in places and cases like this one.'
For our part, we were thankful when it was over and we could tell ourselves ... "all's well that ends well"