Operation Feed the Children: The Sequel
For those of you that have followed my blog(and have an excellent memory), you may recall my post about a particular day in South Africa. On that day I approached the building project manager, Deen and asked him what I could do to help the children. He looked at me and said “If you really want to help them and make them happy, you must get them food”. I listened to his advice, bought and prepared lunch for all the children at the building site.
The pure joy and happiness in the children’s faces while they were eating lunch is something that still resonates with me today. For that reason, a few weeks ago I decided to make a donation to Deen to buy the children food. The volunteers at the site prepared the food in a similar fashion and the results were the same. The results are best explained by an excerpt from the Projects Abroad blog below:
“Less than a year ago I had been most fortunate to be associated with a remarkable volunteer Jonathan Verpent who again donated funds for food which would be distributed to the kids at the crèche on the building site. This had been the highlight of two weeks spent at the adventures of the building project. Receiving heart-warming smiles from the children in those three days spent giving out food and drinks was the most incredible feeling that reminded me of the true happenings in the heart of the building project.”
I wish I could have been there to deliver the food in person, but the the pictures below will have to do. Special thanks to Deen and his son Vash for putting this together and executing my idea.
Volunteers preparing lunch
On August 17th I embarked on the journey of a lifetime to Cape Town, South Africa for two weeks. I thought the trip would have been all about building a community center. To be honest, the actual community center was secondary. It was a ray of hope and provided a sense of community for the locals. It was about being a positive influence on the young children, who have experienced more hardship in their short lives than most do in their lifetimes. It was about helping out the stray dogs, and “adopting” them on the site as if they were our own. Although my time there was short, I know I had a positive influence on the children, dogs, volunteers, and the building site in general.
My time in South Africa was nothing short of life changing. The bonds I made with the other volunteers, my house family, Deen, and the children are everlasting. I will never forget the times I had and will ensure I let the moments I shared have a positive influence on my life and others around me.
I could have not asked for a more amazing end to my journey to 30 Deeds over the past year. However, in reality, it is not the end of the journey….It is just the beginning of a lifetime dedicated to giving.
Deen and I
I woke up today with mixed emotions. I was excited to work hard yet sad because it was my last day. I did not know how I was going to say goodbye to the volunteers and children I formed a close bond with over the last few weeks. None the less, I ate my breakfast and headed out the door for the final day.
When I arrived on site, the volunteers and I quickly got to work. We mixed cement and started “prettying” up certain areas as we had done in previous days. Unfortunately, after about 45 minutes, it started to rain..and then rain..and then rain some more. If you have read my previous posts, you may realize that this is a very common occurrence during the month of August in Cape Town. Undeterred, I ran inside to spend time with the children. They were watching a movie and I joined them to try and get a few more smiles out of them before leaving.
Deen telling his infamous stories
Before leaving the site, Deen gathered all the volunteers to speak about myself and Jomo, who was also leaving that day. Deen started off with stories and fatherly advice for both of us, before allowing each volunteer to say something to each of us. It is a tradition for Deen that all volunteers have the pleasure of experiencing before leaving. I also got to say a few words and thanked everyone for accepting me as if I were family. I headed back home for my final dinner with my amazing house family before starting my long journey home tomorrow morning.
As I have mentioned before dogs in Cape Town are treated a lot different than what I am used to in the US. Deen has shared multiple stories about kids in the area that brought puppies/stray dogs into the bush for their fighting pitbulls to kill. When we arrived on site, this poor little guy (pictured above) was shivering in the rain by himself.
Most of the volunteers are dog lovers like myself so we decided we had to do something. Jomo(the Englishman) gave him his lunch and Steffi and Svena(the Germans) gave the dog extra food and attention. They have become part time vets of sorts, taking care of a few dogs that hang around the site..including the dog pictured below. We went to Deen and asked if we could do something. He was a bit crossed as he has brought close to 40 dogs to the SPCA over the last 3 years, most of which had to be put down. Either way, they brought the dog to the SPCA and hopefully they can rehab him and find a good home!
Other than that, we spent time mixing cement and then fixing the steps that lead to the playground. The project is at the point where it is time to start making things “pretty”. Luckily for the building, I am leaving tomorrow as that is not my strength. I much rather prefer to “pick things up and put them down” such as filling wheelbarrows with sand and mixing cement. One more day of work and time with the kids before it is time to go home😦
The Building Volunteers!
As I have mentioned before, weather in Cape Town is quite unpredictable. Rainy one minute, sunny the next. However, today called for downpours all day so Deen scheduled a “team building” outing together. We met at the train station and headed down to the Cape Town waterfront, which is about a half hour train ride away. We spent some time walking around a mall laughing, and listening to Deen’s infamous stories. He brought us to a food court type place that looked like it was in a back alley. It had all kinds of ethnic food which looked delicious, albeit a bit scary. After eating and enjoying each others company, we headed back home full and happy.
Happy Children enjoying lunch
A few days ago while working, I had the idea that I wanted to do something more for the kids at the building site. I approached Deen with a few ideas: get kids a ball, crayons and paper..something to help them socialize and stimulate their mind. Deen looked at me and said “If you really want to help them and make them happy, you must get them food”. I trusted Deen’s word and decided to buy food for all the children
Lots of Sandwiches!
Fast forward to today, I woke up early and headed to the grocery store with Deen. I bought makings for about 50 sandwiches, a pack of 50 crackers, and pack of 50 cookies. We drove back to the job site and worked all morning: mixing cement and laying more of the foundation. Mid morning, a few volunteers and I started made all the sandwiches. We brought them over to the kids along with a pack of crackers and pack of cookies for each. After giving them the food, I have never seen them so quiet and content. As always, Deen was right and the kids were happy! The leftovers were given to the men and women who work at the daycare center to eat and distribute to others in the area. Operation “Feed the Children” was a success!