United Kingdom, South Africa · 12 Days · 22 Moments · November 2017

Khayelitsha Mellon Educate Building Blitz

22 November 2017

Bye bye South Africa. See you in less than a year.
https://youtu.be/EdgSGJwU9t0 a lovely memory of our week.

21 November 2017

Oh hello.
We saw 3 Right Southern Whales. Do you speak whhhaaaallle?
Beautiful Western Cape.
I look on these shacks with love.

20 November 2017

Wine tasting with David via Air BnB. Intimate, decedent, informative, fun. Lots of big dogs to hug.

19 November 2017

Sunset on the day most of the volunteers left - watched their plane fly off into the horizon. Heavy heart saying goodbye. Beautiful sunset with Rosie.
Last day with my Blitz Best Bud. Great!
Bus tour reflections.

18 November 2017

Lunch stop off. Too beautiful.
Hopped on the bus tour, which is wonderful. Delighted to have survived the wrap party hangover. Great company.

17 November 2017

Summarising the week. Friday was so overwhelming that it’s impossible to know whether to laugh, cry or take a nap. Seán as an expert seems to have it sorted!
The classroom to the school. Surreal that it’s all over so quickly. This building was dedicated to PJ’s mother who was supportive of his many veteran years here. Incredible dedication shown for those veterans who have come back year after year. I salute you.
A friendly tag rugby game with the secondary school was a lovely way to see how the locals, who have nothing and some of whom didn’t even have shoes, could play with skill and strength and manners. Again the care and honour displayed by the students was impressive. Catherine’s debut didn’t go too bad at all! Final picture of the lunch area, which I am particularly fond of. Haunted that we ran out of the gloss yellow paint on the other side, will have to give it a quick lick next year. Only a max of 10% of the children go on to attend further education after school. Niall might need to get involved in this section. What a great guy!
Catherine, the legendary builder tucking into Friday painting. I feel like I’ve know her for years and I’ve learned new things which will stay with me about outlooks, determination, individuality and heart. I hope we will be friends and have more adventures in the future and continued laughter, wonder and joy.

16 November 2017

The community focus and cooperation of this trip was truly inspiring. People from all walks of life, of a full age range from 16 to 80, mostly from Ireland but from other parts of the world too. Hard working, determined, productive. It’s an incredible feat to manage 300 people into delivering. I didn’t really have a concept of what people could do in 5 days. By no means is everything perfect and rosey though. We learn as we go about how to do things more efficiently and in what order. We learn to work together and how to communicate. It’s gratefully received when people adjust their behaviour to their audience and show this care and insight. There’s a great spirit to it, deeply moving. And a physicality of love - lots of hugs and smiles and being called by name. A tribe. Here’s my inspiration for coming out - Seán who is humble, hard working, a gentleman and ever so kind and loving. To say I feel blessed to have had this time is a watery communication.
Today we got to visit the primary school next door. Pretty much mobbed by love, hands feeling our soft hair, hugs, curiosity, laughter. For people with so little they have so much. And damn if they can’t organise themselves into singing and dancing in the blink of an eye. Impressive! As students, they take such care of things - their handwriting, neatness, studious, mannerly. We are like gangsters in comparison at school, at home. There is a lot of unrest in the township of Khayelitsha with two rival gangs putting a strain on the people there. Complex but animal also, tribes, territory, power. But for that smaller percentage, there’s so much love and respect and wonder and joy. And so much struggle. Getting out of the shacks, working hard, buying a house, moving your family in with you, is the goal of the brave there. And the fortunate. A shack costs in the region of 2,500 Rand (£130) and it’s 4 walls and a corrugated roof. There’s no safety or security. They’re packed tightly.

14 November 2017

Day two, a little bit less clueless, people started to settle into groups, great chit chat, friendships quickly form. For me Seán and Catherine were my bread and butter and I feel incredibly lucky to spend time with such special human beings. This trip has been so overwhelming and meaningful that flowery words seem superficial and I don’t know how to convey the dept of it all.

13 November 2017

Coming to Africa with little research & a bit of nervousness, day one on site started our familiar routine. Up before 6 - encourage roomie to join the world, breakfast with the other 300+ volunteers and staff, hop on the bus for 45 minutes, arrive on site, get to work. Incredible brain changer for what we are capable of from a skill set perspective - we can block lay, we can plaster, we can paint, we can shovel, we can sweep. We can work together.

11 November 2017

Soon - up, up and away.
Setting off filled with wonder and anticipation. Steel toed boots for The Mellon Educate Building Blitz 2017, taking me back to the styles of the late 90’s.