Category Archives: Love

A Special Needs School: Love the Children

PS: Read the update on this post here: Revisited

 

When you live in South Africa, chances are that you are barely making it through your month.

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That’s why at month end the supermarkets are overcrowded with people who received their pay and can buy some food again. I was not used to this from my former life in Germany. I now earn a fraction of what I brought home monthly in Germany. Medical costs are high – my son needed his teeth fixed and it actually cost more than what I get in a month.

As pastors of a big community church in the poorest of all SA provinces, we deal with so many crises that it sometimes seems like climbing a never ending mountain. We had to bury a lot of young people recently due to crime and traffic accidents.

Working for a church means to be the crisis center of a community. And a church in a poor community in the poorest province has very limited funds, so you end up paying a lot out of your own pocket. A new T-shirt for your child or some shoes for a needy sister? I hope some of you can relate when I write that one becomes a little hesitant to get involved in new things. I am not one of the south Africans driving around with a flashy car spending my mornings in gyms and glitzy malls. Wouldn’t mind, but there is real life happening to real people and i don’t want to play the violin while the titanic is busy sinking. I’d rather be tossing more people onto the life boats, if you know what i mean.

In Africa it goes like this: if you have once helped, you will be always responsible to help. Somehow helping creates the impression you have got a money making donkey in your backyard somewhere. We had many people who we helped, showing up again and again demanding more and more things, not understanding that my sons also must eat.

But the Lord Jesus challenges us to never close our hearts, we need to trust Him to replenish what was given.

Out of that call to love, we dared once more to go and check out people who might be in need. You know, when it comes to children, you just have to throw caution into the wind and get ready to help.

So today I have been on the road to Thohoyandou, the former capital of Venda in the Limpopo province.

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Africa runs at a very different pace (hurry up and wait).

This Special Needs School has been all the time on my mind though, and after being in contact with the headmaster and some people who wanted to help, I was pushing my husband and finally today we got to go!

I want to share some impressions and pictures with you.

I pray and hope my words can reach your heart and those of some people able to support.

The school was founded under the old Afrikaans regime, a huge complex with great facilities – in theory.

It is immediately evident upon arriving at the school that the gardens are landscaped and the offices comfortable.

Apart from the front, the back buildings are starting to show signs of neglect and disrepair.

At the moment, the TSS is home to 360 visually and hearing impaired children as well as physically disabled children and children with various degrees of mental disabilities who are schooled in 3 separate complexes at the school.

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The Principal, Mr. Maluma, received us sitting at his desk.

He informed us that this is a government school. The government build the school in the 1970s. The different buildings on the vast complex are big and solid. But it is obvious that for a long time no repairs have been done.

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The Deputy Principle of TSS Mr. Msrabu was so kind to lead us around the school premises.

This is the main building where the staff offices are.

Please read my report carefully. It is easy to come in, judge and criticize. I really do not want to do that. I am sure the staff of such an institution is really weary of people with a camera throwing some bags of cookies around and thinking they are saving the world.

It is hard to serve at any place and not get accustomed to all the wrongs over the years so much so that you get comfortable and stop saving the world, though.

The way leading to the teaching and housing area of the visually impaired. You are looking at classrooms.

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Classrooms around a courtyard.

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Dorm room for 7-12 year old girls. Everything was clean except for a strong smell of urine due to the bedwetting problems of many children.

Mr. Maluma kept stressing the fact that they need waterproof mattresses.

I really wish the government would provide the funds to renovate the dorm rooms and add some cheer and deco to them.

Another dorm room.

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Just get me some paint a a few arty aunties and lets paint this happy!

Stairway to the first floor where there are more bedrooms. I was sad to notice the total absence of decorations.

The cafeteria for the blind.

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The facilities were all very neat and clean. Although to me the bedrooms are totally drab and sad, I am aware that many learners are from backgrounds where they probably never even had a bed of their own and also not three meals a day. That is much, and it is too little at the same time.

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The government pays the school R17 (about 2 USD) per child per day for food. The parents pay a fee of 1400 ZAR, about 160 USD, per year as a school fee.

As I said it is a government school, the principal and staff are paid by the government. There is no extra initiative to repair the school and purchase any extras out of the private pocket. The government seems to have no funding available to upgrade the cafeteria. The chairs and tables are so worn. I pray we will meet somebody with enough funds and a hart to change this!

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The library and resource room. The materials where basically 20 years old or older.

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Kids are between grade K (in South Africa it is called grade R) and grade 7.

The severity of their disability differs greatly.

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A great number of Albino children (lacking normal pigmentation) whose eyesight is usually seriously impaired, often up to 80%, but who are otherwise fine, are in these special needs classes. To me it was astonishing that they were not wearing any glasses. I do not know enough of the customs in their villages to be able to judge if they are actually better off at this school. I personally felt that the environment in the classrooms was careless and unengaged.

The children were definitely bored as this was not the appropriate place of schooling for those with Albinism.

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The classrooms lack teaching materials especially for the little ones.

The kids live at the school but do not have any personal belongings. There are no decorations and also no special materials to teach blind kids. In most classrooms the children were asleep on their desks.

There were Braille typewriters in the class but the teacher said she does not know how to use them.

These typewriters are the only way that blind children can write.

The manager had never heard of Braille and was amazed when I showed him that you can type dots that form an alphabet.

The teachers said it is too difficult for her, she is new. She has been working there since 2010.

I see the effort in teachign the children academic skills. It would be nice if some fun franchises such as Kindermusik could be sponsored to come in and support the teachers.

I noticed that there was only one crafts class,  all other craft classes such as sewing and wood work were closed down, although they could produce toys and the likes for the school. I hope the leadership will realize again that fundraising can and must come from within the school, and the nearby tourism due to the proximity of the Kruger National park would provide a great source of income if for example woodwork was to be sold.

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Another challenge I noticed is that severely mentally ill children where together with learners who were only hearing impaired and obviously frustrated with the little education they were receiving.

Although the school is only up to grade 7, learners are often 20 years of age when they finish school due to the fact that up to the time they get to this school, they have not been given any education at all. Hearing impaired children have not learned to communicate even the simplest terms in sign language before. The teachers have to do a lot of hard ground work and are in over their heads.

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These teens were all desperate for a hug and some praise for their samplers of their work.

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One teacher, asked about the stimulation the children are receiving in the afternoons, told us they are only roaming about. No toys, no activities. I want to bring toys for each child, but I am told that the teachers are afraid that this will cause strive amongst the children. I understand that problem.

I can make simple Montessori-type teaching aids by myself for these children. I will try to get our people to help me purchase the materials needed to make those teaching aids myself.

But I would really need you to ask for some sponsors for waterproof mattresses, and anything else you can think of as well.

There is no visible application of modern educational materials. The teachers need to be taught to use computer programmes to teach vocabulary to the hearing impaired children.

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This is a government school. But the braille typewriters stand unused because teachers are not knowledgeable about their use.

There is a computer room with about 16 computers in it and I am told the deaf children can never learn to operate a computer.

When I mention that there are loads of educational games available for cheap or even free online (like for example sorting a picture to match a word), the teachers in the class who are on their cell phones and the manager as well say they hear that for the first time.

Who can support us to be involved in helping??? It’s not just material needs. The children are sleeping their formative years away. So much could be done.

The kids were desperate for a hug and an appreciative word.

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This lovely young first grader sang for us a song with a voice as clear as a mountain stream. So beautiful. Her teacher was the mopst enthusiastic of all the teachers we met, although she has to make do with materials more than 20 years old – only two buckets full of plastic toys, no numbers or counting beads, no alphabet to feel etc. I want to make her some tools like that.

This little blind girl touched my heart with her beautiful song about the love of Jesus she was singing for us. I so hope to have the time soon again to go again and show the teachers how to use teaching aids.

What I can not do is to buy 360 standard mattresses with plastic covering.

The sad thing is that my skin colour is always putting me in the box of “rich and responsible for everything”. Which is not true – I had to even borrow a car to go there.

The classroom with a teacher I really enjoyed. She was trying to do the best for her grade 1 learners with whatever materials she had.

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The teacher urgently needs some toys and learning materials. All she has are some plastic toys in two plastic buckets.

I can rally my friends to help get 360 stuffed toys so the kids do not have to sleep alone on a cold room.

I can make teaching aids.

I can get books and building blocks.

I can try to inspire the teachers to re-open the workshops so that students can produce goods to the benefit of all. (toys can be self made as well).

Can you help us contact organizations who might donate modern day teaching aids to the school?

I can talk to farmers to donate fresh produce and food.

I can buy treats.

I can inspire my youth group to come and do a show for the kids and minister the love of Jesus to them.

Can you find sponsors for the mattresses and other material needs?

Lots of blessings to you from South Africa,

Christiane van Heerden

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Sonett auf Elizabeth Barrett – Browning

Just a beautiful poem by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke

 

O wenn ein Herz, längst wohnend im

Entwöhnen

von aller Kunst und Zuversicht getrennt,

erwacht und plötzlich hört, wie man es

nennt:

“Du Überfluss, Du Fülle alles Schönen!”

Was soll es tun? Wie sich dem Glück

versöhnen,

das endlich seine Hand und Wange kennt?

Schmerz zu verschweigen war sein Element,

nun zwingt das Liebes-Staunen es, zu tönen.

Hier tönt ein Herz, das sich im Gram

verschwieg,

und zweifelt, ob ihm dies zu Recht gebühre:

so reich zu sein in seiner Armut Sieg.

Wer hat denn Fülle? Wer verteilt das

Meiste?

Wer so verführt, dass er ganz weit verführe:

Denn auch der Leib ist leibhaft erst im

Geiste.

 

Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_The_Hostage

 

 

 

Waterfalls on the South African Panorama Route

Hi my cherished followers. I usually publish travel related posts in my Traveler’s Log, so that people who are just looking for a review on a certain area in the world can do so without being bothered by my personal essays and such. We recently had so much fun on the Panorama Route where we were ministering in a lovely little congregation. I thought to share some waterfall pictures with you. For posts about accommodation and what to do with children, just browse through the other posts! Have fun, hope you enjoy the images!

Traveler's Log

If you just joined the blog, look at the previous posts to find out more about the location of these amazing waterfalls.

Here are a few photos for you to enjoy the scenery without much further talking!

If you love right-clicking and saving: For a real small fee I will email you the non-watermarked original – isn’t that better than working with pictures not knowing if its legal?

View original post

La Le Lu or the importance of Lullabys!

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In their young lives, our kids have traveled a lot. Steven, 4, has done over 300.000 km (flights included) and slept in many many different beds!

Any child needs the comforts of love and a safe place.

Expat and third Culture Kids are no exception – they even need more assurance that their life is alright. Recently I have been discussing the topic of Third Culture Kids with several fellow bloggers.

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Third Culture Kids have a lot of first hand adventures early in life!

To create a home that is both open to the exciting things the host culture has to offer and also provides the stability of a culture a child can call his very own, is a task of love. I find that having certain non-discussable routines in place helps a lot so that a child can settle everywhere just fine, no matter the circumstances.

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Being a ministry family means getting a lot of invitations to many different places. Our routines help the kids to feel welcome and confident almost every where.

Bed time routines are sacred! In South Africa a lot of kids bathe before dinner and fall asleep in the living room to be carried into their beds late.

We personally have a much more “German” routine although millions of parents world wide probably do the same. My husband works almost every night as his job includes lecturing and house visits. He tries to make sure to be home for dinner and bedtime.

After supper, whether out and about traveling to far away places or snug at home, we would bathe the kids. In their cuddly pajamas they get to choose a book or two or three that we read with the,

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Home is where we as a family do what we do.

Then its lights out, and we light a candle and sing together. After a good night prayer the kids will settle for the night. This works everywhere so nice as it creates such a loving atmosphere. Then dad is off again on his assignments. Several nights a week I am doing the bathing alone since dad is out, but almost every night he manages to sneak in at around 8pm just to kiss them good night. How sweet is that!

 

 

 

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Unwinding the same way every night gives sooo much closeness and peace.
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Steven and Sam are so cool at making new friends wherever they are, easy as pie. English, German or Afrikaans – the appropriate language gets figured out in seconds.

Here is a scene from a much-loved German classic featuring a loving bed time scene between a dad and his son, including a cute little Lullaby.

Give a little love: Happy Sunday

I want to wish all my much loved followers and friends and readers around the globe a nice and fuzzy happy Saturday nights sleep and I hope you will have an amazing Sunday.

Rest and think about what it’s important!

If you give a little love you can get a little love of your own.- Do not miss this lovely youtube clip, its really nice.

A series of video clips done by Eric Colodetti taken from various sources to depict Noah and the Whale’s “Give a Little Love.” I own none of the media in any way.
Original artist: http://www.youtube.com/artist/noah-an…

Bless you richly, Christiane

One week closer to achieving your dream: Friday, Hooray

Yeah Friday!

One week of achieving your dreams has come to an almost end. Thanks for staying with me. Today I am sharing some pictures I took in Bavaria on an amazing stay in Fuessen and a visit to the Neuschwanstein castle. Enjoy!

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When you plan your trip right, this is the exact view you enjoy from your room! Thanks mom!
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Neuschwanstein castle from across the lake where we stayed.
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The farmer’s house where we stayed on a working dairy farm. Germany is beautiful!
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Downtown Fuessen
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Taking the cable car up the mountain is fun!
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So beautiful atop the Tegelberg!

FUSSEN (20) FUSSEN (52)   FUSSEN (180) It definitely makes a difference to write down your priorities for the week and hold yourself accountable. Consciously creating your plan how to get to the next level of ones destiny takes effort on all levels.

Physical fitness and healthy eating, a happy attitude, good social skills, an exceptional work ethic are absolutely necessary to get where you need to be in life!

Whatever is your dream, shift your thinking to do everything necessary to get there. Live your dreams by doing something about achieving them.

Chances are, 5 steps a week are more than you did until now! If you keep developing yourself, they’ll no longer be dreams, and every step you take is a step closer to your destination.

Remember to have fun with every leap, enjoy the sweat pouring off your face and enjoy waking up early. These are not punishments, but are merely the way to fulfillment. With each step comes greater courage. Success feeds success. Don’t lose sight of your dreams, your destination, but also don’t forget to live in the moment!

There is one more thing: Help other’s to achieve their dreams. This brings you so much closer to living a fulfilled life yourself. And if you are not greedy about sharing your resources and expertise, others will feel at ease sharing their tricks of the trade with you, too.

By the way, for the people that work with or for you, you might be the possible source only encouraging word they receive all day. Don’t forget to be generous with your praise, even if it is for a small things. If you honestly praise those around you, they will be so much more motivated helping you completing your tasks, even go the extra mile for you. Easy truth, I know, but very powerful still.

Do not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to guide you. Keep tuning in to that still small voice. Hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice is part of a bigger relationship. It takes time to listen, and it takes time to build the patterns of walking with Him.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”.—Galatians 5:16

The other day my husband stood in a well known pizza place in town, waiting for his order of 7 or8 pizzas for the youth of the church. He was in a hurry, hungry teens needed to be fed! But over the years he learned to never tune out the voice of the spirit, even when busy with mundane tasks. And he clearly felt that he should give the man waiting in front of the queue a word of encouragement. He felt a deep grief surrounding the guy. In a story it sounds logical: Go and talk to the man, of course. In a pizza queue it might not feel that natural to do so! You might look like a religious looney, right? But my husband experiences the nudging of the spirit every day and learned to be obedient. As he started talking to the guy about God’s care for him, the man broke down crying right there. He had experienced a huge family tragedy and was on his way to the funeral of his own wife. He was quickly buying pizza for his children who where waiting in the car. He had felt God had left him and saw no more hope. He needed to hear that God sees him, cares about him and is grieving with him. And that there will be people helping him on the difficult road ahead. Do not stay silent when you sense somebodys despair. You might save a life.

Last thoughts on one week of achieving your dreams:

Do not get discouraged, and do not be afraid to grasp unexpected opportunities.

One thing is for sure: we plan, and life happens differently. That does not mean that we will fail on our journey.

And as always – at least in my little life – whenever I decide on driving this or that and follow up some good resolutions, a lot of unexpected things go wrong.

FUSSEN (91)This week monday I have received 3! detrimental news that have the potential to knock me into perpetual depression. If you think I am trying to talk a fluffy little one week devotional for spoilt upper class western moms, you are mistaken. I live in Africa, work for an NGO (so definitely no upper class) and I am dealing with more daily trauma than most of my comfortable friends back in Europe. Add to this the daily potential for rejection as “stranger”, the high expectations we face as pastors, the daily violence in Africa and the ever-increasing gap with my overseas friends and family who do hardly understand the daily challenges of life in Africa, and you end up with a cocktail of emotions!

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Life is like a ship, setting sail, using a compass to reach new horizons. We sail with the wind. When adverse winds come, what do we do? We criss cross the sea, going a path that is left and right from where we actually need o go, but in the overall perspective, still gets us forward. And when there is no wind – we use oars.

Do not give up!

One week closer to achieving your dreams – Wednesday Night

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One week closer to achieving our dreams … wouldn’t mind a bathroom like this … for now saving to have one like this for a short vacation seems hard enough, haha … but dreams are there to be dreamed right!

Wow, this daily devotional blogging is really help me to stay positive of where I need to keep my focus.

My son Steven, 4, really cracked me up yesterday. I was commenting on how long our dog, a Weimeraner-Dachshund cross, is proportionally to his short legs. Steven is wondering for amoment. Then, totally serious and amazed, he asks: “But mommy, how does he manage to reach the ground with those short legs?”…

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Steven was a serious thinker from day one! He traveled more in his first 4 years than many adults I know have.

Blonde moment … haha.

Wednesday Night:

Hi, how far have you come for achieving your dreams for this week?

Remember, dreams are the beginning. If we do not dream up where we would want to be in a years time, we will not make rational plans on how to get there. Without plans, actions can not follow. In the end, we might have wasted another great year that God gave us here on this earth.

God Has a Plan.

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Elephant Safari. To learn more about my traveling life, check http://christianevheerden.wordpress.com/ if you like!

The universe is not a car without a driver, nor a driver without a map. The Bible often speaks of this great plan of God. It is the “purpose” of that famous and favorite Bible verse, Rom. 8:28. Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. God has planned out this purpose in advance. He thought it out, planned it in every detail, and carries it out “on purpose”.

His purpose for you is this: Joh 10:10  The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

For us to experience this purpose, we need to be in sync with God’s heart beat. God created the world lovely and beautiful. Men came and through disobedience brought death and destruction.

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With my in-laws in the African Bush …

Now it takes us hard work and effort to cultivate the earth to make it the beautiful paradise it was meant to be. But God is very pleased if we do give it our best to make things beautiful, to be creative and be a blessing. So did you stay true to your 5 points your wrote down on Monday? Each time you discipline yourself to do what is right, and to walk an extra mile, to learn a skill instead of watching TV, to help a friend instead of being selfish, you help adding love to the planet. Mostly, on Wednesday nights we have run out of steam. That’s why churches have cell groups on Wednesdays, to help you recharge and fuel your resolve.

Can we pray today that Jesus will fill your tank, take away hurt and disappointment and help you reach your dream?

To know a woman – a plea for love 2

Even as an eleven year old I was a fierce believer in true love. Love, the kind that takes time to grow, requires mutual attraction and respect, is a mystical force of nature as well as a rare and timid air reserved for unforeseeable moments, in short, love as a form of art.

I was blessed enough to grow up in an environment that let me be a child, slowly discovering for myself what I want in life and also, how I would want to be loved. Nobody forced their own ideals on me. This is something I am fighting for, that kids can be kids and girls are left to grow up peacefully into the women THEY want to be.

Through my love of literature and all things creative I kept coming back to the human race’s eternal search for answers on how to attain and maintain love’s sweet and fierce spirit.

One author I came to love is Alexandre Jardin. In “Fanfan” he asks the question how can wekeep falling in love, and keep the suspense, the joy of learning how to win over the beloved person’s heart, without ever becoming complacent of each other.

This is a book I would immediate make required reading for all grade 11’s in South Africa. In a country where we are casually talking about “rape culture” the art of devoting one’s entire time, energy and creativity into really getting to know the loved person and very slowly and thoughtfully, yet nevertheless intensely, winning their love, might seem so foreign as the sound of a violin to a cave man. FanFan is a passionate french love story, a little bit crazy and over the top made in a movie with Sophie Marceau.  Books like this are very well able to trigger some new thinking in our South African kids about what love and friendship can be like, and I think that’s much more important brainfood than accounting.

Valentine’s day is big in South Africa. Again the silly pressure mounts to on this very day prove one’s love and devotion by purchasing useless trinkets, wasting money on hideous cards … you get the picture.

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Of course, those of you who are “cultured” enough to even bother reading someone’s blog are probably far above that.

If you happen to have a woman in your life who you love and cherish, you are blessed.

To me, a woman represents all that is good and precious in this world.

 

Her ever present ability to love, her awesome ability to create and nourish life, her innate creativity and grace, should make her the cherished and highly valued asset of every society. Instead women all over the world are being oppressed, taken advantage of, belittled, victimized. Why is that? Only a lesser man would feel the need to destroy beauty because he feels threatened by it. True strength is shown through the ability to love, protect and cherish.

I hope you are one of those rare love artists, who have devoted part of their life to learn how to love and keep love growing.

Know a woman.

By this I mean, do not know what YOU think a woman should be like, but KNOW the woman.

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I told my South African husband that women are not born simply wanting to cook and sew and look after babies. They can do all that and do it well, if they are doing this consciously as service to a higher, noble purpose. Women are born as individuals, human beings with very different dreams and hopes. Loving a woman does not mean buying and bunch of roses so she might be a contend housekeeper for another year.

Loving a woman means finding it fullfilling if walking with her at the beach sharing thoughts of the heart would be all you would ever do …

Know the woman you are with, and show her that her heart is pleasing to you.

That is a life long art to be studied.

Dont give this up. The world around is is rough, evil, destructive. It takes a new kind of gentleman and knight to stand against a sea of ever increasing violence. By opposing those who try to take by force what should be given as a grace, maybe you can end the invasion of evil. The ability to love a lady is a beautiful measure for the depth of soul of a society.

Christiane

Bringing back civilisation – a plea for love 1

“To get to a woman’s heart, a man must first use his own.”

~ Mike Dobbertin

My previous blog posts attempted to inform on the topic of the South African rape crisis, a very real, very shocking and frightening problem in our country.

Following the discussion on twitter I have observed both the need to focus stricter laws and convictions with harsher sentences for sex offenders and rapists as well as asking the question why do men in SA rape that much. Quoting Wikipedia here:

One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency said they had been raped in the past year.[38]

South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world.[39] In a related survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that ‘jackrolling’, a term for gang rape, was fun.[38] More than 25% of a sample of 1,738 South African men from the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces admitted when anonymously questioned to raping someone; of those, nearly half said they had raped more than one person, according to a non-peer reviewed policy brief issued by the Medical Research Council (MRC).[40] Several news publications extrapolated these results to the rest of the South African population.[41][42][43] The humanitarian news organization IRIN claims that an estimated 500,000 rapes are committed annually in South Africa, ….[43]

More than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children were reported in 2000 in South Africa.[44] Child welfare groups believe that the number of reported incidents represents merely a fraction of the actual number of incidents.[44]

A belief common to South Africa holds that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or AIDS.[44] South Africa has the highest number of HIV-positive citizens in the world. According to official figures, circa 11% of South Africans are infected with the virus.[45] Edith Kriel, a social worker who helps child victims in the Eastern Cape, said: “Child abusers are often relatives of their victims – even their fathers and providers.”[44]

This is shocking information, especially in a Valentins post.

But we do live in a shocking world, where love seems to have lost it’s appeal.

This is why tonight I want to bring us back to the beauty of a love relationship and want to plea that we do not allow the downward spiral of sexual violence in our society to continue.

The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the second kind are impossible.

Which in other words means, if we do not put active, conscious, calculated effort into the system we are in, everything will move down to the smallest common denominator.

Which is what we are having in South Africa. The other day I walked by a news stand, and a papers front page was a headline: Increasing numbers of African fathers having sex with their daughters, and in the article itself it said that in their “culture” they believe they are entitled to show their daughters that this is how “sex happens”.

I should have bought the paper and written a flaming letter to the editors. I will not ever let the fact that I am in town with two nagging toddlers prevent me from getting this kind of evidence and doing something about it, that’s for sure.

Since when is a crime okay because of “culture”? People of South Africa I am sick and tired of you telling me this lame culture excuse as soon as we face a clash of moral values. In the past we could quote the bible which forbids incest and any form of sex with anybody other than your wife, today we are told that is “politically incorrect”. Well, while we seem to have no human rights defending law that is applicable for all SA citizens I will not refrain from quoting my good old bible as some form of basic civil agreement.

For a deeper view why the bible historically founded today’s understanding of justice and order, read lawyer and political commentator Alan Dershowitz’s excellent book:2000: The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Law. Warner Books. ISBN 978-0-446-67677-9. (one of the funnest reads on the subjects if I may add).

In South Africa it is currently okay to have more than one wife (our president does) as long as you can prove it is your culture. That’s also why we tip toe that much around issues like lobola (paying for a woman’s hand in marriage), which often is negotiated by needy parents or mothers selling their under aged daughters away without their consent.

I want to advocate a South Africa with one legal system for all. There is no going back to a glorified past, like all civilized nations we should strive for a future where every human beings rights are protected, and man and women are treated equal.

We need a reform of our education system. The above quoted “jack rolling”, a practice of gang rape started in the Soweton ghettos during Apartheid, was initially an attempt of young African males to prevent young females to succeed in completing their education.

Read more about jack rolling here

and about it’s objective of hindering young women’s social climb Here

I have blogged about the need of an education reform in South Africa

Education

and want to underline tonight that only an educated heart can truly understand the art of love.

This is what essentially sets the human apart from an animal. We do not follow our immediate instincts and urges. (I found this amazing in some of the links shared on twitter, explaining rape with men’s “combustible sexuality” that apparently can not keep their needs under control … well obviously they can in other nations that have a far, far lower rape rate than South Africa. Which then would naturally open the stage to the provocative question: Do men in all nation have the same mental capacity? If you say yes, and you mean by that that we are all the same, then this would bind you to the conclusion that we very well can and MUST expect the same restraint, self control and moral code of all men in all nations, and “but it’s our culture” must be outlawed as an excuse for criminal behavior. Feel free to think it through, quote and reblog please).

An educated mind feels much more the need for a soul mate, a life companion, and mutuality in a love relationship.

What would go through someone’s mind who grew up with an appreciation for literature, arts, history and other civilization benefits seeing the picture below?

Now what would your average gangster think? Don’t even want to go there, right?

Let not beauty be stolen, the potential to love be destroyed and all that’s good and beautiful in this world be raped because good people did nothing until it was too late.    – Chris van Heerden –

Education also teaches discipline, practice, self control. A child learns taking turns, considering others, sharing and empathy in a good preschool. A good school should wake up inquisitive minds, challenge reasoning and also teach self control as a means to achieve higher levels.

Are our schools doing that, when even a simple task jsut as text book delivery seems too difficult for our highly paid minister of education?

I listened to education reform activist Louise van Rhynns speech on the state of education in our nation and want to share this with you tonight.

This is a call to wake up, and get involved. If you do not want raping gangs of young men in our streets who have never even though about finding true love, who posses no discipline or skill of making a career for themselves let alone truly winning a soul mate and creating a respectful, happy and functional family, then consider the correlation between men’s ability to think and men’s ability to love., I plead with you, get involved changing our nations way of thinking.

Bridges

Bridges are fascinating. The architectural know how required and the connection achieved make a good symbol of where I am at in my life. So many contradictions and opposites trying to find a place in one soul. Different cultures and opinions and most of them valid – there is no handbook how to do life. The photo shows me on the Ponte Sant’Angelo (or angel’s bridge) in Rome. Sometimes we really need an angel!

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Balance can be defined as the ability to embrace all valid extremes.

Of Love, Mixed Tapes and New Beginnings

leaves
To a tree, tears are life.

Hi, lovely that you popped by. It’s a real nice feeling knowing people take the time to read up on other people’s musings about our journey here on earth. This one has been on my heart for a while, to put it down in writing is a daunting task.

“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”

Henry David Thoreau

Since I started blogging again, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every email wordpress sent me, informing me that  “sleepingbeauty” (not her real name) thought my post was awesome, asking me: Don’t you want to see what she is up to, her latest posts are “the trouble with gnomes” and “witch hunt”. Which I of course did – I mean if somebody takes the time to visit my treehouse, the least I can do is to see what they have been busy with lately!

And wow, I really am impressed. I wished people would share their heart of hearts that easily over a cup of coffee as they do online. Beautiful minds sharing meaningful snapshots, funny moments, thoughts about love, tears and questions to God. You might just restore my faith in human kind again. Just kidding. But seriously, I find myself sitting across people sipping tea wondering: Do we need to play this game of acceptable responses and sweet non-offensive comments a la “ag jinne moeder dis oulik” (Afrikaans for “how sweet”) and what would it take for me to get to your true soul?

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My last house I lived in overseas was right next to this creek.

It is, alas, the nature of my real life job that leaves people under the impression that they must present themselves in a good light. And no matter how much honesty and irreverent jokes I add to the conversation, how much of my own weakness I reveal, people rather stick with phrases than cut to the chase, unless they expect you to fix a problem that is. In the safety of the anonymity of blogging I have found a lot of heart so far. People are so precious. For the New Year it is my sincere prayer that you might succeed in all your new ventures  together with your lovely partners and friends. Friendship is the most precious gift one human can extend to the other. It must be given freely and received with gratitude.  I am without grudges and would never unfriend anyone. (People are like that these days: you didn’t greet me in the Mall? Let me unfriend you on facebook! – never bothering to first ask the circumstances) I wouldn’t judge without hearing your whole story. And I believe that God sees the “why” as much as the “what”.  To be treated the same is a humble wish.

Starting a new year becomes more and more scary with every year that passed.

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
-Muhammad Ali

Well, honestly, I wish I could go back and see the world the way I did ten years ago. Reality has a way to wipe the smiles off our innocent little snotty faces and put the pain of knowing behind our brave grin.

Blogging on bridging worlds is a kind of self-therapy (for my “I got it all figured out and am traveling the world in confidence” musings check my Traveler’s Log!)

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Nordhausen, town of my childhood.

I used to journal since I knew how to hold a pen. My childhood diaries where really precious to me and by the age of 21 I had 18 whole books full of my deepest thoughts, locks of my hair, 1 photo in the same pose per year to mark my changing, letters to my future children from their mom when she was 9, 12 and 15, sketchings and dreams. Then a self-proclaimed voice of the Allmighty told me that God indeed is upset with me taking myself that serious and if I want to be anything in His kingdom, I should show my determination by paying a price – meaning I should

let go of my beloved journals. I did treasure them a lot, if I had a nightmare about a fire I would always try to rescue them in my dream.

You see, since I was little I have wanted to make things better. I used to play watchmaker on the kitchen table while my mom and younger siblings napped, using my dad’s fine mechanics tools to take things apart and put them back together again or try to repair a broken toy etc. I wanted to create a place where I could gather all wounded souls and soothe them back to life. So that is why,  when at the peak of  youthful enthusiasm, a prophet told me that in order to become all God wants me to be I must let go of earthly treasures, I did not doubt. I cried, put my journals into a big cardboard box and left it on the side of the road. A test. If God wants me to have them, they would be there by tomorrow. Of course, it was Wednesday and the garbage people collected them.

I had a serious writer’s block. A “what’s the point” sting hidden deep within my guts.

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Circle of life…

Let me say it this way: When you are a teenager and love hits you hard first time, you go and make that mixed tape for your crush. Thinking: “If only he listens to these songs he will “get” me, he will be able to hear my soul and forever love who I am”. First loves are most of the time not last loves, like a young wine they bubble and fizz and evaporate as we grow older and wiser. They do leave their mark and do take something with them, though. Forward – college. Love struck again. You find a mixed tape in the mail, and want to return the favour. Sitting on the carpet of your student apartment, surrounded by your favorite sounds, there is an odd soreness in your heart. “Here we go again …” Something deep within wants to hold back, wants to bridle the enthusiasm, wants to warn of another broken heart. It takes discipline this time, to make a mixed tape. It takes a conscious effort to fight away the cynic flies circling around your head. But love beckons …

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Coming here … reading a novel …

Later, in our wiser years, we might refrain from making mixed tapes altogether, wiping it away with a laugh. Impossible that anybody could “get” us by merely listening to a piece of music that has touched our soul ever-so-deeply. The longing remains, self-preservation prevails.

At the beginning of yet another year I find myself intensely wanting to throw myself into this adventure of life again, without holding back. Oh yes, the pain was more than I thought I could bear, the disappointments enough to withdraw from the field forever. But ships, although safe in the harbour, are made for sailing. I do not claim that this year I will know better, or that I can guarantee I will succeed. But I know God made us for more than to play it safe. My own pain has given me so much more passion for all those people who have to hide behind a masked smile, and the naked pain of those whose life is in daily peril can not, will not leave me cold.

There are too many voices out there claiming they speak on God’s behalf. They have done a lot of damage to God’s own children. Me dumping the innocent writings of childhood, the passionate life plans of adolescence, has not been the Lord’s request. But people lose so much more over misunderstood religion and false teachers.

A voice in the desert is needed to point to where the oasis is and where the desert ends, which way to find hope and which direction to avoid. But being a true prophet requires a life of true love. The willingness to share the people’s burdens and to take responsiblity for their hearts.

We do want to point out the needs and strength of this nation. But condemnation has no place in the speech of an apostle. Judgement is God’s. Let his people be the force of love that improves life on earth, not makes it unbearable.

So once more I choose to believe that good can be done, that it is not hard to make a difference, that what I got is all that it takes.

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Prague, an inspiring place of music and arts

When I was little, I prayed to God for a life full of adventure and extraordinary experiences. I also prayed that there would always be people along the way to share the journey with.

So I am trusting my Father in Heaven that this is going to be a better year, a year of lots of joy, lots of people truly helped and lots of genuine smiles and laughter.

New Beginnings indeed.