Category Archives: Social Issues

You can help: Comfort boxes for kids testifying in court: going into the second year.

Once off projects are great. Having a sustainable community running for its second year is awesome.

Our project has so far provided over 170 victims of child abuse with a box of comfort while awaiting their testimony at court. Here is what it is all about:

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In my work as a pastor and counselor at Emmanuel Church Louis Trichardt and headmistress of Emmanuel Kinderland preschool I have come to work with many people who themselves were survivors of abuse or came on behalf of a close friend or relative who had suffered through sexual abuse and rape.

As you are well aware of South Africa has a devastatingly high rate of rape, wikipedia talks about the highest rape rate in the world.

The SAPS statistics report that there were 64,514 sexual offenses reported to the police in South Africa in 2012 alone of which over 45% percent where child rapes. However, variable reports claim that only 1 in 9 or 1 in 25 rapes actually get reported. This means that the numbers could actually run up to 1,548,336 rapes every year

This means that someone is raped as often as every 4 minutes

Interpol has named South Africa the “Rape Capital of the World”

The greatest increase in sexual crimes is against infants and children under the age of seven (Rape Statistics South Africa & Worldwide 2011 www.rape.co.za) 50% of South Africa’s children will be abused before the age of 18. 85% of them will be by perpetrators known to the child. It is crucial that perpetrators will be identified and severely punished.

When predators get away with it, it will happen again and again. 40%percent of South African men have raped for the first time when they were under aged themselves. Why is it possible? Cases do not get to court and when they do, it can mean a potentially traumatizing experience to the child and the family. In many rural communities to report abuse means to risk ones life. Houses get burned down and families ostracized for telling on the criminal. It is crucial that cases do go to court as to send a clear message that abuse is not acceptable.

Most rapists are serial rapists. Seeing them severely punished for their crime acts as a deterrent for other potential rapists while every one that “gets away” is per implication an encouragement in his social circles to others to keep doing the same.
There are so many facets where we need to be involved in to start preventing these crimes.

We as Emmanuel Church and community need to do our utmost to make the conditions for survivors testifying as bearable as possible.

I am asking church members, parents of our preschool and community members to assist in putting together comfort boxes for children testifying in court, as these parcels can provide a minimum of comfort to a child in such a stressful situation.

20141110_130032_resizedIt generally is a big struggle to get child abuse cases to trial, as the young girls are being shamed and not supported by the local culture. Also, at court the young abuse survivors face many challenges. Long hours of waiting, having never met their intermediaries before, testifying, often 3 hours of cross examinations are just a few of the challenges. The children are often spending an entire day at court without having even had a breakfast. The children are often nervous and shy. When they are not able to establish proper communication and to prove that they actually say the truth, the case gets dismissed and the offender cannot be judged.

Often the girls and boys (we make special boxes for boys) will be too shy and close up totally so their testimony can not be validated and subsequently the case cannot go into trial.

I came up with the method of using care boxes to help the children relax.

The box contains a new, cute stuffed toy to immediately help the intermediary form a connection with the child.

The box contains a high quality fruit juice and some snacks to help keep the child alert during a long and hard trial.

Furthermore there are crayons, colouring books and sticker activities to help the children bridge times where the court is in recess or formalities need to be followed up with, which can talke an hour or more.

All items are all new and the fruit juice and snack are high quality. The box is closed with a sticker (picture provided) that says you are special and indicates whether the box is for a boy or a girl.

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At the Magistrate Court in Sibasa. Children often have not had anything to eat or drink when they arrive in the morning. often trials take more than 4 hours. Our boxes give the children something to occupy themselves with during waiting times.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls.
A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls.

We have handed out over 100 boxes in 2014 of the value of 70 -100 Rand each. This year we have been able to make 70 boxes so far. We are weekly informed by the intermediaries working with the children in court on how many boxes have been handed out and what the age and gender of the children is, to ensure we provide for the right needs. Monthly we need about 30 to 40 boxes as they go to the different Magistrate Courts in the are such as Sibasa, Waterval, Musina etc. This project has been developed with the approval of the SA Department of Justice.

Your assistance in providing juices, snacks, colouring in and sticker activity books, stuffed toys and sweets is highly appreciated.

Christiane van Heerden

Check out my blog for the option to support with a paypal donation

Comfort Boxes in the Newspaper

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New courtboxes delivered to the intermediaries

On Sunday November 16th I had the big privilige to hand over 40 more court care boxes to magistrate court representatives Mulaudzi Mukondeleli and Ntabisini Dzivhani visiting our church. 40 more boxes will be delivered once these are all given out to the young witnesses of assault. _MG_2816 _MG_2818 courtboxesThe court representatives were so excited about our practical help. Ntabisini then proceeded to share with our senior class in children’s church about the dangers of abuse and how to avoid abusive situations and help friends who can not help themselves. Definitely not your average sunday school topic but since the Limpopo province has such high numbers of child abuse, we can not shut our eyes. On that sunday we also launched our first book, so we have been keeping really, really busy! _MG_2826a

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Care Boxes in the local paper

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Thanks to everyone who helped making this possible.

We delivered care boxes to 6 different district magistrate courts and helped many under aged victims of abuse in testifying at court.

Sorry for my short posts. I am busy writing reports for my students at preschool most of them will enter formal school next year. I will keep you posted on our preschool concert and everything!

New Comfort Boxes for Child Abuse Survivors

IMG-20141110-WA0003_resizedYes, the road to recovery is a long one. Yes, a box full of helpful comforting items is just a tiny stepping stone on that long road of healing.  but it is an important one, as this box aids the young children’s capacity to testify in the Magistrate court against their abusers.

You probably are already familiar with the high child abuse statistics in the Limpopo Province South Africa, where every 3 min a child is raped.

Listen to this letter of the Intermediary at the Magistrate court, Salome Phaho,  in which she wrote me this morning: (the style reflects the local tone of communication in South Africa)

“Beloved am delighted to hear we receiving new boxes again, am already jumping with the joy of the Lord which has given me strength. I am already looking forward to welcome those victims knowing they will receive full support and comfort from the Lord through those gifts.

I am amazed by the love you have for the vulnerable which to many whose eyes of understanding the Lord haven’t  yet enlightened,  the story still remains the “same”, they should have been careful enough or could have prevented it somehow and you ask yourself but how since some victims are hardly a year old.” 

She refers to the care boxes I am making up with the help of friends and church members.

20141110_134747_resizedWe will be handing out about 30 -40 more boxes soon of the value of 70 -100 Rand each.

It generally is a big struggle to get child abuse cases to trial, as the young girls are being shamed and not supported by the local culture, as you could read in the letter above.  Also, at court the young abuse survivors face many challenges. Long hours of waiting, having never met their intermediaries before, testifying, often 3 hours of cross examinations are just a few of the challenges.

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Often the girls and boys (we make special boxes for boys too) will be too shy and close up totally so their testimony can not be validated and subsequently the case cannot go into trial.

I came up with the method of using care boxes to help the children relax. The box contains a new, cute stuffed toy to immediately help the intermediary form a connection with the child. The box contains a high quality fruit juice and some snacks to help keep the child alert during a long and hard trial. Furthermore there are crayons, colouring books and sticker activities to help the children bridge times where the court is in recess or formalities need to be followed up with, which can talke an hour or more.

boxesOn Sunday November 9 we had a court staff member testify in our church on the huge impact these boxes have in calming the children, how they can hold on to their toy and how their concentration has improved. The court also uses the crayons and colouring books to help verify if the child understands the concepts of truth and lie which is essential to the testimony being accepted in court.

The juices and snacks are so important as the children often come hungry and tire quickly during trial.

I am so thankful we can hand out these boxes as a powerful tool to court staff who can connect and communicate easier with the children that way.

 

I am thankful to everybody who brought a teddy, snacks, crayons, stickers or money to make this possible.

All boxes contain a message saying: You are special!

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Our youth expressing themselves against abuse

Fighting the rape epidemic in South Africa
Our young dancers have started work on a dance drama Jan Venter and I developed a while ago, and I am positive this is going to be instrumental in raising awareness in young men and women that we’re all responsible to intervene and prevent abuse!
check my post about the topic here.
So thankful for our youth worker Jan Venter to give our town’s youth a shot at expressing themselves for a good cause!

 

Special Needs school: So many needs!

May_0005Today my husband, myself and a very good friend went and visited again the Tshilidzini Special School.

In a previous blogpost I described this school more detailed.

May_0007We had decided to go and visit specific classes at separate visits to bring specific aid to the different departments. There are 360 learners at the school and it is impossible to bring something for everyone at one visit.

Today we went to visit grade R-3.

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With the help of friends from our church and Hope for Limpopo and using my own ressources I had purchased different educational materials such as CD players, educational CDs ranging from sound effects such as weather and animal noises to nursery rhymes, stories and songs. I also made shape, number and letter sorting boxes that can be used by deaf and blind children alike since the letters are made from wooden shapes that must be matched to the appropriate shape fixed to the box.

Discussing education with one of the care takers.
Discussing education with one of the care takers.

May_0020 I had also been making several educational tools myself such as letters and numbers to feel and match.

winter clothes
winter clothes

We brought modelling clay, toy animals, puzzles, toys, clothes and blankets. The children enjoyed me singing a few songs with them and Roelien handed out some sweets for everybody.

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Trying to be of some inspiration to the carers of the school.

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The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you're happy and you know it" for them.
The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you’re happy and you know it” for them.
singing for the children
singing for the children

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the children singing along happily

 

sweets!
sweets!

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We went to the very drab and depressing dorm rooms to take measurements for the mattresses we are going to order for the children.

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In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?
In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?

I so hope we can find some sponsors to help renovate this boarding school for the visually, hearing and physically impaired children!

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That’s where the 4-5 year old children live and sleep.
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Cafeteria for 160 blind and visually impaired kids …

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Thank you from the courts

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Intermediary Salome Phaho and myself when I handed R 4000 worth of comfort over to the court. Yeah, sorry we had no professional camera with us, just cell phones. But that’s exactly it – helping is gritty and not about looking pretty right?

Thank you from the courts

Today I received this letter from the intermediary for child witnesses and victims of sexual crimes at the Magistrate Court in Sibasa about how our Comfort boxes now are helping even children in the Musina court:

Good Afternoon Mam,blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus who causeth us to triumph through Christ!

I am simply excited for the foundation that has been laid because for this vision to manifest like this means Victory!

My colleagues Nthabiseng Dzhivhani has just given out a 12-15yrs box yesterday @ Musina and I heard the girl couldn’t put it down.

This project is really working as I realized that most kids come dejected and rejected with little or no support from parents or relatives as if they chose to be victims.

But when they find LOVE in that little box is like their WORLD has suddenly changed as they understand that irrespective of what happened and how they feel and what others take them for, there’s still HOPE in life because someone out there loves them and care about them so much.

DSC02559Thank you once again Woman of God for your heart for souls.

Pass my regards to Pastor

Salome Phaho

So wonderful to hear about those boxes really making a difference in children’s lives.

Of course I cannot post details about the children involved, but share some photos of the people who work with the children and pictures of the court:

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The ladies working with the children who come to testify in court.
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the entrance to the court room
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the tiny space available for children to wait for their court hearing. Our boxes make it so much more comforting for them.

Going to court

specialIn my work as a pastor and counselor at Emmanuel Church Louis Trichardt and headmistress of Emmanuel Kinderland preschool I have come to work with many people who themselves were survivors of abuse or came on behalf of a close friend or relative who had suffered through sexual abuse and rape.

As you are well aware of South Africa has a devastatingly high rate of rape, wikipedia talks about the highest rape rate in the world.

The SAPS statistics report that

There were 64,514 sexual offenses reported to the police in South Africa in 2012 alone of which over 45% percent where child rapes.

However, variable reports claim that only 1 in 9 or 1 in 25 rapes actually get reported

This means that the numbers could actually run up to 1,548,336 rapes every year

This means that someone is raped as often as every 4 minutes

Interpol has named South Africa the “Rape Capital of the World”

Extrapolating from the statistics, 1 in 3 South African women will be raped in their lifetime.

2 out of 5 South African male learners say they have been raped according to a survey carried out in 1200 schools across the country (Published in Biomed Central’s International Journal For Equity in Health)

The greatest increase in sexual crimes is against infants and children under the age of seven (Rape Statistics South Africa & Worldwide 2011 www.rape.co.za)

50% of South Africa’s children will be abused before the age of 18.

85% of them will be by perpetrators known to the child.

It is crucial that perpetrators will be identified and severely punished.

ippWhen predators get away with it, it will happen again and again. 40%percent of South African men have raped for the first time when they were under aged themselves. Why is it possible? Cases do not get to court and when they do, it can mean a potentially traumatizing experience to the child and the family.

Most rapists are serial rapists. Seeing them severly punished for their crime acts as a deterrent for other potential rapists while every one that “gets away” is per implication an encouragement in his social circles to others to keep doing the same.
There are so many facets where we need to be involved in to start preventing these crimes. We are running self defense classes, teach parents awareness as 85% of the crimes are committed by someone within the social circles of the child, but you as the justice department are playing a most crucial part in this.

We as church and community need to do our utmost to make the conditions for survivors testifying as bearable as possible.

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I am asking church members, parents of our preschool and community members to assist in putting together comfort boxes for children testifying in court, as these parcels can provide a minimum of comfort to a child in such a stressful situation.

The children who are brave enough to relive the crime to help that justice can be served each will receive a care box containing a fruit juice, a snack, a new soft toy, a mini book and some stickers to keep themselves busy, relieve some stress, feel cherished and be comforted from this unpleasant setting.

All items are all new and the fruit juice and snack are high quality. The box is closed with a sticker (picture provided) that says you are special and indicates whether the box is for a boy or a girl.

Thanks for your interest, and may this result in fruitful cooperation in service to these youngest of victims.

The first boxes went to court this week with Magistrate Hanlie Kellerman. Please help me to help the children.

Heavenly minded

I do not know about you, but sometimes I feel like the prophet Asaph:

Psa 82:1-8 A Psalm of Asaph.

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

Here in South Africa, I often drive by shockingly pompous places like this one which is a game auctioning facility where buck are sold at astronomical prices:

Antique furniture imported from Belgian castles decorates game breeders offices and the antelope lodge in amazing architecture. No problem at all, everyone do as they enjoy.

On the other hand I am faced daily with the lack of appropriate educational facilities and the most basic of provision for people. In South Africa, 10 % of all 0-4 year olds are malnourished, according to UNICEF 84 percent of South African children do not have any access to educational stimulation before they start grade 1.

Our magistrate courts have no facilities for the hundreds of victims of child rape they process every year, those poor children have to sit next to the perps in court.

Yesterday a boy drowned in a school toilet in a rural area that was basically just a long drop.

We labor hard and sometimes it hurts, to be nothing in the eyes of the great and mighty who so easily could make a tremendous difference.

Being measured by the size of your car and the interior deco of your home can wear down the most spirited fighter over time. So that’s why I share this bible verse with you, because I strongly believe that this world is not everything.

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The kindness you share here, the compassion and love, will carry over to the next world, where God will make up for all the unrighteous mocking. I believe Mother Theresa will be a royal princess there!

Currently I am in the process of collecting, buying and making educational material to be taken to the Tsilidzini Special School next week. We need Montessori materials to count, weigh, feel, etc which can be sent directly to the Emmanuel Church where I am working.

I am also trying to purchase 360 waterproof mattresses for the boarding school kids at the Special school as bed wetting seems a major problem.

As to the rape victims: the state of social services regarding under aged rape victims is saddening and really typical for Limpopo, where the triage of services is not working as effectively as in other provinces.

I am handing out the very informative Rape Response protocol posters by the Viva organization at own costs to be put up at public places as to inform women of what they can and should do in the unfortunate event of rape.

If you are interested in the report, pls send me your email address. I am also in the process of putting together these parcels for the young victims: Out of years of experience in a South African setting my friend at Viva suggests a soft toy, a chocolate bar, kiddies juice, a hoodie or cap to feel safe in and maybe something to colour in or sticker activity to have an outlet for nervousness.

NGOs are the ones doing all the little steps to help where the need is greatest. Do not give up your good work, everybody!

Find more information in the discussion below.

Collecting and making

Schools have opened again in South Africa and my little preschool is working hard to deliver excellent schooling to all children.

At the same time I am working hard on creating and purchasing sensory teaching aids for the blind and deaf children at the Tshilidzini Special school. I will be going in about 2 weeks time to help and assist the teachers. We also want to get a local African artist to paint a nice mural to brighten up the drab environment of the doormrooms.

I need to purchase paint, ornaments, fruit and veg for a better diet for the children, mattresses and some CD players. I have put together a collection of music CDs that are ideal to teach with.

The South African educational system lacks on every level. Education, public schooling, is expensive. The government is not putting the taxes into education (nor into roads, health care etc. It goes into villas and luxury cars). Teachers haven’t heard of pedagogics and are very little schooled in education theory, educational psychology, scientific background.

Sigh.

In Africa, you do never know where to start. Jump in and believe that every drop of sweat you put in has the power to drive away the darkness. Prayers are welcome.

Thanks a lot, fake interpreter! #MadibaMemorial making history.

As somebody who works in the education field in South Africa, I am tremendously impressed with what happened at the Madiba Memorial. A genius planned a fantastic stage act to expose some of our most pressing issues.

For those of you who do not know, millions across the globe were inspired and moved by speeches made at former President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

You can read about this inspiring event everywhere in the web. Maybe you were also amused at Obama’s selfie shoot,

and Michelle’s angry expression resulting in her even switching seats with the Potus during intermission since he seemed to get a little too comfy with the blonde he was seated next to.Great photo-story here.

But what the international community was really outraged about was this sign language interpreter who was not signing in South African or any other known sign language, but seemed to have stepped right off a star ship :

Or was it true Anti-American activism at work here, really really subtly?

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Watch him “translate” President Obama in his historic address to honour old president Nelson Mandela for his life’s work here:

The man, who signed for a portion of the ceremony including Barack Obama’s speech, was simply making up his own signs, say the Deaf Federation of South Africa. David Buxton, the CEO of the British Deaf Association, said the unidentified man, who was supposed to be signing in South African, was “waving his hands around but there was no meaning.”

Mr Buxton said it was “childish hand gestures and clapping, it was as if he had never learned a word of sign language in his life.”

He said sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern, but his were just repetitive hand movements.

“It was hours of complete nonsense. He is clearly a fraud who wanted to stand on stage with big and important people. It’s quite audacious if you think about it.”

I beg to differ. I am saying:

Well done, Comrade!

You accomplished what many of us tried before but always failed: to raise awareness on an international stage of the outrageous South African habit to employ someone for any other reasons than qualification.

When it comes to former-cleaner-come-high-paid-municipal leader, nobody cares if a non-educated buddy of another functionary gets to decide that raw sewage can safely spill into drinking water supplies. And when thousands of Limpopo villagers have no access to running water because Julius Malema well received millions of Rand for a government tender but failed to complete the pipeline he had promised to build, this raises not even an eyebrow internationally.

Let us learn the lesson. Maybe talking about headmasters of special needs schools who receive outrageous pay but do not bother to learn about education should get an reaction?

Will the CIA hold the ANC responsible for allowing a mentally unstable, unqualified person such close access to the president of the United States? Are we ever going to be able to discuss qualifications in South Africa?

Blind children who sit in dark, empty rooms while the donated Braille typewriters stand unused in the shelves because the principal has no idea what to use them for (but he did bother to study the car marked before buying that high end SUV) can maybe draw attention to this problem.

tshilidszini 020Or a fully equipped computer room that does not get used because, as I am told in no uncertain terms: deaf children can not learn words. Just like that. When I am informing the teachers that you can download loads of visual vocabulary games for free online, they do not even look up from their whatsapp chats on their cell phones.

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These facilities built in the 1970s house 400 physically challenged, hearing or visually impaired and albino children who do not get sufficient stimulation or adequate education. And nobody seems to care.

Applaud this comrade who was bold enough to show how the cadre does not bother a bit about educating the special needs people of South Africa!

Now the national “ministry of explaining things away” claims this poor person is schizophrenic http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Fake-interpreter-says-he-is-Schizophrenic-20131212

Well, whatever episode you are suffering on the mental spectrum, you are normally much more likely to regress back to old habits rather than making up non-intelligible signs. For him to sign: mama makes great stew, or at least repeatedly use the SA sign for Mandela, would have been more likely. Which means this interpreter probably never knew how to sign in the first place.

Singing together with the parents of my preschool’s first ever Christmas Concert.

Living in South Africa can be frustrating, to say the least. I learned: involve some topic that matters internationally, like offending the international deaf community, and you might draw some bit of attention to major South African problems. Will things change? Not through international outrage.

At always, it will be the tedious works of love by dedicated individuals that will continue making a difference.

Here is a great blog summarizing the correct steps that should have been taken in appointing an interpreter for such an historic event:

“This whole thing makes me sad. So terribly sad. What has happened to Madiba’s dream? A country ruled in fairness to all it’s peoples? A just government, portraying the hopes and aspirations of a wonderful nation?

“Let us hope that clear minds and cool heads consider the questions raised. The interpreter is just a symptom, you guys. We need to address the disease, not blame that poor man for the real problem.”

PS. It gets even more bizarre. In a weird turn of events the South African Government now admits their interpreter who was entrusted with the task of translating Barack Obama, president of the USA, does not really understand English.
“For you to be able to interpret you must understand the language that’s being spoken at the podium.  He is Xhosa speaking as his first language, the English was a bit too much for him. So yes he could not translate from English to sign language,” says Bogopane-Zulu.

South Africa, please wake up. Now even the African American (black) president of the USA fell victim to BEE.

If you can do with a little chuckle, check out what the “fake interpreter” really said:

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.

Roof of the kitchenImage

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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GREAT TIME AT YOUTH!!

Currently we are teaching the Youth at our church on how to be a true hero!

What's up at church

We had an awesome time at Youth inC. this past Friday. We danced, Worshiped and saw what affects drugs can have on our bodies and what it does to us over periods of time.

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Thank you Christiane for showing us why its cool NOT to do drugs!

Jean-Claude Nell

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Active Citizenship – Is our right of speech zensored by modern-day pillory?

This post is about a volunteer who tried to find an emergency foster home for a child in need and got negative reports in national newspapers instead.

This morning, before taking our kids a bit out into nature, we sat in Wimpy (a south African franchise serving excellent coffee and breakfasts) reading a newspaper this morning, or at least trying to, while keeping the kids relatively behaved.

I was shocked, to say the least,  to read an article in the Saturday Star how one persons facebook post about requesting a save place for a child in need makes (negative) front page news.

It’s definitely safer to only post about your lunch and share photos of kittens on facebook. This world is spinning out of control and if you call a spade a spade you get publicly displayed as evil? It scares me. Who is with me that we need to make sure the right of freedom of speech stays protected as long as we are not calling ourselves a dictatorship?

Here’s the low down:

The Children’s Act states that if a child needs to be placed in a save place outside their own home the court must consider a report by a
designated social worker about—
(a)
the cultural, religious and linguistic background of the child; and
(b)
the availability of a suitable person with a similar background to that
of the child who is willing and able to provide foster care to the child.
(2) A child may be placed in the foster care of a person from a different
cultural, religious and linguistic background to that of the child, but only
if—
(a)
there is an existing bond between that person and the child; or
(b)
a suitable and willing person with a similar background is not readily
available to provide foster care to the child
also the Children’s Act states that if the child needs to be cared for by non-relatives, the caregiver must preferably be of similar ethnic and cultural background.

This is a HUMAN RIGHT in South Africa.

Diversity is important. Exposing children to a multicultural environment is an important part of education. In time of trauma, however, what a child needs most is stability, not a new challenge.

If an Hindu child needs a safe place, it would be kind not to place her in an environment where there’s nobody speaking her language and on top of being taken away from a familiar environment she would have to deal with a different culture.

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Should have rather posted a puppy picture instead of asking for a safe place for a child in need …


So if a volunteer linked to a Helping Hand Organisation (but not even the organization themselves) posts the request by a mother in need for an Afrikaans child to be placed in an Afrikaans safe place, is that according to our laws? Definately. You can find the Child’s act at http://www.dsd.gov.za/index2.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=++%0D9&Ite

Now tell me, why do I read in the Saturday Star there is a “National Outcry” because this volunteer has exercised her right of speech and did just that, asked for a save place where there would be people who speak the language of a six year old girl in need?

Do we deserve to have our facebook requests posted in the news to scare the public to not speak their mind lest the same happens to them? Just asking?

Only if we do not take the time to study our nations laws and exercise our rights will we feel victimized and helpless. Passivity leads to depression. I’d rather go down fighting for what’s right then to sit and mope about what’s all not the way it should be.

When a whole nation came together for peace-prayers and started to courageously call out “We ARE the people”, the communist dictatorship in East Germany quietly packed their bags. What an exciting time that was in my life!

I have seen a communist nation regain it’s freedom because almost every single citizen chose to lift their voices, peacefully, and in the end prayer meetings in every town and village were attended by virtually everyone.

The communist system in East Germany was brought down by the millions of feet of the little people.

East Germans told their government: Hey, We ARE the people, not the enemy!

I am every Sunday amazed at how the City Press is publishing tweets of whoever does not obey the rules of political correctness.It sure feels like modern day pillory. Do not speak your mind too loudly, they might publish your name, picture and email address in the Sunday Paper!

I used to think the press was there to keep the government accountable, not to make sure the people all speak newspeak.

Zama Khumalo, 24, told his 493 friends on the social website he would send out an invitation to a “Big Black Braai” to celebrate the deaths of 42 white children when their school bus plunged into Westdene dam, Johannesburg, on 27 March 1985.

This is a country of Human Rights. There must be an outcry when a journalist uses facebook to invite people to a BBQ to celebrate the death of a busload of school children, yes.

But for someone to look for an appropriate foster home in an emergency situation to be nailed as “having the nerve” to ask for an ethnic and linguistic appropriate care giver in accordance to the South African Children’s act, that needs a public outcry of a different sort: Protect our rights of speech.

I do not know if facebook was actually designed to make it easier for the clandestine services of governments to keep an eye on what people are saying or doing. Maybe it is better to use it to publish pictures of our pets. There is no guideline saying: Please do not post anything emotionally charged, the press might judge you about it. Nationally.

All I am trying to say, the scale seems to be tipping dangerously creating a society in which we all speak hushedly and common sense diminishes. Please friends, do not let that happen.

All South Africans fare better when people, in a friendly way, keep reminding the government that they answer to the people and not the other way around.

When did Mob justice become normal? Do tribal customs triumph over legislation?

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On the road from Vivo to Louis Trichardt.

So today after work I went with my 4 year old to town to quickly get some gifts for a baby shower tomorrow morning. I love to teach my son the value of giving generously.

Normally going into town would be a happy event. Today, as soon as we reached downtown, one block away from the main street drama unfolded right before our eyes. A man was being pushed to the ground by an angry person. Soon several men where kicking him everywhere. Ribs, legs, head. Before I knew what was happening, a mob started forming, screaming angrily. The men started to kick the guy in his head, he was bleeding and I saw him loosing his consciousness.

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In this street, an angry mob of about 100 people formed within seconds right in front of me.

Suddenly more than a hundred of angry people shouted all around us. It all had happened so quickly, my heart felt like melting wax. All I could think about was how to get my son out of there as quick as possible.

A few moments later I was trying to calm down at the store I went to in order to buy baby garments for my friend.

My son luckily hadn’t really noticed too much of the scene. He just asked why the people where behaving badly. I promised him to find out what was going on.  If you think action movies are fast paced, try real life. It happened so quickly there was nothing one could have done. The same morning an African student who is in our church’s youth had posted a video on facebook where people in some village where apparently burned to dead alive. I didn’t watch it, I was just horrified of the kids posting this, the thought of somebody recording it with the cellphone, the barbaric terror of it all.

“Last week my village necklaced a thief”

Now there I stand, still shaking, at the queue to pay. I do what any woman probably does, I talk about it. I am the only white person in the store that afternoon. The guy behind me laughs at my report and says with a calm, assuring voice: “He probably stole something”. The till lady nods. “Yes he must have stolen something. Last week in my village they necklaced someone.

They put a tire around his neck and set it on fire for him to die. He had taken R 2000 (about 170 Dollars) ” She smiles kindly.

Imagine my feelings standing there. Hello. If you don’t know South Africa – it is a beautiful, intelligent, civilized (I thought so) nation with all the 1st world comforts and 3rd world challenged mixed into one big potjie (hot pot).

First world country.

I am not standing in the bush. I am at a till with make up displays and advertisements for elegant dresses and funeral policies.

Oh that’s why. The guy behind me is amused by my questioning looks. “Listen that’s how WE do this. It’s the law of blood. You steal, you pay with blood.”

I turn to my son: “Steven put that lipstick back. Don’t steal stuff darling.”

I am stopping at our school on my way back. Our handy men are still working on some gates. I mention the incident in town. They aren’t worried. “He probably stole something” is their answer.

My Zimbabwean coworker is preparing next weeks class. When I ask her if its normal, she smiles patiently. “He must have stolen something”.

Okay. I get it. After almost 8 years here in the country of freedom and reconciliation I still didn’t know that this is how we deal with thieves.

The legal system – too western?

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At the odds and ends store around the corner you can buy this little rich feller who wills squeak when you squeeze him.

Today #guptagate trended on twitter. A super-uber rich Indian family had a ridiculously fancy wedding party and since they have close links with the ruling party, the ANC, they got some special treatment…

Twenty flying squad members, 10 high-powered flying squad cars, as many as 40 members of the police counter-assault team and VIP protection unit and several armoured and specialised surveillance vehicles.

This is what taxpayers coughed up to protect more than 200 guests of a very rich Indian families wedding party.

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We are connecting local farmers who are willing to help with needy people and fetch the food and prepare it on site, like here for hungry Zimbabean refugees in Musina.

There is also controversy about the arrival at Waterkloof Air Force base of a passenger jet carrying wedding guests.

The civilian guests, who arrived at the air force base without being screened by customs officials, were whisked away in a convoy of white Range Rovers, protected by the large police detail, who clocked in at 5am.

A police officer who was involved in the operation and its planning said yesterday the security detail had been finalised last week already.

As many as 40 policemen from the counter-assault team and the VIP protection unit were ordered to escort five trucks from OR Tambo Airport to Sun City. Two of these apparently contained gifts for the wedding couple and dignitaries.

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In the end South Africa can not go on being wobbly about values anymore if we all want to live a fulfilled and happy life. Cooking the mielie pap (maize porridge)

“The CAT members used their armoured Humvees and specialised surveillance vehicles for the operation,” said the officer.

So our president is once more stealing from the taxpayers. After building a mansion the German politicians can only dream of (in my home country you get fired when you allow your aunt Anna to go on holiday in a government jet, in south Africa it’s commonplace) while it’s May and many kids still have NO schoolbooks (government has no money ?), what’s next … ?

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My husband Andries assessing the individual needs.

In our municipality, according to Afri-forum in the Soutpansberger newspaper, new, job-providing businesses can not be allowed to register because we do not have the infrastructure for it. Power cuts, no clean water, etc. No money for that. But boy oh boy, you should see the villas sprouting like mushrooms on top of the mountains.

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Choose the wise path, South Africa.

When confronted about this, the answer was: This is Africa. We do not do things the western way anymore.

I am sure there comes a day when president Zuma must decide: Does he want Western justice with a legal court, commission, hearing, investigations where all the tax money went, or should we rather deal with it the African way?

Youth killed in mob justice in limpopo

“Witch” set alight in Limpopo

Does “liking” equal “reading through”?

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Bruno the dog doesn’t care much about controversies in the news. He’s pretty content watching Animal Planet.

Hi my faithful blog readers. Last night was a test. After seeing some rather fluffy, say-not-much-at-all” post of merely a whimsical picture with a quote like: “do something good and you will be happy” getting about 300 likes, I thought “geez. Time to post something about puppies”. To check if any of the “likers”are actually reading any of the stuff they like, I posted something of real concern to me at the end of that post.

Well, the first “like” came in about 3 seconds after publishing the post. Nobody could read that fast. Nobody could even download the photos that fast. Watch out what you like folks.I hoped to get at least one comment about the growing intolerance people of religious convictions are objected to, which really worries me. If I do not want to host a moon worship orgies on my private estate, can the Human Rights Commission make me? Even if my religion forbids it? But go back, if you care, and read last nights posts fully. Beyond the fluffy puppy stuff, I mean.Thanks!

PS This post was called “nobody is reading my posts” for the obvious reason that I was checking if people ARE really reading or just liking. That triggered a lot of comforting responses as if I sounded somewhat desperate. That was not my intention, therefore I changed the title today! (May 2 2013) … Thanks for ALL the likes, encouraging and controversial discussions. You are the best there is!!!!

Bruno had a Birthday – the power of the trivial – throwing a bone.

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Meet Bruno!
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Yip, he used to even come with us to the office …
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About 2 weeks before the birth of my first child
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Bruno never tires.
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He can climb any obstacle with his little legs.
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Puppy ate too much.
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Bruno as a puppy.

P1010858 P1010882 Photo-0004  bruno 046 Bruno is our dog. My first dog ever!

My husband, who worked as a cattle and ostrich farmer before, helped deliver this little puppy 5 years ago when he was stuck. Shy little thing. We decided to keep him and named him Bruno.

His mother was a very elegant Weimeraner and his dad a sneaky Dachshund/sidewalk-special who somehow made it into the mom’s yard …

So Bruno has got this elegant and sophisticated face, a beautiful brown coat and ridiculously short legs.

Me being German seems to have provided me with a hidden talent in dog-training. Bruno, my very first dog, house-trained quickly, had fun learning all the basic commands like shake, stay, down, roll-over, fetch etc etc and quite a number of party tricks as well. In my South African neighborhood that’s uncommon, dogs mainly serve to guard property.

Bruno enjoys walks with us, heels perfectly and even waits patiently without the need of a leash outside the neighborhoods grocer. He has become popular and well loved and would do so well at dog sports which we do not have here – he loves obstacles and takes them all in his stride.

Recently it was his 5th birthday. Our kids are very impressed that Bruno was here before them. I dare say, caring for Bruno as a little puppy maybe had a similar effect as adopting a child has for some couples who struggled to have kids – after 4 years trying to conceive, we fell pregnant and before Bruno’s 1st birthday, our first son arrived. A miracle baby, thanks to a lot of prayer and faith. But that’s a different story.

So we sang, like every year, happy birthday for him, presented him with an extra big chewing toy and a huge meat-cake and it was all great fun.

I hope you liked this post.

Really sweet posts like this one http://allaboutmanners.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/always-remember/ seem to get a lot, I mean a LOT of likes. Although it’s just one picture with a fluffy thought. So I thought, writing about little Bruno might delight my readers.

The title talks about throwing a bone too. I throw one for Bruno and he fetches it and has a lot of fun.

Last week the owners of a vine estate in Franschhoek refused to host a wedding for a gay couple.

It is against their religion.

There are many other beautiful wine farms offering venues for weddings. This couple, on their private estate, said their beliefs prohibit them from supporting the gay lifestyle. So they got taken to the Human Rights Court and criticized by the newspapers. Question: If I go to a professing Indian Hindu’s estate and demand of him to slaughter a cow for my festivity, is he allowed to deny it on account of his faith?  Would we do the same to a Muslim’s farm? Why doesn’t that Christian couple have the rights to quote their beliefs? Why must people be so aggressive about their sexual preferences, instead of granting people of a different conviction the so much cited tolerance as well?

Throwing you a bone – since I am not blogging anonymously it is probably better to stick to posts about puppies? All comments welcome!

One week closer to achieving your dreams – Tuesday

Tuesday Morning

Thanks for following me on this one week intense adventure of chasing our dreams.

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Introducing our baby boy to a white lion cub
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The Dresden Zwinger in Dresden, Germany, took architects some skill to plan,buit in 1709!
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When coming close to lions you can’t leave anything up to chance! This one I photographed with much caution 🙂

Are we still on with the five things to do differently this week?

Here is a story is about three fish

Three fish lived in a pond. One was named “Plan ahead”, another was “Think fast” and the third was called “Wait and see”. One day they heard a fisherman say he would be going to cast his net in their pond the next day.

“Plan ahead” said,” I am swimming down the river tonight”.

“Think fast” said, “A vis maak n plan -I am sure I will come up with a plan”.

“Wait and See” lazily said,” I just can’t think about it now”.

When the fisherman cast his nets, “Plan ahead” was able to escape from his nets. But “Think fast” and “Wait and see” were caught by the fisherman.

“Think fast” quickly rolled his belly up and pretended to be dead. “Oh, this fish is no good!” said the fisherman and threw him safely back into the water. However, “Wait and see” ended up in the fish market.

That is why people say, “In times of danger, when the net is cast, plan ahead or plan to think fast!”

I don’t know about you, but when I am in trouble, I usually do not think that fast. You know, as a mom of two small toddlers I am lacking a lot of sleep, and then you can noteven think straight about simple things. I once was in Davonnies  here in the Makhado Crossing Mall, wanting to get some cake icing printed. (Remember I talked about my son’s birthday party).

childhoodblessedHere I am, ordering the print, my one son fussing in the pram and my other son checking out all the displays of little trinkets you can print on in the shop. The phone rings, my husband asks me some stuff for the church. Steven is busy picking up a used chewing gum from the floor. I am trying to hold Sam in his pram, and stop Steven from pushing the chappie into his mouth. Routinely I check the pram tray where usually leave my wallet and my phone. Not seeing my cell, I get a fright and shout to my husband: Andries I think my phone got stolen, it’s gone! … Mom moment, right? ( Since I am holding the phone in my hand) In times like these, it is very good to slot down everything you need to do on apiece of paper. Did you get your ToDo list sorted out for the week? Crossed off something yet? I am going to cook that meal for a needy person today.

Maybe you just now listened to some music here on PhalaphalaFm and thought you can do that, too? Why not pick up that guitar tonight and practice your chords? Why not get writing down those lyrics circling around in your head?

The bible says: Pro 2:10  Wisdom will control your mind, and you will be pleased with knowledge.

Pro 2:11  Sound judgment and good sense will watch over you.

 

Sharpen your senses, it gives God the glory and brings you closer to where you want to be.

Don’t forget, Jesus loves you so very much and wants you to live an extraordinary life!

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.

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.

I told my South African husband that women are not born wanting to cook and sew and look after babies. 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.