Tag Archives: south africa

A South African Peter and the Wolf

As 2016 comes to a close, I want to delight you with our very own South African version of the classical children’s ballet Peter and the Wolf. My 4 and 5 year olds at preschool practiced very hard to perform it for you. My own little Samuel, 4 yrs, wanted to be a cat, and Steven, 7, helped out with light effects. Enjoy and comment if you like.

 

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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

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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Yippeh, we just published our first book!!!

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Click here for your paperback copy!
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Click here to get your kindle copy!

Yippeh! I am sooo happy that in between raising two young and very busy sons, pastoring a church, managing a preschool and doing various charity work, my husband and I were finally able to complete our first book together!

This book is born out of the amazing things we have experienced in our daily walk with God in a nation that has many challenges. With so much crime and no real social security, we need to hear God’s voice so much more.

God talks, wants to warn and advise and encourage you! Dreams, visions, the bible, prophetic insight popping up in your spirit when you pray, we talk about how you can fine tune into God’s voice.

This book contains more than 60 exciting stories and events in our lives where God spoke things we couldn’t possibly know through human understanding alone, and how God uses a sensitive believer to impact the lives of others. Your personal faith will be built up, we will make you rush back to your bible to see if God really does all we quote from the book of books, and you will be so motivated to listen to Him with a new expectancy of getting answers. Thanks for buying our book, you are supporting our work in Southern Africa.

You are welcome to check out www.emmanuellife.org for more information.

Since amazon has different platforms for different nations, you are welcome to browse on your respective amazon site for our names or book title and download the book onto your kindle or kindle app from there! Look for “The Powerful Impact of a Spirit Led Life”or Andries van Heerden or Christiane van Heerden.

Ipromon the meantime we have also published a compilation of prophetic words for 2015 available here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QW3A252 check it out! Especially inspiring for South African entrepreneurs and educators.

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Andries and Christiane van Heerden are senior pastors of Emmanuel Church in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, South Africa. Besides impacting their own community in areas of ministry, education and charity work they travel to nations around the globe to inspire believers to really listen to God’s voice for a more effective impact into their communities. They enjoy raising their two sons, Steven and Samuel. For more information on their church and ministry check http://www.emmanuellife.org/

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.

At the Magistrate Court in Sibasa

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. A typical carebox contains a friendly stuffed animal for girls, hotwheels (matchbox cars) for boys, a book, sticker activities, a snack, some sweets and a fruit juice. Many children come hungry to court and have to wait for hours until their hearing.
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Discussing with Magistrate Kellermann the need for a more comforting environment for underaged victims of sexual violence. A lot of cases can not go to trial because the children are not able to testify due to nervousness and stress.
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Handing out my first set of 40 comfort boxes containing R4000 worth of items such as fruit juices, snacks, a lovely stuffed toy, sticker activity books, toy cars, crayons etc.
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To get to the rural Magistrate courts one drives about an hour from Louis Trichardt in the North of Limpopo province. A truly underdeveloped infrastructure in the rural courts makes serving justice a challenge.

As many of my followers know, here in South Africa we deal with child abuse and child rape in a severity that is unbelievable.

Today I went to the Magistrate Court in Sibasa delivering 40 care boxes.

The boxes contain high quality toys, stickers, activity books, snacks and a high quality fruit juice. Many children have not had breakfast when they come to testify in court and often they wait for a long period of time.

I had been talking to a friend about the plight of the children in Limpopo, with child abuse rates soaring so high. She is a Magistrate judge and I had asked if there is anything we as a community could do to make testifying easier for victims of child abuse.  After Magistrate Kellerman got the permission by her head of department, I started making of these boxes to help the children bridge the uncomfortable time at court. The boxes will be used in rural courts such as Sibasa, Waterval and Musina.

This has also come up as a topic with the Guardian Angels, our local High Schools care group, who helped me with the collection of boxes while we informed them about their own responsibility to step in and step up when they see abuse happen.

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Teaching our local high School students the importance of getting involved when they see abuse happen instead of lookign the other way is another leg of our efforts to fight the rape epidemic in our province.

How an individual responds to unpleasant events in their life is crucial for their future.

“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

To assist a child and young woman or young man in overcoming the trauma of abuse is a call we all need to take up in this nation.

To end this, there are many different steps needed. We as a church are going into schools, training learners how to prevent abuse, how to interfere when you know a peer faces abuse, how to report abuse. We train parents. We try to get the community involved.

It is very important that abuse cases to go to court and the perpetrators get sentenced.

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Packing out in total 40 care boxes (more will come the next months as the project takes of) in front of the court staff.
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Magistrate Court in Sibasa- the family courtroom in a mobile trailer! The infrastructure around the court is basic, to say the least. The judges and lawyers work tirelessly under challenging conditions, even in protable offices. The main road leading to this court is a dirt road.

 

As I wrote in my post about courts, https://germanytoafrica.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/going-to-court/ this is a crucial part of the right against rape in South Africa.

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The court staff responsible for keeping the children safe during the trial. They have a very tiny office and it is not easy to keep children comfortable there. I hope the snacks, toys and books will be of some help.
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The children are testifying through a CCTV system so they do not have to face the criminals.
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The office where the children are waiting for the hearing or coming to for delivering their testimony via CCTV.

 

The stress is very high. A case can only be processed when the judge finds the child capable of making a statement. For that, the child must show an understanding of truth, understanding of consequences of lying. Since most children only understand tribal languages, the have to be able to communicate via a translator and intermediary.

The judge says that unfortunately often children stress so much, they tense up and refuse all communication. The case can not go to trial then.

The comfort boxes will be handed to the child by the intermediary. This will give them a positive start in their communication. The child will be more positive about the experience and also have juice and a snack. They often come to court without having had breakfast and without a lunch box. These comfort boxes cover all that.

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Magistrates Pieter and Hanlie Kellermann who brought my attention to the situation of the child witnesses in court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"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
“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
Talking to the court staff about the importance to support the under aged victims when they testify at court. Intense words for an intense situation.
Talking to the court staff about the importance to support the under aged victims when they testify at court. Intense words for an intense situation.
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Intermediary Salome Phaho (left of me) shared with me her challenges in keeping the children busy. Some NGOs are coming and going with own project ideas, not always practical. they are looking for long-term commitment in a cooperative way. I prefer to first go in and assess the real needs at the base.

 

 

 Statistics from the South African Police regarding child abuse

 

 

 We later received a BIG thank you from the court staff.

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Wendy house for young victims at the back of the Sibasa court.
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We also visited a Wendy house in the back of the court property where we were greeted by a volunteer who had put up his office inside of it. The purpose of the Wendy house is for children to spend their waiting time in.  It seemed a bit unpractical as according to the court staff the young girls get separated from their mothers and during the warmer month it becomes a “hothouse” and can not be used. The toys inside are broken and dirty. The tiny room is filled with the NGO’s computer, coffee table and feels not very inviting.

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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.

Care Packets for Children testifying in court

In a previous post I have talked about the high rate of child abuse and rape resulting in death in South Africa. Only an estimated 10 percent of all cases do go to court and the children as young as 3 have to testify under horrible conditions against the perpetrators. To encourage the children and bless them while waiting, often for hours, in the drab corridors of rural courts, I put together these care boxes containing a fruit juice, a snack, a new soft toy, a mini book and some stickers to keep themselves busy for a moment and be comforted from this unpleasant setting.

A box costs me about 7 US dollars to make seeing that these items are all new and the fruit juice and snack are high quality.

If you want to help me make more boxes, please donate to my paypal account. You can find it on the left hand side of my blog. Thanks.

If you are from around Limpopo you are welcome to provide us with new soft toys, fruit juices and snacks!

Thanks,

Christiane

 

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:

Welcome to Geluksfontein Goat Cheese Farm – How to Tame a Goat

Sharing some travels through South Africa, you are welcome to check out my traveling blog.

Traveler's Log

While my husband had some business to attend in Pretoria and the Waterberg area, we used the chance to explore a little bit more of south Africa.

The following posts will be describing some destinations around that area.

The Geluksfontein dairy goat’s  comprises a 400 acre dairy goat farm in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo province. It is 30 km from Modimolle (Nylstroom), 30 km from Vaalwater and approximately 2½ hours from the city of Pretoria.

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Steven enjoying the farm feel.

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Coming closer to look at the goat.

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Hi goat, stop, we just want to play!

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Chasing wont work.

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Daddy to the rescue. Look, boys, it’s a kid. Be gentle, do not scare her.

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So Steven is trying the careful approach now.

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Introducing himself without being a threat.

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Can we be friends now?

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Making friends

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In the end, the little goat followed him everywhere.

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What an interesting part…

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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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Youth work against Crystal Meth – Tik – abuse

IMG_0112Tik, a cheap methamphetamine, is swamping South Africa. The rate of addiction can be extremely fast for some people. Tolerance develops rapidly, so users need more and more to get high, and start going on longer and longer binges. Some avoid sleep for several days while using. People also

Once it’s in a community it wreaks havoc on everyone. Our church employes a full time youth pastor who serves as a counselor at the local High school. His charity group, the guardian angels, decided to do something about addressing the substance abuse on the school grounds.

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Our Youth pastor Jan Venter, initiator of the guardian Angels care group, and Jenny de Klerk, the High Schools co-ordinator, discussing new projects!

I helped them out and had them “take back some territory” as I asked them under the guidance of Jan, our Emmanuel youth pastor and initiator of the guardian Angels, to pose at some of the “hot spots” of smoking and drug dealing on the school premises.

I took some photos and this was the result:

toosmartThe tik generation is enrolling into school ten years after the drug (crystal methamphetamine) hit the streets of South Africa. Children born from mothers who abused the substance during pregnancy are now living with side-effects characterized by those similar to foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), but far worse. In some classrooms in the Cape Flats up to half of the students show symptoms of FAS/foetal-tik symptoms, namely brain damage, facial deformities and growth defects.

Luckily the epidemic has not hit Limpopo that hard (yet?).

That’s why we found it necessary to inform our students thoroughly on the subjects of drugs in a very visual way. Last friday I spoke to about 100 youth on the origins of joints that are often mixed with meth, and how meth is produced and why it is so highly addictive. Yes, some chemistry and biology was involved but it was all quite entertaining.

We even did our own “faces of meth” (ever googled that in image search?) experiment:

facebymethAs the head students of both Primary and High School attend our Youth meetings I find it really important not just only inform the kids present why drugs are never an option but to challenge them to reach out to those who stand at the sidelines. Those kids are often already marginalized by poverty, problematic backgrounds, poor self-esteem and highly vulnerable to drugs. Often kids get introduced into drug-using circles in order to feel more grown up, to “belong”, to be cool.

And even that first joint can ruin such a child’s life forever. Crystal meth, tik, sprinkled on top of marijuana, it is a highly addictive, life-wrecking cocktail, and renders women and girl tik addicts extremely vulnerable.

Sometimes it feel like the “good kids” couldn’t care less about the endangered ones, often even somewhat happy that there’s less competition around for them.

We got some pretty rich people in our towns leadership, building themselves outrageous mansions on top of the hill with municipal money while the schools and roads are in disrepair and the hospitals are less than adequately equipped. A doctor friend of mine just told me this week there weren’t even latex gloves provided and so his nurses refused to treat even badly injured children … this is Africa. In my German home we were taught to care about each other. Africa? it’s every newly empowered BEE winner for himself.

My job? Trying to instill some compassion to reach out to everybody else like the desolate kids in the bushes in front of the mansions …

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Some of the fun people of our Youth who come from great backgrounds, and will hopefully become multiplicands of a new moral standard and community development in South Africa.
Sharing some cool facts with the youth.

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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?

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South Africa, land of the free … languages.

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When you want to go running with the lions … you gotta learn their languages.

Here is a small collection of idioms and unique expressions to enlighten you a bit about the Afrikaans language.

If you have never been to South Africa, you might not know that we’ve got 11 official languages here. Basically every ethnic group speaks their own tongue, although plenty of Africans wouldn’t know how to write in their native language, as English is, in most Provinces, the common denominator.

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My sons are growing up with the best of a lot of worlds. I hope they will have a bigger heart for it.

gnu2Afrikaaner is what the descendants of the Dutch settlers are calling themselves, meaning “Africans”. Since Afrikaaner is pronounced exactly the same as the German Afrikaner (meaning a black Afrikan), I always end up having to clear some confusions with my German friends about my Afrikaaner husband and extended family. Yes, a well meaning friend set down with me on the steps of my home church in Germany after the last youth service I attended before getting married. “I admire you, Christiane,” he said. “How are you going to cope, cooking in these big round pots over and open fire, living in a hut made of clay” … I indulged in allowing him to ramble on for a short while before I couldn’t hold my laughter in any more. “I am not going to be the next White Massai, my friend” I giggled. They do have roads and computers there, you know … and my husband is a brave descendant of Dutch adventurers looking for a life of freedom and opportunity…

The funny thing with languages is that you can not merely “speak” them. You feel them, because before you can speak them you have got to think them, right. Using different sounding expressions for the same thing gives that very same thing a totally different connotation. You simply can not speak Italian without using your hands, you can not speak Chinese without trying to be polite, when you speak German you have to think very hard because there is a precise word for nearly every single thing, and, well, when you speak Afrikaans you have got to be naughty.

P1070806Afrikaans is, in essence, a language for rebels, people who do not want to be pressed into a mold, people who where beaten and went off the hook and refused to stay down and keep pressing on no matter what. Afrikaaners, and this is totally subjective and can be disputed, although I doubt any Afrikaaner would fight this, are extremely stubborn in their views. And when it comes to their moms, or saying thank you in public, they get teary eyed. But put them out into the open veld (type of prairie),the berg (mountain), bos (the bush), you will see their true, loveable, romantic soul.

A fishing rod, utility knife, a tent, a 4×4 and a hat – in short, give them some freedom and they blossom like the Namaqua desert when it received a little rain.

I know it sounds all terribly stereotype …  but I hope in a good way.

Having to think it before I speak it, Afrikaans has changed me, added a lot of new outlooks on the worlds and given me some bold colours to understand the picture of life better.

Here’s some cool Afrikaans vocab that just goes with the mentality and is very endearing and unique. You know, like that rough log of a fallen tree you want to remove off a newly bought property by the sea. You don’t get around to clearing it up. Later you find it quite pretty, it’s rugged bark a dark contrast to the glowing sunset. And after a while, that log becomes kind of a landmark to your property and your kids will make it into a feature sculpture. This is what Afrikaans has become for me. In the beginning I thought:How simple. How flat. How unrefined. Well, now I wouldn’t know how to express a certain way of thinking any other way anymore. I started to “get” the soul of the whole thing. I am telling you, speaking Afrikaans has added a lot of smiles to my daily life.

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Explaining life to my kids in 3 languages …

How do you explain the word “sommer” to anyone. It’s not just a word, it is a concept. “Somehow”, “winging it”, “just because” could be used to translate it. A German would probably never do something “just sommer”. This lovely expression enables me to do something without having to explain myself at all. It might explain though, why some Afrikaans ladies I met, loved to paint every single wall in their house a different colour. “Just sommer”.

A bakkie …

A “Bakkie” can be anything from a little pick-up truck to all sizes and shapes of containers and dishes around the house. In my native German every single kitchen item has a different name attached to it. “Steven, could u bring Mama a Schüssel, or wait, I thinkI need just Schälchen,  just bring me a bakkie will you please?”

And I don’t even know what to call a bakkie-car in German. Seriously. Maybe an SUV. But with an open back, hence: bowl, or dish, right?
Then there is “voetstoots” of course. It’s been officially adopted into
South African English. There’s no concise, one-word equivalent in English. Buy the car “As is” just doesn’t hack it. “Buy it in the current condition even if you need to push it home by foot” can be expressed so short and to the point in Afrikaans.  And it’s such a humorous word, conjuring up images of pushing that brand new car home…

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I think “gogga” is the most delightful word for insect I’ve ever heard. Click the word to hear its correct pronunciation. Children all over the world should use it. “Insect” just doesn’t stand a chance. Gogga was one of the first words my baby used to say, jumping with excitement!

And the exclamation of disgust “sis” – doesn’t that just obliterate the English “phew”. “Sis man, dis gagga, los dit” equals:”leave this disgusting thing alone”. You see when you speak the Queen’s English, you can not help sounding somewhat high browed and above it all. That is no way to talk to a child. Afrikaans always makes my kids smile. Really. That is how a different mentality creeps into your heart when you start speaking it.

“Donder” is a strange word, meaning thunder but used as an all-purpose swear word,
which again has no good English translation.
Used as a verb, it can express any degree of roughing up.
As a noun, it is a pejorative, as they politely say in dictionaries, to
mean whatever you want it to mean.

I am not, ever, ever, allowed to use that word while I still haven’t understood the concept of lightning and thunder being offensive. So when it comes to the weather, I am talking to my kids strictly in German. Afrikaaners are very very sensitive about using curse words although I always wonder when we are out barbecuing in the bush, some other people really can talk bad. But it apparently depends on the occasion. Still need to figure that one out.

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Granted, tigers aren’t native to Africa. But when you speak Afrikaans, you bother less about the small print and just get to the point. My son is “glad nie bang nie”!

It says something about the English that they have no word for “jol”.
Probably the dictionary compilers regard it as slang, but it’s widely
used for “Going out on the town, kicking up your heels, enjoying
yourself…” (See, there’s no English translation)

I’ve yet to meet a South African over the age of two who doesn’t use the
word “muti”. Translation is impossible – “witches potion” is about the nearest I
can get. It needs a long cultural historical explanation. Between “muti” and
the pedantic “medication” , there’s simply no contest.

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Biltong – dried meat like beef jerkey but better, is a welcome gift anytime. Looks and sounds strange, tastes lekker!

How do you explain the passion of “LEKKER!”? Wow last night was a
“lekker jol” – The German “lecker” would translate as “delicious” whereas the Afrikaans word can mean that everything from grannies cooking to a new dress, a car, a movie, a visit, was thoroughly enjoyable or nice. But nice is boring. Lekker is – lekker.

Dudu or doeks. Telling your infant to go to bed is just not the same as:
“Go dudu now my baby!”

How about ‘bliksem” – I’m going to bliksem you or ek gaan jou donder!

Both wonderful Afrikaans expressions with nothing to compare in the
English language, at least nothing that gives the same satisfaction.

Pap

Mielie pap – there is no word like pap to describe this food. In English, they have porridge, and when they say porridge, they mean oats. In German, a poridge would be a Brei, sounding exactly like Braai, the Afrikaans way of saying BBQ. And with your steak you have to have pap and sous, maize meal porridge and home made tomato relish.

But pap is also used for any breakfast cereal – even ordinary cornflakes are called pap.

Speaking of food. Gewoene, meaning ordinary, literally “what I am used to”, tea, is used to describe what we would call black tea, or Darjeeling or Ceylon etc. Do not order black tea. You might get locked up for racism. In English, you order “five roses” although that brand also produces herbal Rooibos tea, and in Afrikaans you MUST say “gewoene” tea.

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My very own little skelm.

Which brings us to skelm – here you just get ‘baddies’, but that doesn’t
have the same sneaky connotation of a proper skelm, does it?!
A Schelm in German is a prankster. You would say to a cute 2year old who just got you to surrender a sweet to him:You little Schelm. Do not say that in South Africa. Although to my German ear the world skelm sounds happy and cute, it actually describes a criminal here.

Loskop is another favourite. The English just don’t understand when I
say ‘Sorry, I forgot – I’m such a loskop!’ It kinda means my head is loose.

And “now now”. No one else in the world uses this English version of the Afrikaans concept “nou nou”. It means anything from in 2hours or 2 years. Do not expect anybody to help you right now, when they use the word nou. And when they say nou twice, it does not mean they will help you even faster. Nou nou means: Get over yourself, I have more important stuff to do right now.

I hope you had fun bridging some linguistic worlds with me tonight.

Don’t forget that a traffic light is a robot in South Africa.

There are countless more unique words in Afrikaans, but this blog is, by wordpress standards, un-postable long already.

Thanks for staying tuned,

Christiane

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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