We are still feeling a little overwhelmed by the incredible responses that we’ve had to our work over here, but today is the day that we are starting in earnest to make all our plans come together. We have been able to do all of this because of around 150 donors. Some could only afford €5, and the largest donation was €700, with a ton of different amounts in between. Fundraising has taken over mine and Nicole’s Facebook pages and I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like to hassle people to come to a nightclub or a bar or boat party. I’m sure when March comes around, and we get back to Ibiza, I’ll have to put my work head back on and get back to it, until then this is work, this is our focus.
So, today we were up bright and early to be picked up my our new best friend/driver Laury. He has an amazing infectious laugh, 3 kids he doesn’t know the ages of (that’s their mothers “thing” apparently), but is proud to say they are called “Godknows” “Prince” and “Richmond”. We particularly liked Godknows as that would be hours of fun after a few beers or the local drink of choice, Super Chibuku. With roads being as they are, and old cars being as they are over here, we were delayed somewhat by a breakdown. Our 2nd since the weekend after a blowout on the main road to Harare on Saturday. We finally got on our way around 1pm and headed straight for the Orphanage. This would be our first visit since that grim day described in Day 6.
Today, however, everything felt a little different. Everything has started to progress a little. The sun was out, and the streets were dry for a change. It was as if today was destined to be a positive one and we’d try our best to make sure that it was.
As soon as we pulled up to the house, some of the smaller children ran out to meet us. Including, yes, you guessed it, Macdaniel. I think they all just like to see what the noises are outside the house and come running, but as soon as he recognised Nicole his smile beamed from ear to ear and he gave her a massive hug. I think he’s found a new best friend.
Upon entering the house the throat choking, lung filling, open fire in the kitchen was no more and replaced by a gas stove. Far from ideal and still on the floor, but its a step up from cooking with damp wood in the corner. We’ll look to see if we can make this a little better by actually having a real gas stove rather than what looks like a travel, table top one.
One thing became even more noticeable to me this time around though. The flies. I saw them on my last visit, but perhaps I was so blinded by the plight of the children that I didn’t really understand the sheer quantity of them that seemed to cover everything. The kitchen, in particular, was a hot spot for them. As I took some measurements of each room so that I could paint later in the week, I needed to use the table that is used to prepare all their food and knocked some pans as I did it. All of a sudden, the room was filled with a swarm of flies coming out of every imaginable container, behind the table and from around the food. Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good swat of a fly, but this was ridiculous… It’d be impossible to make a dent! I know that the internet is awash with images of helpless African children with flies crawling everywhere, but I’d never really seen that many in one place before today and it totally shocked me. I think what is needed is proper kitchen storage, proper understanding of food preparation and proper cleaning is essential to stop food contamination and to curb the fly infestation. I sense a job for our very own clean freak Nicole!
Today we learned that some of the boys were still off from school because they owed another $10 each to the school to cover some fee or another. This meant that they were away from all forms of education as they simply cannot afford it and getting any meal at all is more of a priority to these kids than school is at the moment. We’ll look to speak with the schools of each child and really see if we can make sure that none ever have to stay home simply because they can’t afford the fee’s to go. Those reading this of school age might think its amazing that they get to stay home, but everyone else will understand that there is only one chance for these kids to get an education to encourage their ever expanding minds and give them something to build a life for their own on. Imagine $10 being the difference between getting an education that will last a lifetime, or not. Its crazy to think thats how it is over here, but it is. If you’d like to donate and help, click here.
The older boys, those that were not at school anyway, took far more of an interest in us this time around. I wouldn’t say that it was the warmest of welcomes, but one in particular was very happy to help me measure each room and each window so that we could paint and put up curtains. He told me that he liked football and would love a Barcelona F.C. poster for his bedroom. Currently its untreated concrete.
The others looked on inquisitively as we measured the height of the ceiling too (well, I say ceiling, its all open beams with glimpses of daylight coming in too as this house is more of a squat than a home). Little do they know that the reason for this was that we’d spent the day sourcing materials so that we can get bunk beds made for them. We want it to be a surprise for them and one that will hopefully blow their minds! They’ve never had a bed to call their own since before their parents died, or were abandoned, and even then maybe they never felt the comfort of their OWN bed. Today we took the first steps to giving them that. Materials and labour will total to around $200 per triple bunk bed, or $66 per child. We think thats a small amount to give them something they have never had before. If you want to help by donating towards these beds, click here. We’ve started with one, and they reckon that we’ll have it ready within days! I will post pictures of their handy work then, but I’ll be proper gutted if its absolute shite as every penny is precious and I hope not to have wasted any on these beds.
Whilst taking measurements today, I went to every room and saw everything with new eyes. The walls with cracks in as big as your hand, bare concrete, no ceiling, dirty bedding and dust and dirt everywhere. In one bedroom I saw a baby with a towel in place of a nappy, left alone crying on a double bed as the “house mother” tried to cook food for the other 10 children. Her cries stopped as I walked through the door and she looked at me curiously, and carried on wailing the moment I left. What these children need more than anything is love and attention. If only someone could take these children into their homes and call them their own. Its desperately sad to think that this may never happen.
With measurements written down ready to by paint tomorrow, steel bought, welder in action as we speak and a meeting set up with the trustees for tomorrow we’ve had a productive day today. We also found time to message each and every donor to thank them for their efforts and to promise them that we’ll not let them down.We’ll do all we can in our power to not let down these kids, not let you guys reading this down, not let down our friends and family and not let ourselves down either. We’ve come to make a difference though, and feel like that has begun today.
Nicole: “Getting out the car today I had mixed emotions. I was wondering if Macdaniel would remember us or react completely different to our arrival this time around. As soon as he came outside he came straight over to me arms out with a big smile on his face and my heart just melted just as before . We went inside and the other children were excited to see us. They all had smiles on their faces and it was more like they realised we wern’t just one time visitors. I was playing chase with the two smallest boys and the little giggles from them was just so overwhelming. As Nathan was measuring up the rooms for the painting, I went outside and spoke to one of the younger girls. This is when I noticed how they were using the concrete wall to dry their clothes. I asked if putting a washing line up would make the washing alot easier and she replied it would be amazing and thanked me. What may seem like a simple and small change to their day to day lives will result in big changes long term. All too quickly our time had came to an end and it was time to say goodbye yet again and my heart sunk. Little Macdaniel waved and said goodbye whilst looking down at the floor. We said we’d bring sweets next time we come and he sat on the step watching us as we drove away ”
Its going to be a long journey, and it will never truly be finished, but with your help, we’ll leave these children in a much better situation than when we arrived.