Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Global Story: South Afica

Wait no longer!  The time has come for me to start posting about my trip to South Africa in December.  I will be sharing about the trip over a series of posts so I can tell more stories and show more pictures to you.  Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.  I am also going to try to throw in ways that you can get involved from America.

As I mentioned before, my family has been involved in Mabopane, South Africa for 4 years now.  We stay with the children at Lotus Home Orphanage and Community Center.  In previous years Lotus Home was basically run out of one building.  Every year we have noticed this, but this year it was most evident- with the help of people here in NC and their friends, the lives of the people at the Lotus Home keep improving. 

This is Mama Mary.  She is around 70 years old and is in charge of Lotus Home.  Her motto is "the little we have we share" and I have never met someone who lived up to this standard so well.  When they are given food or clothes, after the children are given exactly what they might need right then, the rest is given to people in the township who might need it.

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A huge improvement we noticed was in the children's health.  The first year we visited them they were not regularly fed and when they were, their food's lacked nutrients- they could not afford any better.  The children's hair was brash and brittle, unhealthy skin.  After playing for a few minutes they would grow tired and fall asleep in your lap.  Because of the groups that have gone to Lotus Home, both with my family and through the Mabopane Foundation, these kids are looking healthier each year.  There are people that give to the foundation every month to help purchase the children's food, school uniforms, and to cover the utilities.  Let me introduce you to some of my friends in South Africa… 

Te'-Te' and Thabiso showing me how they can do multiple cartwheels- so much little boy energy...

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Leonard learning his letters with some alphabet puzzles sent by a teacher here in the states.

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Audrey and Cantato learning as well.

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Mark and Cameron enjoying the puzzles with friends.

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While their nutrition is much better, the medical care that is available to them has not changed and is not good.  We are looking to bring medical professionals with us on future trips.  Dipuo had a nasty case of the measles last year, and the scars have hung around.

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It is exciting to see that a local company has offered to donate children's vitamins to the kids- this used to be an item that groups collected and brought over from America.

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This little friend came in with her older brother in the middle of the night while we were there- their mother had died of AIDS and they had no family to look after them.  Sad eyes...

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The kids at play:

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Playdough from friends in the US.

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Me at play.

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Sarah and her baby!  This is how the women carry their babies, and many of the little girls like to do this with the baby dolls they are given in their Christmas bags, along with other gifts from donating friends here in the states.

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Mary Carr teaches some of the boys how to play hot potato... luckily she had the help of a few older boys to translate the rules to the preschool age boys.

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South African radios air lots of American music.  These girls were telling my Mom that the one person they would want to meet from the US would be Beyonce... anyone have connections with Beyonce???

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I love South Africa!

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* all toys seen in these posts were collected here in the states and given as Christmas presents or used in activities that the group did with the children


studio 310 said...

sweet children. thanks for sharing!! i love all these photos but the one of the girl and her baby is precious.

Aubrey said...

I stumbled across your blog a while ago through a friend's blog (Chad Reed) and I just love your photography...and these pictures from South Africa are precious! I noticed you said you would throw in ways others could get involved- please do! A way I could send a donation or something? Thanks, and keep up the awesome photography work! :)

the.indie.image said...

ahhh yes! I love to hear all about your trip and these precious children. Can I go with you next year?? Loved it!

Chase said...

Speaking as a "medical professional," I'd love to help out in some way. I've never been on an overseas medical trip but I'd LOVE to get the chance to do it. The docs in my practice all take turns going on medical missions trips, so let me know if you want me to talk to them about a future trip.

Zoe said...

as a medical student and future medical missionary I would love to be able to do a trip to South Africa- that is one country I have yet to visit. thanks for sharing with us Ashley :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Ash! Please let me know the next time you are guys are going to make a trip or send a church and I would LOVE to donate stuff!! ~~MINDY

Beth said...

Ashley... I am obviously WAY behind on your blog... but have plans to catch up this week. Mabopane is the place I went to in 1998 after graduating from State with NC Baptist Men. We met Mama Mary but didn't end up working with her and the orphanage. We tutored high schoolers at a school there. Anyway- great to hear there is so much involvement there still!!! Your pictures are so great. I want to go back one day!