Friday, 13 June 2014

5 Antips volunteers, 4 NCP's, 3 meals a day (not really), 2 kombi rides and one week in Mozambique!

COUNTRY: Southern Africa (Swaziland, Mozambique & South Africa)
PROJECT: Teaching & Care Work
WRITTEN BY: Elise, Laura, Rosie, Lydia and Josh

The past 3 weeks since the last blog post have been so jam-packed and busy that it's been hard to find time to write another one!

After returning from Kruger we dove straight into our NCP (Neighbourhood Care Point) projects across Swaziland, where we would be for 2 weeks. Every morning we catch kombi buses to our individual NCPs, which usually cost around 4 rand per trip (40c) and stay there for a few hours before heading back to our backpacker lodge, Lidwala.

Laura and Dutch volunteer Ingrid have been at Ezulwini NCP, Josh at Bethany NCP, and Lydia and Belgian volunteer Mimi at Ekuzukekeni NCP (where they have to take care of over 50 kids!).
Rosie and I were sent to Mlindazwe school, one of the smallest and most rural (even though it's about 20 minutes drive away) of the NCPs. It had been an amazing yet extremely challenging experience trying to teach the children when they hardly know any English. The teachers always worked very well to support us in controlling the kids and translating when we taught the children new subjects, like animals, shapes, colours, basic Maths etc. Our teacher at Mlindazwe just had a baby last week so sometimes she wasn't around to help us so it definitely proved to be a more difficult challenge! Every morning the children would pray before class and before breakfast, so all of the volunteers quickly learnt the "I am the winner" song that that kids were very enthusiastic to sing! Play time was always filled with screams of "Teacher, teacher push!"(on the swings) or "Teacher ngitsatse!" (which means pick me up) so it was obvious that the kids loved having us around to play, and most of the time we really enjoyed spending time playing games with the kids and hearing their adorable laughter.

It was hard sometimes for us to get into teacher mode, as the kids still saw us as playmates and treated us just the same as all the other children, most of the time quite aggressively, so we assume they experience a lot of violence/abuse at home. We also didn't quite realise how difficult it would be to communicate to them in English when they hardly know any. The Siswati words for 'stop', 'listen' and 'quiet' definitely came in handy!
We also have some sports volunteers working with All Out Africa that come to our NCPs once a week to play games with the kids. The first one that Rosie and I participated in we got to take some of the kids to swim teaching in the hot springs pool down the road. The children were absolutely terrified but it was so enjoyable to see them warming up to the water and playing with us.

Every afternoon after teaching we would be sent off to do other activities - i.e. Visiting the hospital and the orphanage. At Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital we would visit the children's ward and play with the sick/injured children. Most of them went crazy over the balloons but we found it quite hard to put a smile on their faces since they didn't understand much English. At Hope House orphanage we had a really great time with all the kids. Some of us started up a game of hokey pokey that just grew and grew until about half the orphans had joined in! Another time I brought some craft materials to make bracelets and and the kids went so crazy for them that it became really hard to manage! However there was a really amazing group dynamic there and we all really enjoyed ourselves the times we've been there so far.

The weekend between the 2 weeks of volunteering we were taken on the Malolotja Zip-lining tour, where we visited the second largest rock in the world, Sibebe (after Uluru - Aussie pride!) and we stayed overnight in the mountains. The following day we were taken on the zip-lining tour which we all agree was so much fun and an incredible experience, it was like flying through the valley.

After 2 weeks of volunteering at our NCPs, we were taken up to Tofo Bay, Mozambique with our Kruger guide, Wawa, for a week's holiday. The white sands and crystal clear water was the perfect setting for the majority of us girls to get our tan on. However local merchants found this a great opportunity to try and sell us bracelets, fabric and coconut bread, and whilst we were adamant that we didn't want any they would ask to buy our shirts or iPod's instead! Some loved to come touch our hair and even though we all said Josh was our boyfriend they disregarded this and were very confused as to why we couldn't have another. Whilst there we had the opportunity to go snorkeling, some of us lucky enough to swim with dolphins and over a small reef filled with fish. The day after we went kayaking to the small Island of Inhambane, where we were taken on a short tour and served lunch by the chief in his restaurant. The following day Josh, Laura, Dutch volunteer Ingrid and I went scuba diving, Josh had been before so for Laura and I it was extremely nerve-wracking to say the least! However it was an amazing experience, the struggle to remember how to breathe was 'drowned' out by the beauty of the reef and enjoying the proximity between ourselves and the underwater life. Unfortunately no manta rays or whale sharks but the fact that nothing went wrong made it very enjoyable in my opinion!

On Friday we drove the 13 hour journey back to Swaziland with the Mozambique volunteer group in tow as we all were heading off to the 3 day Bushfire Festival in Swaziland which started that night. Thousands of people travel across Africa to come to the annual festival - we met multiple people in Mozambique who we ran into whilst there! The festival was incredibly rich in music, dance and art, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

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