Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Welcome to my Home

Hello Everyone

This photo is the walkway to my front door. Follow the link to some photos and a short video of where I stay in Kayamandi. Most of the photos are of the homes and areas just outside my home. I took some other video footage but am having trouble uploading. I will continue to try. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Taking Deep Breaths

Today my heart is bursting. It is a day of having your head out of the window as the car drives on the highway. There is so much to take in and it is hard to breathe.

Living in Kayamandi is more than a special thing, it is has opened up a new stomach in me. There is so much to learn; I am starving. Honestly, I feel like a Kindergartener most days. My heart is breaking for so many things today. For the white people in South Africa, who even now continue to miss and disregarded such an incredible wealth of humanity, strength, love and family sitting right next to them. My heart is breaking for other developed nations, that we disregard the impoverished and the wisdom that God has given to those we call fools or the strength in those we call weak. But more than anything else I am broken today by the potential for real change that is so severely restricted through our own human darkness. There are so many resources, there are so many people, there is so much real potential. We have the raw resources, but fear, power and pride, keep us from connecting to each other. Keep us from relating in a way that recognizes what others have brought as they sit next to us. People, organizations, leaders and governments that cannot partner and insist on their own agenda, loose enormously. We don’t meet on level playing fields; someone’s chair always sits a little higher at the table. This is not about money or education or social group; this is a choice each individual makes. In our hearts we choose how high we will sit. We are focused on what is in our pockets, bequeathing our vast expanse of knowledge, money and expertise, all the time missing the greater possibilities if we simply look over into our neighbours lap. If we take a closer look we will be startled at the kind of wealth those in poverty seem to possess. So much more can be gained if we could see that those we are working with are the most significant players and contributors; that they bringing things of value that money cannot buy. Those that sit lower they also make a choice. Either through submission to social norms or other experiences they expect to sit lower, and they also loose, missing what they have to bring and how using this can enable not simply another program or project, but real transformation of lives, communities and nations.

The HIV/AIDS issue is a great example. Billions have been thrown at this problem in Africa alone. But if you speak with people here they will tell you AIDS is not spreading due to lack of education and awareness. In South Africa the infection rate is 50% and it seems every other day they are speaking about HIV/AIDS in school. Every Youth Program in the nation runs workshops, hands out pamphlets, conducts awareness campaigns. From commercials on TV during the most popular shows, speeches from movie/music celebrities and political figures to conversations with grandma; youth here can tell you more about HIV/AIDS than you have most likely heard from any other source. This is good, of course, it is important, but it is not stopping the spread of the disease. WHY? Why is it that youth can give tell you which 4 out of 9 neighbours that live near them are HIV positive, who may have even watched their own parent(s) die a slow death from this disease and still they engage in risky behaviour that may ultimately result in infection. They have the information, they have seen the effects first hand, they have experienced loss and heartache because of this thing in their own families. Clearly, there is a deeper problem. Could it be that many issues of this kind, issues linked to poverty, are too complex to be solved without pulling up a chair, sitting next to (not above) the leaders of suffering communities and asking “How can we learn?” before asking “How much do you need?”

I will step off the soap box now. Thank you all for being a sounding board and a family for me. You have all asked both of those questions with me and I am grateful. God's Blessings and My Love to you, Heather