A (Mostly) Happy Ending
As we end our annual visit to South Africa, we are thinking about the former Bakhita Village girls, especially the ones who are not doing well in their current living situations. The Bakhita Outreach team has a plan to keep up with these girls and help when needed and intervene where necessary. We will stay in touch with the team, encouraging them when needed and helping financially where necessary. We will continue to look after these little girls in all the ways in which we are able.
On a happier note, we had a great time this year with the Bakhita St. Brendan’s girls. They are all maturing nicely and settling into the boarding school routine as they receive wonderful support from the OLSH Sisters who are living onsite.
Early on during our visit, we noticed that two of the girls were struggling to read a paper by holding it very close to their eyes. One girl received new glasses about three years ago when we visited, and it seemed that her eyes had changed quite a bit and she needed a new prescription.
The other girl has never had glasses so we decided to take her to an optometrist who tested her eyes and was astounded that she was able to do any school work at all, given the strength of correction that was needed. He put a rush on the glasses and they arrived just as we were planning our departure. We were able to see the happiness on her face as she put them on and saw a world that she hadn’t been able to see for some time. So, we had a little fun with the girls showing off the “specs” that we wear.
We had a very pleasant experience re-connecting with three of the early Bakhita Village girls. Two of them moved in with the first group in 2002. One was the daughter of our good friend, Sara, who was the first house mother at Bakhita. Sara died several years ago, and her daughter is now attending university. It was good to chat with her and remember Sara as a loving, kind and peace-filled mother and caregiver.
We met with another of the early Bakhita Village girls and learned that she is in her third year of a bachelor’s degree in social work. She is an amazing, clever and determined young woman who will make a great contribution to the children of South Africa. Bakhita Charities will support her to reach her goals of helping her people thrive. She believes that Bakhita Village saved her and gave her a chance for a good and productive life and she wants to give back. What could be more rewarding!
And then there are the little ones at the Ga Phasha Creche and Nursery School. It is a community-run pre-school for about 50 young children who are given two meals a day along with lots of singing, counting, learning colors and social skills.
We had fun with the kids, listening as they recited lessons for us. We presented the principal of the school a suitcase with clothing items and dental supplies. We gave them a gift of money and had to record the gift in a record book that they keep. (We noted that the last monetary gift given was also from Bakhita Charities, one year ago.) Money is scarce around this part of the country, so we are happy to help them out. They provide a great service to this small village.
For many years, Silence Mukoma has worked at St. Brendan’s in a variety of positions. He now has significant responsibilities including boarding, food, security, maintenance and countless other jobs. His multi-lingual skills enable him to get things done in a variety of situations. As busy as he is, Silence has always taken the time to help at Bakhita Village and continues to guide our St. Brendan’s girls when necessary. And he always helps with a smile, a kind word, and a perpetually-optimistic attitude.
Silence and his wife, Sinah, have three children and their middle child, Junior, was born with cerebral palsy. Life is tough in the poor rural parts of South Africa under any circumstances, but to have a child with an extreme disability is a challenge beyond the normal.
We learned that Junior desperately needs a wheelchair that will hold his head and body in place and allow his parents an option other than holding him or carrying him. An item like this chair is well beyond the means of most people living in a small village such as Ga Phasha. Even though Silence and his wife both work, they could not possibly afford to buy such a chair. We decided that buying Junior his chair was a worthy cause for Bakhita Charities.
After investigating wheelchair options with Silence, Sinah and an Occupational Therapist, we settled on a “buggy” designed especially for children with his condition. It will allow Junior to sit up in a secure, comfortable way and allow his parents to feed him and work with him much more easily (not that any of it will be easy). We learned just as we were leaving that the chair was finally ordered to specifications and would be delivered in a few weeks. We were able to pay for it while still in South Africa. Silence and Sinah were reassured that this “miracle” will in fact come to pass for Junior and for them. Ahhh . . . It’s All Good!