Wednesday, April 21, 2010

50 days and counting

Let the countdown begin: 50 DAYS until kickoff!
Since the last time…I’ve been to Botswana and back for a much needed break from the city. My cousins, Pete and Shelley and their kids Caleb and Malena recently moved to Gaborone (the capital of Botswana and conveniently only 4 hours away), so for the Easter weekend Siri and I traveled north via Mini-bus. There were plans to tour the Okovango Delta…world famous for something…and the salt flats, where all the tour books warned you can get disoriented, lost, and die. But once we arrived and were kindly escorted by Pete to their home…we stayed put. It was so refreshing to be in a home, to wake up and chat over a cup of coffee with family from home. Mornings were spent playing legos or building some construction in the back yard with mud and sticks. We found some local adventures in the termite mound down the path, which apparently makes a good snack to the trained tongue. To me, it tasted like mud. One afternoon we explored the “mountain” just outside of town but were more captivated by some Baboons. By “some” I mean hundreds jumping, rummaging, climbing, and fighting. And on all their rears were strange growths…think nuclear power plant accident. We all got some good, immature laughs in about that! The hike was nice and gave us a sprawling view of the overgrown village of Gaborone. Botswana is so different than South Africa. The atmosphere is calm, safe, and friendly. There are goats and donkeys sharing the road with cars and mini–taxis. It’s nice and I hope to go back. Siri and I both had a great time and it was difficult to return to the city. The time did provide a good chance to reflect and re-energize for this next season here in Pretoria. It will be a busy one and a tough one, no doubt.
As far as the Human Trafficking Campaign goes, things are really moving forward. We have done a few more trainings for outreach workers and people in the Potters House womens shelter, and all the TLF housing units. People’s responses are incredible…they want to start spreading the word. There are plans to do outreaches in more of the communities here in Pretoria, to work with the children so they can tell the story too, and to train the building caretakers of City Property, the largest property management company in the city. God is moving! Our new outreach to Sunnyside is proving to be a challenge as the crime is much more organized in that part of town. Many of the prostitutes there work out of brothels that are hidden in flats. These are often run by Nigerian pimps who are also wrapped up in the drug trade. The last few weeks have been nerve racking to say the least as we are constantly being watched and the intimidation factor is huge. The pimps keep an eye on us at all times as we are talking with the ladies and the women also constantly glance around to see if they are being watched. Seeing the fear in these women’s eyes and at the same time watch the guy across the street stare at us and keep us in his peripheral vision makes me reconsider our time there. Personally, I am being so challenged to really look at how we do outreach and why. Please pray that God would lead us, not the other way around. Not sure I am in a place to say more than this yet but it has been a very difficult area for me to sort through.
On a more positive note, a few women have really taken some steps into changing their lives. Sibongile, who we see at least once a week down-town has been coming to Lerato House to get her ID and Resume updated and is registering for a training course through another organization here. She has a very hopeful attitude and is putting a lot of effort into stepping out of her current situation. My friend Petunia, the woman who had the injured finger a few months ago, is also starting to ask more questions about what Lerato House can help her with. She previously worked at Woolworths and Shopright but now has had difficulty finding work. My hope is that she will keep asking questions, and trusting us to walk with her in her journey off the streets. Both of these women said that they are not looking forward to the World Cup because they don’t think anything will change for them. “It changes for them” Petunia said as she waves her hand towards the Union Buildings. “But not for us down here,” and looks around at the broken building, abandoned field, and junk yard. She’s right. When I asked what they would most like to see change, one woman said she would like a job, a home, and a community. Those are not extreme requests. The simplicity and attitude of that answer silenced me. Those things would keep her from having to sleep with 50 men a day (not an exaggeration) to earn her 200R ($30) to send to her family for survival. Still lots of work to do here.
It’s been a smelly few weeks here in the city. The garbage workers have been striking in very creative way. Each day, there have been garbage bins dumped in the street, trucks tossing rubbish all over the roads, people tipping the garbage cans on the sidewalk over as they walk, and all the cars driving over the whole mess. Just in the last few days have the workers gotten busy again. I really hope they got their raise.
An update on the people coming to help out here…Paul and Kellie are on their way from Italy probably this weekend to join us here and start work on the Better World! Aaryn is coming on May 24th from Vietnam also to jump into the action and dun dun dun…Cameron, my incredible boyfriend will be coming on June 1st for a long awaited visit. He’ll be working on an art project for TLF’s new building TAU building to tell the story of ashes to beauty. It was formerly a budget hotel housing many young girls and keeping them to work as prostitutes. Now it will be the new Lerato House, our shelter for at-risk girls. It is beautiful story of redemption and I know that Cameron will create a perfect piece for the entrance. Thank God that He has paved the way and provided for this time. 
Celebrating the small things;
Siri and I will have a refrigerator starting next week
The basil and wildflowers are coming up
Dinner last night was tomato, pumpkin basil curry and pasta sauce

I love you all. Enjoy the pics from Botswana and of the flyers/poster we are spreading around town.

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