From Erin Sio, science teacher:
Yesterday we did two things. We started the morning at the Filia School for the Disabled. What an amazing place. The students were asked to assist with sports activities, academics, and some forms of occupational therapy. Afterward we were invited to drive out to Constantia where the kids did therapeutic riding. This teaches kids balance and confidence and it builds muscles that are rarely used in the spectrum of their daily lives. Our kids didn’t assist directly–but they served as “posts” in the riding ring around which the Filia students rode with an assistant. There were smiles from ear to ear on each rider.
In the afternoon a small group of students went to the Eldene Primary School and prepped tires and an old shipping container for painting. They joined the other part of the group who were already hard at work at BADISA sorting donated clothing to be distributed to the extremely poor. They got home at about 5pm plenty tired.
Today we went into Cape Town and took the ferry to Robben Island. The ride out was beautiful, but the ride back a bit rougher with 20+ knot winds. Our guide was a former prisoner who spoke specifically of his experiences of torture and abuse at the hands of guards. We saw the actual cell where Nelson Mandela spent many years in solitary confinement. Then we toured the island where we learned about the leper colony that was also part of the island’s local community.
After the Robben Island tour, the kids had a couple of hours to walk around the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, an attractive tourist-driven area of lovely shops and chic restaurants. The kids got busy buying souvenirs. It was clear to me they needed some down time and room to decompress after 3-4 days of hard physical and emotional work.
Tomorrow will be another day of hard emotional and physical work. We are going to Blikkiesdorp to work on a community organic garden and to feed the elderly. People here are one thread shy of homelessness, living in a shack built of corrugated metal that was intended as temporary housing. One man we met has been waiting 29 years for his permanent housing.
That’s it for now. Stay in touch and let us know what you’re hearing. The weather has been windy, sunny, and a bit on the cool side. I’ll take that over the weather I hear you’re getting. The kids seems to be shouldering a lot as well as they can. They ask for help when they need it and they are taking good care of each other. Their host families love them. It’ll be a tough goodbye next week.