I've held off for a bit on posting this entry. Mostly because I've been really busy, but also because of some remarks going around about my intentions with my trip to South Africa. We spent Thursday visiting with Oasis board members, staff, house moms, children, visiting a local hospital, and yes.... enjoying a night at Mangwanani Spa. With that said, here is my experience on Day 6.
Today we attended the SA staff meeting. Beth wanted both teams to get to know each other a little better; how long we've been working with Oasis Haven, how we got involved, our role, etc... It was great to hear from those who work directly with the children. How they were called, their struggles, the love they have for each child.
Serena is the house mom at Bou. Bou is our first Oasis Haven Family Home. She has two assistants that help her during the week from 8:00-5:00pm. They alternate days at the home and will help on the weekends as well. The assistants at Bou are Caroline and Minki. Both very sweet, loving, incredible women.
Maggie and Veronica are currently sharing the role as house mom at 54. 54 was recently donated by the local church that supports Oasis Haven. This church, name I cannot ever remember, is our lifeline. They donate often and will always be our line of support if we're ever in a bind and need a helping a hand.
Maggie and Veronica work one month on, one month off at the home. The goal of the month on, month off system is to help provide stability in the home for the children. Rather than having one week on, one week off, or weekday versus weekend... It seems to be working right now. Our goal is to have houseparents for 54 by the end of this year.
Maggie and Veronica also have assistants to help from 8:00-5:00 and on the weekends. Their names are Juliann and Boukley (not sure on the spelling) They too are incredible, loving, kind women.
It was wonderful just to be in the same room as these amazing women who love God and his children. To add to the amazement, we started our meeting off with some worship. Minki led us in the most beautiful worship I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Most of it was sung in Sutu. Although difficult to sing along to, it was absolutely beautiful to listen to her incredible voice, along with the others, sing with such passion.
After our meeting we went to pick up more paint supplies and paint for 54 (our other home) and then headed to Helen Joseph Hospital where we met with virologist and Med Researcher, Francesca Cordobain. (not sure on exact spelling) Meeting with Francesca was an incredible experience. She is such an amazing women. She is extremely intelligent, passionate about what she does, and has a great sense of humor to top it off. Helen Joseph HIV/AIDS center specializes in ARV meds; anti retro viral. ARV medications are fairly new to the med world. It's not a cure for HIV/AIDS by any means. I learned while sitting in her office, that once you're infected, it's not something that can be cured. It's in your DNA. However, that doesn't mean that some day there won't be a cure, but ARV isn't a cure. It allows someone who is infected with HIV to live decades longer than they might have. It's no longer a death sentence.
It was wonderful to speak with her and learn from her.
After our visit with Francesca we we ran some errands and heading to enjoy an evening of relaxation at Mangwanani Spa.
Oh my stars!! Our experience at this spa was phenomenal. I've never experienced anything quite like it in my entire life. We were greeted with a glass of champagne, or delicious fruit cocktail, taken to our table where we nibbled on yummy snacks like biltong (beef jerky, but so much better!) After which we were led to dressing rooms where we changed into robes and slippers for our first treatment. Also, during our "snacking" we were entertained South African style. After changing, we were led down a wooden, bridge like pathway through trees that crossed over a creek. The pathway also had little hut-like rooms that jetted off to each side and stretched into the starry night. We were coupled up in these little huts for our hot stone massage. Tuliswa was my massage therapist and she was fantastic. As a lay there in the warm room, with the hot stones rolling down my back, I could hear the sounds of bull frogs and crickets. Or were they grasshoppers? I think they were locust!? Whatever they were, they were loud! As most things do, our session came to an end, and we were lead back to our table where we enjoyed a light meal with wine, sweets and more beautiful South African singing.
After dinner we were led back out to the pathway and into a larger hut with comfy Adirondack chairs and basins filled with warm water. We each sat in a chair and dipped our feet in our own little basin of warm water decorated with rose pedals. We sat there for about 50 minutes for an amazing grape seed extract foot and leg massage. I left there feeling wonderful and completely relaxed. I'm so grateful to have had this incredible experience thanks to Lori Kimbell and Paula Gillig. I later learned that Mangwanani supports Women's Rights in South Africa and they play a major role in Lead SA which is a campaign/NGO about getting South Africans to step up and take charge in their own country. Not accepting bribes from officers, trying to put an end to corruption..... I was thrilled to find out that our visit to this spa was not just for our enjoyment, but helping women in South Africa. Oh, also, Beth said that every employee, as far as I could tell they were all women, becomes a share holder of Mangwanani after a certain amount of time. That's so awesome! I've included the link to their website if you'd like to check it out.