By Lois Turner
So I have decided to be one of those people and try my hand at a blog! I thought this will be good for those of you who want to delve into my ponderings and goings on as I do life here in South Africa.
Now where to start?! Maybe I should first start with my blog name. Most of you who know me will know my love for The Lion King where Hakunah Matata is referenced. This phrase seemed apt not only because it is from the greatest film ever and the fact that it is situated in Africa but because of the meaning behind the words. Hakunah Matata means no worries for the rest of your days. For me this is a motto I would like to try and live by. With life it is so easy to worry. But is this worrying really going to help? Someone once told me that worrying is like holding an umbrella on a sunny day – all it does is keep the sun off you. With starting this new adventure in an unknown place there could be many reasons to worry. Will I be safe in a place known for potential danger? Will I do well in this new job? Will I make friends just as amazing as the ones I left? Will I be financially stable? But fretting about this is not going to help and when the worrying disappears there is so much to be thankful for. I can explore another part of the world that is still so mysterious to me. I can push and challenge myself in my dream job. With every goodbye I have had to make there will always be new hellos. And most importantly I have a God who is forever with me, meaning there will never have to be a reason for me to worry… all I need is faith.
Every minute here has been jam packed with something new and exciting each day. In fact, my first day even involved me locking myself into my stairwell and having to be rescued by my neighbour! (At least we know that I am very safe and secure with all these locks – no one can get in or out easily… trust me). Anyway, just as a brief overview, the last few weeks includes: helping with career guidance; looking at different colleges/universities with students from “Home-Base”; thinking about fund-raising events and looking into grants for the setup of “Work-Base” (the vocational school we are setting up for vulnerable youth and orphans). I also had the privilege of going back to Bulembu and working at the school for a couple of weeks. I can’t even tell you how happy my heart was to be reunited with the most amazing kids ever. I was reminded about just how much I love them and just how special each of them is.
However, the main event I want to focus on in this blog is when we visited an orphanage which is run by some nuns. They got in contact with Home-Base as they have some orphans who have reached an age where they need to leave the orphanage and take the next steps. The sisters wanted to know what the possibilities are and if we could help. The Sister who was talking to us was full of incredible stories about the place and the kids, but there was one story which struck the core of my being and will be something that I know will forever stay with me. Before the place was an orphanage it was first built for children and adults who were HIV positive to go to and die in peace. However, there were some children who against all the odds survived. These happen to be the orphans who are now ready to take the next steps in life. These young adults are walking miracles; yet (and this is what really got me) one of these guys asked one question. A question that nearly everyone could take the answer for granted; “Why am I alive?” This is someone who, as a child, has seen his parents and friends die one by one from an awful disease, waiting for his turn. But his turn never came. It is like he is surviving each day wondering if he will see tomorrow. Why have they been allowed to live while their loved ones die? I had to hold back the tears as it hit me what a privilege it is to be in the position I have been put in. I have the opportunity to work for an amazing charity that gives youth like this a reason to live. We can help them find the answer to this question, give them a hope and a future. It was at this moment that I realised why I am here. These guys need to know that their background and health does not determine who they are. They don’t need to just survive – they can thrive! Everyone deserves the chance to dream and be the best they can be. Yes, it will take hard work and perseverance but it will be worth it! I feel so humbled that I have this incredible opportunity to help.
I have only been here for a few weeks but it has been a huge awakening on just how precious life is. I hope and pray that I shall never take a day for granted.
Lois is a full-time volunteer at Home-Base from the UK. She is our Work-Base Manager, who is here to help us set up and run our vocational training school, but she is also helping in various other areas at Home-Base.