by Linda Allan
Hello from halfway around the world!
I really had know idea of what to expect when I signed on to this trip. All I knew was there was a need for volunteers to help build classrooms for children and I was called to come. What I saw when I got here was beyond my imagination. The divide between the haves and have nots were more then I could comprehend. But the busyness of the weeks work kept me from thinking long and hard about it. There was so much to be done. Metal shipping containers that needed to be turned into classrooms in less then a weeks time! Measuring, cutting, framing, screwing, measuring, cutting, insulating, stapling, measuring some more, cutting drywall, screwing, taping, spackling, sanding, priming, painting. A frantic race against time to get the job done. All of it done in the hot South African sun, all done with smiles and to the sweet sound of laughter, chugging of water and Tony’s musical playlist to spur us on. So much fun, so much work and not much time to contemplate the enormity of the job we were accomplishing.
Saturday night came quickly. We wrapped up and looked forward to worshipping at Mayer, Cornel and Stephanie’s church in the morning and then back to Mosaic for a dedication ceremony.
As I stepped into the newly renovated space on Sunday morning minus the tools and building supplies that had littered the worksite the days before. My eyes were opened to what will be and the hope that Mosaic brings to the community. As I reveled in the joy of a job well done I was drawn to the children who peered through the ripped netting that covered the fence. The children who live in the makukus (the shacks) across the street. Angelic faces of innocence who smiled and talked to the happy American lady. They smooshed there faces close to the fence and let me touch their cheeks as I silently prayed for them. We laughed as I snapped their pictures. God’s children who melted my heart and drew me to this place. The children who i forgot about in the midst of being covered in saw dust, sweat and paint all week. They asked me for a popsicle, something all the adults were happily sucking on in the 100 degree heat. I thought “9 kids, 9 popsicles I’m sure I can easily do that! How easy to make a child happy! As I danced off to complete my mission I checked with Cornel to see where they kept the supply but before giving them to me she presented me with a question....”Yes Linda you can have 9 popsicle to give to these 9 children. But where will you get the 300 for the 300 children who will quickly follow? And what will you do when you can’t supply that and those 9 children get beat up for their popsicle? Yes Linda what will you do?
My joy quickly turned to tears. The enormity of the need became crushing. The cruelty of the desperate was more then I could comprehend. My naivety could have caused such harm to those who I so wanted to help.
Giving handouts is not the solution to the poverty that plagues this country. A quick fix is not going to help. Mosaic, Ma’s for Wellington and the countless people who run these organizations have seen first hand how damaging an unearned handout can be. They are teaching the children and the community the value of work and an education all wrapped up in Jesus’s love.
What an eye opening experience this has been for me. I can’t stop thanking God for opening the doors that got me here. And for giving Meyer, Louise, Stephanie and Cornel the vision, courage, stamina and most of all the wisdom to see His plan through.