Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Golden Bike

Monday, September 5, 2016

Today I woke up and went to the Post Office, bought some beautiful fabric and wandered around town. Andy picked us up and we went to the South African border to purchase some Lesotho crafts and hats. I purchased several hats and a beautiful cane.

From the market, we drove up to Tlhakuli. It is a beautiful place up on the side of a mountain. I couldn't help but take a ton of photos of this beautiful scenery.

In this Foster Home there are only four children: Malefetsane, 11 and his twin brother Sello, who are also Mamokhele's brothers, Katleo, 9 and Phuthi, 2. Me Makhotso is the Foster Mother at this home, which means "the mother of peace". 

 The boys take very good care of their younger 'sister' Phuthi. When we arrived, Phuthi was still sleeping. Once the boys came home from school and began to play, Phuthi was up and ready to go! I read them a great story that had counting numbers in English and Swahili as it was a Kenyan book called "We are going on a safari" from the Go Go Grandmothers. They asked me to read it for them again and again, so we also counted in Sotho and English.

One - Nngoe
Two -Peli
Three - Tharo
Four - Nne
Five - Hlano
Six- Tselela
Seven - Supa (my favourite)
Eight - Robeli
Nine - Robong
Ten - Leshome

The great thing about counting with kids is that they are always excited to get to the number ten! It is like a great accomplishment to celebrate! LESHOME!

The word that seemed to be their favourite was "cheetah". I would point at an animal and say "elephant" or "lion" or "zebra", and they would smile, but I would point to a cheetah and they would say "CHEETAH!".

We played with a tennis ball, marbles and tops. The boys showed us how they can spin tops in the dirt. Phuthi was always there ready to put her hand out for the boys to spin the top onto her hand. Phuthi is never looked at by the boys the same as siblings do in my experience (like a bother), she is taken good care of, and is always watched over by her older brothers.

The highlight was not any of these games, it was actually a purple bike. The boys were so excited to show us. They went into the cellar and dragged out their bike. The bike had no wheels, no brakes and no chains. I was wondering what they were going to do with this piece of metal. The bike was not fit to use as a traditional bicycle with pedalling and going uphill, however it was a great riding game.

The boys took turns hopping on the bike and tearing down the hill, squealing with joy. Over and over, they rode down the hill at top speed and once it slowed down, would jump off. Such joy from this bicycle. In Canada, we would most likely thrown it in the trash, but at this home, this was a tiny piece of gold for the kids that brought such joy. Phuthi watched the boys enjoy the bike, smiling.

Of course, Phuthi stood by watching, but she did not want to stand idly by. She went over to her brothers and they picked her up and down the hill she went. We were all terrified and told the boys not to do it again, but from the way they rode down that hill, that was not the first time they had done it, and it would probably not be the last.

We played games, talked and watched them ride their bike for a couple hours. The bike was pure magic. They were thrilled to have this bicycle that was just a broken piece of a metal and a reminder of a bike that once was. We asked the boys how school was going. They were very proud to show us their drawings of cars, and their homework they have been completing. They were also very proud of their multiplication skills, telling us "4x2=8, 8x2=16" and with a little help, they stated "16x2=32".

While the boys showed us their homework, 'Me Makhotso took Phuthi to the washroom, as she is learning to potty train. When they returned, she showed Phuthi to wash her hands.

The boys and I collected the peach blossom petals and delightfully threw them in the air.

It was clear that the boys and Phuthi were very happy in the home with their Foster Mother. We walked down the hill and I couldn't help but think of how treasured that bike was. A bike with no wheels, no brakes and no chains. It was a tiny piece of gold in their world. They were so proud of this bicycle and truly treasured having it. I also couldn't stop thinking about their shoes. Many of the kids in the homes wore shoes that did not match, were falling apart or were simply far too large for them.

After hugs and goodbyes, we walked down the hill and passed some beautiful scenery.

That evening we went out to dinner with Andy, 'Me Mahlompho, Brad, Pastor James, his wife 'Me Mantsepo and their daughter. It was a lovely dinner. We discussed the Foster Homes, and I asked James what he felt the biggest needs for the children right now would be. He responded saying the need for shoes and clothing is great. Kids wear out clothing and shoes quickly, and when kids are generally wearing pre-used clothing, it wears down easily.

My goal when I return home is to find a monthly donor, or a sponsor for shoes and clothing for these children. They deserve to have proper clothing and shoes that fit.

These kids come from such broken places and shine so bright. I go to bed tonight hoping and dreaming about the day I hear that Phuthi, Ithabeleng, Mamokhele, Ntaoleng and all of our Foster children have grown up to finish school, find jobs and are healthy and happy adults. I wish the best for these children. They are so special, so full of joy and hope.
 They deserve all of the opportunities in life to thrive.

Until tomorrow...

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