16 July 2005

South Africa's Little Ones

South Africa's children—white, Indian, coloured, black—are my fondest memory of the country. They are beautiful children offering large smiles to capture on film. They are hopeful, playful, laughing, dreaming. They have wealthy parents, impoverished parents. They love South Africa, are proud of who they are and their culture. They hate South Africa and idolize the USA; they see spousal abuse, are asked to take drugs, cannot afford school lunch, have older brothers and sisters who never finish high school. They are crying children, dying children. They are hospitalized, playing in parks, picked on by other children, checking out books from the library, watching parents die of AIDS, shopping at the mall, playing soccer in the dirt, spinning a top on the red dusty ground.

I visited schools with soccer fields and swimming pools, computers and internet, 20 children in the classes. I visited schools with no sports teams, no electricity, 40 students with one teacher. I talked to children in the suburbs, in the townships. They whispered happiness and despair in at least two of the 11 official languages of South Africa. I saw children sitting on their fathers' shoulders at the Live8 concert in Johannesburg. I held sweet Lisa--the three-year-old I wanted to smuggle into the USA. I fed Princie at Baragawanath Hospital in Soweto; her mom was nowhere to be found. I talked poetry one evening with Stephanie as she prepared for the next day’s lesson at her school in the northern suburbs.

South Africa's children are diverse and beautiful! I will think of them daily.

It's been an incredible journey for the past month. I don't know how I'll ever catch up on the blog; there's so much to tell! But I'll toss some SA stories and photographs occasionally unto the blog in the next few weeks so that you can be a part of this journey, too.


Mary said...

Absolutely beautiful, Ciona. I don't know what else to say really, but I know you have been forever changed by your experiences. I can't wait to see the words of your journey!

Loving you tons,

Anonymous said...

What a blessing...when we set out to do this great thing for God and we find that God is doing a really great thing for us! So much work to do in the Kingdom. The laborers are so few. Perhaps God has found another laborer who is not in South Africa, but whose heart is, and He has one less disciple to find there. The work goes on and perhaps this is the answer to your prayer from an earlier blog entry where you searched to find that "thing" in life, that place, where you could make a difference. Could it be South Africa where the passion of Ciona meets the passion of Christ? The children of South Africa!!!! Godspeed!

LARouse said...

Beautiful, beautiful girl! Thank you for sharing. The photos are brilliant! Look forward to hearing more about your time there in Augusut, face to face. :)

Kami Rice said...

Welcome back, Ciona! I'll see you sometime before long. I've found some more writing group members, too, so we might be a slightly larger group when we re-group in the fall. :-)

MethodX said...

I can't wait to hear how you've been transformed by this experience of seeing God in theose faces. - Julie O.