A final farewell

 Posted by Chante Cooper at 2:20 am  South Africa
May 162015

As my final days in Venda arrived,  I spent my precious hours left in this beautiful country saying some very hard goodbyes.  Monday I devoted to my Manamani children.  I went to school for the last day,  saying goodbye to all of the teachers and telling the children I was leaving with a few last moments helping them with their schoolwork. The last class I took outside for lifeskills and if I now close my eyes and think of my time at that school, I picture that last hour playing soccer with the kids on the rough red sand outside the classrooms with the bright, hot sun searing down on us. After school, my usual gang of kids followed me home and we played monopoly and rumicub board games untill the sun (and the loadshedding of electricity) went to bed and forced us to end for the night. My last full day, I went and said my goodbyes at the creche I first began working in and funnily enough it was here that I got the biggest goodbye with the teachers hugging me and taking photos and singing goodbye songs with tears in their eyes while scolding me for not letting me know sooner so they could throw me a leaving party. All my close friends came over that night and we threw a small party in the garage just spending our last hours together and then saying somr very unreal and sad farewells.

My last adventure was the trip back to Pretoria on Wednesday.  Unlike most volunteers who take a safe, prebooked bus, I decided I wanted to stop at the huge fruit market in a town on the way and the only way, I was told, this was possible was to take a different kind of bus. Well it wasnt actually a bus. It was a taxi. A very old, very run down, dodgy kind of taxi and full of some more very dodgy looking people! I told myself deep down that if i made it out of there alive, without crashing or having an accident or getting kidnapped or stolen from, it would be an absolute miracle. Murendeni strictly told the bus driver not to change with any taxis and to take us straight to pretoria… well this was exactly what he did not do.  After about an hour or so we stopped in the middle of nowhere with a about 10 idle men lingering about and another(already half full) taxi. They told us to get out and everyone went in got on the other taxi. By the time I got there it was full and I, an 18 yearold new zealand girl and the only white person about, was left alone standing with my bags. Let me tell you myheart was beating ffaster than it ever had before and inside I was shaking with uncertainty and fear.  Eventually I got onto the taxi sitting on the floor on a crate and away we went, extremely overloaded and illegal. I think while I was in that taxi we were stopped 3 times by police officers and the driver bribed them to let us carry on our way. Having just been in Venda, with a newly adopted african vibr I managed the whole day without even worrying a little thinking that what ever will happen will happen and laughed at the experience I couldnt believe I was in the middle of! To make matters worse halfway through the drive, my drink bottle decided to leak all throughout my bag and onto my phone. My phony with all of my contact details, and my only connection with the person who was supposed to meet me at the other side. So of course, it stopped working. It turned out the others on the taxi were not all that dodgy and helped me to dry it out and while one person help a part of my phone by the window to dry, another held anothet part in a different place and together we tryed again and again untill it eventually to my greatest relief switched on. As soon as it did, the taxi stopped once again and I was told to move to a different taxi which, to everybodys surprise, I as a makuwa confidently (or so it looked) marched over to and got on. Once we got to pretoria the taxi drove around the whole town dropping everybody off in different places whilr my driver sat and wondered where I was. Finally the driver told me to get off and walk down the busy, crowded streets of pretoria to my destination and so with a deep breath I climbed off into a sea of people feeling like a that odd black sheep.  But I arrived safely, in one piece and with everything I left with and live to tell the tale!


And so my time in Venda is up and with a sore and sad heart I leave the place that has become my home and the people who have become my family, the race that has become like my own. I miss it incredably already and know for sure that this was the first of many times to come as I already plan my return trip back one day. I have learnt an incredible amount of things,  a new culture, a new language, a new way of living and an entire new perspective of life itself. I have experienced and learnt a lot about people, thier way of thinking, religion anf beliefs. I have learnt a lot about myself and my own life and my time volunteering has given me a new appreciation of the many blessings in my own life. I leave with a new habit of waking up every single morning and thanking the lord for giving me a house to live in, a bed to sleep in, food to eat two living and loving parents and thr chancr to live another day. I have gained compassion, patience and gentleness and I have lost the first-world habit of worrying about so many things. I leave filled with an African spirit of happiness, a smile and a joke never far from my lips as I have been taken right back down to see the things that really matter and the things that we should just let be. But far greatest of all these things I have gained, is the friendships formed so close that I know I will not lose and the family that I know will always welcome me back. I camed to serve, and ended up gaining for more than I was ever able to give.

Finally, I give all my thanks to the wonderful GVN team and Miriam who helped me throughout the entire process,  to ZOTE and to Murendeni for all of their time, effort and energy with me. If your reading this and thinking about volunterring, I urge you to do it. It will change your life.


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