Claire Bear


Claire Bear

After an amazing month in Mpophomeni in July, I am making my return in September!

My last trip was incredible, truly life changing. It was an awesome privilege to go out to live and work in the township, we were really welcomed into the community and the hospitality of the Zulu people was mind blowing, they really shared everything they had with us. During the month, we were kept very busy running a holiday club for over 100 orphans and vulnerable children; planting vegetable gardens enabling people to eat fresh greens; cutting down trees to make fences to go round the new gardens so the goats don't eat the veggies before the people get chance; visiting the homes and schools of the children and generally helping out around the Family Centre.

For more information about Ethembeni and Mpophomeni Family Centre where I will be based, please have a peek at their website

So, when I go back, I'll be doing similar things, but focussing much more on the under 6's in the Early Childhood Development unit, providing academic support for the older children and teaching English and computer skills (I'm a technophobe!!!) to adults. This time round, it was decided it would be too dangerous for me to stay in the township, so I'll be staying in a granny flat in a nearby town and driving in every day, which actually makes me feel more nervous because in Africa I would be considered a good driver! I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again & doing everything I can to help out in the Family Centre.

I will be trying to update the blog regularly, I should have internet access this time, which will certainly make life easier, so please keep checking back to see what adventures I've been having!

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Cheshire » Sandbach December 20th 2009

And so, here it is, the final entry for the blog documenting my trip to South Africa at the end of 2009. Well, the good news is that the blog isn't finished, I am continuing to write it as we speak. The bad news is that it won't be published here. The complete blog, the entire 3 months worth, will be made into a book and available to buy very soon at a rather reasonable price! I would like to say thank you to all my faithful readers, who have supported me in numerous ways, I really do appreciate it. It means a lot to know there's a few people on the other side of the world taking an interest in my life in Africa, I value every comment left & every prayer said. I am ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick November 5th 2009

Shish!!! What a day! Well I’ve not had much sleep over the last few days, but I was awoken by my alarm at 6am, so I must have been sleeping! I sprang out of bed - clearly the sleep had done me good! I felt much brighter and full of energy, although my throat hurt more than before and it was much harder to swallow - clearly the tonsillitis has not yet gone. I showered and ate my breakfast, then had to leave at 7:30am. Grant and Shelly are away for a few days, which means I’m looking after the animals (more on that later!) and also I had to pick up some food for for Ethembeni. Every Thursday, the care workers from the Ethembeni hospice, along with volunteers from Howick Community Church, go out for ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick November 4th 2009

My usual morning routine is to get up between 5:30 & 5:45am, have a shower, lots of breakfast and spend a while reading my Bible and praying before work at 8am. However, since being ill, I have been trying to get as much rest as possible, even sleeping in until 7am! Then I spend the morning chilling out, or working at home, preparing myself for the Family Centre, which seems to finish me off in a couple of hours! So this morning, I was sitting in bed, eating my first breakfast and watching a movie at 8:30am when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number and it’s still quite an effort to talk, so I didn’t want to speak to someone I didn’t know. Well, when I tried to get into my voicemail, it wanted ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick November 3rd 2009

So Sunday was not a good day, I was so sick I didn’t even make it to church, which is really saying something! I spent pretty much the whole day in bed watching movies, although by late afternoon I felt well enough to get up and make some cupcakes, yummy! Part way through icing them, I ran out of energy, so they were the plainest cupcakes so far! In the evening, I was invited over to Grant & Shelly’s as it was Andy’s last night in Merrivale. Not wanting to turn down what I was sure would be a fantastic meal, I accepted. Grant had cooked for a change, and he assured me it was traditional a South African dish, then went on to say he had chucked anything he could find in it! It didn’t ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick October 31st 2009

Well, well, well! Today's been quite a lazy day, I've stayed at home all day, with the exception of a quick trip to the Spar! I woke up with an incredibly sore throat, so decided I'd rather stay in bed and watch a movie than get up - the luxury of a rare day without plans! Today was a lovely warm day, so I thought it might do me some good to sit outside for a while. A while lasted about 2 minutes, when I decided the sun was too hot and bright, so came back inside! Some smartie pants would probably remind me at this point that the sun is always hot and bright, it's a burning ball of gas, but you know what I mean. I decided that, given the lack of plans, it ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick October 30th 2009

Did you not read the title? Not much to report on today, I decided to prepare for the trillions of Holiday Club planning meetings next week, and I decided this would be much easier to do from the comfort of my warm, comfy, quiet cottage, rather than the Family Centre. So, my day began with a lovely long look into the book of James - thank you very much David for e-mailing your notes! I feel very united with you guys now, at least I might know as much about James as you (provided you were paying attention at Bible study!). The Holiday Club is a few short weeks away and the theme is going to be culture. As a co-ordinator, it is my job to put some flesh on the bones which is our plan ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick October 29th 2009

Shock shock horror horror, another blog entry! So it’s been a few days since my last post & I figured I ought to try to stay on top of it! It’s been an odd kind of week so far. Monday was a fantastic day with the ECD, particularly now we have the Play Therapy room as a valid space for taking smaller groups. So I spent much of the morning taking the pressure off the other child care workers by relieving them of a few kids at a time and taking them off to do jigsaws and other small group work. It’s brilliant to see the progress they’re making, even in simple things like the jigsaws, they no longer fight over the pieces & they’re starting to work out they’re trying to make a picture! So ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick October 27th 2009

This was a very busy week following the fun day. I was very fortunate to be given the task of distributing the masses of food wherever it was needed. So, on Monday, Gugu and I sorted out what the Family Centre could use in the meals for the week, then we made food parcels for all the families looked after by the centre. Then I took enough food to the hospice for all the families they look after there, including all the home based care patients. On Tuesday, I sorted out lots of food & dropped it off at another feeding program in the township. I had to take Linda's bakkie (pick-up) to fit it all in & I even reversed through a tiny little gate without even crashing! You would all have been so proud ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick October 25th 2009

The illness actually lasted for the entire week and I ended up taking the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off sick, but I went back again on Thursday due to extreme boredom more than anything else! I’m not really sure what was wrong with me, I definitely got my cold back that I had generously shared with the whole Family Centre in my first week, but I was also feeling very breathless, light headed and dizzy, which made standing up or moving quickly quite hard! I spent Monday & Tuesday just chilling out, not really doing anything but resting. Then on Wednesday I felt much better & it was also Shelly’s birthday. Shelly is an incredible lady. She’s the wife of Grant, the Director of Ethembeni, although that isn’t what makes her incredible! She is one of ... read more

Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Howick October 25th 2009

The next week was all about ECD (Early Childhood Development). I spent Monday morning at the mall, putting all your donations to good use! I bought lots of new educational resources for ECD including jigsaws, flashcards, matching games, books and posters, which I spent the week role modeling for the child care workers. The problem is that we often have 16 preschool age kids who are not used to being taught, they are used to just being allowed to roam free. This means that if you want to take a small group aside to demonstrate how to use an alphabet matching game for instance, all of a sudden, you are swamped with 16 kids all trying to get as many pieces as they can! Unfortunately at the moment, the Play Therapy room is out of action ... read more

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