HEAD , SHOULDERS , LEGS TO EAR , LEGS TO EAR !!

We’re back into our week routine now with breakfast and hard working days! It’s so easy getting up to work here too because the kids and the motivation to get the work done is always there. We wish everyday was like this! Breakfast came and went and pretty soon we were on our way back to the crèches to begin our work day.The drive is so nice because as soon as we show up in the village, all the kids and families come out to the road to wave at us. It’s not just that they’re nice to wave either. They are genuinely excited to see us as if we are their family and have been gone for months or something. We feel like celebrities in the village. We have never seen people so happy to see us in our whole lives, and we’ve never even met these people. It’s unreal!!

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The kids at the crèches are the exact same way too. They go nuts when we drive up to the gates. They all come running out screaming and waving at us and they throw their arms up hoping to get picked up. Their smiles span from one ear to the other too and their laughter is the most contagious thing you’ll ever hear. When we say the kids are motivation enough to get up, that’s what we mean. It is an amazing feeling doing something special for these kids who really don’t have much but are so happy everyday.

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At the smaller crèche, we dropped off seven of our finest (they’re all the finest of course) to make more bricks and to paint some tires. It was Eric, Jordan, Keira, Elissa, Shelby, Scout and James. If you see the tire pyramid in some of our pictures, we are going to do the same one at this other crèche. It was such a hit that we thought this one was in need of a beautiful tire pyramid! The block making we great through their teamwork and professional cement mixing skills they’ve perfected in the last couple days. They need to build a toilet there soon as well as fixing the floor out front of the classroom, so they need lots and lots of bricks for that! The molding process is actually really fun too. You have to use the molding tool and the appropriate mix, you let it set into the metal form and then you lift it up slowly until a perfect brick pops out! How cool is that?!

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Meanwhile, the rest of us went to the newer crèche where we continued on some big projects we have started this season. First off, we need to complete the racetrack for the tiny plastic racer scooters we have now. It has taken a whole lot of sand, concrete, stones and water to do, but we are slowly but surely making good progress.

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Because we can only mix so much at a time, we have to do a few different mixes and loads to get it complete. We hope that tomorrow or Thursday morning it will be complete for the kids. We can already tell they’re excited to play on it because we had to shew them away about 10 times. They almost got into the wet cement and got their little cycles stuck in there too. That would’ve been interesting. It’ll be so fun for them to play on and race each other when it’s finished.

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We also need much more sand to finish all the plastering around the building. Boy oh boy, do we need sand! It’s crazy how quickly we go through it all! We don’t quite understand how we continue to use that much, but we do! Therefore, we had four awesome peeps on sand duty who shoveled load after load into the trailer and unloaded it just the same. We dropped some off to the other crèche for the tire pyramid and some for the plaster masters and us.

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Speaking of the plaster masters, they were killing it today! We mixed more cement (are you sensing a trend here??) and helped one of our local builders do the plastering around the building. We have the front wall finished, but we still have both sidewalls and the back wall to do. We are determined to finish them all by the end of the week! Yesterday, with our plastering skills, we finished ¾ of the sidewall, so that’s exactly where we started today.

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After the mixing, we learned how to get the mixture to stick on the wall. It’s not really just chucking it in anyway you want, but there’s a technique to it. It is so much harder than it looks too! Most of ours just ends up on the ground. Blessing, our local builder, was a very good teacher and taught us his ways with the plaster. We were cracking up because it looked like we were monkeys throwing poo up on the walls. We are happy to report that we finished a wall and a half today and the half was the long back wall! Woop woop!

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The other jobs included lots and lots of painting. We have to paint the entire roof and many other things. We had a group of brave souls up on the roof painting the tiles away so the whole roof can be a uniform color but most importantly it’ll be waterproof.

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We also had some peeps doing door varnishing to protect the doors and door frame painting. It’s going to look so good when it’s all finished!! We can’t wait to see the finished product on Thursday!

After work, it was a rush to town to get changed very quick because we had a special afternoon treat planned for them! We were going to visit a traditional Zulu village! When we were all ready, we loaded up and drove out to the village where we were going to get a cultural tour and learn all about the Zulu customs and traditions.

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The village name is Veyane Village where we had a lovely tour guide who took us through all the essentials of the Zulu culture. Firstly, she showed us the lookout spot where the warriors would sit and keep a lookout for enemy attacks. She also showed us the toilets and the place where they store their food.

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Next, we entered into the main gate by calling out to the Zulu warriors inside and greeted them appropriately in the Zulu language. Then, once it was established that we are friends and intend to do no harm to the village, we were permitted to enter. Of course, men get to enter first and do so with the proper handshake and welcome phrase.

Then, we got to see the fire pit and community area where we learned how they make their spears. They have two types of spears that they use. One is long and one is short and were created by two different Zulu kings. They make them using the fire then bashing it with a rock and sharpening it with a flat stone. It was cool to see how they make their weapons!

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After that, we went into the traditional Zulu round house where the neighbors have meetings and gatherings. It is used for many occasions. We then went to the ladies’ side of the village where all the single ladies got to try on some of the traditional garments. Traditionally, they wear a beaded skirt with nothing underneath, a beaded necklace, again with nothing covering themselves and a headpiece. Of course, we did not go fully traditional here, but it was fun wearing the colorful beads and seeing how they dress! We also learned about the marriage customs and how men and women interact within their society. As an overall theme, men get away with everything. 😉

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Later, we got to try some Zulu beer that the women make for the men. It wasn’t too bad actually! We were surprised that it was so good! There, we tried on more costumes and the men got to wear the fighter outfits while Emily got to put on the married women’s outfit. We also got to learn how to grind maize into the pap dish we have so often here!

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We also got to meet a tradition sangoma who is basically a healer. She has many different medicines and treatments for people’s problems such as colds, acne, joint pain and arthritis, and even some not so conventional things. Through their training as a healer, they have to kill a wild animal in order to be accepted into their community as a sangoma. This woman in particular killed a leopard with her own bare hands. Better believe it! Later in the tour, we got a chance to get our fortunes told by her as well!

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The best part, however, was definitely the Zulu dancing show. The men walk into the fire pit area singing, chanting and whistling together. Then, they showed us their fighting skills by fighting each other with sticks and the cow skin shields. Some of the boys even got an opportunity to try and fight with them!

After that, they danced. It’s the wildest dance we’ve ever seen! They dance to the beat of some loud drums and they throw their legs way up behind their head. Then they jump up and down, turn around, throw their legs up again and they move so quick. It all happened so fast!! It was an awesome show to say the least.

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Once they had danced for us, they came out into the crowd and pulled as many people as possible up to join them for a dance. They taught us some simple moves and then everyone had a solo dance to the drumbeats. It was an unforgettable experience and everyone was nothing but smiles the whole time.

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It was a jam packed day full of work, play, laughter, fun and culture. Needless to say, it was certainly another success here in South Africa. There’s more fun to come in the next few days too!

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