Joining the “Road Show!”
Onto another exciting update: About two weeks ago, the NGO received a letter from the Office of the Premier in Pretoria, inviting them to participate in a “Community Development Road Show” on October 23rd in the Nicara ground (playing field), right next to our house. All non-governmental and/or non-profit organizations in the Lephalale area were encouraged to provide an exhibition and presentation of their services. Motivated to break away from the office hum-drum and allow my creativity to flow, I jumped at the chance to help prepare for this event. My immediate western-mindset interpretation of providing an “exhibition” was to set up a display table with handouts and pictures. Wanting to verify this interpretation, I called the Office of the Premier for clarification, and they encouraged us to go ahead with the idea. Still slightly unsure of the context for the event, but eager to take on the project, I plunged ahead. I first worked with Tseneke, the Home Based Care Project Manager, to make a sign to hang from the table. Then I helped Raisebe, the Administrator, put together a small photo album of staff, carers, and orphans, with captions and background information about the NGO. Finally, I made a nice tri-fold brochure (with Tiro’s help on graphics) for the display table that describes the NGO’s history, mission/vision, and services offered. Feeling good about what we had accomplished, but still slightly concerned that I had “westernized” our preparations too much, we set out for the ground on the morning of the 23rd…
The Road Show was scheduled to begin at 10am, but knowing how time runs differently around here, I was not at all surprised to see that preparations were still well-underway when we arrived at 10:15 to set-up our display table.
Two large white tents were being put up in the far right corner of the dirt field, and a truck with port-o-potties was parked behind them.
In the far left corner of the ground, this intriguing brick wall was being built. Upon asking about its purpose, I learned that it was a temporary visual representation,designed specifically for the Road Show, to demonstrate that successful outcomes result from communities working together. (Very impressive!)
No other groups seemed to have set up display tables, yet, but the event photographer directed us to a tree near the tents–the one partially shaded area on the ground. Without any hesitation, we situated ourselves near the tree, arranging our table, sign, brochures, and photo album as professionally as possible. 10:30 rolled around and still no other groups had set up tables…11:00 came and more people were arriving, but the program had not officially began…11:30 (still no other tables)…Finally, at 11:40, the Road Show coordinators from Pretoria kicked things off. By this time, about 300 people were seated under and around the white tents.
As you and can see, most of the people outside the tents were holding umbrellas to help shield the blazing sun.
A row of tables were placed in the front stage area for the designated speakers from different organizations. Large entities from the Waterberg District were represented, such as the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development, as well as human services organizations from the larger town of Lephalale and the even larger city of Pretoria. Locally-speaking, social workers from the Abbotspoort Clinic were present, Abbotspoort Home Based Care was obviously represented, and one other non-profit organization participated. It was like pulling teeth to get someone from our NGO to speak about their services (stage fright, I guess), but one of the carers came through and I joined Joanna in sitting at the “VIP Tables” up front. After several motivational speeches (mostly in Sepede), the different organizations began their presentations. I had agreed to walk up with Joanna and introduce myself after her speech, so I amped-up my standard Sepede introduction to include a few new sentences. It wasn’t anything too elaborate, but I was decently pleased with how it came out. I’ll give the English translation, for your convenience:
- Hello! (instant cheers from the crowd; I don’t think they had any idea I was going to speak their native language) How are you? (crowd responds, “fine”) My name is Mokgadi Majadibodu (more cheers). I am from America. I came with my husband, Tiro (wave to Ben in the back, followed by more cheers). We are going to live in Abbotspoort for two years. We are going to help Abbotspoort Home Based Care, Jacob Langa Primary and Abbotspoort Primary schools, and the whole Abbotspoort community. We are happy to be here and to work with you. Thank you! (roar of applause and more cheers–a very kind audience)
A few more speeches were given, followed by an extensive time of questions and answers. By about 2:30, the event had wrapped-up, and Tiro and I were greeted by a number of new, friendly faces. They were ecstatic that I had spoken in Sepede, but there was just one problem: I failed to mention in my speech that Ben and I were trying to learn to speak Sepede and that we really only knew a little, as yet, so we received numerous questions and comments in the local language that we had absolutely no hope of responding to! Oh, well; it didn’t take long to explain this to those who approached us, and some of them quickly changed to English for our benefit. It was actually fine, in the end, because even the people who could not speak English, just smiled, excitedly, and said, “Yes! You must learn to speak Sepede!” It turned out to be a great way for us to introduce ourselves to the larger community of Abbotspoort and its surrounding areas.
Anyone still wondering about our display table? Well, as you might have guessed, Abbotspoort Home Based Care ended up being the only organization to not only have brochures to hand out, pictures to share, and a sign, but we were also the only group that set up a table, at all! Ha! At least the 10+ staff members that dutifully sat at our table throughout the day (in uniforms) seemed to be pretty good sports about the whole thing. They didn’t quite get the idea that it would be good to invite people over to their table, but a few people came, none the less, and we were able to distribute about half (15) of the brochures–Tiro had the brilliant idea to give the other half to the Department of Social Development so they could hand them out from their office.
Ta-dah! Presenting the official Abbotspoort Home Based Care display table and staff, equipped with local rocks to hold down the brochures and photo album, due to the nice breeze, that day.
One last snippet about the Road Show, as Tiro referenced, earlier: As people started to leave the ground, many of the younger attendees (high school/college age) moved back underneath the tents for an impromptu dance party! The Office of the Premier had hired a DJ for the event who played music between the speeches, but was now playing the latest South African pop music for the crowd to enjoy; it was a riot. On the opposite side of the field, a different dance party was starting to take place, but this one simply involved clapping, stomping, and slapping rubber boots, a.k.a. the “Gumboot Dance!” As aforementioned, however, we did not get to see much of this dance, because we were called over to help an older boy who had apparently passed out from heat exhaustion and was just starting to come to. He was conscious, but extremely disoriented when I reached him and unable to respond to his name. I allowed one of the people who had found him, first, to use my phone to call for an ambulance, then proceeded to try to help him drink water and keep him comfortable. After a few more minutes, he became much more aware of the present situation, could hold eye-contact with people talking to him, and verbally respond to his name. I was relieved to see that his condition was quickly improving, and after Tiro and I had a chance to ask further questions, we learned that this apparently happens to this particular boy “when it’s really cold or really hot” and that he’ll “just wake up after a while.” (Hmm, sounds like something more than heat exhaustion; possibly a form of epilepsy?) Since he was coming around and two other boys offered to take him home to his parents, the ambulance was called off. Phew! A rather distressing end to the day, but, thankfully, he would be alright.Gotta’ love Geckos! This update has gone on long enough, so just for fun, here are a couple photos of some of our lizard friends, around here…Are they cute, or what?
This one’s my favorite…I think I’ll call him, “Thabo!” (It’s a popular name around here that means, “Happy”).
This little guy hung out on our kitchen/dining/washing room, one night. Nearly blended right in with our wall!
Re a go rata le re go gopotse kudu kudu! (We love and miss you, very much!
Mokgadi and Tiro Majadibodu
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