We were away for Mandela’s birthday this year, so couldn’t do our 67 minutes of service in his honor. But I wasn’t too worried as I already had a plan to do my service. I had been apart in the collections and fundraising done by Whiskers and Snouts for their Coronation Park project and I had volunteered to assist with the deliveries & distribution of all the food parcels, pet parcels and old clothing to Coronation Park yesterday.
I was quite unprepared for Coronation Park (click the link to view the photo journal Reuters have done on the residents). I was apprehensive as I knew it was going to be difficult and hit home. And as we turned off the main road, the convoy of 8 cars, and hit the dusty road towards the old caravan park, I said a silent prayer for God to help me through this, for me to be able to assist with the distribution of all the goodies to the people of Coronation Park without crying in the face of their hopeless situations. God came through and I made it through the entire situation, feeling humbled and once again reminded of how blessed I am.
There are over 120 families living in Coronation Park. These people live desperately difficult lives, the weight of their situations is written all over their faces. I was reminded of the words from the Brandi Carlisle song The Story – All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am. I met women there the same age as me but at 39 they look 69 from the hardships they have faced.
We spent the morning handing out food parcels, pet food, old clothing, blanket hampers and then wandering through the camp, applying flea powder and tick spot on to all the dogs and cats. The people were amazing, their gratitude for the small contribution was humbling. Each time one of them came up to me to personally thank me for the part I’d played, carrying a child on one hip, the other hand filled with bags of donations, I felt strangely guilty, I didn’t want to be thanked. I wanted to thank them for allowing us to assist them. Their gratitude really bothered me, I felt ashamed to be there and I’m not really sure why. I was worried they’d be angry with us, or chase us away. But they didn’t and they weren’t. They were so grateful and that gratitude hurt. But I also realized that for most of them, all hope had been lost, a long long time ago and there was no room for pride now, only to reach out and gratefully accept whatever help they could get.
Last night when I walked into my bedroom, turned on the light, climbed into the hot shower, with out having to link up a car battery or a fire a donkey or run a generator, I felt gratitude for to those people for showing me how truly blessed I am. And when I got into bed last night, with my hot water bottle and snuggled under the duvet, I thought about all the children of Coronation Park and I wondered about how their lives would turn out? It’s so easy to be successful when you’ve had an easy start in life, but when you’re starting to very far down the chain like that, how do you claw your way out of your circumstance? How do you turn it all around. Will those children grow up and be successful one day? In spite of their difficult start in life? Will they grow up and leave Coronation Park and all its poverty behind, or will they perpetuate the cycle of poverty?
I’ve had an idea to try and do a Christmas Party for all the children of Coronation park (67 in total) and will be working with Essie from Whiskers & Snouts. If any of you are moved by the plight of these people and would like to get involved in someway, please let me know.