Visit to Addo
Stories of bats in the bedroom, frogs in shoes, mice in the bathroom, mosquitoes everywhere did nothing for my peace of mind as I travelled to South Africa! I could have spared myself some anxiety, however. The bats had moved and the frogs only came as far as the porch! Addo is a rural area so I had to accept I would see some forms of wild life not seen in the city.
My abiding memory of my visit will be the spirit of the people. They live in extreme poverty – in shacks on locations, on farms and beside the dump. Nothing I had seen on TV or in newspapers prepared me for the sight of people scavenging on the dump. Old and young, adults and children all searching for anything that would make a difference to their lives.
The children heard the horn, recognised the car and came running. Some of the teachers were on a course for the week and so their classes were advised to stay at home. And, of course, no school meant no food at midday. So we, and the children, were heading for the soup kitchen.
It was amazing to notice how queues formed so effortlessly – for sandwiches, for soup, in school. Perhaps the lack of material goods means there is little (or no?) competition among people. There was a sense of order, a trust that there would be something for everyone.
At the Creche beside the dump
Belonging to the church is very important to the people. Attending Church is a good reason to dress in one’s best. It is a social occasion too and news of neighbours is shared – sometimes in a lengthy bidding Prayer!
Time to talk after the Sunday Service
To return to the spirit of the people – they are friendly and welcoming. The children smile and giggle and want to hug and be hugged. The adults are gracious and uncomplaining.
Sisters Breda, Mary and Martha have accomplished much in their first year. They are well known and appreciated. They support the schools with their varied talents for music, football, computers etc. They have sought out the poorest and are comfortable with them.
The bishop’s dream to have a sign of hope for all who live in the Sundays River Valley is becoming a reality.
With the elders of the Church community
Our pre-Chapter challenge to go to the poorest of the poor and our chapter theme: MERCY: LOOKING BEYOND OUR HORIZON are bringing hope to the people of Addo and the surrounding area. And they can bring hope too to the people to whom we minister wherever we are.
Messages to Philomena Bowers rsm Congregational Leader