Okay, are you ready for a serious blog?
A couple of days ago we made the extremely bumpy trek in Debbie’s poor old car out to the Sandra Jones Village, about 25km outside Bulawayo. There are two groups of children who live here – ‘The babies’ (there were about thirteen between the ages of eighteen months and six years) and the older girls (twenty-three between the ages of eight and sixteen) – are the ones who will eventually, “hopefully”, move into Hotel Rio in September.
Today we did a walk around the Hotel Rio, a Bulawayo institution which the Sandra Jones Memorial Village will move into from 1 September. Hotel Rio is a place my parents used to take me to on Sunday afternoons on our way back out to boarding school at Falcon College. We would have a final milkshake together in the salubrious grounds, a last luxury before returning to the rigors of Form One out Esigodini way.
Well I guess the first thing I have to say is that it is winter and it HOT. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like in summer. The drinks here are sooo cheap. 80 cents for a can of Fanta Grape. We arrived at Debbie’s house and the first thing I got was a lot of scratches. Their dog Buddy, or I call him Buddy Bum is the dog with ADHD. Luckily their dog Febie protects me and keeps me me safe. all have more info soon I am VERY busy I love comments.
Tim offline goodbye
Today we went to one of my favourite places ever – Matobo National Park. Morag and I particularly wanted to see Shalom, a campsite we frequented often in our youth and a ‘thin’ place, where the veil between heaven and earth is nearly transparent.
We got a little lost on the way, but it was just as well as we gave a lift to an ancient old man to his village. He hadn’t eaten for two days so Joseph plied him with his precious biltong. Eventually we crossed he green fields of Ebenezer Farm, an irrigated oasis in the middle of the dry, drought-blown plains of southern Matobo and made our way to Shalom.
For the past several years the Sandra Jones Memorial Village (SJMV) has been based around 30km outside of Bulawayo at a campsite called Willow Park. There are seventy kids in total being looked after by SJMV. There’s a house in Bulawayo itself for abandoned and/or neglected babies. Out at Willow Park there is a house for toddlers, also mainly abandoned and neglected babies and AIDS orphans. And then there is a crisis centre for victims of terrible acts of sexual abuse.
The SJMV is the only facility in Zimbabwe that can take children who have been assaulted by relatives or sold into sexual slavery from very young ages, and rehabilitate them. Anne’s going to write some more about these incredibly resilient children, their horrific stories and their heroic carers.
These are just a few of the photos from the various parts of the Sandra Jones Memorial Village – the babies home, home for toddlers and the facility for sexually abused girls.
Seeing Morag, Andrew’s sister, waiting for us on the platform of Bulawayo station was a welcome sight! We piled into the car (Tarago-type thing) and bounced our way back to Debbie Brennocks’ house. I have wanted to meet this amazing lady, who is the adoptive mother of five beautiful African girls and the energy behind The Sandra Jones Village, for a very long time. Our boys and Debbie’s girls have been getting on famously – and incredibly noisily! Since we’ve been here (about a day and a half) we’ve been on numerous drives around the city of Bulawayo visiting places of huge significance to Andrew and Morag.
It’s been great to see Andrew in his home town and watch his reactions to seeing different things. I had been warned that Andrew might find it very difficult seeing Zimbabwe this way, but honestly, he – and all of us – are loving it! Andrew described all of this in his blog so I wont elaborate.