Today, we went to a very special place called The Baphumelele School, which is a school, children’s home and HIV care center and we finally got to see our grandparents.
We began our day by driving out to Khayelitsha, which was a shantytown just outside Cape Town, South Africa. We walked into the main building, and met our guide at the center, Otter. We began by visiting the center for the children who were orphaned. The first room we went into was the baby center. We saw many volunteers who were caring for and playing with the babies. What the people that were volunteering here were doing was so kind and sweet. The volunteers didn’t even have to do this, they just did it out of pure kindness, I mean they should be sainted for what they are doing.We walked through many other rooms for the kids who were living there. In each house, there was a House Mom, who helped the kids with homework, and made meals for them. Also, all of the kids inside the homes had to be responsible and each had chores, like making their beds, cleaning their house and help making meals. It was very sad seeing all the kids who didn’t have parents, or had parents who couldn’t care for them.
Next, we visited a center for children who had HIV or AIDS. One of the children that we saw was only three weeks old and had HIV. He was found under a bridge where his mother had left him–probably hoping someone would find him and take care of him. This was extremely sad, because it is bad enough to have HIV, but then to be abandoned in the middle of nowhere, is just so, so sad.
We walked across the road to the center for adults who have HIV or AIDS. Unlike babies and kids who are immediately given medicine for HIV or AIDS, adults are only given the medicine if they get a CD count of less than 250. An average person has a CD level of 900, so if you have a level of 250, you are very close to death. CD is a measurement of your antibodies inside of your body. We learned that once they got a patient that had a CD level of 2, but they were so sick, that they died. The entire HIV/AIDS center was very heartbreaking, to see all the people that were diagnosed with this disease.
Lastly, we visited the school where all the kids in the nearby towns went to study. We first went into a room where all of the Pre-K kids learned and played. We watched some young kids who were dancing and drawing, and we eventually joined in. We had so much fun dancing and playing with all the local kids. The kids were very fun to watch when they danced, because they had very cute and funny dance moves.
Overall, the experience was one of the most amazing, sad and beautiful experiences on our trip.
We left there feeling both sad and happy, but we were also excited. We were going to get to see our grandparents (who we call Nania and Babba) that we had not seen in four months! We decided to surprise them at their airport, so we asked the guy who was holding the sign with their name on it, if Brooke and I could hold the sign instead. We stood their patiently waiting for them to arrive in a line of about 50 drivers with signs waiting for their clients.
After a little while, we heard Nania’s squeal of excitement! Then, Babba rounded the corner with a huge smile on his face, even after two days and 25 hours worth of flying to see us. We were so happy to see them and couldn’t wait to share all our experiences with them and spend time with them in Cape Town and go on a safari with them in Kruger National Park!