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Note: This post was meant to go out around Christmas, but I was wi-fi deficient for most of December. 

While we all steamroll into a new year, I’d like to reflect on my short time in the Keisie Valley close to Montagu in the Western Cape. The project is called My Earth Farm and it benefits the local community.

Why you should care? Keep reading and let me educate you. Also, this is not a ploy to get you to donate anything, although if I can guilt trip you, dear reader, so be it.

We left on the Wednesday morning the week before Christmas from Cape Town and in exceptionally high spirits. We would cheer whenever we entered a new town. Wooo hoooo we would scream when we saw the board announcing a new town. When we later got lost and drove 10 km past our destination, the enthusiasm was not as abundant.

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JAW the explorer

But I digress. We were my two friends Meryem and Chanell and it was a blast. Sweat was pouring; eyes were squinting; crotch was… Let’s just say it was hot. Really hot.

We eventually arrived well after the expected two hours and settled in as comfortably as we could. After some time – did I mention we were there to work first and then have fun? – I really got stuck in. Three of us were tasked with cleaning a tub of chicken, previously frozen, so very cold. And very disgusting. If anything would make you turn vegetarian, that would do it.

Later there was a little singing and guitar playing and then some 30 Seconds. Obviously my team won, because I am the 30 Seconds champion. Undisputed. Indubitably. Exceptionally brilliant… Move it along, JAW…

The next day was the fun part. We got to engage with the community and have fun. There were so many kids and while we were setting up an obstacle course, they were already in the blow-up pool and on the water slide.

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Meryem face painting

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You show em, Bianca.

My favourite part was the Tin Toss game- simply throwing a stone at a pyramid of tins. It was gratifying to see the kids flock to such a simple game and get so into it, that we couldn’t tear them away. The best moment was when there was one tin left and the boys, who had been dominating the game, couldn’t get it down. One little girl, Bianca, came from the back through the small crowd of boys and, with her stone, knocked that tin off its perch. It took everything in me to not jump around like a cheerleader for her. It was all very dramatic, underdog ascends to beat the odds. I may have read a bit too much into that moment.

What I learned from this experience? To value the spirit of community and to see beyond the circumstances of others. I had been trying to do this anyway for a long time, but this experience opened my mind even further.

I believe that physical location often lends itself to ideology of the location. Look at mountainous closed-off areas and the people are usually “behind” the rest of the world in terms of forward thinking (which is not always forward, but the options are at least there). Afghanistan springs to mind, and closer to home, the rural and farming communities of South Africa. We had a dance contest later for the kids, and Meryem noted how, despite being so far from mainstream Cape Town, the Keisie Valley did not escape the twerking phenomenon. It was something special seeing the kids come even more alive as they all danced, without abandon and just enjoyed themselves even more. They may not have as many opportunities (again, subjective) as those in the big city, but they are like any other children – alive, dreaming, unique and special.

The market was later in the evening before the sun went down. The volunteers had collected things in the weeks leading up to the drive. I was, as I usually am, dismayed by the amount of people who would ignore my pleas on social media, without so much as a share of my status update/tweet. It took me a second to realise that I had my perspective askew. Why focus on what I was NOT getting, when I was being blessed at every other turn?  It was a great wake-up call because it made me appreciate all the people who contributed to the cause and gave so freely.

After we served lunch and the market was happily depleted. People had left with bags of clothing, utensils and appliances and we could not have been happier.

Thank you to everyone for making this in initiative possible again! To Wahseema and Russell for your hospitality and the My Earth Farm community for all your hard work :)

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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