Wanted to let you know we arrived safely in Johannesburg last night. Amy (my niece) and I arrived to see Silviya, Gilbert, Sharon & Grant, and all the children from Sinethemba waiting anxiously for us at the airport. It was an incredible welcome and filled our hearts with so much joy! The bags carrying the items I collected for Sinethemba and Mpumelelo arrived safely.
Today we started out by going to the wholesale market. I was able to purchase diapers, baby formula, rice, beans, cooking oil, sugar, fish in tomato paste, and toilet paper for Maria and the children at Mpumelelo. It was utterly amazing to hear the excitement for all the crayons, construction paper, pens, flash cards, and posters we brought from America. All in all, I was told over and over again, the items I brought were "exactly what we needed". Maria kept asking "how did you know that I needed 'that'?" With almost 200 children under her care, I only wished we could have provided more.
Amy and I jumped into action by asking what we could do to bring a little joy and sunshine to the center. Maria did not skip a beat by asking us to paint one of the walls in a classroom. We painted the walls light pink and yellow to make the place look a little lighter and "airy". My hope is they will be able to put up some posters to brighten up the other walls. If I had the resources, I would get them carpet for the flooring, as the concrete is very hard and the carpet that is there is extremely dirty and worn.
The children are so very blessed to have someone like Maria and the other workers looking after them. Truly an amazing woman...and an amazing day!
We will find our way back to Sinethemba ... although I think I am still full from the dinner they made us last night. I will be buying groceries to make homemade pizza, with all of the kids, for a special surprise birthday for Amy (she is turning 19) . What an amazing AAI experience! Thank you!!
Airline Ambassadors member and volunteer