It is the morning of 20th September 2008 and I awoke with feelings of anxiety, nervousness and excitement. Anxiety and nervousness as it was going to be my first experience of handling so many kids and excitement at the idea of actually doing it.
Then the first moment of despair arrived. The moment I stepped out of my house and saw the rainy and miserable weather, I lost hope for a successful day. I tried to maintain a positive attitude but I must admit that it was with great effort. A work colleague of mine, who was also a volunteer and very religious, made my day when he said that he had prayed this very morning for God to stop the rain because this was to be the kids’ special day and we did not want any of them to be wet and miserable and possibly get sick. He told me not to worry as he knew the day would be perfect.
Wow! A few minutes after we had stopped at the base camp, the rain also stopped and for what we had planned for the kids, we could not have dreamt about better weather. Definitely a miracle but wait that was not the end of it as a second miracle was in the making.
We had only prepared and catered for 40 kids as that was how many the school said would be attending. Of the 15 volunteers we had expected, only 8 could make it which complicated the already difficult task on our hands. What a shock we all had when the truck arrived and instead of the 40 kids that we were expecting, 72 plus another 20 high school kids arrived. There we were with more than double the number of kids and only half the planned number of the volunteers to care for them. How on earth were we going to cope? We had to look after, to feed all these kids and distribute a limited number of gifts amongst them.
But yet again we were being looked after and received help from above. It turned out that there were exactly enough t-shirts for the girls and enough caps for the boys with a water bottle for each child. There were even enough extras to be used whilst walking and for prizes at the end of the day. We still had a problem with the food and the solution became the highlight of the day. The lady from the community who had volunteered to make the food, roped in 6 of her neighbors who brought vegetables from their gardens and before we knew it a fire was burning and in one of the biggest pots you could imagine a lovely stew was cooking. In short notice there was enough food and even seconds for everyone.
The kids started their “clean up” journey with so much excitement that the volunteers had to spark to keep them together. Long before we had completed the full 3km walk the kids had already collected over 26 bags of rubbish. The kids’ spirit was so high that some of the groups did the walk back to base camp singing and dancing all the way. At base camp everyone eagerly joined in the competitions and games and the joy on the children’s faces whilst receiving prizes was priceless. The atmosphere was so vibrant and the singing so contagious that even the volunteers, not knowing the words or tunes, joined in.
The day turned out into a wonderful, memorable miracle day. Thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers who helped bring joy and smiles to the faces of many children and thanks to our mighty Creator who brought us all together and showed us that anything is possible.
A special word of thanks to the following sponsors whose contribution made the day;
- Mpumalanga Parks Board
- Bond Choice Nelspruit
- Coca- Cola Nelspruit
- Vodacom Nelspruit
- Lowveld Media
- Jacaranda FM
- Beumi Foods
- Spectacular Concrete Works
- Recycle it White River/ Pacific Beach
- Buhle Be Africa/ Sandton Hair Design
- Fruit & Veg City Riverside Value Mart