Loads of fun and laughter was promised but with this event we broke all records. Two weeks before the event SOAPkidz “head quarters” was spring cleaned. Hundreds of toilet rolls and empty plastic bottles were carefully collected, cleaned and sorted. 4000 A4 papers, 400 Posters, 400 boxes of condoms, 200 files, 200 packets of seed, 200 empty toilet rolls, just to name a few items, filled my lounge. In the boardroom, funky hats, thousands of bottle tops and seeds greeted the people attending the weekly meetings.
Inspired by the “Shakey shakey” song (artist unknown), we set to work. Forms had to be designed and printed, 200 files filled with various inspirational papers, 200 Goodie bags had to be made (since we are proudly bragging about our stuff made with 100% love re-using 99% litter), 200 seed packets designed and packed, countless bean bags were made from the “waiting to be re-united with its mate” socks, and I had to learn about nasturtiums (aka Kappertjies) and companion planting. The “Shakey Shakey” inspiration didn’t last long before Alan Reynolds threatened to strike unless I put another cd on.
Friday arrived, and after picking up Lucky, Kelly, Yolandy and Zodwa from the Tshwane home of hope, we climbed in the packed Kombi and headed for the Carousel. Working with the teachers from Themba and Susanne, we packed the Goodie bags, made the play dough, worked on the displays and various other things.
When we finally arrived home around 21h00, a further very busy 5 hours followed. The girls made funky hats, popcorn, snacks for the next day, practiced their speeches and planting skills still under the inspiration of that “Shakey shakey” song that kept on blaring into the night. Finally silence fell upon the house and my brief two hour sleep was plagued by nightmares reeling off in my head to the refrain of the “Shakey shakey” song.
The house started stirring at 4:30 and soon cups of coffee were made and the other volunteers, Annett, Minette and Christell arrived. Last minute hats were made and by 6am we were back in the Kombi on our way to the Carousel. After registration we all listened to Hazel welcoming everyone and then the singing started and as my heart warmed I realized that I was amongst “salt of the earth” people. A talk about Finances and HIV followed and by noon it was time for SOAPkidz to present their first session.
The volunteers demonstrated the “Shakey shakey” bean bag song and then it was every team of 10 teacher’s turn to practice the game in order to be able to do it with their children. Laughter was heard throughout the activity and everyone also admired the volunteer’s funky seed hats. Irene explained the program to the Grade R teachers and soon it was time to show the teachers how to plant the nasturtiums whilst Irene explained the many uses of the plant to them in Tshwana.
A quick shakety shake song gave the teachers a break before we demonstrated to them how the companion planting works before handing every teacher a packet of seeds accompanied by a special teacher’s prayer. After filling in their self-assessment forms, it was time for lunch.
During lunch I visited the VCT testing and more laughter followed as I had myself tested, received counseling and learned a lot about HIV in the process.
Our second session was just as much fun and pretty soon it was time to say good bye to the smiling teachers. A debriefing session for the volunteers followed and we were on our way back to Pretoria.
34 km outside Pretoria a red warning light appeared in the Kombi and we just made it to the petrol station passing another of our vehicles that was being pushed. The girls insisted on going to help and so we all jumped out of the Kombi and ran the 500m back with the girls shouting, “SUPERGIRLS to the rescue”. Pushing the vehicle in distress inspired the girls and they glowed whilst I took pictures of them. In the meanwhile, Susanne filled our Kombi with petrol and we all climbed in for the last stretch home. A puff of smoke, followed by more hysterical laughter and we all piled out of the Kombi yet again and had petrol attendants rushing to our assistance, all giving advice about Kombi’s. Several pushing attempts failed and I laughed and laughed whilst taking photos of the girls who had just pushed the car in distress being pushed by the petrol attendants. Annett’s parents came to our rescue and arrived with two cars and a tow bar and by 21h00, everyone was safely at home.
A big thanks to Johan Smit from to care and everyone else who made this annual workshops possible.
"I have learn a lot. And I enjoy the song. Mostly I thank you about the plant (nastituium) because of have pimplels"
"I have learned that our environment must be clean and that plants are very important"
"I learned a lot and I enjoyed the lesson. I enjoyed the HIV workshop because I attend for the first time in my life, it changed my life. "
"I think what you are doing is good because you teach us important things so that we can teach our kids at home and also neighbours, so thank you for what you are doing"
"She was very good because she have been accommodate also the grenney to understand with their own language"
"The presentation was good. I didnít have a garden but motivated to start it."
"The work, have done it, it really works for me because I did not know how to plant and during dancing activity, enjoyed every moment I spend in literacy"