Friday, February 19, 2010

Here goes........ Part 2

The home is situated in Eerste Rivier. I'm familiar with the location as my dad resided in the vicinity before moving to JHB. My sis and I had traveled to the station every day to take a train to school. Some memories came flashing back.

A's words brought me out of my reverie, "We're here. Just look at their faces!!" As I looked up, the children who were playing in front of the house spotted A's car and made their way to the gate. The expression on their faces were of pure joy!

A didn't have a chance to get out of the car properly. The children swarmed her, all vying for her attention. She hugged and kissed every one of them. I stood one side, trying to be inconspicuous and trying very hard not to cry. Yeah, I know, I'm such a wuss! At that moment I felt a soft touch on my leg. As I looked down, I looked into these big, beautiful, fragile brown eyes. With her arms outstretched, the little girl beckoned me to pick her up.

I leaned over and scooped her up. She was as light as a feather, dressed in pink pants and striped pink and white sweater. Her hair was beautifully braided. I hugged her fiercely and pecked her on the cheek. "Hello my darling. What's your name??" I said. "Her name's Whitney," said A. "Say hello to Aunty Shahieda," A coaxed her. Whitney just gave me a shy smile.

Whitney with Mercia Lee and Bernie, a volunteer at the home

I tried putting Whitney down to help MS take the goodies out of the car but she wouldn't let me. The other boys were so eager to help MS so I let them do their thing and walked to the entrance of the house. I was introduced to the foster mom, AP. And the other volunteers who came to lend a hand were busy in the kitchen. Aunty A is a granny who comes in to help AP with the washing of the children's laundry. During the whole time I was there she was busy with laundry! Imagine the amount of school clothes that needs to be washed for 16 children?? Where she got the energy from, God knows!

AP in red, AA in navy blue and another volunteer.

I was shown to an area where I could conduct the baking session. The children were so excited, all of them were falling over their feet to help set up. I decided to make a double batch of chocolate cuppies seeing that we were celebrating a birthday as well. I asked one of the bigger girls to help me start off and she began breaking the eggs into a bowl. Then a little boy helped measure the sugar. Another measured the flour for me, and another measured the cocoa, then the baking powder and so forth. Until all the ingredients needed for the cuppies were ready to be used.

Me doing my thing

The Congolese girl enjoyed herself thoroughly!!

The little boy in blue who also wanted to mix!

A younger Congolese girl started beating the eggs and the sugar till it was pale and thick. I explained what she was doing as she went along. The children were enthralled! A little boy touched me on the arm and asked if he could get a chance to mix, hehehehe, I acquiesced his request.

It's so chocolaty!!

As I added the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, there were squeals of delight! I explained that the dry ingredients were to be added slowly and the mixture was not to be beaten very much. The mixture started changing color at this point and the children shouted with glee! They noted how chocolaty it was, licking their lips at the same time! Clearly, they were enjoying the demonstration. And so was I, so much so, that I had forgotten my apprehension.

I then asked for a few tablespoons and fetched the cupcake holders. I had brought along the silicone ones I had bought in KL and the paper ones I had bought earlier at the supermarket. All the children gathered around the table as I gave each one a cup to fill. There were giggles and squeals as the dough was scooped and how messy it was too!! But that was part of the fun! Even Whitney wanted to get in on the action! MS' helped her onto the table where she helped herself to some dough.

All the kids scooping dough into the cuppies!!

Cousin MS helping Whitney with her cuppie

I retreated to the kitchen to switch on the oven. A had brought along her brother's mini oven because the stove at the home was not working. Ten minutes were spent trying to figure out how it worked, hahahaha. I also realized that my muffin tins were wayyyy too big to place in the oven. I prayed hard that the cuppies didn't flop as I wanted to see the children's faces when they saw the fruits of their labor. I also decided to place some of the cups in the microwave to save some time.

Hmmmm, me can't wait! Messy innit??!

I could hear the commotion from the kitchen still. Apparently some of the kids were already eating of the cuppies because they couldn't wait long enough for it to bake finish, hehehe. AP was scolding at them in a playful way. "If you're going to eat the dough now, there'll be nothing left to bake and we won't be able to have a birthday party," she told them. This revelation was enough to stop the children from finishing the dough off all together!!

Still to come: The birthday party and my reaction when I was told how some of the children came to be at the home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Here goes...........

About two years back I had an epiphany with regards to upliftment in the community. I thought that I could offer baking lessons / demonstrations to those who wanted to learn. As one gets older, the need arises to want to give back to the community.

Orphanages came to mind, children are quite impressionable and willing to learn.

Two weeks ago I met A (albeit virtually), who is a FB contact of MS. I told A what I had in mind and she mentioned that she knew of a home where I could give the baking sessions. You can just imagine my excitement!! A and I exchanged contact details and arranged a time and date to get the project going. Fortunately for me, one of the children would be celebrating his birthday on the first session! Even more excitement!

The day dawned cool and full of promise. I wasn't feeling very well, as I had been walking around the whole week with wet hair. I felt like I had a huge frog in my throat. My swimming sessions were doing me a world of good but I needed to get a waterproof cap to swim in. Not wanting to disappoint the kids, I popped some meds and made my way to the mall for some baking goodies. A would fetch me in the next hour.

A had twisted MS' arm into joining us. So she would pick him up first, then me. I called A to find out what goodies she had bought already, not wanting to duplicate anything. During our conversation I heard the words safe house / foster home. The warning bells in my head were ringing like mad!!

I kept thinking "How did I miss that??" Surely I would have noted that it was a safe house / foster home and NOT an orphanage. A home for abused children. My mind was racing, I couldn't pull out now, even if I wanted to.

This bit of information changed everything.

This bit of information opened doors to dark places I would rather not visit!

Breathing in deeply and trying to stay calm, I focused on getting out of the shopping mall and made my way home. I packed in all the goodies I would need for the baking session. By this time I was working on autopilot. This is what normally happens when the walls go up. It's my only means of shielding myself emotionally. A had arrived, MS helped me with the goodies to the car. I hugged and greeted A, jumped into the front seat and off we went.

My apprehension dissipated a bit as A started speaking about the outstanding work being done at the home. The foster mother is a remarkable woman who often uses her own money (just over R1500.00) to care for the children left in her care. Majority of them have been abandoned and sexually abused by family members.

Yes, I did say family members! This includes mothers, fathers and grandparents!

To be continued..............

Monday, February 15, 2010

Soothing my soul

I need to blog about my weekend experience to get it out of my system and make peace with it, but for now I just wish to soothe my emotions with this song by Kenny G. Those who know me very well, will know that I am out of sorts when I start listening to his music constantly.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

“Why are you hiding your body??”

B asked while we were getting coffee before returning to my desk. The common question was normally:

“Why do you wear a headscarf??” or

“Why do you cover up?”

This was the first time someone used the word ‘hiding.’

“What makes you think I’m hiding my body??” I asked with a smile. “Well, you’re slim and such a beautiful woman, if I were you I wouldn’t hide my body at all!!” B said. “But I don’t see the need to expose myself, I feel comfortable with what I am wearing and I love wearing my headscarf. Its part of who I am, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder no?? Ultimately, it’s a personal choice one makes.” was my response.

“To be quite honest, I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing short dresses, short skirts or tight pants. “Neither would I feel comfortable wearing garments that have no sleeves at all, unless I wear something underneath,” I went on explaining.

“And furthermore, it’s an extension of my religion to dress modestly. Only males who are closely related to me, will see me without my headscarf and that pertains to being indoors only,” I added.

Ever since I was a young girl, I wore hijab. My dad was adamant with regards to this. The moment I walked out the door I had to make sure that my scarf was on my head and that my body was covered. I do not regret it for one moment! Being the oldest child in the family, I had to set an example.

My mother says a woman wearing hijab is at her most beautiful. It doesn’t matter what race, color or creed, wearing it sets her apart. While visiting KL, I fell in love with the tudung. It’s such a simple, yet beautiful headdress. All you have to do is slip it on and off you go!

My favorite tudung!

There was a time in my life when I discarded the wearing of hijab, it was just after the divorce. I felt quite rebellious, wanting to place blame for a marriage gone wrong! Astaghfirullah! May Allah forgive me for my shortcomings! But that phase soon passed when I started attracting too much attention from the male species. The wolf whistles and comments were enough to stop me in my tracks. Grrrrrrrr!

While looking through some photos I had on my camera, B spied one of me not wearing hijab. “Oh my gosh, that’s you without your headscarf!” she exclaimed. With a look of total astonishment she said, “I understand now why you cover up, you’ll get yourself into a whole lot of trouble if you didn’t!”

B was obviously being very dramatic, but she was right, I would get myself into a whole lot of trouble with Him!