Today we headed out farther into the village to visit the school which our fellow volunteer Kerrie has funded, Tizameleni. Kerrie is here with her two sisters, Helene and Adrienne, along with Helene's two amazing teen aged sons, Finn and Callum. She fell in love with Ulusaba over three years ago while on safari and has since returned three to four times a year from England. Her heart is totally enmeshed in this place, both with the children and with the wild life. "The first time you hear a lion roar," she says "you are a changed person forever."
The day today was hot. The feel factor was close to 45 degrees, and the ladies were painting in the direct sun at noon. It was scorching, but they wanted to finish before they leave tomorrow morning for the lodge. Jen, who works at the lodge down the road, Leopard Hills, also came with today, and will be my partner for the next week. We'll be returning daily to Tizameleni to help the teachers create lesson plans and get a program going for the new school. She set up a hand painting station, and I helped funnel the kids in to mash their hands in trays of green, yellow, and blue paint, and transfer their colorful fingers onto a sheet of paper. Their little eyes wide with confusion, as they were a bit baffled as to why these white women were dipping their hands in paint and squashing them down. Of course, in true Shelly fashion, my radar set on one little girl who stole the very core of my soul. I found out later that her name is Tabile. She has the most infectious laugh, and that together with the dimple on her left cheek officially made her the cutest child on the planet...or at least in Africa.
At first, when I found out that the sisters were leaving tomorrow and I would be by myself here at Dagga Boys for the rest of my stay, I was a little freaked out. But today it all came together... Jen and I will be partners in crime for a few days, David Khoza (the other host of Pride & Purpose) and I will also be pairing up so that I can go around to all of the projects here taking photographs, I have so many portraits yet to take, and so many people to hand cameras to... I feel like I have only a blink of an eye to squeeze in all I want to accomplish. There is no place on earth I'd rather be right here, right now. I am truly blessed!