On our visit yesterday around the village, David shared a lot of information with us about the local people, traditions, and history. One of the things I found most interesting is that there are no orphanages here. There are many children without parents, yes. But they do not believe in taking these kids and pulling them from their homes to put them in a different, separate home that labels them as orphans.
When the Sabi Sand reserve was created, somewhere around 90 years ago, the people here were living amongst the animals, co existing as they had done for millennia. When the National Parks Act was created, the local landowners were excised from the land and they were moved to villages that were contained outside the perimeter of the game reserve. The government still gives each family land. If the parents both die, the children stay on their land and their extended families and neighbors watch out for them. David tells us that everyone is your mom or your dad here. "My dad's brother is my dad as well, I call him 'dad'." Families are very tight, yet they cannot support more children financially, so that is where community outreach comes in. Pride & Purpose makes sure that these children are taken care of, both financially and emotionally.
When we met the class at Akani primary school yesterday, one of the teachers Flores told me that the little girl I was playing with was an orphan. "Her name is Tambo, she has no parents." She told me. It's hard to contain just how many children are burrowing into my soul here. Tambo is definitely added to the list with her sweet demeanor and playful spirit. As Sue told me last week, (the woman who has adopted two children from the villages and lives in the city) "It is actually quite difficult for white people to adopt black children here. They like to keep them with their own culture and traditions." At first, I was taken aback by this, but she went on to explain, "The cultures are just so different," she says "their food, their language, it's like adopting a child from Mexico for you, just completely different." As much as I see this point, I guess I'm more immune to the 'culture shock' because of how we in America tend to adopt outside our culture more often than not. I was more surprised at the fact that the government made it difficult for anyone to adopt, seeing as there were so many orphaned children in the country. As a friend of Sue's told her, "Sue, if you had ten bedrooms, you would adopt ten children!" I am getting to know how she feels... If I could, I would buy a school bus and load it up with these precious little guys and gals and drive it all the way back home.