I woke after another deep sleep. The Bobbi Bear house was alive when we came down to the kitchen for breakfast, everyone busy packing bags for The Tree. Eureka brings the whole team together and introduces them all to the volunteers. There is over 20 Bobbi Bear staff, all filling important roles within the charity operations. I feel I have a role and deep down hope I can assist in the capacity that they require. I am nervous.
There is a real sense that the communication prior to the volunteer’s departure is imperative, and something Bobbi Bear value when accepting volunteers onto the very important programme. We talk about how this can be improved.
Everyone jumps in the Bobbi Bear donated cars, downing coffee, and head to The Tree. We arrive and women of all ages, shapes and sizes are waiting for us. They sing and pray in Zulu. We are uplifted to see the women gathered, seeing the importance of the outreach programme that Bobbi Bear has been organising for over 20 years.
Piles of donations are set out; toys, clothes and food. A registration is taken and we are all warmed by the amazing names. We talk to the founder of the tree, Sweetie who started gathering local township women in 1992, offering them a safe place to come and share their stories and worries. There was so much love under that tree. So much need. It makes me feel shame about the greed we have for the latest trend, product, look to make us feel valued. The Bobbi Bear women were so proud of their achievements. They give for no reason. They empower women. ‘These are the suffragettes of Africa’ a volunteer says to me.
Forward thinking empowered women. ‘They sing to bring strength from their hearts’ Sweetie tells me. We meet the first lady of The Tree, 82 years young. They come together to share ideas, educate the next generation about health and safety. But not as we know it. 20 years of support.
Sweetie tells us it is important there is no shelter. ‘That way no one ever gets turned away’. The ladies collect their packages. One by one and begin their long journeys back home. All that way for a small package of nothing at all. But it’s everything to them. Some of the ladies began their walk at 6am.
We leave and we are moved by The Tree, the inspiring community and the dedicated Bobbi Bear staff and volunteers, by the love and care shared, and the women who are determined to survival for the next generations.
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