We set our alarms for 6:30am to attend the local Zulu church and visit a traditional Zulu family. An early start considering the time difference with London. My body definitely felt like it was a 4:30am start to the day. All the volunteers had breakfast together and were then collected by a local policeman who works closely with Operation Bobbi Bear. He drove all the volunteers to Mumma Thuli’s house in the heart of the Zulu township. We had met Mumma Thuli earlier in the week, as she conducted the volunteer training.
A small building, with children coming from everywhere sat on the side of a valley. Mumma Thuli explained that there were 15 children all together living there. She acquired these children through the death of close family members to HIV infection. She receives no credits to support the growing family from the government but she is building a new out-house for the older children who are studying as the growing number of young children are distracting to their studies.
“The dedication to education is remarkable: Proud to learn, proud to be empowering themselves”
We drive to the church, which sits on top of the adjacent hill. As we approach the church we hear the most beautiful harmonies and uplifting song, soulful chorus and deep searching emotive wholehearted singing. It makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up. It is magical beyond imagination. The rural Zulu congregation sings a response to the leading pastor in perfect harmony. He is so vibrant and wears a huge smile. He speaks Zulu, but we feel the tones in his voice. We feel the joy and hope coming from his heart.
We sit and listened to the songs of response and the sermon which follows, after all the children drift out to attend ‘children’s time’. Not so different to the churches back in Europe. The sermon was in Zulu, but you could understand the content and themes through the pastor’s vivacious body language. We sit and absorb this amazing experience, smiling at one another and at how lucky we all are to be present in a place so unique.
After the service we walk back to Mumma Thuli’s house for a traditional Zulu lunch. We have beef curry ‘Laksa’ and sit and chat about our lives with the other volunteers. We talk to Mumma Thuli about the problems with unemployment in South Africa and the challenges with the political authorities. We praise the idea of a South African first women president.
We play with the children, and take in the South African sun before Martin collects us and we made our way back to Bobbi Bear HQ for an afternoon of relaxing. It has been an amazing first weekend for the volunteers, so many vibrant and wonderful people, so much inspiration and still, so much to come.
Want to volunteer and experience really Zulu life?