My apologies for the late post! I have had a multitude of technical difficulties and my laptop has broken twice this month.
Last week we had a couple public holidays so I got to spend a weekend in the woods with some of my coworkers and it was magical!! We camped in this beautiful national heritage sight called Beaverlac. I got to hike alone, something I love to do but haven’t been able to do on Cape Town for safety reasons. I saw the most beautiful sunrise and spent so much time processing what has occurred over the last 4 months. We had a braai, and my sweet friends braaied veggies for me WITHOUT meat, which is almost a sin in South Africa! It was a much needed weekend of rest and rejuvenation and I am so thankful we were able to cram our little car full and spend some quality time in nature together, not talking about work or worrying about our to do list, but simply enjoying each other’s presence.
This past week we had another public holiday, Worker’s Day, and although I had to work (ironically), it was a lekker day. I was on shift as the house mother at the safe house, meaning I was in charge for the day, so I decided on a holiday, we must also take a holiday! So we went on an outing to one of my favorite spots in the Cape. We hiked in Jonkershoek to one of the waterfalls, because I am a firm believer in the therapeutic benefits of nature. Thankfully the waterfall had water because of all our recent rain!!! It felt like we were in the Amazon rainforest, not just outside Cape Town!! I also learned two very valuable lessons that day....that it is important to always carry cash and google maps typically does not work in the townships. My process of discovering these crucial pieces of information involved confidently trying to pay the park fee to enter the hike with credit card, realizing I cannot draw money from my credit card and I don’t have my debit card, getting extremely lost in a township because google maps was also extremely lost, and laughing a LOT at myself and with myself and the residents. But nevertheless we persisted, we’re able to hike and not only survived but THRIVED on our adventure.
The rest of the week consisted of office work, fundraising tasks, grant writing, taking the residents to the weekly volunteer activity they participate in at a local kids club, and the most exciting part....PIGCASSO!!!!!
Pigcasso is a painting pig that was rescued from a slaughterhouse. The fundraising coordinator and I were at the Waterfront trying to get sponsors for our upcoming event when we learned about Pigcasso. There was a pink shipping container that said OINK on it, and we were so intrigued we had to go visit. There we learned about Pigcasso and the mission of the incredible organization that rescued her. You can watch the video here. We contacted the woman who started Farm Sanctuary SA asking if it would be possible to bring our residents to the farm to meet this famous pig, and she agreed! Turns out she is the most incredible, compassionate and sweetest woman. So on Friday, we loaded up the little car and drove to the beautiful Franschhoek valley to the Farm Sanctuary SA and we met Pigcasso!!!! And all the other rescued animals!!! I was geeking out as a vegetarian, and a social entrepreneur. Hearing the stories of the industry that these animals were rescued from wrecks me every single time. But thankfully, Farm Sanctuary SA has rescued and provided the utmost care for two gentle, loving cows, 3 huge pigs, 2 sassy donkeys, 2 sheep (skapies), 1 goat and a bunch of chickens. The more I learned about this organization, the more I fell in love with it! They have such a beautiful social entrepreneurial model. They generate income from selling Pigcasso’s paintings, which can go for quite a lot hey. Like $1000+ US Dollars. But these paintings are impressive! They also get money from renting the upper, beautiful room of the barn to guests who pay to sleep under the shadow the the Franschhoek mountains. Finally, they have a little kitchen in the barn that serves vegetarian food that you can buy for a picnic.
It was such an incredible location to spend the afternoon with the residents. They go to horse therapy twice a month and have come to love the horses, which is amazing because when they first started they didn’t even want to touch the horses, and that spilled over into their encounters with these other animals. We all learned so much about the farm industry and the intelligence of these creatures that we often see simply as a means of getting our protein! But they are wise and have feelings too, so it lead to some interesting discussion. We shared many laughs as always, “wow’s”, and a vegetarian meal in the barn with Pigcasso!
This week is going to be a tough one as we say goodbye to some of our residents. I have been trying to process what that actually is going to mean but it is very sad to see our women go, especially when we wish they could/would stay longer, but for a multitude of reasons that is not the case. This is the first time I have ever had to say goodbye to a resident, let alone two in the same week, so it is going to be an emotional few days that is for sure, and dealing with those not so pleasant emotions is difficult but a necessary part of this work. Thankfully we have an incredible Director who has encouraged us all to process and feel the tough things, and has given us space to do so. On the other hand, we are trusting for more residents to come. We had a meeting the other morning to pray about more girls getting rescued and I was just overwhelmed by the weight of despair many of these women face. There are countless girls on the streets who have no hope. All they have encountered is abuse, darkness, pain, sorrow and fear. And I just felt physically so heavy in a way I have never felt before, so burdened for these women. Recently hope has been a recurring word and image in my day to day. Each morning I have been trying to wake up early to see the sunrise, which to me is the epitome of hope in my life. As Mary Oliver says, every morning the world is created. What hope and responsibility that carries! I am really holding onto that hope, especially now, and especially for all the girls out there still on the streets.
I cannot believe it is my last three weeks in Cape Town. I get SO SAD when I think about leaving this place and this work. But I know it is not goodbye, just a see you soon 😉