We've had the privilege this year to dedicate some time and resources to the Kraaifontein Old Age home. Up until the moment we visited the Home, it was merely a name and an organisation to all of us. An opportunity to do some good, celebrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
All set with close to 400 handmade sandwiches, 8 HQ Team Members and a camera to capture the moment, we arrived at a fairly big and acceptable looking government building called an Old Age Home. This we were prepared for, not for the people living inside though.
To describe the emotions and reactions that flowed through us as a Team in the first few moments, is very hard. The hall was filled with people who are hopeful and thankful for what you bring, even if it is only a smile. There we stood with our sandwiches, and all I could think was, we should have done so much more, the need is so big. You are confronted with people who are so greatful for the little you have done, that you cannot stop thinking why have I done so little.
This Old Age Home is filled with the elderly, the disabled and even at times the destitute. They represent the different colours and languages of South Africa, but they are all one in their need to be taken care of. I started taking one or two photos while we handed out the sandwiches, but ended up feeling like I was invading a private moment of appreciation. I also did not want to miss the greatful looks, scared smiles and need for assistance in some cases.
As we walked through the hall, visited the rooms and spoke to some of the residents, I was intensely aware of their need to be treated as normal, part of society, a real person who matters. In one room a gentleman declined the sandwich politely, which amazed us, until we realised he was unable to take it from us. Chrisna fed him patiently listening to his story of his family leaving him there 14 years ago, never to return. In another room, Sharon met up with true lady who took care to keep her sandwhich neatly aside until she was ready to enjoy it.
We met up with another fiesty old lady who saw us as an opportunity to get a "lift" and leave the "home" ... it took some creative moves on our side to convince her to stay behind!
Just before leaving, we were thanked by the most beautiful singing of "Baie dankie", blessing us for what we have done. They sang with such appreciation that we struggled to hold back the tears.
Outside we took a few photos in front of the building, and just before leaving, a true English lady came outside to once again thank us for what we have done for them. I took both her hands assuring her that it was an honour for us. Feeling how cold those hands were, I could not leave her like that, and I had the privilege and honour of slipping my gloves onto her hands and seeing the amazement and appreciation in her eyes.
She thanked me with great concern that I would now have cold hands and I assured her that I'll be all right ... thinking I selfishly have 3 unused pairs at home...
On our way back we spoke about how the experience was an "eye opener" of how big the need at this Old Age home is .... thinking of all the wasted government funding that will never reach them.
We've put a drop in the bucket of needs at Kraaifontein Old Age home this Mandela Day. There are, however, 364 other days in the year ...