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It seems like just the other day we were Under the Sea with Khumbulani and now there is already another fun-filled experience to share with you. Picture, if you will, the delightful flurry of sixty 5-year-olds invited to participate in the painting of their day-care’s bathrooms and leave colourful hand-prints on the wall. Whether this sounds lovely or a little alarming we can assure you it was tons of fun. This is just what happened at the Khumbulani Day Care in Khayelitsha.
Joining us for the day, and making it extra special in the process, were volunteers from the annual IGLTA conference which was held in Cape Town this year. Among these new visitors to Khumbulani was YouTube personality Davey Wavey who elected to mark the occasion with a video in which he interviewed the children and teachers about their dreams. In addition to capturing some truly heart-warming footage he also donated paint to the cause, helping to make the day a success.
While the children tucked into sandwiches provided by our in-house Rhino Cafe and put together by an eager group of Rhino Africans, preparations were underway. Black bags were being laid out on the floor. Drab doors were primed in white. Plastic tubs were levered open to reveal liquid colours and paint was slopped into trays and containers. Brushes and rollers were distributed, and some very special rhino stencils (we simply could not resist) were cut out and prepared.
The arrival of the rest of the volunteers was an event in itself! Organised into twin rows the children jostled and snaked down the stairs to form a most enthusiastic honour guard. This process was accompanied by excited chatter, shouts of laughter, and the jingle of small tambourines adorning the odd ankle. Snazo Sezelwa, a member of Khumbulani’s aftercare program which helps older children between the ages of 11 and 14, often from difficult backgrounds, started proceedings. With a ringing Xhosa welcome CEO David Ryan and guests were enthusiastically ushered into the entrance and between the rows of chanting and clapping children. Thereafter they embarked on a short tour of the facility of which we can’t but help feel incredibly proud.
The real star is of course Gloria who saw the need in her community. She began to operate first a soup kitchen (which continues today and feeds around 350 people daily) and then a day-care for HIV infected and affected children often looked after by single parents. From humble but inspiring beginnings in her two-bedroom shack, the day-care now accommodates 300 children in a three-storey building we helped to fund. As David affectionately noted, “when you give Gloria more space she will find more children to fill it with”. Upstairs revealed these kids eagerly waiting to show their appreciation yet again with a singing and dancing performance including the classic If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands. And then it was time for all those clapping hands to get slapped with some colour and express their happiness through painting!
While the youngsters eagerly queued up to be the first to adorn one of the limited green aprons and take their turn to paint, adult volunteers crowded into the child-size bathrooms and got under way with rollers. Gradually, bland doors were coated in cheerful hues of bubble-gum blue for the boys and candyfloss pink for the girls. While many small participants were tentative at first they were soon encouraged to hit their creative stride. Some, I think it is fair to say, even got rather carried away by it. Hands of vivid green, yellow, blue, red, and pink were proudly displayed before being rinsed in a tub of soapy water soon transformed into a foamy mix of swirling and shifting colour.
Of course when you are painting with children across several floors and in tight spaces there is bound to be a bit of colouring outside the lines. The teachers and aftercare assistants were an enormous help in cleaning up the paint-tracked floors and getting the school ship-shape again. And although the odd swathes of misplaced colour remain here and there, this seems just right. At Khumbulani we are always seeking to paint outside the lines and find new ways to help, looking to find what is possible rather than what is there.
Every time you travel with us you are contributing to this vision and we are always hoping to meet other like-minded individuals and companies to lend their support. At the outset Teresa van Bank, Rhino Africa’s CSR Specialist, hoped visitors would see “the abundance to be found even in poor communities,” and there certainly was plenty on display. An abundance of support, an abundance of enthusiasm, and abundant smiles—and yet there is also abundant scope for more.
If you would like to partner with us or sponsor an event or outing, please don’t hesitate to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and let Teresa know. You can also click on the link below to make a donation.
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