The commute from Vancouver to Johannesburg is no small task. We spent about 40 hours travelling from A to B. Not to mention we consumed about eight plane meals and watched a collective 40 plus hours of television and movies from the time we left to the time we arrived. While that much travel in two days isn’t the most comfortable experience, every second was worth it from the moment we began our descend into Jo’burg. From the sky, Jo’burg’s iron rich soil (more like clay) creates a desert like landscape; patches of light browns, deep reds and bright oranges span as far as the eye can see.
Once we landed, collected our luggage and brushed our teeth, we headed for the exit to meet our ride to Botshabelo. We were warmly greeted with a personalized sign and the ear-to-ear grins of George and Juwawa. These two characters simply foreshadowed the incredible welcome we were about to experience upon arrival. We drove from the airport to a small town called Magaliesburg (“ma-hal-ies-burg”) where Botshabelo is located.
When we pulled onto the property, we could tell that several of the children knew we’d be arriving. As soon as the Iveco came to a hault, the curious little rascals headed straight for us. Juwawa flung open the side door and there were so many smiling faces that we couldn’t even step out of the van. Like a scene out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the kids rushed in for hugs, high fives and hand holding. It felt like we were coming home, and we had only just arrived.
The Botshabelo Community Development Trust (BCDT) is nestled in a valley, surrounded by soft rolling hills on either side. While we quickly discovered that the South African winter is dry and dusty, the rich soils and picturesque landscapes make for scene out of National Geographic.
We began the day by getting settled into our cabins. Soon after we headed out for a walk around the community to get acquainted with our new surroundings. We made it as far as the crush, where the babies too young to attend school spend their days playing on the jungle gym, singing songs and having fun. The visit with the “babies” was heartwarming and hilarious. What we pieced together through our collective travels is that kids everywhere are the same. They love to take pictures, look at their pictures and play with the camera. Simply put, it was a blurry photo frenzy.