These have been a major focus of my life of late.

I have been involved with relocating from the straw bale house, in which I have lived for about 13 years to my new life right eco home designed and project managed by Coen. The new house is on the permaculture side of the property and is an example of a sustainable building. I haven’t been at it full time, but moved the last of my (and many other departed people’s possessions) across last week.

This included my 2 dogs who happily followed me, and a traumatized Shiwa cat, a few days ago. Workers are still busy with mainly external work. What remains to be moved is the garden items including self-propagated plants and trees with which I want to begin creating my new garden.

The move has been a challenge and involved at least seven sessions of burning unwanted old papers, and passing on unneeded items to staff and others, including surplus clothes and other household items. All of this has taken weeks to sort through, part time. Over the years I have accumulated so much unnecessary stuff as I have had enough room and storage space. Now the test will be not to add anything more as I try to simplify my life.

My involvement with helping the residents of the Modibate community in their relocation is ongoing. With the help of funding from Rokpa International for a Zozo hut, the latest couple, and their 4 year old son, who having been living on illegally on TRC land for a number of years, have moved to their own stand in the community of Rietvaly.

Life in Rietvaly, where there are almost no work opportunities, and limited facilities, is no bed of roses. Despite this most people from the Modibate community, in which most are related to each other, are choosing to move there. They like owning a reasonable sized stand, most have access to electricity and access to water in the community tanks. There is also a frequent taxi service to the nearest town, Zeerust. The councilor is visiting with pre-election promises of more electricity, piped water, and a dry toilet to each stand, and possibly RDP houses. Many have heard this pre-election talk before and are skeptical.

Currently there is no social worker assigned for this burgeoning community, although there is an HIV community worker. Alcohol and domestic abuse are rife. Spouses refuse to lay charges for cases of domestic abuse, because then their partners will be imprisoned, whereas all they want is for the police to give them a warning. The police have asked that they not be called out unless the victims are willing to lay charges.

On a more positive note the new crèche in Rietvaly, as yet unnamed, is beginning to take shape. Three volunteers – Rebecca, Tina and Johanna, are there at the crèche each morning from 8 am to 1pm. Rebeca who used to work at our crèche, and Tina are involved with child stimulation, and Johanna with the cooking, carting of the water in a wheelbarrow, and getting the fire wood. Plentiful hard work for these three committed women.

On my first few visits, there were over 35 children running around and shouting, but last week when I was there, there were about 23. It was much more settled, with the younger children separated from the older ones. The teachers say numbers had dropped because parents were asked to pay R50 a month for food, which many say they don’t have. I am communicating with funders to see if we can assist further with food, as many of the children look malnourished.

Priscilla, the Rietvaly HIV community worker, and I, are trying to get the department of Social Welfare involved. The crèche needs to be registered first, and then some official support may be forthcoming from the local government.

It is early days in a fairly complex situation but I am hopeful that the crèche will grow as there is much need, commitment from the teachers and some parents, and an allocated stand where a more permanent crèche could be built in the future.

Pippa, Feb 2019