An insight by Laurette Moolman, Ena’s mom:
Ena asked me to write about our feelings regarding their Mamelodi-for-a-month. It is a good thing that she only asked me now, because initially we were filled with trepidation. Sadly one first thinks about all the possible dangers that could befall them and especially the two little girls. As time went by we got used to the idea and we also know that Ena and Julian are doing this for the right reasons and not for sensation, as much as the media would probably like to turn it into a Reality Show with constant twitters and tweets and Facebook “OMG!” or “awesome!” comments.
Ena said we should not be too surprised at their decision since they grew up with Barry and me as parents and at times we too did some quite unusual things. I suppose so yes, but then one tends to forget your own adventures and rather pooh-pooh them as having been nothing. In India we were invited to the village of our driver, on the edge of the Tar desert in Rajasthan. We were the first western people ever to have visited this village and the village itself was like something caught inside a time loop. No electricity, no telephones. Every family had a cow, a buffalo and a camel which they used for working the fields and for food. No refrigerators so the cow and buffalo are milked early every morning and butter for ghee and joghurt made. The women grind the grains for their delicious bread and they cook on small coal fires. And so we went there, the first time also not knowing what to expect but we were overwhelmed with the friendliness of everyone in the village – after they overcame their initial curiosity which was quite unnerving to us. To be stared at as though you came from outer space was quite daunting!
However, we went back several times and it became for us one of our very special places in India. The fact that we had to wash from a bucket of warm water brought to us, heated on a fire, didn’t bother us at all. One weekend we went to the neighbouring village for the wedding of our driver in the middle of summer with temperatures reaching 50 degrees! It was even more basic since they had to find sleeping accommodation for many wedding guests. We got alotted a roof with two string cots and the next morning when we woke up, we saw many wedding guests on the roofs around us. For a toilet we had to go into the courtyard and push a buffalo calf out of the way to get to the VERY basic hole with bucket of water. We had a small bucket of water on the roof too, for basic washing.
We enjoyed these weekends without a thought to the mod cons back home, but it was always only for a weekend. And of course we were always someone’s guests and didn’t have to fend for ourselves. Our intrepid childred are going to live under such different circumstances for a month and we salute them and will be with them in the spirit from here in Iran for the first half of August and then fortunately from closer by for the second half of the month. And hopefully be at the end of a cumbersome taxi ride on their part for a visit. We have also heard rumours of a street party in Mamelodi towards the end of their time there where we will hopefully be able to meet the people with whom they will share their month.
And a very personal piece by my dad:
With the advantage of hindsight, I realize why you and your family chose this new journey of discovery, respect and empathy.
You grew up in a colour blind world where pigmentation never entered your vocabulary and where empathy for others became part of your life.
From your childhood in rural Umtata where you ran around with a tiny beaded skirt to that long flight to New Zealand where you, four years old, holding a tiny suitcase in one hand and your baby sister with the other boarded the plane to Wellington.
Two years later, back in Pretoria where you did us proud at St Mary’s DSG, one of the very few multi-racial schools at that time.
Then in Germany where you learnt a new language and experienced something more of the diversity and unity of cultures.
Later on in India, where you, blissfully happy at Girls’ High, had to uproot yourself join me, expecting shopping malls but discovering slums and smelly local markets.
During your outreach time at school you worked In those slum areas.
I shall never forget the time, after you finished school in Delhi and did a gap year in Harrods in London when you flew back to New Delhi and surprised me at the crack of dawn on my birthday. You took the journey on a dodgy airline full of bidi smoking workers on their way to Bangladesh via Delhi.
I was so proud of you when you became a trader at JP Morgan after graduating and I understood and respected your complete change of direction to do your MBA in China.
Then after starting a family, where you donned a scarf and visited us three times in Tehran, twice with a tiny baby and the third time with both our grandchildren.
This next part of your life journey fits the pattern.
Hence the advantage of hindsight
I am proud of you and deeply respect you.