Through the eyes of a child

I’ve been asked by some readers to give a little more insight into how the children are handling this huge shift in their daily lifestyle and routine. In a nutshell: remarkably! Give a child love and attention and they will be happy anywhere. There have however been some difficult moments.

During the first week in Mamelodi, the children still had to go to school which meant we had to get up really early to get them there on time. The mornings are very cold and waking a sleeping child to get them to catch a bus at 5am is not really fun. The early morning wake-ups also resulted in tired grumpy children in the afternoon where all the attention from neighbourhood kids sometimes got a bit much resulting in every mom’s nightmare: the temper tantrum/meltdown.

The children are now on school holidays and in a way it has been easier (no transport issues) but it too has some challenges. All the other kids are still at school so mornings can be a little long and boring. We have however discovered a municipal park about 20 minutes’ walk away that we go to most mornings. The kids love the park and we can easily spend an hour or two there with a little picnic. We’ve become really creative in terms of toys and activities. One fun ‘game’ is building letters, houses, train tracks etc with matchsticks. Julian has also become the master paper airplane maker and some afternoons when he’s around he’ll have to make up to 20 planes for all the children who play in our backyard. Every afternoon there are tons of friends for the kids to run around with, play hide and seek with, roll around in the dust with etc.

The children love helping with the daily activities such as washing the clothes, cooking and cleaning the shack. What I do find though is on a day where I don’t have to work and am home all day long with the children I am exhausted by the end of the day as I have to constantly be involved and playing with them: there is no TV as a distraction.

Food has been another area that has amazed me. The very first day we arrived in Mamelodi the children pulled up their noses at the vegetable soup I’d made for supper and said they weren’t hungry but since then they have never complained, asked for sweets or other food etc. Our diet is completely different to what we eat at home: lots of beans, lentils, pilchards etc. Yet they eat it all, say it tastes good and never complain.

We all sleep in one bed here (a habit I am sure is going to be difficult to break once we are back at home) but the kids love it. It’s warm and they feel loved and get lots of cuddles at night when it’s cold .

So all in all I can’t really say the children are easier or more difficult than they are at home: they are young, enjoy being around their parents and playing with friends. Have the odd melt down, but overall are having a great time but will also enjoy being home again after the month is over.IMG_3082

16 comments

  1. Lorraine says:

    Kids are angels they adjust very quickly.God bless you all.

  2. mandisa says:

    The transport issue is a VERY serious one that even the middle class blkack person suffers from. We work in town and the locations are too far. Transport is expensive and scarce too. Parents never get to see their children, time is spent commuting. The cleaning lady where I worked in sandton earned R1200. Of that money: 450 went to the bus coupon, for put to soweto everyday. another 500 was for the prepaid electricity. that only left her witjh R250 cashflow for the whole month. That’s not enough for food for the whole month, and she had a daughter. I don’t know how unfortunate people make ends meet. It’s really sad.

  3. Serena Jain Serena Jain says:

    Amazing Ena! Children are beyond resilient it’s really adults that have a hard time …. Of course you mess with their sleep and any child anywhere has a hard time….good luck with the transition to their beds back at home, but enjoy this month with their cuddles and warm bodies as it too shall pass. I love your posts. All the best!

  4. Serena Jain Serena Jain says:

    Amazing Ena! Children are beyond resilient it’s really adults that have a hard time …. Of course you mess with their sleep and any child anywhere has a hard time….good luck with the transition to their beds back at home, but enjoy this month with their cuddles and warm bodies as it too shall pass. I love your posts. All the best!

  5. Michele Schubert says:

    I salute you, Ena and your family. Exposing the harsh reality of township life and tight finances, is needed. Safricans need to feel connected and the poor’s difficult lives, acknowledged. People’s resilience is admirable. May lots of people from all walks of life follow your blog – Respect!

  6. anna Latigue says:

    I also salute you and your family.
    I thought about what would it be like living in a informal settlement?
    You have answered that question for me.
    Thank you.
    When I look at the picture of your children and the smiles on all of the children faces, no words are needed, I see the joy, trust and the fun they are having together.
    GOD bless you.

  7. dawie says:

    Julian & Ena – Courtesy of iol.co.za I picked up your Mamelodi story from 6000miles away. Having read the contribution via the Moolman history it is easy to see when the seeds to your enquiring minds were first sown. A lot of credit must go to Laurette & Barry for the tools they provided in enabling your quest. More are likely to follow. :)

    Making comparisons with – say – Guguletu, Langa and Nyanga 40 years ago would serve no purpose. It can be argued (with exceptions, of course) that conditions are harsher now than they have ever been. How much of it is due to misappropriation of funds at both a local and national level is a moot point. Transition to a better deal can be achieved. I see it in many countries in the northern hemisphere; most of it has been attained through education at primary level and on to further specialised learning.

    There is still a vast reservoir of goodwill in all walks of SA life. Some of the comments illustrate it, and they are the people who can eventually make the difference. Bon chance !

  8. dawie says:

    Julian & Ena – Courtesy of iol.co.za I picked up your Mamelodi story from 6000miles away. Having read the contribution via the Moolman history it is easy to see when the seeds to your enquiring minds were first sown. A lot of credit must go to Laurette & Barry for the tools they provided in enabling your quest. More are likely to follow. :)

    Making comparisons with – say – Guguletu, Langa and Nyanga 40 years ago would serve no purpose. It can be argued (with exceptions, of course) that conditions are harsher now than they have ever been. How much of it is due to misappropriation of funds at both a local and national level is a moot point. Transition to a better deal can be achieved. I see it in many countries in the northern hemisphere; most of it has been attained through education at primary level and on to further specialised learning.

    There is still a vast resrvoir of goodwill in all walks of SA life. Some of the comments illustrate it, and they are the people who can eventually make the difference. Bon chance !

  9. Teboho says:

    I am impressed by your courage to subject your family to such reality some people live everyday for the rest of their lives.

    If only some of us whom are not so disadvantaged would follow your test perhaps we would work together in changing this country into a better country our kids will grow in.

  10. […] “Through The Eyes Of A Child” by Ena Hewitt (A blog about a family’s experience of living in a township for a […]

  11. You have all my respect and admiration. Thank you for sharing your courageous and insightful experience with the world.
    Blessings.

    Doris

  12. Jo JeauxRaynebeaux Teeter says:

    I read about you on Yahoo Shine. Jamie Howard says, “…so that their daughters aren’t fearful that their living situation could change at any time without notice.” Howard is wrong. Because bottom line, no one knows when situations change without notice. That’s called life. People don’t get lose jobs or even die on schedule. We all have to deal with what life throws at us regardless of age. Anyway I think y’all did a great thing. 14 Years ago, my husband and I were homeless for a couple of months. Our kids turned out fine, so will your lovely girls.

  13. This is truly amazing and humbling of you. I’m 17 and went on a missions trip to Kenya this past June and the adjustment was very different, but the entire trip was well worth the ride and it was glorious. We truly don’t have an understanding of how privileged and rich we are in the states. To sell your own home and live with those people, and to get down in the dirt and sit in the dirt and play with the children who practically live in the dirt is humbling, and it’s what Jesus did. It’s a lesson of love. I commission you and will be praying that you do all of this to give the glory to Jesus Christ.

  14. Maria Zaragoza says:

    I want to praise you for even trying and want to congratulate you in your humility to try such an attempt regardless of the critics. If we would all try it we would be more resilient, unfortunately to many are stuck to much into the materialistic part of life and full of themselves they do not see themselves beyond their money and commodities.

  15. Ralin De Souza says:

    Tough decision but I’m sure you will not regret! The best lessons are learnt on ground Zero. Children are really amazing to adapt to situations!
    You have my support.

  16. Gloria Sifile says:

    I love u Ena. You are a true South African. Oh How this society needs more people like you. South African people are more alike than not regardless of their skin color. I would really, really love to meet you in person and give you a warm SA hug. You are great, forget what negative people have to say. They too have freedom of speech despite their mental capacity which I believe is limited…..I love you and all SA white people. I believe that you guys are very passionate about our beloved country in every way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Me
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers