In October 2016, Lorna and Tara attended a Business Boutique in London and watched a presentation by Chris Connors of the charity Coco’s Foundation. The charity are involved with building houses, ensuring food and delivering skills for life for those less fortunate.
Lorna came back to the salon desperate to make a difference. She then spent the next six months raising funds to travel to Africa and for the materials to enable herself and a team of others to build a house for a family who were sleeping in the open amongst wild animals and exasperating weather conditions.
I met a group of people at Heathrow airport from different areas of the hairdressing industry. Chris the charity founder, Gemma a Paul Mitchell Educator, Danielle a stylist from down south, David who has volunteered for another charity previously, Angie a sewing specialist, Terrie a returning Coco’s charity worker and Sue a Grandmother of two young girls who has her own church group. Together we travelled to johannasburg, this was an 11hour flight, it gave us a chance to get to no each other. We arrived the following day (DAY TWO) at 8.30 in the morning only to catch another flight to Durban.
The flight to Durban wasn’t as long, a hour more in the sky an we landed. At the air port Chris, The guy who organises the trip and runs the charity, met up with a young lad at the airport wo he sponsors, Bonga. Bonga travelled with us for about 45 miniuts of our 4 hour mini bus ride, this to him was like a day out and he was so happy to spend time with us just driving. The further along we drove the The further along we drove the more things became “different” I saw I sign out of the window. it was hand written and tied to a pole. the sign said “Cheap abortions, no pain” its was the little things like this on the trip that have stuck in my mind the most. as we continued to drive down what seemed to e one long straight road, more and more peope would appear on the side of the road holding things such as hand made rugs, bottles of coke and other goods.
This is their community and people come to the road side to do business. finally we arrived at our home for the next few weeks. Rachel and Victor are the names of the people who looked after us while we were there. it was a big open house made of wood. other people were sleeping there to. One boy called kowlisea joined us for the journey too and he stayed with us for the first few days. on route to Racheals in the final hour, we dropped off food parcels to a couple of families too. they were so greatful.
Day Three – So today consisted of going out into the local community and visiting families. the families we visited were presented to us by one particual man who we saw a lot on our trip. he also did a lot for the community and schools. He knew exactly were to take us according to were we were most needed. Each family we saw this day we took food parcels, soap and candles. these were just a few things to help them out. these families needed new homes and althought there is already a long list of families who need homes, these people needed adding, I guess we just had to see whos living conditions were the worse so that Chris could prioratise. the things we saw this day were heart breaking, people “living” in conditions
that I cant even think of the words to describe.
DAY FOUR. As if we hadn’t already cried enough the day before, on day four we went to church. I’m not particually religious, althought I did go to a catholic school and I have attended church before, but never like this. Before entering the church we shook hands with the woman who welcomed us who was going to be speaking today in church. once we were all in and seated it rained! it rained a lot, despite this more and more people showed up to church, the rain wasn’t going to stop them. Women would come running in soaked and have tiny baby’s tied to the front of them with towels or old sheets. We had blankets on our bus so we hurried to give them out. the passion and spirit in that church as they all sang together was amazing. no shame no shyness and no half hearted singing. I even sang along without knowing the words! one woman who sat behind us leant forward to show us in the book exactly what we was singing and translating it to us in English so we were as welcome as we could be. this was so lovely she didn’t have to. People there are so friendly and make you feel at home even in such a place that is so unfamiliar to us.
DAY FIVE. Up at five to start the build. we met the family who we were building for and we got started straight away. we moved 900 bricks, big ones and very heavy ones. after this the builders we worked with would lay them and we would point inbetween. this means putting the cement in the gaps to fill it in. and mixing cement by hand is also very VERY hard. The walls got taller and taller and by the time we were half way through the day so many people from close by had shown up to help. one boy at a guess of 17 years old stood by me for the rest of the day as long as we were there and helped as much as he could. we couldn’t speak the same language and he was death, so communication with him was extremely limited was extremely limited. This didn’t matter thou not to me r him. he watched what I was doing and made sure I didn’t run out of cement, he was backwards and forwards helping me. once we had done as much as we possibly could this day, we left and drove to a school. we were swomped immidietly! as the mini bus drove through the school gates it was surrounded by children! they were so excited to see us. when we managed to get out of the van it was, hard work to be honest, more so then building! but so lovely! we all kind of just stood there not knowing what to do, I guess we though back to when we was the same age as the children and we just sang. they LOVED it ! they joined in and clapped and cheered. the wheels on the bus has a lot more impact in Africa then it does in engand. I guess the children here are comparing that to I pads and play stations now. that’s sad in its self really. the school bell went and after the children had prayed by singing, again like in church so proud, some of the children left, but a lot stayed. all of those who stayed were orpans. we stayed with them and delivered activities that we delivered activities that we had been able to bring with us. we made masks and pencil cases. they were so greatful.
DAY SIX. We had a at in, we were up at six! this day we collected paint and brushes first thing in the morning and then was on rout to houses built previously by the charity. we bag washed, sealed and painted this house. once this was complete we unpacked a bunk beg and a double bed that had been delivered for this house to replcae the bed made of old bricks that one woman had been sleeping on previously. when we took this old “bed down” the amount of bugs and coackroaches that came with it was awfull. she has been sleeping like that for a long time DAY SEVEN. Work shop! children ages 6-16 gathered after school for a special workshop to help them deal with what they have no chjoice but to class as every day life. there was about 300 children and basically everyone had lost either mum, dad or both. if they children have lost both parents oftenb thy get taken in by like a nanny I guess, unfortuantly sometimes these woman die too. to be honest I didn’t understand what was said. I no they spoen openly about who they lost and how it made them feel. the most painful part of watching this, was how common and normal this is to them. all of those children, so young having no choice but to deal with that, and feeling lucky still that they are able to attend the workshop. its unbelievable. they are definatly not the lucky ones, so why did they still appear happy…