I have been in touch with the sisters of both Diana and Phindile throughout the visit and want to share these words from Mpume, Phindile's sister
"I would like to thank all of you for the love you have shown to my sister and for accepting her. It really means a lot to her and our family ,it brought hope and joy to her life and reason to live again after so much she has been through.
Please send my love to all the grannies."
Cordula and I really noticed a transformation in Phindile from the first to the second day. She was shy and retiring at first but after the appointments with the foot doctor and Jill something shifted and that night after dinner she spoke to us at length about her life and challenges. I will try to summerize for you what she told us.
Phindile left school early, when her father fell ill, to work to put food on her family's table and ensure her sister and brother stayed in school. Mpume is now in a BCom program. An early marriage went bad very quickly and she was abused and her family were starving left to their own devices. When she managed to leave after I think 2 years she feared for her life and had to spend 3 years in hiding. Starting the granny group was something her deep faith and humanity compelled her to do as her compassion for abused women came from deep inside her and painful personal experience. She had no idea of how to organize a group and what could happen. Never in her wildest dreams did it lead her to Canada. Today she lives with her mom, sister,son and niece but she is engaged to the father of her son who is a good man. This trip will give her great face and increased credibility in her community.
I deeply feel that this visit has been life changing for not only Phindile and Diana but for many of us who have been touched by them. At the high school someone said "Who knows, a future Prime Minister may have been listening today or someone else who will find a way to make a difference."
I'll end this long musing by sharing what one of the One World Grannies wrote on her facebook page
"Every once in a while, you experience something that puts your life in perspective. I have been annoyed about something at work recently, and feeling sorry for myself today because my furnace was red tagged yesterday, it's 57 degrees in my house and it won't be replaced until Saturday.... and then I attended an event this evening to honour 2 visitors from Africa whose lives are dedicated to helping grandmothers in their community raise some of the 13 million children orphaned by AIDS - who struggle against an avalanche of need every day and still manage to carry on and make a difference. I live in one of the most privileged countries in the world and need to take a moment every now and then to appreciate that, to think twice before I bitch and complain about some insignificant thing that irritates me"
Sending love to all of you, Ruthi