Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Take a 578 km drive in a Westerly direction. Add a few stops through Piet Retief and Jozini Dam and finally touch the Swaziland borders close enough for Vodacom to think you are actually in another country. Then again, it's not that you need signal on your way to Izandla ZeAfrika, because the company in the Land Rover Defender Td5 90 as well as on the two-way radio with the Ranger in front, provides ample entertainment on this 7-hour drive.
When you arrive at the gate of the youth center, a steep 30-degree angle on a single track road greets you. Luckily for us, in low range the Td5 90 made the hill look like we were drinking afternoon tea. We did drink something warm when we arrived though, because after 15:00 the wind on top of this mountain in rural KwaZulu-Natal turns cold in the winter.
Why were we there?
Izandla ZeAfrika is a project we are starting to be part of and this trip was a 'get-together' with all the people involved so we can get to know them. The owners Tarryn and Christoff are the friendliest people you will meet. The hospitality they showed along with their team was warming, and we quickly settled in. If you want to know more about what they do, check out their website: https://izandlaafrica.co.za/about-us/.
The crackling fire partly made up of local tree's wood and pallet wood set the mood for our first evening of campfire songs and worship. With the moon on its way to becoming full in the next few days, headlamps and other lights were put to the side so we could fully enjoy the stars and far away from lights the huts in the valley produced.
Mosveld Hospital and Butterfly Home.
Our visit to these local places was eye-opening and intriguing. The rural hospital was clean and organized and the work Christoff does there is humble. We saw the way they and it put our privileges in perspective in a radical way.
The Butterfly Home was the breaking point for most of the gentleman on this tour, but I will leave that experience for you to go and find out by yourself. What stayed with me was the words Tarryn said later that evening when we had a closing session back at the youth center right before our pasta and mince was served: "Do we treat living people like we treat dying people?"
We always walk out of a life-changing experience very emotional and overeager. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but what are the next steps after the 'high' of such a trip? The Landy was much quieter when we drove back. Pondering men looked with tired eyes into the distance, figuring out their WHY and simultaneously processing what happened to them this weekend.
What we do in life, will echo in eternity. Whether it's sponsoring part of the funds to keep the Izandla project going or packing the car for a KZN journey, ask yourself what you want to echo? (My ten cents, however, is to take the paintbrush and work shoes to the mountain and find out for yourself.)