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We are three guys from the Isle of Wight that are flying to South Africa to work alongside other football fanatics as part of an organisation known as Lionsraw. South Africa 2010 is the debut Lionsraw Special Project. Lionsraw is taking a 130 strong squad of football fans to Durban, South Africa for two weeks during the World Cup. The Lionsraw team will operate in ‘The Valley of a Thousand Hills'', the epicentre of the World's HIV / AIDS crisis. Alongside existing local charities the team will help in ‘construction projects' and ‘soccer academies' for deprived local children during the day. Each evening the squad will retire to our fanzone for the full world cup tour experience.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Day Six - Life in the Valley

Doesn't Siphiwe have the best smile you've ever seen?

Today, we had another taste of the day-to-day struggles of life in the Valley. We got ourselves well set for a productive day on-site – with a brand new circular saw and the very welcome addition of a cement mixer. However, we only managed a couple of loads before the cement mixer blew up the main fuse to Russell & Precious’ house. The electric company came out pretty quickly and sent a guy shinning up the telegraph pole outside the house, but being a Sunday, we were unable to get a new fuse. Les rigged something up to get the lights working (best not to ask how), but there was no power for the mixer, saw or cooker. To compound our problems, the water supply failed for most of the morning, so we couldn’t even mix by hand. We take water and electricity very much for granted in the UK, but here in the Valley they are a constant struggle. The water quality is excellent and we’re drinking it straight from the tap with no problems, but in the Valley it regularly dries up, which makes life a real struggle.

Thankfully, “One Lintel Les” showed that he is a man of many talents, by re-wiring the main house and getting light back into the lounge. (By the way, he asked me to let his wife, Jacquie, know that he is well and enjoying himself).

Before we left home, Shellie and Anya (Len’s wife and daughter) worked very hard to put together a photobook, showing life in the UK. Len went through the photos this morning with Russell and Precious and the kids. It was quite a challenge explaining how the hovercraft works, but Len did his best. The kids were thrilled to see the pictures of snow and wished they lived closer to the sea. The pictures that they were given will be going up on the walls in the bedrooms of the new building. The photobook was well received by Russell when he realised that he was allowed to keep it!
Len also presented Russell and Precious with a number of letters that the children at Anya’s school had written to the children at the orphanage. Russell has said that they will be laminated to protect them and then given to the children to take to school. In return Len will be bringing home some pictures that the children have been drawing today.
Thanks Shellie and Anya for your hard work.

A few people have asked us about the names of the children, so here we go:
Bonginkosi (Bo) aged 17 – studying tourism and hoping to become an accountant
Samkele aged 15 – studying tourism and hoping to do engineering or accountancy
Khehla (11) is wearing a grey V neck jumper in the photos taken today
Siphiwe (10) is wearing all blue
Tando (10) is wearing a denim skirt
Thulisile (10) is dressed in red and has red hearing aids
Philasande (5) is dressed all in pink
Zama (4) has grey tracksuit bottoms and a flowery top
Olwethu (2) is wearing a black top.
I hope that this will help you to identify the children in the photographs. Just to confuse you, there are a few other children in the pictures who attend the crèche during the day, but don’t live permanently with Russell and Precious.
In addition, Samkelisiwe (14), Zinhle (12), Sihle (11) and Siyanda (3) are all visiting relatives at the moment, but will be back at the house soon.

Despite the problems with water and power, we made some progress today. Paul, John and Neil managed to render one wall. Steve helped Les with the re-wiring. Frank supervised Tando, Thulisile and Philasande shovelling the sand. The rest of us put together the roof trusses and decided that banging in hundreds of gangnail plates has replaced mixing as the toughest job on-site.

We had a short service of thanksgiving / prayer meeting this evening, before the Brazil v Ivory Coast game. It is clear that God has blessed us with this opportunity to make a difference. For many of us, it is a humbling chance to turn our faith into something concrete.

We’ve slipped into a workday routine now: the alarm goes at 5:55; breakfast is 6:30; coach leaves at 7:00; we arrive at site soon after 8:00 and work until 4:30; the coach gets us back to the hotel soon after 6:00; shower; meal at 7:00; watch the evening game while sorting photos, then skype and post blog. Tomorrow, we’re back on-site during the day, but we’re all taking Russell and Precious out for a meal in the evening, so it’s unlikely that I’ll get a chance to post an update. I’ll get some more photos on-line as soon as I can on Tuesday.

We're tired and missing family, but happy that we're doing something worthwhile.


  1. Hi Len and the gang still in mourning from friday, but france has cheer me up. The buildings are going up at a rate and look good, well done the photo's are good as well and Len you could not keep away from the PC's I am inpressed.
    Simon Realey

  2. Keep up the good work!!! Your blog is fab, I check it daily. Remind Les he has a roof to fix here!!! I'm so proud of all of you xxx

    Jacquie H