Helping Hands, Touching Hearts NGO’s president, Sidney Bonvallet and her crew, Mary Deering and CJ Christopher, had learnt many lessons by their third trip to Massingir Velho and Machampane in the Parque Nacional do Limpopo. On this trip, they did not ship everything they wanted to donate but purchased the goods to donate in Africa.
However Africa lived up to her reputation of being a challenging place to visit and presented Sidney with further excitement. Very early on in the trip, the heavens opened up and the rain poured down. Machampane Wilderness Camp, where Sidney was staying, on the banks of the river of the same name was completely flooded. Even the snakes had to move to higher ground.
Flooding is difficult to cope with under the best circumstances but when you are far from home in a remote rural area it can be very stressful. Despite these challenges, 50 wheelbarrows were donated to the women of the village to ease the burden of fetching water daily and to assist with tasks such as collecting firewood, indigenous foods or working in their food gardens. Additional clothing, school and medical supplies and 2000 pairs of shoes were also donated on this trip.
There was also a sense that the work of Helping Hands, Touching Hearts had come to an end in this area and it was time to move on. Sidney and her crew aim to inspire people to move themselves out of poverty rather than creating a relationship of dependency.
A large red and white stripped tent was erected by Sidney’s grandson Richard and the men of the village in Northern Limpopo near Awelani Lodge and Eco-Tourism Park for the Dovho Primary School. The tent replaces the rudimentary structure that consisted of branches and corrugated iron (see picture above).