Tsibogang in the Covid-19 pandemia
“Actually I already know a lot about Tsibogang and the work with the children there. But it might be good to see for myself how the groups get together and how the kids relate to each other.” That was about my expectations when I arrived in South Africa in mid-March. Within the next few days I realized how right I was and yet how far off track I was. Having taken off in Germany at an almost empty airport, there were two fever checks when landing in Johannesburg – but otherwise the subject of corona seemed to be relatively far away here. Together with Thomas Schmidt from the Spiritual Community in Heidelberg I visited the Spiritual Community in Mafikeng and was looking forward to finally experiencing directly all the things I had heard and read about before.
Unexpected for me was what kind of obstacles were practically arising: Bad road conditions demand full concentration from a driver in order not to end up in a pothole – and it cannot always be prevented completely. Structural defects in buildings need to be repaired, which is not always possible when it is not clear whose responsibility it is, especially in rented facilities. But all this immediately faded away in the literally beaming eyes of the children! In the self-help group Amogelang children meet who are directly or indirectly affected by HIV. The cheerfulness and exuberance with which the protected space was used here blew me away. The combination of singing with a powerful voice (yes, there were also some individual sounds), carefree playing, attentive listening to new Corona rules and the mutual spiritual strengthening (“Jesus loves the children, they should come to him – this refers to us!”) was absolutely impressive. The washing tub, in which everyone was supposed to wash their hands before, was poured out and replaced by a measuring cup as a source of water. This was not demonstratively planned, but it was an impressive picture of how old behaviour was immediately replaced by new behaviour.
That 30 minutes of hand washing is not quite the correct solution for the new hygiene rules could be clarified in the after school program. Simple misunderstandings, which also need to be clarified. The appreciation that the children are shown here is unfortunately not a natural experience for everyone – all too often they have to experience something different at school. And without being able to describe exactly what the reason for this is, I have the feeling that the children realize that this is not only an extension of their schooling, but that it contributes significantly to their character development. Here they are enthusiastic about it.
The closure of the schools and kindergardens, and with it the general crisis situation, arrived shortly after I did and made fewer encounters possible than planned – but they were lastingly impressive for me. Many thanks!
I’m a member of the spiritual fellowship Koinonia and have known the brothers and sisters in South Africa for over 30 years. Now I have not just received a better knowledge of the work of Christel and Wolfgang Hermann (which was my expectation and hope). In Tsibogang I got a new, unexpected but promising impression of how people pass on the love and appreciation they have experienced in Christ. I have been a professional IT specialist for two years now and I quickly got an organizational and technical view on things. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience here how strengthening living together is and that this is more important and formative than technical difficulties.