Feleng 15 (nearly)

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Feleng,

13 when I first met him two years ago, in London,  as he helped me unload my photo equipment and quickly became my assistant, is growing into a sweet young man. Of course he has the usual teenage angst but deals with it with the most theatrical aplomb. He is constantly dancing and singing and always ready with an opinion, and a helping hand to the younger kids. The eternal big brother, Rein Ne Dit adores him..

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.. has been fostered by Mitta, ( so Gloria is his granny a gogo) and he has a fine relationship with the family and his cousins. He lives in Dobsonville with the family and attends a high school nearby. Feleng came to pick me up to take me to his home in Soweto on Saturday morning. We travelled by taxi bus, ( he dealt with the money exchange which I still haven’t mastered.) helped me buy some cool shades on the roadside and made sure I wasn’t mowed down by the, his words, ..’Blaaaaack South Africans..if they bump you they do not care! ‘ (sic) drivers. We swaggered into the township, ignoring my whiteness and were greeted by many neighbours, some of who remembered me from last time , and his little ‘brother’. Feleng told me he wants to be a chef when he graduates. I think he may do something in fashion!

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Curriculum vitae

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The other evening the children came on masse, as they often do, to the little cottage I stay in on site when I’m here. There is always a lot of humour at the Chifi house and,  after the children had formulated their CV’s at school that day, Bronwen sent them along to me to ask for a job. Even Rien ne Dit, the three year old waved a crumpled piece of paper at me. I said I’d get back to them. Their CV’s are pretty good though. Some of the children speak four or so languages. They taught me that Ngiyakunthanda means I love you in Zulu so I’m happy!  The languages are similar African dialects but I’m in awe as they hold conversations with each other, swapping dialects between each other, depending on who they are talking to and who is in the group. Quite a skill. I’m not sure whether all of the children have bigged up their skills enough- Harmony and his musical talents that include playing jazz on the piano, even with one hand bandaged and their proficiency in swimming and chess. Their enthusiasm and ability to discuss in depth issues encouraged by the adults that work with them grow through their regular group meetings in the Chifi garden- often in the evening as the sun goes down. They are a pretty damn special bunch of kids- but hey I think I already said that.

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Melissa -playing chess on the platform while we waited for the delayed steam train.