Claire Jesse

The ways in which my 9 months at Ikhaya has changed me are absolutely endless. My heart was opened. I was challenged intellectually, emotionally, and socially.

 

Taking on the future of the kids, taking that on emotionally was rewarding but also something I had to continually work on. I had to do a lot of “storing up” of energy and room in my mind and heart. It was a lesson in putting others first.

 

Mainly, I was made very aware of how powerful I could be. I was shocked at how much I could touch other lives. Acknowledging people, telling them they are loved and valued, listening to people that haven’t been listened to before was the best part for me. I learned that I could impact every person I interacted with. And with that understanding of my effect on people came a responsibility to do it right, to do things well, with all my energy and time dedicated to getting tasks done, organizing, loving, and making things better for the future.

One day, I was at the government hospital of Ngwelezane caring for two children we had recently gotten from the police, and I noticed another young child, a little girl, sitting in only a diaper in her cot, crying, looking hopeless and tired and restless. She was standing and trying to talk to me, she was 2 and 1/2 at the time, and she had no one with her, no one taking care of her.

 

I started asking the nurses about her and they said her Gogo (grandmother) had just died and she was probably going into an orphanage. I immediately thought “she is coming home with us today” and I picked her up, and walked straight to the social work department, got her placed with Ikhaya, filled out paperwork, and took her home that day, on my hip, to new clothes, a bath, and she clung to me – and I knew that she was going to have a different life.

 

We went back to the courts the next day – met with her father (who was unable to take care of her and unemployed and lived far away), and I remember feeling such incredible love for this child. She turned out to be such a special child, full of charm and personality, despite her many struggles and medical issues. I carry her in my heart every day.

 

Volunteering with iKhaya changes a person’s heart and life. However people are involved in Ikhaya, they instantly sense that feeling of welcoming and purpose – it is life changing!

 

Claire Jesse

Claire Jesse
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Claire Jesse

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Volunteered for 9 months - USA
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