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Living in Africa, we tend to compare ourselves to what we perceive to be
successful and inspirational first world countries.

Seldom do we applaud our nation, thank our people
or expand our chests with pride at anything truly African.

But we have Angels.
Choirs of Angels. Multitudes of Angels.
They are both female and male,
are all races creeds and colours, with a common thread.

They are everywhere, and they are dressed for the occasion,
whatever it is that they are called to do.

Angel wears a train ticket,
stamped 4 a.m.  She travels for hours by bus and taxi to be
at work by seven a.m. For 12 hours she tenderly cares for your mother
or my father, attending to their every need.
She leaves work at 7 p.m. and repeats the process of travel.
Home to look after her own loved ones for a few hours.

Angel stands at a bedside, finger on the pulse of an ICU patient.
He watches with concern at the monitor screens,
everything is under control, for now.
When his patient opens her eyes and says “Thank you Thabo”
he wears an enormous grin, a huge ponytail,
tenderly reassuring eyes and patience…
lots of it.

Angel leaves home in a downpour,
her house is made of corrugated iron sheets, it leaks.
She has been up most of the night with a bucket, bailing water,
trying to keep her home dry.
This Angel arrives at work
and takes over the running of a household of 6.
She cleans, does the washing, ironing, looks after children
and cooks. Sometimes with one of the children on her back, asleep.
All the while she wears a crisp and clean housecoat,
a warm smile and a song on her lips.
And sodden shoes.
If she is lucky the rain might have stopped before it is time to leave.

Angel looks like a guard outside a palace.
He is on duty from 8 a.m. to late.
He watches parking areas, directing traffic and policing the area.
He is there every day of the week, rain, thunder, lightning and sunshine.
He carries parcels to cars, chases away questionable characters,
holds up his umbrella for customers to shelter under
and helps an octogenarian gently into her car.
He wears a pristine uniform and sunshine at all times,
even when it is raining cats and dogs.

Angel helps me with my housework twice a week.
She looks after two granddaughters, abandoned by their mother.
Last week she told me that her 14 year old grandchild
was abused by a neighbour, a friend.
Angel went straight to the police, is going to court
to have this man removed from society.
Angel told her grandchild that she was the best friend
this child would ever ever have,
so to always tell her everything.
Angel wears more hats in this life than I can imagine.
Oh, and gives away hugs a dozen at a time.

Angel is a cardio-thoracic nursing sister,
She is as warm, glowing and precious as her name suggests.
She gently handles all things scary,
in a unit that cares for post operative heart patients,
plugged into machines with pipes and tubes, sustaining life.
She wears a navy uniform with epaulets.
Also a well hidden broken heart of her own.
Her 1 year old daughter passed away this year on her first birthday,
multiple complications after 3 heart operations.
Angel Amber gets back to her fast paced job
having shared her heartbreaking story quietly.
Still she continues with humour and so much tenderness.IMG_0431

These are a few of the angels who have crossed our paths
in this extraordinary land, in the past months.
I could tell you about Isaiah or Miriam, or Daisy with the eyelashes
but I think you get the picture.
I just keep looking around, they are everywhere, extraordinary
men and women, gently getting on with their work in service,
to make us mere mortals lives a bit easier.
Wearing many guises.