Mbali nears the end of her 4 kilometer walk as she approaches the Mparane Clinic.
Mbali and her care taker, Mantsoaki Mosenye pack up for the journey to Mparane Clinc to replensih Mbali's anti-viral medication. The 4 kilometer trip is made twice a month prior to Mbali's walk to school. On the days that Mbali goes to pick up her medication, her journey is made significantly longer as the walk to school is an additional kilometer after reaching the clinic. On these days, her total walk in both directions is 10 kilometers.
Our first steps outside reveal the beautiful landscape of varied terrain that is the Eastern Cape. Rolling hills, vast grassy plains dotted with traditional thatched roof homes and grazing horses that are characteristic of the terrain around Matatiele. Mbali steps out ahead of us, seemingly anxious to greet the day, full of energy and focused on facing the day ahead.
Mbali's walk begins with her care taker, Mantsoaki Mosenye close behind. On her way as she walks over varied terrain through fields and on rough gravel roads. Mbali will encounter wandering horses and livestock that are often found grazing in the fields along with a plethora of potential hazards that can make the trip difficult. Factors like weather and the seasons make make the trip even more difficult and at times treacherous.
Mbali pauses with her care taker as they wait to let a vehicle pass while on their way to the Mparane clinic.
Mbali takes us on a "short-cut" which seems more of an obstecle course than an easier path. She handles the challenges with ease with the confidence of a young healthy child not without limitations.
We pause for a brief respite during our trek through the hills and plains that comprise much of the terrain around Matatiele. We are journeying to Mparane Clinic, 4 kilometers from the small complex of traditional houses that saw the beginning of our journey an hour before. I am winded, outdone by my young vibrant companion, a 12 year old who is the embodiment of her name in more ways than one. "Mbali", which in Zulu means flower, is a shy, sweet energetic child who lives in the municipality of Matatiele at the foot of the Drakensberg mountains in the Eastern Cape. On this particular occasion Mbali is leading the way as she allows me to tag along on her journey to the clinic. She is so agile and quick that she often leaves myself and her care taker, Mantsoaki Mosenye, behind by several paces. The four kilometer journey Mbali makes over often rugged, rolling terrain, through fields of grazing livestock and twisting paths twice a month is to retrieve medication from the Mparane clinic to manage her medica