Reaching Out 2 The World


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A Perfect Day in Muizenburg

Earlier in the week Dan and I made plans to take our group of kids from Kayamandi to Muizenburg so they could check out Dave’s Surf Program. All week I’ve been excited for this! After a few minor setbacks in the morning it was finally time for us to meet up at the surf shack. Ten children and four volunteers came along for the adventure today. The children were, Mawande, Chester, Lupho, Khanyisa, Rethabile, Athabile, Ski, Apwhiwe, Luthando, and Wande. The volunteers coming along to help were Theresa, Mieke, Hanneke, and I. Out of our whole group Mieke, Hanneke, and I were the only ones who had tried surfing before… and that was about two weeks ago. I knew one thing was for sure though; these guys absolutely love the water, even the ones that can’t swim love to hang out in the water!

IMG_5435The drive to Muizenburg took about an hour and our van was pretty crowded. The girls in the back had everyone singing everything from, “If you’re happy and you know it”, to The South African National Anthem. I felt sort of bad for our driver because of how loud we were being but he didn’t seem to mind. During our drive we drove past Khayelitsha, the biggest township in the Western Cape. This township is the home to over a million residents and is quite the sight to see. As we drove past, all the boys in the van stopped singing to check it out. None of them have ever been there before but they all know about it. The place is pretty famous for all sorts of reasons. I know about it for its size and population, while the boys know about it because several of their favorite rappers were born and raised there. At first I thought they were gawking at the township when we drove past but I think they were just awestruck by its size.

The closer and closer we got to Muizenburg the darker the clouds got. I couldn’t help but wonder if the weather would hold out for us. I just kept telling myself that no matter what, we’ll make the most of our day! I also knew that the boys would be able to sport some sweet wetsuits that would hopefully provide them with the warm they needed.

When we finally pulled up to Dave’s Surf Shack we were welcomed and greetedIMG_5433 by the children involved in the surf program, as well as a few volunteers, and Bronwyn, Dave’s daughter. They were also concerned about the harsh weather conditions but had set up a few back up plans in the case we couldn’t get in the water. I convinced them that we brought some pretty tough kids with us and that once they were suited up in their wetsuits they’d be good to go. Of course IMG_5434none of our guys had ever worn a wetsuit before so it was pretty hilarious watching them struggle to put them on. Poor Lupho tried his absolute hardest to squeeze his body into a suit that was at least 5 sizes too small before I noticed and grabbed a larger one for him. Once the boys were ready we walked across the street to where the Surf Shop was located so the volunteers could also get ready. This was where everyone received their surf boards and the excitement started to set in. While we waited for everyone to get ready Hanneke and Mieke gathered the crew for an epic game of ninja. Playing any game in a wetsuit will improve the fun quality immensely!

Down at the beach we were joined with Dave’s crew. All in all there were 23IMG_5430 of us ready to tear it up in the ocean, but first we had to get our lesson. We started with a run around the beach to warm up, followed by a giant group stretch. When everyone was feeling loose we began practicing laying on the boards, paddling, and the proper way to hop up onto your feet.IMG_5428 I really didn’t expect many, if any, of our guys to grasp surfing on their first try, I was just happy that they’d get the chance to swim and play the ocean!IMG_5423IMG_5422IMG_5419IMG_5416

surfing, khanyisa 2Soon enough it was time for all of us to wade out in the water. Each kid from Kayamandi was paired with someone from Dave’s program. It was really cool to see the kids working together so well. Most of the guys Dave works with speak Afrikaans, while all of ours speak Xhosa. This didn’t seem to matter in the least bit though as they worked together to ride the waves. Because the air was so chilly the water actually felt great. I don’t think anyone was cold once we were in, but I’m sure the wetsuits played a major role in that! With such a huge group it seemed that no matter where I looked kids were readying themselves for the next wave. I can’t say for sure, but I think Khanyisa was the first to stand. Watching this was like watching your child take their first steps. I was so proud of him even though he only stood up for about a second. Riri, and Athabile were close seconds to standing on their boards. Riri was the one in our group I was most confident about that would be able to pick up surfing. I don’t think everyone in our group was able to stand up but I know they were each able to at least ride wave in boogie board style. surfing ririMawande is probably the weakest swimmer in our group and I was worried he wouldn’t be able to do much. Last week at Myoli’s beach I caught him boogie boarding in about an inch of still water. When I looked out to see him lying on his board in water that was past his waist, I was both proud and a little worried. I knew if he fell that he’d be able to stand, but the ocean has a way of tossing you around and sometimes it’s hard to find good footing. A moment later I glanced back in his direction and he was gone! I looked around in the direction I saw him last but he was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until I turned to face the beach that I saw he had ridden a wave all the way in, and I mean ALLL the way in until he was beached! I’m pretty sure surfing aphiwethat was his most successful ride of the day but it was a darn good one! Everywhere I looked our group was getting better and better and for the hour we tore that ocean up!

IMG_5411Getting back out of the ocean meant a cold and windy walk back to the surf shack, but our efforts were rewarded with perfectly timed hot chocolate! The Surf Shack knows how to cater!

Once everyone was out of their wetsuits and into their dry clothes we had about 30 minutes before lunch. This time was spent playing with every toy the surf center had to offer. There were kids skateboarding, IMG_5407kicking the soccer ball around, playing ping pong, boxing, lifting weights, throwing exercise balls, and more. After some time a few of these activities morphed together into some sort of gauntlet ride for the guys brave enough to ride. Each guy took turns riding down the small hill on a skateboard while the other boys heaved the exercise balls in their direction. This reminded me of a combination between Wipeout and Gladiator. This was all fun and games but we stopped it before someone or something got hurt. Our timing worked out well because it also happened to be time for lunch!

IMG_5406Dave’s mother prepared a warm lunch for all the boys which consisted of rice, minced meat and beans. They all seemed to love it because the food was IMG_5397gone before I could get a second glance at their plates. Mnandi nento was the phrase of choice and it means in Xhosa; that was very nice.

After the meal the boys went back to playing soccer and riding the skateboards. I joined in with a group that was playing once bounce. It’s basically just juggling the soccer ball within the group but the ball is only allowed to bounce once IMG_5401in between hits. These guys can all run circles around me when it comes to soccer but it was still a good time. I think a few of Dave’s crew was impressed with the soccer skills our boys displayed. Maybe we can get them together in the future for a combined practice or scrimmage?!

Actually, the next thing on our IMG_5394agenda was just that, a soccer game. We all headed up to the park just up the street from the surf center. By the time I got there the field and goals had already been laid out and the game was in progress. Over 20 of us split up into two teams and we played for nearly two hours. It doesn’t matter what I fill a day with, because if we include a game of soccer than there’s no doubt these boys have had an amazing day. The volunteers took turns playing and IMG_5393hanging out on the sidelines, I’m pretty sure the kids were better off without us, haha. Through the first game it became pretty evident that the teams were a little unfair. I mentioned it to Riri and suggested that maybe he should switch teams. Riri is also one of the best soccer players and absolutely has the best attitude when it comes to working with others. He had no problems switching over to the less skilled team and immediately went around high-fiving his new teammates. I wish more people could be as awesome as Riri, he genuinely cares more about the greater good of everyone else before himself. His name, Rethabile, actually means happy… it’s pretty spot on if you ask me!

Just before 3:00 we regrouped back at the surf center for one last group picture. We all had such an amazing time, and can’t wait till the next time we can get back together. Hanneke, and Mieke will both be here for the next year. I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to take our group back to Muizenburg in the future. Thanks so much to all the volunteers and helpers at the Surf Shack for having the patience to work with us, despite the cold weather! Can’t wait to hear all about the amazing things your program does in the future!!IMG_5387

Our ride home was much quieter than our ride there due to our successful ability to drain these hooligans of their energy. Riri was one of the three that fell asleep on the way home and unfortunately he left his cell phone in the van. It wasn’t until the van was long gone that he informed that he was missing his phone. It stinks to lose a phone, but I can’t imagine how he must have been feeling. The boy who I just described as always being happy and the life of the party was suddenly hunched over with his head in his hands, crying. I tried getting in touch with our driver but he didn’t pick up. It wasn’t until I was able to reach Dave that we were able to work something out. Dave got a hold of the drive who said he recovered the phone and would bring it by the center tomorrow. I’ll be leaving on Monday morning so I won’t be able to see to it that Riri gets his phone back, but I think Hanneke will stay in contact with Dave and make sure things work out. Good luck to all those involved!

Between the kids all being tired, and the weather being a bit chilly we thought it’d be IMG_5439a perfect afternoon to let the guys watch a movie. Mieke and Hanneke went about setting up a make shift viewing area in their living quarters while I worked with Aphiwe on a very special letter.

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A Successful Stop in Steenberg

The last time Dan and I tried visiting his old school in Steenberg we didn’t exactly take the fastest route. By the time we got to the school the kids had already gone home. Today we’d leave Kayamandi just after 7 in the morning, and leave no chance of missing his old students.

DSC_1117Even with leaving so early we still had about two and a half hours of train rides before we’d arrive to the town. From there we still had a bit of a walk but we did finally make it to his school, The Christian David Primary School. When we walked up to the school it was clear that there was a recess in progress with all the kids running about. As soon as we strolled in Dan started seeing students who he worked with last year and they all remembered him. He had warned me that the children at this school were a bit crazier than at Kayamandi but I didn’t believe him until we were both turned into a human jungle gym.

After playing outside we went in to IMG_5183find the teacher he had previously worked with. Sandy Jacobs is a grade 1 teacher at the school and is pretty outstanding at her job. Dan and I joined her class and watched as she read a book with them, sang songs with them, and worked with them on singular and plural forms of words. I was impressed at her control of the room and the patience that she offered each of them. She later told us that she’d prefer teaching an older grade but she was definitely pretty great with the youngsters.

IMG_5181Before long it was time for her class to partake in their gym glass. Dan told me that the volunteers at the school are the ones that run the classes and I think we were both looking forward to seeing how that would go. Apparently, the volunteers asked the class to first remove their shoes and socks before heading out. I wasn’t really sure why this was necessary but the children didn’t care and immediately went about removing their shoes. When we got outside thereDSC_1087 were two volunteers but we soon found out that they had no inclination of taking on the class. They were too “busy” organizing the gym equipment in the storage locker. While we were finding this out Sandy asked if Dan and I would mind taking over the gym class. This wasn’t DSC_1102something either of us had prepared for but we were quick on our feet and set about organizing a relay race. I don’t generally teach first graders because they’re just a little young for me. DSC_1095They’re super cute, but a bit of a handful. Add on the fact that this was a classroom of 34 non-English speaking children under the age of 8. There is no kindergarten, and no preschool for these youngsters so her classroom of rascals was brand-new to the concept of school. With Dan and Sandy’s help I think we put together a pretty fun class but as hard as we tried I don’t think it would have been possible to drain them of their energy.

IMG_5180While I was trying to coordinate them I kept finding myself looking to use Xhosa words but all these students spoke Afrikaans. It was cool that I was thinking more and more in Xhosa but unfortunate that it did me no good.

Back in the classroom the group receivedDSC_1126 peanut butter sandwiches before going back outside for a second recess. I told one little guy (Michael) that I wasn’t going to lift him up until he finished his sandwich. As I tried snapping pictures, of Dan with his students, Michael kept hopping in front of the camera to show me that he was devouring his sandwich. I held true to my word and promptly lifted him high above the rest of his peers once he finished his sandwich. The next 30 minutes was spent lifting, spinning, and throwing kids all over the recess yard. Dan was able toDSC_1128 reunite with all his old students and it was a pleasure spending the school day with them.DSC_1133

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Our next destination was three stops down the rail line to Muizenburg. If you remember from a previous post, Muizenburg is the place we surf at and home to the Surf Out Reach Program started by Dave Chudleigh. Dan and I have been talking a lot about what exactly we want to do with the remaining donations within our budget. Thanks to Hotspots, and several of the places we visited and stayed, our trip with the boys was less expensive than we had planned for. DSC_0034We still plan on purchasing school supplies and books for the students in Kayamandi but we also wanted to do a bit more. After visiting Dave the first time and seeing all the hard work that he’s been up to, we both agreed that his Out Reach program is pretty incredible. The Surf Out Reach Program works directly with students from the Christian David Primary school, and offers soDSC_0035 much. Every day after school the kids are brought over to where the program is housed. This place is a safe haven for these guys and provides a place for them to work on their homework, study, play games, read, and anything else they need to be successful. The program provides a warm meal for everyone involved and a packed lunch for the next school day. Oh yea, did I mention that they also teach these kids to surf?!? These kids are phenomenal athletes and surf like the pros. Dan and I saw a few of them tearing it up in the water the last time we were here. We’re very confident that the contributions we deliver to this program will go a long way and we look forward to following along. You can too by visiting www.surfshack.co.za They also have a Facebook group that is constantly being updated with the programs progress. Dave was pretty thrilled with what we were offering him and together we worked out a plan to have our boys from Kayamandi come by Saturday for a surf session. Saturday should be a pretty amazing day!

Earlier in the day we arranged a ride back to Stellenbosch with Sandy. After our difficulty getting home yesterday we were keen on just getting home! Thanks so much Sandy for the lift! I hope the ride wasn’t too long for you.

In the evening Dan taught us a new game called true colors. This game asks the group personal questions in which we have to select an opposing member of the group as the answer. This was a pretty fun game, and I’ll be sure to share it with friends once I get home. Before going to bed I lost in a game of Catan to Hanneke. It was a close game, with Mieke and me being right behind her. More importantly, I finished the last of those name cards!  I’ll post a couple of my favorites. IMG_5225


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Bro, I Totally Caught Some Gnarly Waves Today

Sunday was the first day of the week that we woke up to no rain. Not only was there no rain but it was absolutely beautiful outside. With the great weather came even better plans! Today we’d all be heading to Muizenburg to try surfing. Dan spent a month in Muizenburg last year and learned to surf and he knew that we would all love it. To top it off, Muizenburg is widely recognized as being one of the best surf spots around.

IMG_4034The 7 of us got our things together and went down to the train station around 10:45. We had to catch the 11:10 train to Cape Town and didn’t realize how pressed we were for time until the train started to depart while half our group was still grounded. I step in just as the train started to move and behind me was Mieke and Hanneke. In the second it took Mieke to decide whether or not she’d board many things flashed through her head. Mieke got on just in time but she wasn’t the last to board. Hanneke was still behind her and had to make a great leap to join us. I was quite impressed with their brave moves. Once on Mieke told us how in that split second she thought about if Hanneke hadn’t followed she’d have been stuck at the train station, stuck in Kayamandi, and with no key to get back into her flat. That’s a lot to contemplate when you’re about to board a moving train!

The rest of the ride into Cape Town was fairly ordinary. We played some games to IMG_4031pass the time and the trip took just over an hour. A few of guys played the game Ninja on the train which was pretty funny to watch. Once in Cape Town we had to kill an hour before the next train to Muizenburg would be available. During this hour we shopped around market square, taking the time to teach the girls how to say, “no” to the street vendors. They are very persistent.

Finally arriving in Muizenburg, for the second time that week, we were welcomed in with a blue sky and a bluer ocean. Like I said, this place is THE surf spot and today was the first beautiful day in a week. Everyone came out to play and we were all very anxious to get started.

To rent a wet suit and a surf board for the day it only cost us $8 each. The girls tacked on another $10 for a lesson but for the amazing day of surfing that was to come I would have paid a lot more! Because Dan knew what he was doing he opted to just show Eric and I how it was done.

DSC_4254After a very brief lesson on the sand we made our way into, what everyone else described as, freezing water. I honestly found it refreshing and with the wet suit on had no problems with it. The first wave I went after wasn’t my most successful ride but I did get up on one knee. I was determined to ride a wave all the way in and continued to work and work at it. I can honestly say that I was having the time of my life out there and worked to minimize my vocabulary to just a few words. Gnarly, Bro, Dude, and B-Dubs were a few choice words I used out on in the water. I was a surfer bro and was totally feelin it. Eric, Dan, and I were DSC_4107hungry for waves and went after them nonstop.

Midway through our session Dan got out grabbing his camera. It was probably right around this time that I started to actually get a feel for riding in the waves. Dan, I really really appreciated the effort you put in to your photography!

DSC_4001Not far from us the girls were practicing with their instructor and I happened to ride in a wave close by to them. Feeling confident I told them I’d ride the next one past them and give them a high five. A few minutes later I caught the right wave and was actually able to do it. I don’t know who was more surprised about that. And as it turns out, I freaking love surfing and can’t wait to do it again.

The man in charge of the Surf Shack DSC_4153is Dave. Dan knew Dave from last year and I’m super glad he was able to introduce us to him. Dave not only runs and operates the Surf Shack but he also started his own volunteer organization. It provides volunteers with the chance to work with students, teach them to surf, and help out at the after school program. Not only did this seem like an outstanding idea but his location was ridiculously incredible. Both his store and his newly renovated café / after-school care building had beautiful ocean front views. I really wish I was staying longer so that I could participate more in what he’s doing. If anyone reading this wants to do something amazing, please contact me and I will direct you right to Dave.

DSC_4292After spending all day on the waves we made a late start back to Stellenbosch. To get home we had to first catch a train to Cape Town but the ticket offices were all closed. We decided to board the next train anyways with no ticket with the plan to purchase one at the other end. We’ve done this in the past,DSC_4278 when the stations closed early, but never with 7 people. It turns out that they weren’t even checking tickets in Cape Town and we ended up with a free ride. Unfortunately, we still had a long ways to go to get back to Stellenbosch and there were no more trains headed out that way. Our options were limited with so many people but we ended up just taking two taxis home. I knew the kids were anxious to leave on their trip which starts Monday and I was keen to get back to them.

We arrived back home around 8 and several kids were out playing soccer on our street. We answered any questions they had about the trip and told them we’d see them at 8am the next morning. We were all exhausted from our day and very excited to start this trip with the kids.

The next few blogs will be about our trip with the kids. The trip YOU helped make happen. I can already tell you that you are in for some amazing pictures and great stories. I’m going to do my best to stay up to date but the days are long and I don’t want to cut any blog short. I’ll make it happen though! #ReachingOut2TheWorld

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