Reaching Out 2 The World

1 Comment

A Heart Wrenching Goodbye

Goodbyes are hard. I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of special people in my life andIMG_7039 I can tell you that it never really gets any easier. Sometimes it’s not so bad to say goodbye to a friend you’ve made because you’ll know you’ll be able to keep in touch. These days Facebook and 4g make it pretty easy for us all to do that. The problem lies in the fact that the majority of the people I’d be saying goodbye to don’t have these conveniences and I can’t confidently say when the next time I’ll see them.

IMG_1017My day started with a trip into Stellenbosch. The last thing I’d need on this day was any sort of reminder that it was my final day. I was very well aware of that fact and was looking to just make the trip alone. When I’m alone I don’t have to communicate with anyone how I’m feeling, I can just go about my day, and on my last day… that’s what I needed. There were only a couple things I wanted to take care of while I was in town so I knew the trip would be quick. The first place I went was the photo shop where I could print out a few more pictures before leaving. I wanted to give these pictures to the children that didn’t receive a photo book the day before. I only want the best for these kids and always wish I could do more. I think we often take pictures for granted these days. Everything is digital and online and we often forget that it’s not like that everywhere else in the world. Most of these families don’t have any pictures of their IMG_7216kids let alone an online data base that holds all their dearest memories. I know that these printed photos will be taken care of and never forgotten. While they were printing I went through town to find some flowers for Mama Zulu. It’s just a small token of my appreciation and gratitude for opening up her home to me. There were plenty of options of flower bouquets, and I was feeling indecisive over which one I thought she’d like. I decided to just pick the one out that I liked the best figuring that if I liked it than I’m sure she would to. The bouquet was filled with green and white flowers with splashes of yellow. Kind of reminded me of home because the green and white were my old school colors.

Once I had everything I made my way back to the mini buses and ultimately back to Kayamandi. Mama Zulu was around back hanging laundry when I presented her with the flowers. She’s always called me one of her sons, but this time it felt different. Not only would I have to say goodbye to all those kids today but I was also going to have to say goodbye to the Zulus. I wasn’t leaving for another couple hours but I knew things were only going to get harder.

IMG_6701I spent the rest of the morning packing up my bags, taking the pictures and notes off the walls, and getting everything as close to ready as I could. As I was doing this Eric came in to let me know that he’d be leaving for the day and probably wouldn’t get the chance to see me off later on in the day. DSC_4278Eric was the first volunteer I met on this trip and the first person I’d have to say goodbye to. From day 1 we’ve been close friends and have loads of great memories together. I’m very confident that I’ll see him again so our goodbye was much more of a see you later. It’s been great Eric and I look forward to hearing from you. I’m so proud of all you are doing for Kayamandi and really appreciate the work you’ve put in with the kids. I’ll see ya around buddy!

Back in the kitchen I met up with Mieke and Hanneke who were just about ready for some lunch. They had a frozen pizza heating up in the oven that they were looking to share and I pulled out the leftovers from the previous night’s fajitas. I genuinely love leftovers so this was already starting to look like a solid lunch. In the middle of all this we were joined by Gesa, Clara, and Theresa who were all home from work to see me just in case they didn’t have the chance to say goodbye before I’d be leaving. While we hung out Clara made up some of her world famous flapjacks. These were the perfect dessert to accompany my pizza and fajitas. Thanks so much for all the food ladies, I absolutely loved it!

IMG_1242Riri and Mawande were the first to come over. I think their school let them out before the other school because of the exams starting on Friday. The first thing we took care of was letting Mawande shave IMG_1245the rest of my beard off. Looking a bit more normal we were soon joined by the rest of the gang. I still had a few hours before my ride to the airport would be coming and I didn’t care what we did as long as I got to spend it with these guys. When I asked them what they’d like to do the response was unanimous. They wanted to look through pictures from my time with them. I opened my computer and pulled up the IMG_7219file that read, First Week in Kayamandi, and we began going through. I can tell you right now that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of going through these pictures. Each picture tells a story and brings back the greatest of memories. If anyone reading this would ever be so interested in looking through the pictures and videos I’ve taken of my travels than I’d be more than happy to set something up!

After a couple hours of going through pictures, videos, and memories it was just about that time. With Riri’s help I brought my bags up to the front of the house and was followed by an entourage of my closestIMG_1258 friends and family. I’d been dreading saying goodbye for so long that I wasn’t even sure how to begin. Mieke suggested that I should start saying my goodbyes and taking pictures with everyone sooner rather than later so as not to be rushed once Isaac arrived to take me to the airport. Even with the head start I still wasn’t ready to go. As I was taking pictures with everyone things were going well. It wasn’t until Isaac pulled up that it hit me. I was going to have to leave, and before that, I was going to have to say goodbye. This time it was Clara that made the first move. She came right up to me and gave me a big hug and told me everything was going to be alright and that she’d come visit. It was at this point the tears began. I think it was the fact that so much had been leading up to this point, and ultimately at the end of this procession was my transport to take me away. The next volunteer I said goodbye to was Theresa, followed by Gesa. It was such a pleasure meeting you all and I can’t wait to see you again. The work you are doing in Kayamandi is truly amazing.IMG_1306

Honestly, at this point things began to feel surreal. If I close my eyes I can still see IMG_1307myself walking towards the kids. Their heads are hanging low when I approach them. I get down on their level so that I can see eye to eye with them and try to tell them how much they mean to me but the words are struggling to come out. One by one I hugged each of them and realized that words were no longer necessary, and I knew IMG_1310they understood what I wanted to say. Mawande was the last one I said goodbye to in this particular group of kids. I lifted him up and gave him the biggest hug I could muster. I remember thinking to myself that I should just take him with me. I really didn’t want to let him go but knew that I still had more goodbyes ahead of me and Isaac was waiting. Turning my back to this group I moved on to Riri. He was standing by himself just up the road. The closer I got to him the more it became apparent that words were not going to work. I think we both realized this at the same time because we just went right in for the hug.IMG_1284

I love these kids so much and consider them family. Having to say goodbye was truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ll miss them all like crazy and will be constantly checking in with the other volunteers to hear how they are doing.

IMG_1303After a tearful goodbye to Mama Zulu, Papa Zulu, andIMG_1272 Lelethu I packed my bags in the trunk and got into the car. Hanneke, Mieke, and Dan would be joining me to the airport. It took everything out of me not jump out of the car as we were leaving to say one last goodbye. I really didn’t want to leave them. As we pulled away I glanced the kids walking up the street with their heads still low. I may not be able to afford it, but I’ll be back. It’s not a matter of if; it’s just a matter of when. One day…

The ride to the airport was quick. Or at least it felt quick. Poor Isaac was talking to me the entire time but I haven’t a clue as to what he was saying. My mind was stuck on leaving. Isaac, I really do appreciate the ride and everything you’ve done for me. You’ve been such a great friend and I look forward to keeping in touch!IMG_4833

Once at the airport I checked in and dropped off my bag. Luckily my bag would be flying directly back home and I wouldn’t need to retrieve it over my layover in London. It was also around this time that I had to give me final goodbyes.

IMG_1304Mieke, Hanneke, and Dan had been with me for virtually my entire trip. IMG_1301We’ve come a long way and covered a lot of ground. Throughout our time together we’ve accomplished a lot and created many great memories. I’m certainly going to miss our game nights, our trips into Stellenbosch, and all of our adventures. It makes me so happy to know that such amazing people are living and helping in Kayamandi and that I’ll be able to keep in touch with all that’s going on.

I hope you guys all realize how much I value our friendship and how grateful I am for all that you’ve done. Ya’ll really made a positive impact on my trip and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing you all in the future. Come and visit! IMG_5992I said goodbye and headed towards my gate. I’d have a long couple flights ahead of me before making it back home. Lots of time to think about everyone I was leaving behind. I’ll miss you all to the moon and back! IMG_1298IMG_1252IMG_1297IMG_1287



1 Comment

The Last Supper

After taking the morning getting a few things done in Stellenbosch, Dan and I made our way back to Kayamandi. Today would be the day I’d be making dinner for everyone and I was anxious to get home and start the preparations. It was a bit cloudy and there was some rain in the morning but we were both hopeful that the rain would hold off for our festivities.

67By 3:00 Riri and Ski were over. This was IMG_7182right on time for them. Not only had they come over to help with the food prep but they were also by to play the roles as my personal barbers. Since August 14th I’ve been letting my beard grow out. There was a slight incident with a crazed Stellenbosch hairdresser who misunderstood my pleas of, “Don’t touch the beard!”, as an opening to trim away, but even with the minor cut back, my beard has grown to it’s warm cozy lengths. As a promise to Mieke and Hanneke I’d be shaving it all off before departing. With that being said, I also promised Ski and Mawande that they could be the ones to shave it off. The new plan was that I’d let Ski shave whatever he’d like, I’d wear the design for a day, and then let Mawande shave the rest off.

IMG_7180As you can imagine, you kind of grow attached to a beard of 3 months. Besides the literal aspect of it, it becomes who you are. When I look into the mirror I’ve grown used to seeing Chris with a beard just as much as you have. Seeing baby-face Chris is like looking at a stranger. Also, as brought to my attention a bit later on in the day, the beard is a great defense mechanism. If we are basing it on sheer facial hair, a bearded man is more intimidating than a beardless man, and when walking these streets I’ve always had my beard. I’m always down with change though, and certainly always open to crazy facial hair so I put my look into the hands of Ski and told him he could do whatever he’d like.

I’m not sure what Ski’s experience is with shaving facial hair, but I’m positive he’s never gave a white person a haircut. And yes, there is a difference. I had Riri arming the camera to capture this magical moment and stationed myself near a mirror so I could watch this debearding. Ski went right to work and was on a mission. I can’t say for sure, but I think he was going for a look similar to a WWE wrestler. There were a lot of laughs throughout the cut, and hair was flying everywhere. With no bib I was left to walking outside and shaking like a dog to get all the excess hair off. When all was said and done I thought Ski did a great job. Some slight symmetrical issues but overall it was a solid styling.

IMG_7184The next thing on our agenda was getting IMG_7183everything sorted out for our major dinner plans. The three of us walked over to Mama Zulus kitchen and began pulling out all the ingredients. I had 24 chicken breasts, 12 assorted peppers, 3 bags of lettuce, jalapenos, a bag of tomatoes, 3 cheese triangles, and a few onions. Our first task was to chop everything thing up. After teaching them the basics of how to clean and cut the peppers they went to work on completing the job. Meanwhile I started dicing up the chicken.

As we were prepping we were joined by IMG_7186Mieke and Hanneke who were shocked to see my new look. Hanneke told me right away that we needed to get Mawande over to finish taking the beard off, but I told her I’d be waiting till the next day. The girls had bought their own stock of food toIMG_7197 create a delicious desert but decided they’d lend a hand to our dinner prep before working on their own undertaking. Mieke began shredding the cheeses, and Hanneke (who sprained her ankle earlier in the day… fetching laundry) helped the boys with the vegetables.

Things were going really well and more people were beginning to show up. Dan had a group of kids next door playing card games while we finished with the food preparations. Riri and Ski did an outstanding job helping and it was a great time spent with everyone in the kitchen. While the rice, chicken, and veggies finished on IMG_7196the stove top the girls began assembling their dessert. I grabbed a few more volunteers from next door and had kids helping out everywhere. Everyone got a turn at whipping up the cream, IMG_7187there were races as to who could cut up the lady fingers the fastest (that was terrifying to watch), and I think everyone helped layer the dessert into the pan. Afterwards it was the kids who helped with the dishes!

With the main meal ready we brought everyone back over and showed them the assembly line we had created. Mieke and I figured our best bet to make the food go the furthest was if we helped assemble everyone’s fajita. It was also almost everyone’s first time eating a fajita so it was probably best that we were there to put their first one together for them. Hanneke was at the end of the line teaching the guys how properly fold their fajita and with that, things were off to great start!

IMG_7199Midway through serving we ran IMG_7193out of plates and had to retrieve the ones from earlier to wash and reuse. This worked out to our benefit though because the kids would wash their own dishes, and we never had to worry about the dishes getting out of control. Around the property were happy people eating a delicious meal and I was thrilled with how things were working out. There was plenty of food and our guests were able to have multiple fajitas. We had so many fillings going into these wraps that it was quite filling to just finish one. When I was satisfied that everyone had eaten I finally allowed myself to eat. The fajitas weren’t half bad!

IMG_7204A few more boys manned the dishes and at one point I looked outside to see three boys sweeping, one boy scooping, and one boy directing a cleaning operation just outside the kitchen. It was great to see the level of manners each of these guys was demonstrating and the absolute perfect last supper I could have come up with.

When things were cleaned up it was time to IMG_7203gather the troops and form a line for dessert. While they were all anxiously waiting for their dessert I saw this as a prime photo opportunity. I had all the kids in one place and asked them to look my way. I reminded them to smile, because teenage boys don’t smile unless you strongly encourage them to. When I looked at the picture and noticed that Ski was one of the few that weren’t smiling. This isn’t the least bit surprising but I told him that if he didn’t smile that he’d regret it. I pulled him from the line and took him to where Mama Zulu was eating her dinner. I sat him down across from her and explained to her the situation. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ski blush so hard. I asked him if this would be a problem anymore and he firmly stated that it wouldn’t be. I told him that was great because his next picture was with our lovely Mama Zulu! He delivered one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen from which more than earned him his spot back in the dessert line. IMG_7202Back outside I told all the kids that we’d be trying that group picture one more time. Ski is the one on the far left making sure his smile was captured on camera. The boys to his right are his best friends who purposely tried not to smile in hopes of receiving the same treatment. That was the crew though, 16 kids; 16 incredibly deserving, amazingly clever, awesome individuals with the personalities to match. This is the family I’m leaving behind, the primary reason for even being in South Africa, and purpose for future visits. This was also just the start of some of the hardest goodbyes I’ll ever face.

IMG_7210With everyone finished eating, and the kitchen all cleaned IMG_7207up Dan and I had something else for our guys. We created photo books for each of the kids from the ReachingOut trip and it was now time to pass them out. We pulled them into the next room and proceeded to hand out the books. The level of excitement was at an all-time high as they passed them about looking through each others books. Even once they rejoined the rest of the kids the evening was spent looking through their pictures.

As I sat there watching them interact, flip through their pictures, and just act themselves it began to hit me that this was my final night with them. Tears began running down my face and I was too choked up to speak. Even writing this right now brings me right back to the way I was feeling. It was just me, Gesa, and the kids in the room and the kids were preoccupied to really notice. Gesa suggested we all play a card game which helped hold me together. There’s no crying in card games. IMG_7213

IMG_7209Slowly, the guys began leaving the house and I’d walk with them up to the gate before saying goodbye. I’d be seeing almost all of them the following day, before I’d have to head to the airport, so I knew this wasn’t the final goodbye.

When all the kids were gone the rest of us cleaned up and made our way into town for a night at the Cubana. This was a great way to relax and hangout with everyone one last time. Corne and Hendri, from Frisbee, came by to wish me a farewell, and we all spent the night having drinks and catching up.

My last full day was great and I’m so pleased with how smooth the meal went. Thanks so much to all the help I got throughout the day.



A Mysterious Guy Fawkes Day

Like so many other days I woke up Tuesday to a knock at my door. I wasn’t expecting anyone since it was a school day but I heard Papa Zulu calling my name. The next thing I knew Isaac was walking in through the door. I was hoping he’d be coming by today but had no idea that he’d be over first thing in the morning.

We chatted for a while and caught up. Neither Dan nor I had seen Isaac since theIMG_7022 end of September so we spent the morning filling him in on our big trip. The three of us went into Stellenbosch around 10:30 for an early lunch before taking a scenic drive to Gordon’s Bay. Gordan’s Bay is located next to Strand along the coast of False Bay. I think I’ve driven by there before because I remembered the nice hotels along the coast line but I’ve never spent any real amount of time there. Most of the buildings went up just before the IMG_7021world cup in 2010 to help make more for the overflow of people staying in Cape Town. Our trip today was just about hanging out. Isaac treated us to some ice cream and we talked and relaxed by the beach.

Since I’m leaving on Thursday I was anxious to get back to Kayamandi and spend time with the kids. Mawande was one of the first guys to come over and he reminded me of two things. The first of which was that all the students have major exams that will be beginning on Friday and last for nearly two weeks. He brought some of his work books along with him so we could study some and told me that he’d be heading over to the library for some time just after 3. The second thing he reminded me was that today was Guy Fawkes Day. This is an annual commemoration started by the Brits to celebrate the fact thatguy fawkes King James I (not Lebron) had survived the attempt on his life. IMG_7024Guy Fawkes was a member of the Gunpowder Plot and was arrested why guarding explosives that were placed beneath the House of Lords (This info is brought to you by Wikipedia). Anyway, it’s a day where people light fireworks, wear masks, and mischief occurs. South African Townships have adapted this holiday as a day similar to our mischief night… only more intense. The next boy to come over was Luthando who was breathing very heavy. IMG_7026He had just been chased all the way to our house. The front of his shirt had a few dark stains on it and I came to find out that it was oil. Basically in the township the older boys use this day to torment the younger boys… more so than usual. Kids are nervous about leaving their homes and know that if they do they risk getting beat up or having things thrown at them. From what I heard the oil was the least troubling thing they were throwing at each other. The boys did make it over, but very sporadically (I think they had to wade through war to make it over). Once at our place they showed no interest in leaving and we could hardly blame them.

Riri showed up sometime in the middle of this completely unscathed. He strolled inIMG_7025 cool as a cucumber. I’m really not too surprised because anyone that knows Riri likes Riri and anyone that doesn’t know him wants to get to know him. He’s only 13 which doesn’t make him the oldest or the youngest of the group but he is probably the most respected amongst the bunch. I was thrilled to see him because I needed him to put the final touches on a personal letter him and I have been working on. He’s worked so hard on this letter and I’m thrilled to pass it on to the recipient once I get home.

I reminded all the guys that I’d be making dinner for everyone the following night and asked Riri to come by early. I found out a while ago that Riri is pretty good at cooking and requested his help on the preparations. I also promised Ski and Mawande that they could help shave my beard off and figured Wednesday would be the perfect day.

Our evening was pretty quiet because the Dutch girls had gone into Cape Town to watch a soccer match. They contacted us later on in the night to let us know that their team won and that they’d be home earlier than expected. Dan and I seized the opportunity and asked if they’d be so kind to pick us up a snack on the way home. That night we all dined to a delicious meal of McDonalds before calling it a night and heading to bed. Wednesday was going to be a busy day.

Leave a comment

Who Says Mondays Can’t Be Awesome!?

Monday began as a productive day for me. I decided a while ago that I IMG_6998was going to make dinner for everyone on the upcoming Wednesday and I wanted to buy the groceries a couple days in advance. I also wanted to print out a few pictures to give to the Zulus before I left and I figured this would be the ideal time to take care of it.

As I was looking through my pictures I included a number of additional pictures that held great memories that I decided I wanted to give to some of the other volunteers. I still may print out a few more before I depart but for now the small amount I have will have to do the trick. On my last trip I was sure to print some pictures for the Zulus and I was happy to keep the tradition going. I think know I’m going to have to come back in another couple years and see everyone again!

IMG_6997After placing my order to get the pictures printed I grabbed some lunch at the Mug & Bean. I wanted to eat something filling since I knew I’d be missing dinner in the evening for a Frisbee game. I ate the Alabama Slammer which was a very hardy chicken sandwich. Since this place also offered free Wi-Fi I was able to get caught up on all the snap chats I haven’t been able to look through. There were 37 in total and they were all awesomely hilarious. There’s no way I’d have the time or memory to respond to all of them but I really did love them! Thanks everyone!

When my 30 minutes ran out I went next door to complete my shopping list. My plan was to buy enough ingredients to feed an army. I bought all the fillings for chicken fajitas and I hope it’s enough. At this stage in my travels I’m no longer in the green and had to borrow money from my dear father to help me make it through the rest of my trip. I probably spent too much buying the food for Wednesday’s dinner but I really want to finish my trip by doing something special for everyone. I’m hoping to have the Zulus, the volunteers, the kids, and Songo all over for the dinner and I’m concerned there won’t be enough food. It’s the thought that counts though and I just hope I don’t screw anything up. Wish me luck, I’ve never made food for that many people… even if it is something as simple as fajitas. Anyways, I appreciate the support Dad and I can’t wait to see you on Friday. I should be landing into Philly around 3:10. If anyone reads this that knows my dad, please remind him to bring me a winter jacket as I am not prepared for a climate change!

After getting the massive amount of groceries, I picked up the pictures, and made my way back to the mini buses to get back to Kayamandi. It’s always a bit tricky getting home when you have bags and bags of groceries but I was lucky enough to steal a front seat and didn’t have to worry about pushing passed anyone.

For the next couple hours I hung out with a few of the kids that were over IMG_7028and tried to get caught up on my writing. It’s harder than you think keeping an up to date blog when you’re traveling and trying to do a lot. It seems like there are never enough hours in the day for the list of things I always have to do.

Just after 5:30 Corne swung by to pick me up to take me to Frisbee. On Mondays Frisbee is hosted in Cape Town and four teams meet up to play. There is a red team, green team, yellow team, and blue team. I coincidentally brought a blue shirt but was told to warm up with the red team. After doing a run and stretching I was told the put on a yellow shirt and join their team. I had to borrow a shirt from someone but I made my way over and threw around with the yellow team just before the games began. Around this time I was traded to the green team and had to again borrow another jersey. I didn’t know that many people but IIMG_7029 knew a few on each team. The green team was captained by Johnno, a complete all-star of a player that I’ve only ever played against. It was awesome playing with him but a bit of a mistake putting me on the same team as him. Our team went up 9-2 to take half and continued on to a victorious finish. I’m not sure what the final score was but both teams were having a lot of fun. We played well past our hard cap and the other teams were already finished. Our motto was, “Just one more point!” Corne played for the opposing team and was easily the best player they had. He told me after the game thatIMG_7027 their team had voted me the MVP of the game. It’s good to play ultimate and even better to play with two healthy legs. Tonight was all about playing one last time with some great people before I’d have head back home. Thanks so much for the great times everyone! Sandra, I’m sorry you couldn’t play and I hope your leg heals quickly! On the way back to Kayamandi Corne presented me with a brand new Cape Town Ultimate disc. This is the Ultimate gesture and I’m thrilled to have been able to become friends with such amazing people. Thanks for everything guys, I’ll see you around!

By the time I got home it was nearing 10 and I was starving. I scarfed down my dinner, took a shower, and tried my best to stay up with the rest of the volunteers but I was just too exhausted.

IMG_6971November 4 will always be a day I’ll remember and it’s great to fill it with incredible memories. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. Love and miss you Mom ❤IMG_7039

Leave a comment

Two Beautiful Days in the Sun

The best way to describe my weekend was that it was a weekend in the sun. Since it’ll be a frigid fall November welcoming me home I figured it’d be nice to take full advantage of this beautiful South African weather before departing. Maybe even get a little color!

On Saturday a group of us traveled to Muizenburg for a day of surfing. Miriam offered to drive so Hanneke, Mieke, Dan, and I all piled into her small little car. Getting a lift to Muizenburg saves us a lot of trouble because it would take nearly twice as long if we had to take the train.

The day was a beautiful day and DSC_0259when we arrived we went over to Dave’s Surf Shack to hangout and wait around until our friend Max could meet up with us. While we waited we sipped on some delicious hot chocolate brewed out of Dave’s future restaurant. He has plans to hire a chef and begin serving food but they still have some work to do before opening.

Once Max got there we all suited up and made out way to the beach. None of us are experts but it would be Miriam and Maxes first attempt at surfing. We gave them a very quick tutorial and told them that it’d be a lot of trial an error. As we waded into the water we noticed that there were a lot of jelly fish and the water was less clear. The minute we got out past waist deep it became apparent that we were dealing with totally different waves than last time. I think maybe because there was bad weather earlier in the week the ocean was still chaotic. Waves were coming from the left and the right and there was hardly any consistency. The current first pulled us up the coast and then started pulling us down the coast. We all still had a lot of fun but we were having aDSC_0425 heck of a time with any success standing on our boards. Some of the younger guys that are a part of the surf program didn’t seem to have as much trouble as they cut through the waves no matter the rough waters. After a very exhausting 90 minutes of “surfing” we made our way back to the dry land. On my previous experience I was able to ride a wave all the way into the shoreline yet on this day I could hardly even stand up for more than a couple seconds. No matter the trouble though, when I looked around at the rest of my group we were all full of smiles and highly IMG_6966enjoying our battle. It seemed like everyone showed up for the challenge today!

When we were changed out of our wetsuits we walked around to find a nice place to eat. The plan was to eat and walk around the coastline for a bit before heading back to Kayamandi.

Following our meal we walked back out to the beach to take a few pictures by the famous colored shacks on the shore. I think these structures are used to hold equipment for the lifeguards, but I’m not positive.

IMG_6969Our next destination was to walk a few miles up the coast before returning back to our car. The walk was beautiful; actually all the coast lines in South Africa are beautiful. The walk brought us with in meters of the crashing waves and it became a challenge to dodge the ocean spray. I think myself and Max were really the only ones avoiding the spray, because everyone else seemed to enjoy getting hit with the shower of water.

We made it back to Miriam’s car around 4 and all stuffed in. It wasn’t until we were in that Miriam realized that she was missing the mobilizer that’s necessary to start the car. I had no idea what a mobilizer was but I guess they are pretty standard in older cars to help with theft deterrent. We tried contacting someone that could help us bypass the mobilizer and we even retraced our steps all the way back up the coast. The later it got the less likely it IMG_7030seemed that we’d be driving Miriam’s car back to Kayamandi. It wasn’t until after 7 that we secured a cab ride that would be able to bring all of us back to Kayamandi. None of us intended on being in Muizenburg all day but I felt the worst for Miriam. She had to have her car towed to a safer location for fear of it being stolen if left unattended in the parking lot where we were. She’d also have to figure out a way to get a replacement mobilizer.

When we finally made it back to Kayamandi we regrouped with the rest of the volunteers to learn a new game. The game was called Weerwolven and you need at least 8 people to play. It involves role playing, mystery, manipulation, and deception… that is my kind of game! It’s too difficult to explain on here but I plan on teaching it to my friends once I get back home.

On Sunday I was woke early but knocks at our door. When I got up to see who it was there were a dozen kids standing outside. I had told them earlier in the week that we could go swimming on Sunday but didn’t think they’d show up before 9! I wasn’t even positive the pool was open today but it was such a nice day out I figured it’d be worth checking out.

IMG_6990Mieke and Hanneke joined us as we all walked down to the pool. To get there we had to cut through Kayamandi, sneak through someone yard, and jump a fence. Once on the other side of the fence we crossed the 5 lanes of traffic and continued to walk in the direction of the pool. In the distance we could see the pool but it looked as if no one was there. I was worried the pool was closed for the day but our only way of knowing was to continue our walk. Just before getting to the pool we had to cross a small stream. There was just a long tree branch bridging the gap but these guys didn’t seem to struggle. Over the river and through the woods we all crossed over some train tracks and were just about there. The pool still looked abandoned but we continued our walk.

There was a security guard waiting inside the IMG_0977gate to get in and he informed us that the pool wouldn’t be opening for another hour or so but that it would open. That was enough for me and we passed the time playing all sorts of sports. I had my Frisbee with me as well as the soccer ball, and when the kids grew tired of those they wrestled with Mieke and Hanneke. This is their victory pose after defeating the hooligans. I think Mieke’s legs tell a different story though. I had my camera with me that I supplied one of the boys with and I think they took 4 gb of data before even getting into the pool area.

IMG_1017Nande is the gymnast of the group and we recorded his entire floor routine. I was pretty impressed but he told me it was nothing special and that he learned it in just a few days. We practiced some flips and hand stands with the kids and I was surprised to see that Mawande could do a running front flip off of a brick. A couple of the other kids were trying to do back flips out of each others hands but it didn’t seem too successful. I lifted Nande onto my shoulders and held his ankle very tight. With all his balance and flexibility he was able to outstretch his other leg high above his head. I had no idea what this looked like until I later saw the pictures but I was impressed. He’s a skilled little gymnast!

After waiting and playing out in the sun we wereIMG_6979 finally permitted into the pool. It’s 5 rand per kid and 10 rand per adult so to get all of us in was still under $10. I think the wait was worth it because we were all that much more ready for the chilly pool. The coldness was welcoming after being out in the sun for so long and the pool area quickly filled up with what seemed like hundreds of kids.

I could not even imagine being a lifeguard at this pool with so many crazy kids running around and not nearly enough staff on hand. They seemed to have things mostly under control though and the kids knew their limits. I probably gave half a dozen swim lessons in our time there.

IMG_6972Along the outside of the pool were loads of kids laying out on the red bricks soaking up the heat from all sides. This was the perfect place to hang out in between swimming sessions. We were sure to take loads of pictures jumping into the water and playing and everyone had such a great time. There are few things these kids like more than swimming and it was awesome being able to take them there.

Because the pool is located in the IMG_6976Township across the way the majority of the kids at the pool were colored and spoke Afrikaans. This goes back to before the Apartheid in 1994 when groups were segregated to live in different areas. The colored people spoke Afrikaans (more education), while the blacks spoke Xhosa. The mandatory segregation aspect has since ended but the division is still very apparent. When the kids all get together at the pool though they are all equal and generally play nice with each other. I was shocked to see kids from the other township come up to me andIMG_6977 call me by my name. They had remember me bringing the kids to the pool back in 2011. As I looked around I could point out a few of the kids that I had also remembered but I definitely didn’t recall any of their names. It’s a shame I have to leave on Thursday because our pool day was excellent and weather around here is just so much better than back home.

We spent most of the afternoon at the pool until our group grew hungry and myself, Mieke, and Hanneke grew red. We had been out in the sun all day for the past two days and had a lot of color to show for it. When we made it back to Kayamandi we split up for lunch before regrouping for a movie. The movie was hosted in the girl’s house where we could take shelter from the sun. I think they watched Ice Age 2 while I worked on my writing.IMG_6988

While I was checking things on my computer I saw I had an email from none other than Mrs. Debbie Hoffman. She had a video response for us in regards to the, “Day in the Life of Lupho” video. I brought my lap top over to the group and shared with them the video and they all seemed to really enjoy it. I still need to show it to Lupho but I’m hoping he’ll come by before I leave. The video was a nice surprise and it was great hearing from her class. A big thank you to the kids that helped make that happen!

In the evening once all the kids had gone home we played the same game as the night before. It’s a pretty great game. Remember, you need at least 8 people to play but it’s more fun with more people. I think you can play with as many as 20 people, but we’d have to look up how the expansion pack works. Gather some friends when I get back home and we’ll make it happen!

Leave a comment

Living With a Super Star!

Friday morning was sort of like disaster control for Dan. We both were able to sleep in a little but once he woke up he set to work on cleaning up from party central. I cleaned up a bit around our room but it was nothing compared to the task he had at hand. After the party you could hardly see the floors because of how much debris was everywhere. From what I gathered he had to mop multiple times in order to make it back to the original flooring. I guess that’s the price you pay when you throw epic parties in a township.

My plan for the day was to host a sports afternoon with as many kids as I couldDSC_0045 gather. The only problem was that not many kids were over when I wanted them to be. I was expecting at least 10 kids to come down to the fields with us, pick up a few kids along the way, and meet maybe another 10 kids down by the park. I still had a handful of Five Ultimate jerseys to give away and I was hoping to suit everyone up. When 3:30 rolled around only about 4 kids were at our place. Maybe they all had candy hangovers from the night before? It was such a nice afternoon out that we decided to head down to the fields anyway. Even with just the 4 kids, Hanneke, Mieke, Dan, and I, I figured we could come up with something fun to do.

DSC_0055Along the way we passed different groups of kids but none that came along with us to the fields, and when we arrived at the fields they were basically empty. I thought Songo’s BMX riders would be available to join but they weren’t even riding today. I didn’t want to give up though so we continued down to the fields and began passing around the ball we brought.

In the distance, on another field, we saw a group of younger kids playing soccer. I asked Mawande and Apihwe to run over and ask if they’d like to join. In the mean time I asked Wande to run over to a different group of kids and see if they’d like to join us. Slowly but surely kids started showing up, and when they saw that kids were getting the chance to wear awesome 5 Ultimate jerseys they came running!

When we finally had enough people for a real game we split the teams up withDSC_0141 Hanneke captaining one team and Mieke captaining the other. We really had no idea of knowing who had the better team because we only knew a small fraction of the players. There were well over 30 kids on the field when the games began and only about 4 of them had walked over with us.

DSC_0138Things got off to a quick start with Hanneke’s team taking an early lead. The score might have been 4-0 when I decided to join Mieke’s team and lend a hand… or foot. Even with my help the other team continued to score and it wasn’t until I finally offered a decent pass to Mawande that our team scored! The score was like 5-1 at this point but we had our first goal. I think in any sport the first goal is always the hardest and we used our momentum to score another couple fast points. All these kids, ages 5-14, were better than me at soccer, but I was still faster!

We continued playing for the next hour or so and the score was eventually 8-8. WhenDSC_0126 we saw kids struggling to run the full length of the field and realized we ought to head back for dinner it seemed like the perfect quitting time. What began as a small group and turned it into a very large competitive soccer match. Sports day was an awesome success and the kids were all thrilled to sport their new jerseys! Thanks so much to Five Ultimate and my team mates from Shippensburg University for the donated jerseys! You pretty much are these kids’ heroes, and there is no doubt that they’ll have these jerseys for years to come! Most of these kids could use a few years before the jerseys finally fit them anyways!

IMG_6876One of the reasons we had to be back at a certain time for dinner was because Hanneke, Mieke, and I were going to a performance at Amazink and needed to eat beforehand. Amazink is a restaurant in Kayamandi that offers outsiders a chance to experience a cultural performance while eating a delicious dinner. The best part about this performance was that Lelethu was one of the star performers! Lelethu is my host sister who lives with us at Mama Zulus. We all know she has a stunning voice from hearing her sing throughout our mornings and afternoons but this would be the first time seeing her on stage.IMG_6877

Just after dinner the three of us dressed up and headed over to Amazink. The reason we ate first was because we were unsure if our tickets had food included and we didn’t want to risk not eating anything all evening. Since this was the first and probably only time I’d be getting dressed up in Kayamandi I was sure to take a few pictures with Mama Zulu, and the kids that were over. When we arrived at Amazink we were greeted by a welcoming performance just outside the doors with Lelethu leading the way. She looked so great we all had to get pictures with her before going inside.

IMG_6872None of us really knew what to expect upon entering the place but we were all anxious and excited to find out. We first were guided to our table that was specially reserved for us. Our seats were great! Right by one of the stages and right in the middle! After ordering a bottle of wine and IMG_6868playing some cards the show finally began.

To put it simply, the show was incredible. Honestly one of the greatest performances I have ever seen! For nearly 2 hours we were blown away by solos, dances, costume changes, and more! Every one of the performers had a unique style and an amazing IMG_6862voice. I was so proud to know Lelethu and see her lead many of the songs. From start to finish I was completely engaged in everything they were doing. We went outside for a couple songs where I found out that Lelethu could play the djembe drum, and was totally amazed to see her lead the entire group in complicated step dance. Okay, so my knowledge of dance styles isn’t the best but I know great dancing when I see it and these guys were phenomenal. Some of the performers have traveled the world with their skills but continue to find themselves back in Kayamandi.

Throughout the entire performance I kept IMG_6863thinking to myself how great it would be to have brought some of our kids to the show. It’s a bit expensive and I don’t have time to do it before I head back home but I was thinking it might make for an awesome Christmas present for the kids if I supply Mieke and Hanneke with a means of taking a small IMG_6867group to the show. I just know they’d love it as much as I did and would probably be singing and dancing along with them.

As the show went on more and more of the audience began to get involved and before things were finished we were all out of our chairs singing and dancing. Immediately after the performance we all demanded an encore and were lucky enough to be entertained for at least a few more minutes. No one wanted the show to be over, but all good things must come to an end.

I’m so glad how things worked out on Friday, and I’m not sure I’ll ever see a performance like the one I saw at Amazink. Lelethu, never stop being so awesome! IMG_6869


It was a Mash, A Monster Mash!

The much anticipated day of the week was here, Halloween! After spending the past couple days IMG_6811gathering all the supplies we could Dan woke up first thing in the morning and began transforming our living quarters into a Halloween themed party central. I spent most of the day catching up on writing but when I went to go check out his work I was very impressed. From the ceiling to the floor the room was decked out and there was even a table full of candy.

As Dan was putting the finishing touches on the room and working on a playlist for the evening the kids began showing up. They’d first come over to my room where we reminded them that they couldn’t go into party central until they were in costume. There was a slight rain so numerous kids came over and still needed to change. Mawande was one of the first to show up and was wearing a ripped up shirt as part of his zombie costume. Since he was the first one ready I began with his face paint. I’m not exactly sure the IMG_6810best way to create a zombie face but I figured some black around the eyes and some blood around the mouth would do the trick! He took care of the acting part which was definitely the clincher.

The next pain job I did was on Wande. He came over with a cat mask he had created but he was still looking for IMG_6809some make up. It’s a bit difficult to tell from the pictures but I gave him some fangs, whiskers, and yellow cat eyes on his eye lids. He looked pretty creepy when he shut his eyes. With two down and many to go my room was filling up with more and more characters. There was a ninja in my room that had a mustache, another cat, the Prince of Persia that requested a star and a heart on his face, and a super hero who represented South Africa. Painting the South African flag on this guy’s face looked pretty awesome but I was a little concerned with the blue. The kits we had did not carry a blue color paint so I had to improvise and use a little of the fabric paint we had bought for the shirts. This was only after I saw that it was non-toxic, and even then I just used a very small amount. You can’t be the South African super hero and be missing one of the colors on your flag…

IMG_6807The next face I painted was pretty strange. I was just following the instructions he was giving me but I still don’t know what to make of the final design. Ahobonga first asked me to cover his face in all white paint, and then he asked me to put red circles around both his eyes and a red circle on his nose. The next step was red lipstick, and the final touch was three whiskers coming out of the sides of his mouth. Looking at him smiling back at me was pretty scary so I guess the mission was accomplished. He later threw on a black and white afro wig and really looked out of this world!

With the time nearing 6pm I still needed to get into custom IMG_6805and went about finding my Moroccan attire. I had my blue head scarf, and my white tunic that I sported throughout the night. The boys thought I was wearing Indian clothes or that I was dressed like “The White Ninja” but I told them it was just traditional clothing worn throughout Morocco. The other volunteers all dressed up as well and we were all ready to party! Since Dan and I were the only Americans I think mostly everyone else was celebrating Halloween for the first time! Dan also suited up in his Moroccan garb and Eric celebrated his first Halloween as a surfer!

Earlier in the week we made the decision to order loads of pizza for our party, but when the day finally came we were having a very difficult time finding a place that delivered. Kayamandi is only a 2 minute drive from Stellenbosch and there are numerous pizza places over there that offer free delivery! We had quite a large order but not one company would make the delivery. We not only offered to pay extra but tried telling them about what the order was for, and we even offered a hefty tip… still nothing. Their reasoning was all the same, it’s just too unsafe to deliver to Kayamandi. Hearing this is always a shock to me. There are people that live just a couple miles from Kayamandi and are afraid to enter. We’ve even had friends drop us off at the entrance for fear of driving through. I’ll tell you right now, these fears are irrational. Yes, there are problems that take place in Kayamandi once in a while but you don’t have to be afraid to enter! These streets are filled with a lot of friendly people, people I call family. IMG_6802I suppose if the pizza man had bundles and bundles of cash on him he may not want to make an easy target for himself, but I think they were just acting cowardly. We had to call Miriam to the rescue, our volunteer German friend who lives in Stellenbosch and has a car. We were hoping that she’d be able to IMG_6801make it to our festivities anyway but now we had a huge favor to ask her. We ordered ten pizzas for our Monster Mash and needed to get them in Kayamandi. She pulled through and brought Eric with her to make the collection. Operation: Get the pies to the guys. Thanks so much Miriam, you saved our party!

Now with all the snacks we had, all the candy, the drinks, and the ten pizzas you can imagine the slight shock I felt when I entered party central, not more than 15 minutes after the pizza had arrived, and ALL the food had been eaten! Holy IMG_0849cow did they devour that pizza. “Finish you’re plate, eat your vegetables, there are starving kids in Africa… “We’ve all heard it, and we’ve probably all said it, but I can assure you that on October 31st there were no starving kids at our party! Luckily for us volunteers we still had Mama Zulu’s dinner!

The party was a huge success and everyone had a killer time. Dan really did put together a great party and the rest of the volunteers did an awesome job getting involved! And just like I had hoped for we had an epic dance off midway through the party where everyone got a chance to strut their stuff. Hands down the winner was our cat painted guest, Nande. He’s also the gymnast of the group and knew all the moves to impress the crowd!DSC_0034

Things went pretty late, considering we threw it on a Thursday. I think the last group of IMG_6798kids went home around 10. Party central looked like a tornado had rolled through but we were all still in high spirits. The volunteers and I stayed up late into the night playing more games and having ourselves a very good time. The final game we played was similar to a game of twister… only rather than spinning a dial that tells the group where to put their hands and feet I just shouted out my own instructions. This turned into a real life human knot and it’s one I’m pretty proud of!

Halloween was sick nasty twisted fun, and it fell right before an incredible weekend. Friday I’d be hosting a sports day, surfing on Saturday, and a day at the pool on Sunday! Stay tuned!