Reaching Out 2 The World


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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!

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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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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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