Reaching Out 2 The World

Leave a comment

I’ve Found the Internet!

I’m sure I’ll jinx myself by saying this, but I’ve had some pretty awesome weather throughout my trip so far. I spent two weeks in England and it rained for a total of 30 minutes!! That’s unheard of! As we were flying into Cape Town the pilot told us that it would be raining, and that it’s been raining a lot lately in this part of South Africa. It rained a bit on the way home from the airport and you could see the streams that had formed on the side of the road. Rivers were gushing and overflowing with water. Lelethu told me that it’s basically been raining every day for the past month! At Frisbee practice on Sunday everyone was so happy that it was finally not raining and the sky was finally clear. When I woke up on Monday and began my walk to town there was not a cloud in the sky. I really hope this great weather keeps up!

Kayamandi a township built on a hill. IMG_3328It faces the valley in which you’ll find the city of Stellenbosch. If you look just past Stellenbosch you’ll see tall rising mountains surrounding taking over the horizon. I can’t get enough of these mountains! No matter where you are in town, or throughout the township you’ll be able to see these mountains. In the distance one of the mountains has a snow covered peak. But I don’t think it will be around much longer.

On my way to the bus I ran into Vuyo. Vuyo is the man who first showed me around Kayamandi 2 years ago, almost to the day. He told me he now has a son but I can’t remember his name. He told me that it translates to Embrace. These days Vuyo is working hard to start up his own tour company where he provides tours of Kayamandi. He was doing something similar two years ago but I think he is looking to reach more people and better his website. I’ll have to check out his site one of these days. He mentioned to me that next to the library there was a building that had Wi-Fi and that I’d be able to use it. I’m not 100% sure I was actually allowed to be where I was but I wasn’t about to start complaining. This place is just a couple blocks from where I’m staying and certainly beats having to travel all throughout Stellenbosch for a free signal.

I was able to get a lot done and even upload some pictures. But I didn’t want to push me luck to much so I eventually moved on to the city. I still needed to get a sim card and was still looking to buy a Wi-Fi modem for my lap top. Once I have the modem I’ll be able to do video chatting with people if they are interested and would be more than willing to set something up where my students could talk with you as well!

I got lucky finding a place to swap my sim card out for a cheap price but it took me three tries to find a store that would be able to help me with a modem. The first two places either required information I didn’t have, or were charging too much. While I was waiting in line at the last store I got a phone call from Isaac. He told me he was just getting back from a tour and that he’d come by Tuesday. Once I had everything I came for I made my way back to Kayamandi.

Once I got home I began setting up the modem to see how easy it would work. It shouldn’t be a problem, I’ll just have to watch how much data I’m using.

IMG_3324While I was setting it up I heard a knocking at my door. I told them it was open and in came Mawande. Since I had just got the internet working I figured I could show him the itinerary for the trip we’d be going on. I could tell he was really interested, especially in visiting the soccer stadium in Cape Town! I asked him if he’d like to walk around the Township since it’s been a couple years since I’ve been able to. We decided we’d walk to Riri’s house.

Earlier this year there was a fire that swept through Kayamandi. I read about it on the internet and quickly messaged Lelethu to see if everyone was alight. The Zulus were out of harm’s way but she wasn’t sure about the rest of the students I worked with. As it turns out, Riri’s and Ski’s homes both burnt down in the fire. I asked Riri about it but wanted to be careful not to ask too many questions. I figure it was best for him to tell rather than me to intrude. He told him it was very frightening and that the fire began in the night. Hundreds of shacks burnt down and those that lived there lost everything. There were two deaths in the fire but he didn’t know them personally. After the homes burnt down the town went about rebuilding.IMG_3326

It took some time for supplies to arrive but it sounded like they all helped each other out. Some clothes were donated and support was offered to those that required it. As we walked through the shacks to Riri’s home you could see where the fire had made way. Everything looked as if it had been burnt to a crisp. The street they live off of is called, Fire Street, and it’s been called that since the last time I was here. I imagine this isn’t the first time I fire has made its presence, but I hope it’s the last! While we were waiting outside of Riri’s home for Ski I got to see Riri’s younger brother. He’s grown up a lot in the past 2 years!




We headed down towards where Aphiwe lives but he wasn’t there when we arrived. At this point Mawande had already told both Ski and Riri about the trip plans and they were interested in seeing the itinerary themselves. On the way back to my place we ran into Aphiwe who had been looking for us. Aphiwe was another one of my students 2 years ago and was one of the brightest kids in the class. He’s a very hard working and smart young man. Upon seeing him he told me that he had gotten the letter I sent him! I can’t remember exactly when I sent these letters but I think it was back in March or April? Ski chimed in that he also received my letter! So out of 10 letters sent 2 of them made it haha. Those are actually better odds than I anticipated. Aphiwe told me that he tried to email me but I never responded. I’ll have to look into that, maybe it went to spam… IMG_3320

Back at my place I shared with them the itinerary for the trip and also the form I’d need their parents to sign. I also showed them the bracelets I’d be teaching them to make. They all seemed very much onboard with the ideas I was throwing at them!

IMG_3317Mama Zulu called me to dinner not long after this but I let them kids hang back and continue playing the games. I trusted them 2 years ago, why not now? For dinner I had rice, potatoes, fried chicken, and some sort of tangy coleslaw. It’s just me that eats at the table for dinners. Sometimes Papa Zulu joins me but not always. I think there are other volunteers that are arriving to stay here and I imagine I’ll start eating dinners with them. Regardless I was pretty keen on getting back to my room to make sure everything was in one piece still.

A lot of the Xhosa names in Kayamandi all mean something. They usually mean something pretty awesome. So two years ago when the kids wanted to know what my name meant I told them it meant, Worlds Strongest Man. This in turn proposed a challenge to the kids to try and take me down. 2 years ago this wasn’t that much of an issue. I’m pretty good at holding my own against a crowd of 10-12 year olds. Bump up the ages by a couple years and things become surprisingly harder. With all that being said, I still won! About this time I told them all I’d see them tomorrow but as for tonight I had to still shower and get some stuff done.

It’s pretty cool to be back, and I think we are all very excited about this upcoming trip! IMG_3319



And So It Begins…

I woke up on Wednesday and was ready to go. I had been packed for days at this point and didn’t have anything left to do. The only issue was that my flight was not until 10:00 pm, so I had almost the whole day ahead of me. In the early afternoon I left Larchwood, saying farewell to the comforts of my room and bed. It’s harder than you think to say goodbye to such a thing like a bed, because I knew it would be nearly three months till I would be back.

Once I arrived at my dad’s, it was back to waiting around for me. The plan was to leave a bit after 5, grab some dinner on the way to the airport, and aim to arrive by 7. Flying internationally they suggest getting to the airport 2-3 hours ahead of time. On the way to the airport we talked about the trip I would be setting off on. Besides my iPhone, I wasn’t bringing a camera with me, and we both concluded that this was a bit silly. Dan (the other half of ReachingOut2TheWorld) has a great camera, so I never really felt too much concern in the camera department… Regardless, we decided to stop at BestBuy before getting dinner, quickly looking through the most affordable cameras. Lucky for me there was a deal on a small Canon PowerShot that would seemingly fit all my needs. The purchase was definitely uncharacteristic of my dad, as he typically likes to do a bit more research before making any buys. But, since time was not on our side, we didn’t have many options.

There was an Olive Garden next door which would prove to be the best decision of the night. It was crowded so we opted to sit at the bar. Any other restaurant this might have made for quicker service, but at Olive Garden, it just means you get to sit on higher chairs and be forgotten about. We didn’t actually get our soup and salad till closer to 7 and when we mentioned I had a flight to catch they returned with our food in to-go containers and compensated our entire meal! I really wasn’t expecting that, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise after just spending a chunk of money on the camera. Having actually filled up on the soup and salad (because that’s what we all do), I figured I would just bring my chicken parm with me on the plane. I wasn’t sure if this would be an issue or not, but it proved to be no hassle at all.

Even with the delays to the airport, I still arrived with plenty of time, and there was really no wait at all to get to the gate. Once on the plane, I decided I would wait till they took off and served drinks before digging into my pasta feast. Upon doing so I definitely received some jealous looks. It wasn’t even the slightest bit warm at this point, and I almost asked the flight attendant if they would heat it up for me, but with it being so early into the flight I didn’t want to be “that guy.” Just about the time I was finishing up my meal, which was still awesome despite the temperature, the crew came around with meals for everyone. I’ll have to admit I was a bit shocked. It was quarter to 11 at night and I really wasn’t thinking they’d be serving a full dinner. You know I can’t turn down a free meal, and I happen to really like plane food. I was really in it for the cheesecake slice that I noticed was on the platter. While eating, I had my choice of nearly 100 inflight movies. They actually had the movie I was hoping they would have, The Place Beyond the Pines. It’s a movie starring Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend renting it.

With the movie ending around 12:30 am, I had hopes of getting some sleep. I knew with the time difference I was going to be losing about 5 hours, and if I didn’t sleep now my entire day would be difficult. With that being said…I couldn’t sleep at all! Blame it on the upright position, the lady behind me that just had to keep hitting my seat, or the man in front of me that kept figuring out ways to recline his chair further and further into my lap. All in all, I wasn’t able to sleep.

The plane arrived into London around 9 am local time (4 am NY) and my next task was navigating the airport, through customs, and onto the baggage claim. For those of you that are wondering, my huge duffel bag was not charged extra! The timing also worked out great; just as I got to the baggage claim, my huge, overweight, blue, monster of a bag was rounding the corner. I grabbed it and threw it onto my cart and started heading for the exit. This is the part of my journey that I truly began to regret bringing such a big bag. Having 3 bags total: a backpack that held my laptop and other personals, a small carry-on which basically just held the board game of Catan, and the 60+ pound Blue Monster, I made my way to the first rail station in Heathrow. I had to get to Victoria Station to catch a train to Nottingham, which was due to leave at 2:08 pm. I just had to figure out how to get to Victoria Station. After a few wrong turns, asking several people for help, and 3 trains later,  I finally made it to Victoria. Just as I got there, my strap ripped on the Blue Monster. It was embarrassing, but also very problematic. I still had a decent way to go, wasn’t exactly sure what my next move was going to be, and was midway up a flight of steps with the Blue Monster at my feet. I quickly dragged it to the side to get out of the way. At this point my only option was to forget the shoulder strap and just carry it as hand luggage. Mind you, this is a very heavy bag and I’m just approaching the 24 hour period of no sleep. A bit lost in Victoria Station, I figured out where I had to go to retrieve my train tickets to Nottingham… Only they were not directly to Nottingham. First, I had to take a train to Kings Cross Station, then a train to Grantham, before finally taking a train to Nottingham. Luckily, even with all the trains and some minor delays, Sean was waiting for me right when I arrived. Unluckily, I still had the longest walking commute of my journey ahead of me and my body was just about ready to shut down. Sean was a huge help by taking on my other two bags, but I wasn’t about to let him struggle with Big Blue. We hiked across Nottingham until we could catch the bus that would take us to Sean’s home. Sean, being awesome, had dinner already underway.

The rest of the evening was spent meeting Sean’s family, taking a walk to a local pub, and teaching his sister, Cassie, how to play Catan. I believe we stayed up till about 1 in the morning before it was finally time for me to sleep. I very well could have gone to sleep much earlier in the evening, but my thought process was that if I could hold off until midnight or so, I may be able to dodge the jet lag I’d be feeling the following morning. All in all, it had been nearly 39 hours without sleep. Sleep never felt so good that night.



Leave a comment

The End Marks a New Begining

Today is July 23, 2013 which means the Indiegogo campaign has just ended! I think I can speak for both Dan and myself when I say how happy we are with the way things panned out. Together we raised $3,449 in just 60 days!! Although a small percent of that goes to both Indiegogo and Paypal we are still well over our mark!! We have also had numerous contributors that have sent checks or cash to us in the name of ReachingOut2TheWorld. All in all we are thrilled with the support we are receiving! Enkosi kakhulu, Thank you very much! You are all such awesome people and your support is going to go a long way!
In just three weeks I’ll be heading East and I’m very anxious to get started. I’ll be stopping over in London for a couple weeks before heading to South Africa. My time in London will give me a chance to reconnect with some past volunteers I met 2 years ago and check out their beautiful country. I’ve never been to Europe, let alone London and I’m really looking forward to checking it out. My personal budget will be limiting to say the least and I may not be able to do everything I’d like… but I’m confident I’ll make the most of it! I’m just happy to see some friends I haven’t seen in a while, and hear those awesome English accents. Cheers to that!

My plan is to continue writing throughout my entire journey. You’ll read about the good times, the rough times, the crazy times, and much more. I’m hopeful that through my writing you’ll have the opportunity to view a distant culture, learn from them, and see how greatly appreciated your support is received. The students I’ll be working with in South Africa do not yet know what’s coming their way. I hope you’re able to follow along and join us as we change the lives of so many.

This blog is not only for those that contributed, it’s for anyone interested in learning about another culture, or following along on a journey. I hope this writing targets the interests of many! I highly encourage commenting on posts, emailing me questions or thoughts, and checking out all the beautiful pictures that are in store.

Thanks again everyone! I’ll be sure to post another update before I leave!!




The Grass Is Just As Green On The Other Side

Hello, I’m Dan.

I thought I would share my perspective on the experience Chris had.
First, let me share a little back-story.

I planned on going to South Africa for a while, but only for the month of June. I booked Tanzania for July, and I kept August open for a different country in Africa, however I was still undecided as to which country (it was probably going to be Egypt). I figured I could finally decide once I get to Africa.

One day, as I was doing research on South Africa, I randomly came across this masterpiece, O’Sullivan’s Travels. I forget how I came to find this, but I’m sure glad I did. It started off with something similar to what I was doing: a guy my age from the U.S was traveling to South Africa for the first time to volunteer and teach for a few months. The main difference is that Chris was near Stellenbosch with SASTS and I was going to stay inMuizenberg with IVHQ. Over the course of a few days, I read well near his whole blog. His sense of adventure, doing anything and everything, is on par with mine! (He may be a tad crazier though haha!) Everything he did–I wanted to do, minus the whole Kayamandi part, because I already had my place in Muizenberg. But the fact that he got to spend a considerable amount of time with those kids he taught was something I thought was pretty damn special. I had a mindset that I would be able to do the same thing in Muizenberg, but it didn’t work out that way. (I’ll explain why in just a second.)

I messaged Chris one day and asked him a few questions about South Africa…okay maybe several hundreds of questions! And like the trooper he is, he answered every single one of them promptly and with detail. Initially, before I even left I was way more excited about Tanzania than I was about South Africa, but after reading about his experiences, my excitement flip-flopped between the two countries. For answering all of my questions, I told Chris if there was something he wanted me to do for him while in South Africa, just let me know. He actually had something in mind. He asked if I had the chance, to stop by his old school, Ikaya Primary, and if there was anyway to show the kids there his videos he made, he would be grateful. After reading so much about his kids and the school, I was happy to take on that task. So I uploaded his videos and a few of his pics with the kids onto my iPad. Next thing you know, I was off to South Africa!

My volunteer house in Muizenberg was pretty cool. My school, the Christian Primary, was cool too. However, the idea of hanging out with the kids after school and was pretty much impossible. One, the kids live nowhere nearMuizenberg. Two, even if the kids did live nearby, they wouldn’t be allowed inside our house. IVHQ had a strict policy, no one other than volunteers and staff members are allowed in the house whatsoever. Bummer. Also, the kids were so young here, that it was more like running a daycare than actually teaching. That’s when I made my final decision, that after Tanzania, I would comeback to South Africa but switch over to Kayamandi and get a different experience with the kids in another school.


Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED my time inMuizenberg. I met some of the most amazing people in the world and did a lot of fun stuff. But the fact that I knew there was a school and place nearby where you could actually teach and hangout with the kids was constantly in the back of my mind. So during my stay in Muizenberg, I applied to volunteer at Ikaya through SASTS, the same organization Chris went through. But that wouldn’t be until August. I still had Tanzania!

Fast-forward through a mind-blowing month in Tanzania and I finally arrived back in South Africa. I initially requested to be placed at Ikaya Primary, however a welcome surprise was that they also had me placed in ahomestay with Mama Zulu, the same Mama Chris stayed with. I let Chris know and he was pretty pumped that he could find out how everyone he left was doing.

This is where things get sweet for me. My time inKayamandi couldn’t have gone any smoother. The footprints Chris O’Sullivan left behind almost a year ago were mighty big ones and everyone in town knew who this guy was. I mentioned to pretty much everyone I met that I was a friend of his, and they would burst into smiles and became suddenly warmer in gratitude. They would all tell me the same things: “Chris loved those kids”; “Chris was crazy!” (In a good way), and “Chris was so nice”. Even at the school, everyone remembered who he was. He was almost like a legend in this town, even more so when I finally found his core group of kids he hung out with.

I recognized some of them from his blog, but I could never put the names with faces. I rounded them all up one day and they came over to Mama Zulu’s where I showed them Chris’ videos and pictures. I never seen kids more excited…ever. They watched the videos several times and reflected on the pictures. That same day, those same kids started to take a liking to me, as I was to them. They would come over everyday and I would take them out, play soccer, or just hangout and chill back at my place. Not a day went by where they didn’t mention Chris, who they referred to for some reason as the “strongest man alive” haha! Also, I have to ask him, what in the world does “Sheep go to heaven, Goats go to hell” mean? They would say it all the time; I thought it was some South African chant at first. Who knows??

I kept Chris in the loop while I was there and he seemed pretty excited that in a way, he was reconnected with his kids. The kids remembered it was his birthday in August and made him a special birthday video that I sent to him later. Also, I gave them my phone to call and talk to him on two different occasions. They also drew and wrote a bunch of fun pictures and letters for him that I would send once I got back to the United States. I noticed some of them had postcards Chris must have stamped and addressed to himself that they never sent. There was stuff written on them, just never mailed. I’m not sure if they knew how?

Overtime, I did a lot of hanging out with his kids. I got to know each one of them a lot better and they got to know me as well. I taught them a few Spanish phrases. They also called me the “Worlds smartest man alive”, even though I don’t think my name means that! Also, over my course in Africa I also wrote a blog in which everyone at home and around the world was able to follow me through. Just like I read his before, Chris was able to read mine and see what was going on in his old digs at Kayamandi. I was also able to use his blog as sort of a “manual” on how to handle these kids haha! I think he may have picked the most eclectic group of learner’s to befriend in that entire school.

Before I left, Chris came up with an idea to start some sort of fund to make sure these kids and probably Ikaya as a whole get the proper educational support and school supplies they need. It’s a lot to plan, but to start I opened up a PayPal and accepted donations to buy them school supplies. Thanks to Chris’ and others donations, I was able to get them a truckload of stuff that should last them for eternity! It’s a work-in-progress but it’s a step in the right direction.

Right before I left I told the kids, who were sad to see me go, that I would comeback one day and that Chris will come at the same time. Can you say double the amount of spoiled? 🙂

I can’t thank Chris enough. My whole month of August created an ever-lasting impact on me and it’s all thanks to him. If I never came across his blog, I would probably have been in Egypt instead doing who knows what? Not only that, but he gave me the contact of his friend Isaac he met here who is one of the nicest people in the world. He was able to take me around and show me what South Africa is all about.

Kudos to you O’Sullivan.