Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

New thought

October 7, 2009

A friend of mine told me she pays 85 Rand, which is about $10 (after I cut it in 1/2, cut in 1/2, cut in 1/2…thanks Bob!) for 1 of her nieces to go to school for 1 year.  She takes care of 2 kids.  She pays $20 a year or so for her 2 nieces to attend school for the year, plus each child must have the proper uniform and proper books.  I’m guessing it costs about $50 or so for 1 year.  She makes 35 Rand/hour at her 1 day a week job.  She might only work a few hours here and there and make 140 Rand.  That barely pays for tuition.  She does recieve some assistance from the government but that might pay for food for a few weeks.  Throw in your bills, clothes, etc…and you have children that are not being educated due to lack of funds.  I can’t tell you how hard this is for me to grasp.  I find it absurd that children are not being educated in our world due to lack of a uniform or money.  I truly believe the only way to better yourself and change your path is through education.  If I was not given the chance to play the recorder in elementary school and then the flute, who knows what I would be doing right now.  Probably mooching off my parents 🙂 

So, my new mission in life is to start scholarships for these children.  I have some ideas on how I would like to do this and am open to your thoughts/suggestions.

Students walking home from school in their uniform.



One step at a time.

October 4, 2009

It’s really hard to come back from a trip and jump back into your life.  Not only is the travel long and tiring, but your emotions are all over the place.  Part of you feels guilty for living like you do and the other part is missing the friends you made.  No matter how hard it is to return from a mission trip, I will continue to do them as long as the good Lord allows me. 

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me why I do these trips and why I pay so much money to do so.  I don’t feel that anyone in this world should live in conditions that some of these people live in.  Everyone should have a safe, dry place to sleep and eat.  No one should live in a shack without a stable ceiling or running water.  We all breathe the same air, look at the same sun and feel the same rain.  Before you ask – YES, I also do domestic mission trips for the same reason!  TShongwheni is a special place though.  These houses are built for AIDS Orphans and their caretakers.  It’s so disturbing to hear the percentages of people affected with HIV and AIDS.  Most of these people are living with the “tribal” views of years ago and they believe some things that are detrimental to their health.  One myth they believe is that if you are infected with HIV/AIDS and you have sex with a virgin, you will be healed.  Now you have 4 and 5 year olds being raped and infected.  It’s such a sad, sad thing.  The positive of this is that this village is learning.  We are building a community center behind the church that will be used for education, family events, and so on.  I am so excited to see the completion of this center and the great things that will be held inside.  Shara, a missionary from Arizona, is currently living in S. Africa for 2 years and one of her main goals is to get this center up and running.  I am so excited for her and ask that you all keep her in your prayers.

I believe that things will be changed and these precious children will have a better life.  It’s just one step at a time.

A picture is worth a thousand words….

October 2, 2009

I thought it would be best to show you what I did all week.  I’ll do my best to capture each picture!

Picture 1: This is the foundation of the house we built.  We started to build a house for Margaret.  She has a house in the village, but it is too close to the community center that they are building (which is just fantastic!) so she is getting a brand new home!

Picture 2:  We had to carry these heavy, heavy blocks up to the foundation which is on a hill.  This is my awesome mom!

Picture 3:  My favorite job – mixing the daka.  4 wheelbarrows of dirt, 1 100 lb bag of cement and water. 

Picture 4:  My mom laying a block.

Picture 5:  Margaret at her old house.

Picture 6:  Margaret’s 1 room – kitchen and bedroom.

Picture 7: A typical house in the village.  Hopefully soon everyone will have  safe, warm house.

Picture 8:  Me and some local boys.










That’s it for now.  I will post more pictures this weekend.  I hope this gives you a better idea of TShonghweni and the beautfiul people!

Almost home!

September 29, 2009

After 20+ hours of travelling, I am almost home!  We were delayed in Jo’Burg for about 2 hours, due to a severe thunderstorm, and therefore missed our connecting flight to Pittsburgh.  I am sitting at Dulles feeling guilty that I am not at work!  I think I deserve a day of rest though.  I am excited to get to work tomorrow and share some of my pictures with the kids.  I know they will like to see the kids from the village and how intently they colored simple pictures. 

I don’t remember what all I have blogged about and what I would love for you all to know.  Hopefully in the next few days, I will be able to sort out my thoughts more clearly.  I just wanted to let everyone know that we are back in the good old USA and am anxious to see you all!!!!! 

I am adding a picture of me and a local boy who was a hoot – such a personality this one! 

Me and the local class clown

Going home!

September 28, 2009

I am filled with many emotions today.  I am so excited to come home and be surrounded by familiarity but am truly sad to leave such a beautiful country.  We did not complete the house for Margaret this week but made a lot of progress.  I’ll blog more about that when I get home and have more time.  Right now I am in an Internet Cafe and am pressed for time.  We have a 2 1/2 hour bus ride back to Durban and then fly around 11 am Monday –  S. Africa time.  I should be back in Pittsburgh around 11:30 am Tuesday morning USA time.  We have a layover in Dulles….my car is in Pittsburgh.  I’ll be driving back to Va Wednesday morning to teach my afternoon classes.  We’ll see how well that goes!  Yesterday we took a game drive and saw 4 out of the Big 5!  We saw an elephant, 2 lionesses, buffalo, rhinos, giraffes, warthogs, tons of birds, lizards, zebras and so many more.  I can’t wait to share my pictures with you!  It’s amazing to see how creative God is and what am imagination he has.  The vegetation alone was lovely!  I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to experience Africa and it’s beauty.  I have to thank my awesome principal for allowing me to take some time off work.  Many people asked me if I was on holiday, like the schools here, and I said “No, my principal is awesome!!!”  Due to the holiday, we were unable to visit a school, but I was able to interact with the kids at the village.   One day I passed out 1 coloring page to each kid and a few crayons.   They colored for at least an hour to 1 1/2 hours.  Our kids would color for about 5 minutes before they are on to a video game or movie or maybe a good book.  It really puts things into perspective for you and is quite humbling.  One of the boys gave me his picture and it is going on my refrigerator as a reminder of the simple things we take for granted so many times.

I look forward to seeing all of you and sharing my stories with you.  I will blog when I get home and give a better recap of the week.  I have so many great things to share. 

Hamba Kashle!  XOXO

Day 3

September 23, 2009

Today was a good day!  The weather held off so we could work a full day.  We started by building a few more courses of block on 2 main walls.  To do that, you have to mix the Daga, which is dirt, concrete and water.  It is quite a hard task, but I enjoy mixing it!  I get to show off my muscles 🙂

As I was throwing the daga on the wall to fill holes, an old friend stopped by.  I met Sombongila 2 years ago and told her I would come back to see her, so I was thrilled when I had the chance to spend time with her!  Our task today was to carry blocks (cinder blocks) to the top of the hill.   This might be a new exercise for my clients – who I hope are working hard!  It took the entire afternoon but we had plenty of help from some local kids.  Most of the schools are on holiday so there have been quite a few kids playing around us.  I passed out a bunch of stickers and am always amazed at how excited they are over them.  It really does put things into perspective.  A few of the kids speak some English but I am doing my best to teach them on the site.  Please, thank you, May I take that heavy wheelbarrow?!  You would be amazed at how strong the Zulu are.  I have the pictures to prove it!  I will post pictures when I get home. 

I have so much more to share, but again, there is a line.  I hope to have a little more time tomorrow or Friday.  We leave Durban on Saturday to head to a game reserve and I’m not sure if the internet will work there, but please keep checking!

I hope things are well in the states!

September 22, 2009

After having quite a few problems with the internet service, I worked my way into the one of the managers, Jenny, office.  I met Jenny last time I was here and she has been so very gracious and helpful!

There is a line waiting for the computer, so I am going to be brief.  We have spent 2 days working on a house for Margaret.  She is an older Zulu woman and has a few children and about 5 grandchildren – one we met today and I believe the little girl was about 6 months old.  Very precious!  We were only able to work 1/2 day today due to the rain.  After lunch, we visited the village I worked in 2 years ago.  There I learned that one of the children we built the house for recently passed away.  That was hard to take.  However, it is nice to see how the village has grown. 

The weather should be much nicer tomorrow and we should be able to build the entire day.  We are hoping to get a few courses done tomorrow – a course would be 1 level of bricks! 

I have so much more to share, but there is a line for the computer.  My mom and I are having a great time…Jess don’t worry – there is plenty for mom to eat.  Actually, she is eating more than me!  🙂

I will try to write more tomorrow if I can!  Hamba Kashle

Leaving on a jet plane….

September 18, 2009

Unlike the song, all my bags are NOT packed!  Pretty close though.  We will be leaving my parents house soon to drive to the airport to meet the rest of the group.  We have a lot of school supplies that the rest of the group needs to pack.  My mom and I were able to pack most of it – I’m very excited to pass it along to a local school!  Many thanks to the staff members and students who donated so many supplies.  It’s amazing how much people will give when they don’t have a lot themselves.  I love my school 🙂

I hope to write after we get settled in Durban…20+ hours from the flight out of Pittsburgh.  I love flying, I love flying, I love flying.  How many times do you have to tell yourself something before you start believing it? 

Until tomorrow, Hamba Kahle!

It feels like Christmas!

September 16, 2009

Remember when you were a little kid and it was so hard to sleep on Christmas Eve.  My sister and I shared a room growing up and on Christmas Eve (after we went to church!!!) we would stare out the window and look for Rudolph’s bright nose.  I swear I saw it one year!  And yes, I still believe in Santa!  I remember Jess and I would stay up so late b/c we were so excited for Santa to come.  Then we would wake up before the rooster started crowing….oh how my dad hates Christmas morning!  Anyway, this trip feels a lot like Christmas Eve.  The closer we get, the less sleep I have due to the anticipation of seeing old friends and being in a country that is dear to my heart.  I can not wait to share my stories and adventures with you all! 

Hamba Kahle.

I’ve missed a few days!

September 13, 2009

Zulu Dancer

In 1 week, I will be watching cute little kids like this welcome us into their village.  I just might try to dance with them this year….I’ll be sure to take extra pants!  I’m very excited to visit with old friends and meet the family we will be serving.  I was reading another blog by someone who has gone to this village numerous times.  She was commenting on how over the past few years, she has made so many new friends and it’s hard to go back and learn that some have passed away.  I know of one person who passed away last year so that will be hard.  Death is never easy to take, is it? 

Anyway, I’ll be sure to post some pictures of the village and the people.  Hamba Kahle