Out of Africa

Just hangin with the babies and monkeys

Anonymous asked: Hi Sarah: I was wondering if you would be interested in coming to speak with the GPS students this year? We are introducing them to their projects much earlier (as you and your classmates recommended) and are looking to introduce them to individuals who "make a difference." You fit this bill perfectly. Let me know. Ms. Blitzer

I would love to!

Goodbye to the Mother City

I am currently sitting in the Cape Town International airport about to embark on my 24 hour journey home and to be quite honest I am not sure what to make of it. I am beyond sad to be leaving my children, but deep down I know that this is not the last time I will see Cape Town. 

Yesterday was just a normal day at Nolokhanyiso. We ate snacks, we laughed, ticked each other, gave kisses, played in pee buckets (well at least a few of the kids did), fell on our faces, sang songs, hugged, and loved each other. 

I was more than a little disappointed that my three precious boys, Wonga, Sihle, and S’babalo, were not there to say good bye to. But then again, what are goodbyes for, just a chance to cry. My last time actually seeing them I waved and we blew kisses to each other as I walked out the gate, so that is by far better than nothing. 

It was a little weird to me because after lunch the babies were put down to nap just as they do every other day, but I was really not able to say good bye to them. So I went into the room and kind of rubbed their backs/ blew them kisses, but they most likely thought it was just another typical day. It makes me laugh,but also tear up to think of Sundille and how he will most likely stand by the gate as he does every morning waiting for my van to arrive, and it will never come back with me in it. But it will come back in a few weeks with a new volunteer ho he will love just as much as and be loved just as much in return.  

When it was time to say goodbye to the older kids, one of the boys, Inga, yelled, “see you tomorrow” and I basically lost it as I reminded them that it was my last day. As I was kneeling on the classroom ground sobbing they (unintentionally) tackled me with hugs and kisses. I will never forget Dolly with her angelic voice as she said, “we will miss you so much Sarah” I guess I was just not expecting any of them saying that or meaning it, and then they were so cute as they wiped my tears with their beautiful little hands and said “don’t cry Sarah, don’t cry.” They then took my hands and walked me out to my van. To be honest I was crying so hard that I don’t even remember looking at them for the last time.

This is the first time that I have every actually said a final goodbye to anyone in my life. Its so weird to think that these people who I have loved so much, will never be seen by me again.  

As the sunrise beams into the glass windows of my terminal, its apparent that it going to be another perfect day here and I can’t help but to think of the song, “You Are My Sunshine”, which I have been singing to my kids the past 2 weeks. All my babies, Lucia, Sihle, Zukhanye, Thandilee, Leletu, and Sima (just to name a few) are all scattered throughout wooden homes, hostels, cracked tin roofs, and shipping containers. When they wake up in the next few hours, or if they are already up, I can’t help but to wonder whether they are looking at the sun and thinking of me, even in the future, will they be thinking of me? I don’t think the little ones could have ever realized how much I love them and how they have been my sunshine the past 9 weeks. I have found while being here that there is no way to truly the measure the impact you have left on another person. I will never know if these kids looked forward to my face every morning to the extent that I looked forward to theirs. I will never know if I have made a way into their hearts as they did to me. But in the end does that really matter, because they have really given me so much, really more than I could have ever hoped for. 

I should probably stop writing before I ugly cry in from of the entire airport.

Sunset from Lion’s Head

Sunset from Lion’s Head

Wait, I’ve already been here for over 2 months?

Sorry for being awful about blogging the past few weeks, just haven’t really gotten around to it. It’s crazy to think that I will be home at the end of the week and I can’t believe that over 10 weeks has gone by here. But anyways instead of getting sentimental I’ll fill you all in on things that have happened in the past 2 weeks. 

Last Saturday (and yesterday) we all went to the Old Biscuit Mill which is an incredible upscale outdoor/indoor market with fresh foods and great shopping. The shopping was really cool but the food was absolutely unreal and included everything from mint lemon smoothies, the best pesto I’ve ever had, to the prettiest miniature cakes. Audrey Akin, you would have been in absolute bliss.  As amazing as the market was, there were some really weird things about it. Considering the market was very upscale there seemed to be a lot of tourists along with just a lot of well dressed South Africans. However, the market was in the middle of Woodstock, a dicey suburb of Cape Town, which we were told to never go to at night. So basically it was just like in the middle of a more vacant area there was a bubble of wealthy shoppers who seemed to be, for the most part unaware of the outside surroundings. So yeah, even though I love the market, I do have mixed feelings about it, and find that it  only proves that humans are very good at ignoring whatever it is they don’t want to see (if that makes any sense at all). 

Onto the next topic. Last week while driving to Sarah Fox I asked Kimmie, one of the drivers, about numbers that are written on a bunch of the shacks that we drive by everyday, thinking that they were some type of addresses to label the homes. To my surprise he told me that the numbers painted were to identify the occupants wait for the government to build them a home. 345, 551, 278, 562, imagine waiting for 562 homes to be built before you can get an actual home not built out of wood, tin, or an old shipping container. This talk was also very interesting because I did not realize before that all these millions of citizens of South Africa are living illegally in the sprawls of shantys though out the townships. But because the housing issue is so severe and so widespread the police/government obviously just turn a blind eye to the living conditions. If these people didn’t have a slanted, leaking roof over their head, then they would have nothing over their heads. this also brings up the reoccurring disconcerting thoughts that I constantly have. Where do my children live throughout Langa? Are they going home to an old hostel with horrid living conditions crammed with other families? Are they lucky enough to have a home built with concrete walls around them, or they go home to the shack 2 feet from the highway that looks like it is about to tip over into a river full of liter any second? Just a bit of my daily thoughts for you all.

On a brighter note, a few of us hiked Lions head (a summit below table mountain) for the sunset last night. It was absolutely beautiful and not to mention some much needed exercise. 

Well thats all for now. Four days left at Nolukhanyiso and two at Sarah Fox. I’ll try to blog once again before I leave Cape Town.

-Svoss 

The women who make it all work

The women who make it all work

Under African Skies

So I am really becoming quite lazy when it comes to blogging on time, oh well. This week alotta stuff was going on.

On Wednesday all volunteers took the day off from work to participate in a domestic abuse workshop. We worked with a variety of women from across Cape town. Some were living in shelters designated for abused women and children while others were program directors, volunteers from different organizations, or just women throughout the community interested in the empowerment of all women. The whole goal was to prepare for a protest/march, which is going to take place on November 26th through the Athlone township. I am beyond bummed that I am going to be missing it by a week, wah wah wah. if it were not for Thanksgiving I may have harassed my parents yet again for another extension. :)

One activity that we did was analyze the causes and affects of abuse, which made me feel like I was back in my Global Problem Solving. While some women were quite and only had a few ideas to share, many were outspoken and very opinionated. In this group I had a fairly long conversation with an absolutely beautiful woman who is an immigrant from somewhere in Africa (whoops i forgot where) and has been living in a shelter since June with her three year old son. During our conversation a friend of hers came up to share the news that she was accepted into some school/university, causing huge smiles and shrieks of excitement. I must say she is going to have a busy life ahead of her going to school by day and working by night, that is if she is able to find a job (she is currently unemployed). I think talking to this woman may end up being one of the most memorable parts of my trip and I found it to be very emotional to be around so many strong and resilient women.

After our first activity we moved on to the main event: creating posters and banners for the big march. So many people had amazing ideas and not to mention amazing talent. I will never forget one of the posters a woman made, it said, “Drug lords must be buried alive for the sake of our women and children,” talk about strong opinions. 

Ariana and I also spent a lot of time with the home base staff this week, especially the two cooks, Mama Linda and Bongi. We have always been major fans of these women but have not spent that much time in conversation. Linda is a firecracker to say the least. She is somewhere under 5 feet yet has so much sass and by no means is afraid of putting others in their place or sending a flirty wink to a man in an adjacent car. I have no idea how old she is but would guess around mid sixties. It is safe to say that every conversation I have with her leaves me doubled over laughing, or either with a dropped jaw, as in, “did you seriously just say that,” she is a crazy woman. She also is the sweetest woman ever and during one conversation said that she considered me a daughter, and would “get” someone if they ever did anything to me. Linda may be tiny but she has enough attitude to fill all of Cape Town.

Today, I made cupcakes with one of the other cooks, Bongi. She is an adorable woman, but a bit on the shy side, we didn’t really talk that much until two weeks ago. I know that she has two daughters who are 10 and 4 and that she is originally from a rural area in eastern South Africa. Ariana and I are still trying to get her to talk in an American accent.. can’t wait for that. 

Last Thursday was my beach day with my kids! We went to a pool/club area in Seapoint which is right outside the city (on the opposite side of Rosebank) its between Camps Bay, and Green Point which is near the V&A waterfront…. aka right on the water. Lets just say the day started off with a bang as I was greeted by my beautiful children all dressed in barney suits. I have no idea why they were dressed ilk that and for some reason didn’t think to take pictures but it was ADORABLE. Next thing that happened was one of the boys threw up and everyone went along stepping in it, fun times. A big bus that we split with another daycare group came to pick us up. Once we got to Seapoint we sat out in a field kinda thing which was nice because the kids had lots of space to run around, and it wasn’t the typical concrete or dirt that they are so accustomed to. When it was time to go to the pool all the kids, even the little ones, came to a big kiddie pool. I still haven’t figured out why, but for some reason the teachers love to scare the kids. They would grab the little kids and dunk them/drag them through the water, which did not go over well at all. My job basically for the hour was to comfort the shivering and sobbing little babies and to make sure they didn’t run away or fall into the deeper pools. You know how there is the expression “to shit your pants” out of fear or anxiety, well lucky for me I held Ayola (one of the youngest), after he ran terrified out of the water, only to find that there was poop smeared all over him as well as me and my clothes. I smelled lovely for the rest of the day. So that was pretty stressful, but at the end of the day we all came home alive so I consider the day to have been a success. 

On Friday I was talking to Denell (I am absolutely butchering the spelling of her name right now so I feel kinda bad) about a book that I accidentally left at placement one day that she ended up taking home to read to her son, Lukhona. When I asked if she had any other books at home to read with him she simply said “no.” No books to read to a four year old child? No bedtime stories every night before sleep? Not to mention, the fact that if a child is rarely exposed to reading and writing at the age of 4, then surly their learning must be heavily delayed. This simple conversation really struck me. Also one of the best moments of my day on Friday was when I was sitting on the ground, and Denell who was standing above me started to play with my hair. It was one of the most tender moments that I have experienced while being here and am so glad that my relationship with these women has truly grown.

Friday was also my second afternoon at Sarah Fox. I reblogged one of Ariana’s blogs (its right below this one), which gives much better insight of working at the convalescent hospital than I can give because she’s been working there for the past 6 weeks. READ IT!!!!!!!

Sorry for making this post ridiculously long! But I will finish off with my plans for this week.

Today I made cupcakes to bring in for my kids tomorrow so I can celebrate Halloween in some shape or form. I think I am also going to cut out ghosts and pumpkins for them to draw on. Also we have a culture and customs talk relating to marriage with the entire staff. It’s a way for us to further see how the United States is different from typical South African customs.

Tuesday we have a cooking lesson with the cook staff (yummy). Wednesday it’s supposed to be super warm, so just to make all of you back home who get to play in snow jealous I will probably spend the afternoon at the beach :) . I am super excited because we are going to a soccer game in the hugeeee Cape Town stadium on Wednesday as well.

Okay thats all for now, thanks for reading!

-Svoss

woolgathering: "And this one, also HIV."

astodd:

If I had known what was to come from walking through double wooden doors of the hospital that morning, perhaps I would have avoided placement altogether or at least spent the day in one of the other wards. The weeks have been simultaneously getting easier and more emotionally exhaustive. 5 of the…

Kite Festival photo cred Ariana Todd

Kite Festival photo cred Ariana Todd

Boulder Beach