Photos courtesy of Erin Sio.
Tag Archives: South Africa 2014
From Erin Sio:
It’s raining this morning–our last day in Cape Town. Today we will visit our schools for any final work on projects and to say goodbye. We have a farewell dinner with host families tonight. The kids are sad about leaving.
We leave for the airport very early tomorrow morning for our 7:30am flight to Johannesburg. Once there we will have a tour of Soweto and lunch at a shabeen. Afterward we will spend a few hours at the Apartheid Museum which is an intense experience. We will do some last minute shopping for souvenirs at an open market and finish the day having dinner at the home of GS alum Chinezi Chijioke. He collaborated on a school called African Leadership Academy (ALA) which provides high school education for anyone from the continent who wants to learn business, leadership, economy and entrepreneurship in addition to a traditional curriculum. Several students from ALA will join us for dinner at Chinezi’s house.
Friday morning we’ll leave bright and early for Kruger National Park. Along the way we’ll visit the Blyde River Canyon which is spectacular. We’ll have a game drive on Friday night and all day Saturday in open vehicles.
Let’s hope the rain stops.
From Erin Sio, Science Department:
We spent today at the Filia School–which serves children with intellectual disabilities and children with intellectual and physical disabilities. Many of the teachers there used to work with able- bodied/minded children but choose to work with these kids instead. They find it infinitely more gratifying. Our kids were treated to an assembly with lots of singing. Despite being a publicly funded school, many hymns were sung and thanks given to God for all good things. Halee was given a special birthday celebration as today is her 18th! When the children were asked how many years she should celebrate the kids decided on 32! A teacher explained that most children have no concept of age, so any number will do. Halee was given three resounding hip-hip-hoorays.
In work groups we continued to improve the garden while other kids continued to organize the library. After a break with the children our kids read stories aloud in the classroom. This was very popular with the learners. Then our kids did a range of jobs from collecting trash around the property, to continuing with book sorting and painting the library space. It was a wonderful day and the kids did good work–but I can tell they are starting to wind down.
Tomorrow we will spend the day at a Catholic Charities orphanage helping to paint, garden, and play with kids. This is a new venue, so I don’t know what to expect. We will give them the last of our clothing donations as they are in great need–from small children to young adults.
Photos courtesy of Amedeo Salamoni, Arts Department.
From Amedeo Salamoni, Arts Department:
Today we went to Strand Beach for an outing with the kids and their host parents. This water is a mix of Indian and Atlantic Oceans, so the water was much warmer than at Cape Point. Everyone had a great time swimming and taking walks. We also watched kite surfers! Tomorrow we all go back to Filia Special Needs School to finish up working on the library and garden projects. More to come!
From Amedeo Salamoni, Arts Department:
Saturday we had a day off from service. We traveled to Simon’s Town, Boulders Beach, and Cape Point. On our way to Simon’s Town we saw a great treat, a southern right whale playing in the water! At Simon’s Town we shopped at the street vendors, it was fun to see the kids haggle with the vendors on price. Simon’s Town is a Naval Base.
Then we were off to Boulders Beach to see the African Penguins. After a while there we traveled to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope…the furthest point South West in South Africa. There we had an encounter with a baboon that walked in the middle of us and stole 4 of our lunch sandwiches! After that excitement we hiked to the lighthouse to see some breathtaking views. Then off to a hike at the Cape of Good Hope to the top of a bluff to see even more breathtaking views! Photos can’t do this experience justice. Then off on another hike this time down a series of walkways and stairs to a secluded beach,where we dipped our feet in some of the coldest waters. The drive out of the park was great, we saw many ostriches as the sun set over the water. We ended the night with a dinner in Cape Town at a traditional South African restaurant where kids sampled items such as ostrich, kudu an african antelope , and alligator tale.
From Erin Sio, Science Department:
This is Blikkiesdorp. “Blikkie” means tin and “dorp” means town in Afrikaans–so the translation is “Tin Town” in reference to the metal structures made available by the government. Today kids will work within Project Hope’s yard to prepare gardens and plant vegetables. We will also do some outreach and feed the elderly. Project Hope is an organization that works with HIV positive mothers and their HIV positive babies. They do clinical and educational work in Blikkiesdorp and try to provide discreet care to people. The stigma of HIV/AIDS is significant and many people never get adequate care because they won’t come in for treatment either for themselves or their babies.
From Erin Sio, science teacher:
Yesterday we did two things. We started the morning at the Filia School for the Disabled. What an amazing place. The students were asked to assist with sports activities, academics, and some forms of occupational therapy. Afterward we were invited to drive out to Constantia where the kids did therapeutic riding. This teaches kids balance and confidence and it builds muscles that are rarely used in the spectrum of their daily lives. Our kids didn’t assist directly–but they served as “posts” in the riding ring around which the Filia students rode with an assistant. There were smiles from ear to ear on each rider.
In the afternoon a small group of students went to the Eldene Primary School and prepped tires and an old shipping container for painting. They joined the other part of the group who were already hard at work at BADISA sorting donated clothing to be distributed to the extremely poor. They got home at about 5pm plenty tired.
Today we went into Cape Town and took the ferry to Robben Island. The ride out was beautiful, but the ride back a bit rougher with 20+ knot winds. Our guide was a former prisoner who spoke specifically of his experiences of torture and abuse at the hands of guards. We saw the actual cell where Nelson Mandela spent many years in solitary confinement. Then we toured the island where we learned about the leper colony that was also part of the island’s local community.
After the Robben Island tour, the kids had a couple of hours to walk around the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, an attractive tourist-driven area of lovely shops and chic restaurants. The kids got busy buying souvenirs. It was clear to me they needed some down time and room to decompress after 3-4 days of hard physical and emotional work.
Tomorrow will be another day of hard emotional and physical work. We are going to Blikkiesdorp to work on a community organic garden and to feed the elderly. People here are one thread shy of homelessness, living in a shack built of corrugated metal that was intended as temporary housing. One man we met has been waiting 29 years for his permanent housing.
That’s it for now. Stay in touch and let us know what you’re hearing. The weather has been windy, sunny, and a bit on the cool side. I’ll take that over the weather I hear you’re getting. The kids seems to be shouldering a lot as well as they can. They ask for help when they need it and they are taking good care of each other. Their host families love them. It’ll be a tough goodbye next week.
From Amedeo Salamoni, ceramics and sculpture teacher
We just finished our first day of service here in South Africa. In the morning Erin and I split into two groups and went to Eldine and Balvenie Primary Schools to start some projects. After lunch we went to the Filia Special Needs School, where we were welcomed by a group of learners (students) playing music for us! What a great welcome. Students will be working in classrooms with learners and also doing some projects organizing their library.