by Tara McMullan (Teaching volunteer from AUS)
As the Western Province Rugby team geared up to face the Blue Bulls of Pretoria, a group of curious (and, shall I say, extremely good looking!) Projects Abroad volunteers and staff members geared up for a night of rugby, South African style. The volunteers, meeting at the beautiful Newlands Stadium, headed straight to the Castle beer garden to sample the locally made beer. After some beer tasting, the volunteers climbed up to the top of the stadium, just in time for the Western Province cheerleaders to dazzle the crowd with their dance moves, and to lead the crowd into the cry 'WP Jou Lekker Ding!' ('Western Province, you beautiful thing!').
And then, the warriors of the game hit the field, and the excitement really began. For some volunteers, this was their first ever taste of rugby, so for the other volunteers, they spent their time explaining what was going on! WP scored the first penalty kick, and the stadium erupted into cheers and chants, including the cheers from the volunteers, who so quickly became caught up in the match. The two teams took turns to score penalty kicks, but the Western Province were the more convincing team, winning comfortably, to the elation of the crowd, and to us. For those volunteers who'd never seen rugby before, they certainly seemed to enjoy the match and the atmosphere.
(Below: Some Projects Abroad volunteers and staff getting into the spirit of the game with some "W.P. Rugby" tatoos!)
On the 9TH August (Women’s Day) over 20 human rights volunteers went on a social justice tour to 4 locations in the Cape peninsula. The volunteers were very eager to go. We met at the Clock towers in the Waterfront and travelled in 3 minibuses. The atmosphere was relaxed and calm.
The first stop was the area where District 6 was bulldozed and cleared. Here over 50000 South Africans were relocated to what is now known as the Cape flats. We saw the area of what is left of District 6 (Below). We also took note of the only buildings that was kept - the mosque, the Moravian Church.
We then went to the Gugulethu Centre, where the volunteers could have a look at the various cultural activities that are on offer eg. Paintings, drumming, beadwork etc. These 2m by 2m mosaic murals greet you when you enter the center. They depict the life and culture of the people of Gugulethu.
The streets are a hub of activity. Don’t be surprised to see a few goats walking passed you on your way. Our next visit was the Gugulethu 7 Memorial. As soon as Ryanne spoke about the tragic event, the group was stunned and clearly shocked. Lots of questions were asked and the group was well informed as to why all this happened. Even one of the local children just made himself at home in our group (see below).
Our next stop was the Amy Behl Monument (see below, left). This monument was particularly interesting for the volunteers as Amy Behl stands out as the foreigner’s contribution to the struggle for freedom. Finally we visited the Trojan Horse Massacre Monument in Athlone (see images below). The monument was erected in memory of 3 youths who were killed by security forces in the apartheid regime. The parents of the youths had some of their thoughts put on plaques for all to read. Some of our volunteers found it very informative and moving after reading the stories. The monument shows the security forces pointing their guns to the protestors. They hid behind cardboard in a transport truck (the Trojan horse).
By Anna Goodspeed (USA, Human Rights volunteer)
Hi, my name is Anna Goodspeed from the University of Colorado, USA. I had been a volunteer for Projects-Abroad back in 2006 and 2007 doing Care projects in India, Thailand, and Chile and had kept my eye on their website planning my next adventure. Since my focus in university is International Affairs with a geographical emphasis on Africa, I knew that was where I wanted to go; I also knew that this time I wanted my project to be more specialized since I had already done Care programs before. The human rights internship seemed perfect. I looked into all of the African countries offering human rights and after debating I decided to come to South Africa.
I was excited to work with Projects-Abroad again, and it seemed like I waited for years until the beginning of June was finally here. When people back home were asking me about my summer plans and I responded, “I’m going to South Africa for 6 weeks,” most people assumed that I was going for the World Cup, which I have to admit I hadn’t even factored into my decision to come to South Africa but I realized it would make it a very interesting time to be in the country.
The beginning of June finally came and I was off! I landed in Cape Town with no idea what to expect, but I immediately adored my host family and my roommates as well as the staff in the Newlands office, and as soon as I started my job I knew it was perfect. I could already tell that I would learn a lot in just a short period of time here. I also enjoyed having my weekends off to enjoy Cape Town exploring Robben Island, downtown, The Waterfront, going wine tasting, visiting Cape Point, and of course watching all the World Cup games (with the exception of the vuvuzelas). I even managed to get tickets last minute to see Italy and Paraguay play with my roommates!
In the office I decided I wanted to work on a research project that had never been looked into before, and approached my boss about what I wanted to do and was fortunate enough to have him think that it was a great idea, so I began researching substance abuse and the drug trade in South Africa and how the issue was being approached domestically as well as internationally. After 6 weeks I still hadn’t finished my project and I was supposed to leave for Uganda to go work with another program there for 2 weeks, but there was a bombing. After hours of deliberating and talking to my parents I decided to cancel my trip to Uganda, since I was supposed to leave the next day, and to extended with Projects Abroad for an extra week. I had mixed feelings about staying but I am so glad I did since I got to spend more time with my friends as well as was able to finish my paper. I can’t believe how fast time went by, and I know that I will be back in Cape Town someday.
I'm busy gathering photographs for Anna Goodspeed's blog article (which I'll post tomorrow) and I couldn't resist putting together a collage on her skydiving in Cape Town! Love these pics... can't wait to skydive one day too! What an awesome experience - respect to you Anna!
Saturday July 31, 2010
It was another freezing cold morning when we gathered around the communal kitchen at 7 am for breakfast and coffee. Breakfast times at camp are a lively affair now that there are so many people at staying with us, and there is always a lot of laughter about all sorts of things. This morning it was Johan providing the amusement as his “bed head” was something resembling a Manga cartoon character and Sonic the Hedgehog rolled into one!
Despite the cold though, everyone was in good spirits as we were going to take a hike up to the highest point of the Legodimo Reserve. Botswana is predominately a flat country broken up with piles of rocks and randomly placed hills, the tallest of which we were going to scale to see what we could see.
Staff member Andrew was to lead us to the top this morning and after filling our water bottles and charging our cameras, we set off.
We headed along the dirt track outside our camp for a few minutes before suddenly forking off into the bush. Andrew had been up to the top just a few days before and had marked out a trail by using pieces of charcoal to draw arrows onto rocks to point the way. We were to be the test of his arrows! As it was Antoine’s Birthday that day, he was given the “privilege of leading us, and we set off on the climb.
It must be said that it is not an easy climb, this one. We were soon scrambling over dirty rocks and through acacia bushes that have thorns as long as your finger. We regularly came across leopard faeces and hyena dens with the skulls and bones of recent victims (animal victims, I hasten to add…) lying outside. As soon as we began the descent, the view was already impressive. But it just got better the higher we climbed. Andrew’s trail markings proved to be a resounding success and 45 minutes later, we made it to the top and were rewarded with a breathtaking 360 degree view of the Legodimo Reserve and beyond. Looking down on such a huge expanse of space when you come from a busy city environment in Europe or America is a very unusual experience. We could see for as far as the eye can, and could even make out the curvature of the Earth. Soon the group settled into complete silence as we each took a while to contemplate this beautiful place and try to capture a fragment of it with our cameras. The sun was well and truly up by now and the cool of the morning had been banished completely by the dry heat of the fierce African sun. We basked in the warmth for a while, chatting and laughing with each other and eventually rousting ourselves to begin the journey back down again to camp.
We arrived sweaty, dirty and tired from the morning, but we each had a tale to tell and had seen something that will remain our memories for a long time to come.
By Paul Stretton of South Africa Conservation
Wednesday July 28, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, one of our pet rats here at the camp gave birth to 9 tiny, bald babies. Coco, as she has been named, has been looking after her brood day and night as we kept a watchful eye on their progress.
It is amazing how quickly these little pink balls have grown in the space of a couple of weeks! They are now fully active, their eyes are open and fur has grown so we decided to let them out of their cage for some fresh air. The volunteers were captivated by them as they all took turns in holding them - I have never heard as many “Aaaaws” in my life! It is true though - they are mega-cute. Our rats have been kept in the tool shed now for a few months and have become regular favourites amongst the volunteers. It is great to get them up close and personal to these animals to see how they live and interact with one another. They are very clean animals that have come to enjoy the human attention that is lavished upon them, and looking after their cages and feeding routine has become one of the daily camp duties for the volunteers.
This week saw the departure of a few of or volunteers, and it was a teary farewell at the airport as we saw them off from their African adventure. Loman from France has been on the conservation project in Legodimo for 4 months and had become something of an institution here. He was known for always appearing in the morning in his shorts, T-shirt and baseball cap no matter the weather - even when the rest of us were wearing every stitch of clothing we had with us and there was frost on the ground! Loman, after being on countless bird observation walks, was teaching me all about the amazing birdlife around our camp grounds, and he was rarely in need of a reference book. He became close friends with Baptiste, another France volunteer who arrived 2 months ago on the same plane as myself. The two were inseparable and the pair of them were always laughing, joking and unfortunately for the rest of the guys who had the misfortune of sleeping in their dorm - singing. Or trying to, at least!
They will be sadly missed and the camp is just not the same without them here.
By Paul Stretton of South Africa Conservation
Monday July 26, 2010
After our return from the Mapungubwe National Park at the weekend, we were greeted by even more new faces as the project finds itself in the middle of it’s busiest period of the year. There are more British volunteers coming in at the moment, which is a good balance to the many French-speaking young people that have been enjoying their time here in Botswana for many months now. The “2-week specials” that come for just a fortnight to experience what the project has to offer have arrived in their first batch and are having a blast discovering new friends, new animals and new places every day they are here. The nightly campfires have grown considerably to accommodate the 24 people that are staying with us here at Legodimo at the moment, and there is much chatting and laughter as they get to know each other and talk about all the things there have seen here.
One of our regular French volunteers, Hubert, is an avid fisherman and was delighted to discover an old fishing rod and tackle lurking at the back of one of the supply cupboards recently. As we are living literally a stones throw away from the Limpopo River, it was a perfect opportunity for him to cast out and see what he could catch. The first time he wasn’t so successful, but not to be discouraged, a couple of days later he landed a whopping catfish!
Usually he has a couple of friends with him, but this day he was alone and he realised that the fish was so large, he couldn’t land it by himself. He started yelling and shouting for help to his friends at the camp a couple of hundred meters away, perhaps not realising that when his pals heard him yelling for help from the crocodile and hippo-infested Limpopo, they might fear the worst! They bolted down to the river to help and had a few choice words for poor Hubert when they realised he was ok and simply needed help in pulling in his catch. But all was forgiven soon enough as they realised that they would be dining on fresh catfish steak that night, caught with the help of their very own hands.
Their concern was highlighted the very next day when I was taking a group of 8 volunteers for a walk along the river to look for some birds, an we came across a family of 5 hippos checking us out from the middle of the water. As we slowly edged towards the river bank to get better photographs, the dominant male in the group started to slowly but surely swim over closer to us until he was no more than a few meters from us. Then, to show us he wasn’t going to tolerate us for much longer, he gave a huge yawn, exposing his massive gape that gives the hippo the reputation of one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. We got the message and went on our way.
By Paul Stretton of South Africa Conservation
By Carlos Ochoa (Projects Abroad staff member from Mexico, currently working at the Cape Town office)
From what I’ve heard, Cape Town’s music scene is quite varied, with lots of new bands emerging every week and lots of styles all around the city. But on 19 June I was invited to a concert and had the chance to see a very “entertaining” band, which mixes alternative acoustic rock and comedy, it was quite an amusing show I must say!
The band can perfectly dance their way around that dangerous zone in between comedy acts and music without loosing their audience for a single moment, the show never drops not even in between songs when the musicians are tuning their instruments, since you are always waiting for something to happen - may it be a witty comment, weird face or a funny impression, no matter what they always seem to find a way to put a big laugh on everyone’s face. This great act performs under the moniker of The Brothers Streep and they have just released their first studio album called Suitable For The Whole Family (available from their website - www.brothersstreep.com).
A comedy packed album whose lyrics revolve around sarcastic themes and daily silly routines in such a gracious and sparkling way that once the CD stops spinning in your stereo you would still be singing the choruses in your head! They were actually on The Graham Norton Show this year, a live Skype session broadcast with the band playing one of their songs to movie star Anna Paquin, a tribute song that the band composed for their first album based on their admiration and mostly nerdy love obsession for the young actress’s eccentric and peculiar beauty.
Comedy acoustic rock at its best! One more proof that Cape Town still has lots to offer in the artistic field! And music is just one of many!
"Waltz with meeee princesses of Disney, give me 1,2,3 ladies I know it sounds crazy but thaaaat’s a fairytale for meeee!" Chorus to the song “Waltz Disney”
My name is Sebastian Mader and I'm from Rostock, Germany. From April to July 2010 I was in the project "Where Rainbows Meet" in Vrygrond, Cape Town. My placement involved working in small business development with the residents of the township. In addition to teaching workshops on business administration, the creation of promotional material for small businesses and consulting businesses, my tasks were to work in the office of the organization. In the office our daily work included the organization of events, editing, promotion and coordination of donations of the workshops.
(Above: Sebastian helping in the office of Where Rainbows Meet)
"Where Rainbows Meet" has to raise its own funds and we could quickly see where help was needed. The current childen’s nursery, a 2.5 x 6 meter overseas shipping container, was very damaged by the weather. My idea was to procure a new container for the project.
I searched the webpage of one of the largest German shipping companies, and wrote an email to the board. Initially, I merely wanted to arrange a telephone interview to discuss my idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive a reply to the mail, and I was sure that my mail had gone into the trash. But three weeks later the answer came with the positive response that Hamburg Süd would provide a container for us. A 12.5 meter-long container was donated, which was transported to and placed in our yard. Thanks to the assistance of Projects Abroad, the truck with the new container arrived on June 6th, bringing a new piece of hope to Vrygrond.
For all those volunteers also looking to contribute to their projects, I can only say that it is a very good feeling when the work is done. The heartfelt joy of all the members of the Rainbow family is really worth the effort. I hope that with this small text, perhaps someone will be inspired to similar action. I wish all readers a great time in South Africa and have fun while collecting many new impressions and experiences. Thank you to Dana and his team!
Greetings from Germany, Sebastian Mader
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