Monday, April 28, 2008

Freedom Day

Today is Freedom Day in South Africa (Well technically yesterday was Freedom Day, but today is the observance of Freedom Day). Freedom Day marks the anniversary of the first time when, in 1994, all South Africans, regardless of race, were first allowed to vote. This holiday brings forth feelings of patriotism and hope in the hearts and minds of many South Africans as they recall how much South Africa has changed and grown since the end of Apartheid. Not to say the racial, economic, and social situation is perfect here, but South Africa has sure come a long way in 14 years. I hope and pray (along with South Africans) that South Africa will continue to grow and progress over the next 14 years as much as it has in the past 14 years...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Quick Update


I will keep this short for now because I have limited time left at the Internet cafe. I will be able to write more and more often once I get a new power cord for my computer, but this will have to do for now.

Everything is going great here in South Africa. I was sworn in as a volunteer along with my 29 other trainees a week ago on the 3rd of April. I've been placed at a site in rural KwaZulu-Natal that is about 45 minutes northeast of Pietermarizburg and about 1 hour and 15 minutes northwest of Durban. It is a very beautiful area of the country with rolling hills, sugar cane fields, and timber farms. The name of the community I'm living in is Swayimane and has approximately 100,000 residents that are spread over a rather large area. The best comparison to the U.S. is Appalacia due to their similarities in being rural, hilly, agricultural, and rather poor.

I feel like I have a very good placement with a hard-working and caring supervisor and a host family who is very easy to get along with and has been/will be very helpful as I integrate into the community. The organization I'll be working for is very young, but has a vision to help people to help lift themselves out of poverty. It coordinates many savings groups, a couple community gardens, and is in the process of starting a craft-making group. I'm very excited about the prospects for my work and for the future of the organization. Also, I was able to (just barely) pass my Zulu language test, and I look forward to learning more and more Zulu in the upcoming months.

Hope everything is well in the U.S. and that I will be able to chat/send more emails in the near future. Until then, here are some pictures I took during training. Most of these are of my hast family and neighbors, but there are some others as well.

Hambakahle! (Go well!)