Back in town

I realize that it appears from my last post like we are still in Botswana, but we aren’t!  In the past month we saw some amazing sights traveling from South Africa to Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, then returned home to unpack from that adventure to quickly repack for what became a 60 hour trip back to the U.S.  In the middle of all of that there were many good-byes.

I want to continue writing here, at least for a while, to complete the story of our seven months in Africa.  Major computer problems, jet lag, family visits, and processing time have prevented me to date, but I hope to post some pictures and stories soon.  Thank you for your interest in our trip… we are back safe and healthy, and forever changed.

Off to Botswana…

We leave tomorrow for a two week safari around Botswana (the “real Africa”) with stops in Namibia and Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls.

If you want to see what a safari trip includes look here:

http://www.bhejane.com/tour-content.asp?tourID=6
http://www.4x4adventures.com/display.php?t=2&i=70

We’ll be anxious to share photos when we return!

Happy Independence Day from Africa

We had a 4th of July party here today with a mixture of American and African friends.  We “grilled” (rather than braaied) chicken, ribs, and hotdogs, along with some non-traditional Boervorst.  While American music played some of the guys watched a rugby match on television.  It was quite a mixture of cultures, but just about everyone wore red, white, and blue.  We have flaunted our American citizenship quite a bit recently…

Brian, Rachel and Rebekah traveled with our American friends here 7 hours to the Confederation Cup Soccer match USA vs. Egypt.  USA won in an exciting upset match.  Check out Brian's blog for a first hand account.  The result was victories leading to the finals which we watched at home with many African friends.  We bonded :)

Brian, Rachel and Rebekah traveled with many of our American friends 7 hours to the Confederation Cup Soccer match USA vs. Egypt.

Check out Brian’s blog for a first-hand account, but there were fewer than 1000 American fans at the stadium that held between 24000 and 40000 fans, depending on which source you trust.  The USA claimed a surprising victory over Egypt that night, leading to matches into the finals where the USA faced Brazil.  We enjoyed watching those matches on television with our many African friends…

Thembi, Tsitsi, Precious, and Zanele joined me to watch the game Brian was at.  Zanele and Aphile spend the night with Ruthie and I for their first "sleep over"

Thembi, Tsitsi, Precious, and Zanele joined me to watch the game Brian was at. Zanele and Aphile spent the night with Ruthie and I for their first "sleep over"

Munye supported the US to the bitter end

Munye supported the US to the bitter end

Watching the final game in our living room

Watching the final game in our living room

It is fascinating to talk to Africans about their opinion of America.  Many people believe Americans are “bullies,” but at the end of the day most want to come someday.

God bless the USA.

Forgotten or Ignored

We have only one month left in Africa, and although we are looking forward to seeing family and friends and leaving the gates and crime behind, I love it here.  Ok, I admit it.  Many told us Africa would get into our blood, and I think they are right.  In many ways it is not logical… crime, poverty, suffering, who would want to be immersed in those?  Well, I do.  I feel like I have finally found clothes that fit.  And then it hit me, weren’t Christians called to care for the widows and orphans, those who have been forgotten or ignored?  Maybe this is a God-given desire to be with those Jesus would have chosen to spend time with.  Look at just a few…

Precious orphans.  80% are themselves HIV positive

Precious orphans. 80% are themselves HIV positive

The kids love Ruthie's blond curls and white skin!

The kids love Ruthie's blond curls and white skin!

Most of these children will never be adopted

Most of these children will never be adopted

Our time at a Township hospital Pediatric wing was eye opening.  The conditions were disturbing,  the situations gut wretching

Our time at a Township hospital Pediatric wing was eye opening. The conditions were disturbing, the situations gut wretching

My "peek a boo" buddy was ready to be discharged three weeks ago, but she has no where to go...

My "peek a boo" buddy was ready to be discharged three weeks ago, but she has no where to go...

Just down the road from the hospital is Bonginkosi preschool.  We spent some of our Fulbright money bringing them books to start a library.  We got the feeling they don't have access to books often...

Just down the road from the hospital is Bonginkosi preschool. We spent some of our Fulbright money bringing them books to start a library. We got the feeling they don't have access to books often...

The schools for the forgotten children here are disgraceful.  I have been to four township schools now and here is some of what I saw…

Our library donation tour continued down the road from Bonginkosi.  This high school for 1400 kids is one of the few with library facilities, but look at the shelves...These kids have almost no chance to compete at the university level

Our library donation tour continued down the road from Bonginkosi. This high school for 1400 kids is one of the few with library facilities, but look at the shelves...These kids have almost no chance to compete at the university level

A different high school.  None of the schools I saw had electricity or running water.  I saw few textbooks.  This school was the worst

A different high school. None of the schools I saw had electricity or running water. I saw few textbooks. This school was the worst

School toilets

School toilets

The only "running water" on the property

The only "running water" on the property

edendale girl

You don't need to look far to find children in need.  Without our help Aphile would end up in one of the township schools.  It is so hard to only be able to help one

You don't need to look far to find children in need. Without our help Aphile would end up in one of the township schools. It is so hard to only be able to help one

Sweet Thando

Sweet Thando

I don’t know how I will handle leaving Africa and returning to the comfort of home.  I am afraid to let the tears start because I don’t know if they will end.  For now we are doing what we can.  If you would like to help, we are collecting money to distribute before we leave.

Please send checks to:

The Augustines

PO Box 2712

Harrisonburg, VA 22801 USA

Opportunities

I remember being at home and receiving numerous requests for money to help the “starving children in Africa.”  Although those requests always tugged at my heart I never knew whether the money would actually help anyone.  Well now we know some of the struggling, and possibly starving, children here.  We hear the stories, meet the people, and try to determine how to help.  Unfortunately we can’t help everyone.

Some of you have asked how you could help from where you are.  While we are still in Africa I would like to give you the opportunity to boost up some of the people and ministries we have gotten to know the best.

I have mentioned Precious and her 11 year old daughter Phumla several times.  Precious is an amazing Christian woman who has persevered through a difficult childhood and is committed to giving her daughter opportunities she never had.  Right now she lives in the converted garage of the house we are living in working as a maid and nanny.  She moved here to work for the owners of this house, hopefully in a classroom.  But that never happened.  She is realizing that her future can no longer be tied to them since they are pursuing plans to leave the area and possibly the country.  If they were not here to provide housing she and Phumla could not afford to live on the low wages she earns.  Back in her hometown Precious has been working to build a small house.  This is her insurance policy.  If she finds herself without housing or a job she would return home and find work there.  She has big dreams of opening a creche or starting an AIDS project there since her township has neither.  She has been paying for the building of the small two room house for years, one window at a time.  She thinks she needs less than $500 to complete it, but that is a significant chunk of what she earns in a year.

port shepstone house

precious and phumla house

Thembi and Rabson left Zimbabwe last year so he could attend seminary here.  Unfortunately the exorbitant cost of passports to leave their country resulted in them leaving their daughter Anesuishe, now 7, behind with relatives.  For reasons not understood by me, although Thembi has been teaching here since January, she still has not been paid.  This is apparently not unusual, but rather inconvenient, and could easily continue until August.  As a result, they have been unable to even visit their daughter.  However, we want to help them travel to their home during the school break in July and bring their daughter back.  The cost to renew Thembi’s expiring passport, apply for Anesuishe’s passport, and pay for bus fare for all of them will cost approximately $1000.

Thembi and Rabson

I have recently been introduced to a great program “Ethembeni,” started by a church almost 10 years ago.   They saw a need and have boldly stepped out to help.  The AIDS epidemic here is astounding.  From what I can tell, the overall adult rate of infection in the country is almost 19%.  This means the rate in townships is even more staggering, often over 50%. The ripple effect is incredible and children are often the ones who suffer most.  This program has three parts – first, a four bed hospice and respite.  Second, home visitation.  Volunteer Christian counselors are paired with a paid worker (often someone previously helped by the program) who lives within the community and the team invests themselves in the lives of eight families affected by HIV.  When I went with a team on four visits they were helping with everything from providing food and clothing, to counseling, to assisting with medical aid paperwork.  There are currently 48 families receiving this help with a significant waiting list.  The third part of the program is a family center for the numerous child-led families left after parents have died from AIDS.  The center cares for 50-60 young children each day so the older siblings can attend school.  Then after school they provide homework help and an evening meal.

avela

A 6 year old orphan in the AIDS hospice. His health has greatly improved since arriving two weeks ago.

Josh and Jamie Quarandillo are Americans who have been living in Pietermartizburg with their four children since 2005.  They began a program “Enable Now” in a local township (“Ward 34″) that uses soccer and personal relationships with children to address spiritual, leadership, and economic development.  The community that they serve in is plagued with ancestral worship, HIV/AIDS, TB, rape, murder, substance abuse, crime, violence, unemployment, and lack of education.  They have begun a business with the boys turning local agricultural waste into charcoal that they hope to start selling to a larger market soon.  Many of the children on their soccer team are orphans, and one lives in a shack he built for himself at age 12.  Providing structure, productive activities, love, support and encouragement has given hope to some of those who previously had none.  Josh and Jamie have adopted one boy and another currently lives with them. To find out more about the lives of some of the boys in Ward 34, visit the Enable Now Participant Profiles.

Making charcoal

Making charcoal

The home of one of the boys

The home of one of the boys

You may be wondering why I have not mentioned my friend Zanele and her family.  Well, that is because we have committed to help them ourselves.  As I have mentioned in earlier posts, even public education is not free here.  There are annual fees and uniform costs for anyone who attends.  Like private schools back home, each child must apply to a school and their acceptance is based not only on their academic ability, but also their ability to pay.  Zanele’s daughter is in kindergarten (Grade R) now at a township school.  Because we think a good education could help her whole family, we are going to sponsor her at a school she would never be able to afford.  We have been visiting, applying, and interviewing at potential schools, and are praying for acceptance at the best school for her.

Aphile's first ride on a merry-go-round when we took them to the fair

Aphile's first ever ride on a merry-go-round when we took them to the fair

Would you be interested in helping a child attend school?  Bonginkosi Preschool needs sponsors for scholarships.  Whether it is Thando, Noxolo, or one of the other 50 children, please know all of them are in difficult situations and desperately need the food, love, and teaching they receive there.

bonginkosi noxolo

bonginkosi child writing

bonginkosi boy

Zodwa's class

Zodwa's class

If you would like to help with one of these needs you may send a check to us, and you can be sure that all of the money will be used to help real people with real needs. Siyabonga (we thank you)!

The Augustines
P.O. Box 2712
Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Enable Now! is a ministry that serves impoverished communities through

spiritual, leadership, and economic development.

Economic Development

Becoming a Vegan

We can get most foods here, maybe not exactly what we are used to, but similar.  I have mentioned before that we miss American chocolate chips, pasta sauce, pizza and orange juice.  We can get them here, but they are definitely not as good.  Some food items are imported, but too expensive to splurge on.  For example, Post Shredded Wheat is more than $9.00 per box!  Thankfully we have discovered some African food that we enjoy as well.  I personally like the chutney, digestives and rusks, and hope to bring some back with us.  Our family also enjoys the porridge and Pap that are staples of the Zulu diet.

I am getting used to a limited choice in stores, comparing prices in Rand, and the different names for certain items (like mince rather than ground beef), however I still struggle when buying meat and eggs.  Eggs are not refrigerated here, and what do you notice about them?

Egg with feathers still on it

Egg with feathers still on it

Yes, the eggs often still have feathers on them, but that is better than the chicken poop I have found on others! 

Then there are the meat markets… They are filled with meat parts that most Americans would never consider eating (remember Easter?).  When Ruthie and I were shopping recently there were several whole skinned lambs lying on top of the shelves, and Ruthie said “I think they are dead.”  Yes I think so.

Once Bitten…

Poor Ruthie!  First a bee sting, then the chicken pox, and then this:
Ruthie's bite marked before the venom spread to her wrist
Ruthie’s bite marked with a pen to track its growth

This developed on Ruthie’s arm one morning… an itchy swollen large red “spot”.  We marked it with a permanent marker (“koki pen”), and sure enough it spread until the swollen area reached her wrist.  When we brought her to the clinic the nurse said she had never seen anything like it, but Ruthie definitely had a bite of some sort, and the venom was spreading down her arm.   All she was sure of was that it was not a spider bite because they have black spots in the middle and this did not.  She gave us liquid anti-histamine and some anti-itch ointment and by the next day it was greatly improved.  Unfortunately after completely disappearing it has now reappeared as a small itchy spot.  Ruthie takes it all in her stride.  I will keep watching…


July 2014
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.