One of the five culprits, albeit the cutest one! Ukuthula does quality control of each piece of lumber before it gets used.
Tim (behind the lens), Lorrie, and Jessica...compost builders extraordinares
Jess is putting the finishing touches on the side wall
How do I keep the compost in? Bamboo!
It's so beautiful
And the first bits are in!!!
Announcing of the bottom lines!
Mike R and Derek VH with all of the construction bids
Beni and Derek at Indonesian
Best restaurant sign ever
Beni and Mike B run up the stairs to greet the chef!
Beni, Mike, and Derek at the start of what was to be a feast
It looks like monsoon season
Are we in Long Beach, CA? Oh wait...that's the Queen Mary 2, bound for Australia from Cape Town via Durban
Lorrie, Sne, and Beni
Sne, Christine, Beni, and Lorrie
Mike, Sne, Christine, Beni, and Lorrie
Beans! Glorious Beans! Beans, count them in number! (to the tune of Oliver Twist's 'Food')
Or are they better from this angle? Either way they taste great!
Madwaleni Steering Committee meeting
Madwaleni is very dedicated to making this a successful project
Beni and I are impressed
Beni and her injured green pigeon
Principal Buthelezi standing in front of his beautiful soccer-field-to-be
The slanted soccer field that will undergo a transformation in a few weeks
Madwaleni High School sign
Mpilonhle staff vs Mtuba Municipality
Is Lorrie picking flowers or playing soccer?
Ok...Lorrie, Jason, and Tim are all playing as part of the Mpilonhle Staff team
Gugu making her health services presentation at Malabela
Khanya, our awesome social worker explaining the process of HIV testing
Malabela, the fourth school on the list for HFA
A charismatic Gugu talking to the massive staff at Kwagiba, a 1300 student high school near Malabela
Gugu grabs everyone's attention with her personality
center stage at Kwagiba
The Department of Health also sent people to help explain what the government has set out to do
There were lots of questions from the staff, which is a huge difference from a few years ago when HIV/AIDS was not spoken openly about
The Department of Health representative answers some questions
Everyone begins to believe in the value of Mpilonhle's health services
The colors of the staff paint a wonderful picture
After multiple dog invasions, we decided to rebuild the compost. A huge thanks to William next door who provided the tops of his gum tree harvest.
First, the posts are set...
Then, we build up the sides...
Finally, we dog proof it with a roof that allows compost to be thrown in, but dogs to stay out!
Two of Mpilonhle's mobile health units at Silethukukhanya High School (See-lay-too-koo-KAHN-ya) Say it ten times fast!
Architects, engineers, builders, Silethukukhanya school committee, and Mpilonhle representatives meet to do the site handover.
Silethukukhanya site walk-through...the group decides on the location of the tank farm, ablutions block, clothes washing basins, and fencing.
Principal Nomandla looks over the plans.
Mpilonhle Land Rovers transport staff and tow the mobile health units from school to school in the Umkhanyakude District of South Africa
(clockwise from left) Jonathan, Lucasz, Tony, and Craig look over the plans for Madwaleni High School before the site handover
The students at Madwaleni High school are on break and pouring into the central quad area.
Just like Silethukukhanya, safety and security, communication, local hire, access to resources, and drawings and documents are discussed and the site hand over certificate is then signed at Madwaleni High School.
At Madwaleni, Principal Buthulezi (on left), his staff, community representatives, and Induna Mkhwanazi, the tribal leader or local induna (on right) are all present for the site handover meeting.
Madwaleni site walk-through
Derek shares the drawings with the Madwaleni community.
Derek (on left) and Tony sign the site handover certificate.
Site Handover Certificate - Armstrong Construction, East Coast Architects, and Mpilonhle are the three parties that sign the certificate.
Traditional Zulu warrior games were played in Ingwavuma at the sports field opening hosted by the Minister of Sport and Recreation
One of the sticks usually protects while the other tries to hit
We've got a tricky bowler here, Nigel...Kevin Pietersen is going to have to really concentrate...
And it's a hit! These young boys and girls are learning how to play cricket, and in Ingwavuma especially it is a very popular game
By far, netball is the most popular sport for girls. It is both physically and technically challenging. The crowds for netball games were the most rowdy of all.
The Minister of Sports and Recreation herself (second from left) joined in for a little aerobics!
There's the Minister...and wait....is that Beni on the end?! She's everywhere!
After all of the adults got tired, a group of high school girls show off their aerobics skills. They really put everyone else to shame with their energy and moves!
In a celebration of International Women's Day, The Department of Sport and Recreation opened a sports facility in the very rural town of Ndumo. Cricket and soccer are played here, while a netball game is going on as well.
Traditional Zulu warrior attire...yes, PETA...it's all real.
The cutest bunch of Zulu warriors ever!
The first group on stage sang to warm up the crowd
My favorite act!...the little Zulu warriors.
The stage and crowd
The crowd definitely got big very quickly.
It was 45 degrees Celsius and shade is not an option unless you are smart enough to bring an umbrella.
A lot of colorful umbrellas made for a nice picture.
Thokozani, Mpilonhle's Sports and Health Coordinator, and yours truly.
That's me with a group of Zulu women in traditional garb.
VIDEO EXCLUSIVE! You can see it with your own eyes...these youngsters are fantastic.
The two gardens; the left produced beans last month, the right has carrots, peppers, and onion seeds that were planted at the end of January
Our one corn stalk (ok...1 and 1/3)...no ears yet!
So apparently a butternut squash is supposed to form at the center of one of these flowers...I remain skeptical.
I think the carrots are definitely the most successful of the seeds.
The carrots are definitely looking splendid. And if you haven't eaten a fresh carrot you have not lived! They are amazing.
No, not the carrots...the long, green thing. THAT'S the onion!
Peppers! Well, we think they are peppers. Okay, we HOPE they are peppers.
Here's the beautiful view from Tiger Lodge in Jozini, overlooking Jozini Dam, built in 1974 to provide the farmers in the Makatini flats with irrigation for crops.
This is the body of water created by the Jozini Dam. It contains many varieties of fish but is considered the best tiger fishing destination in South Africa.
Phumleni sets up the theodolite and tripod
Nkululeko has to curb his fear of snakes to get the measurements
Nkululeko extends the stick to go farther away
It's like following a submarine
Our new, local, curious friends
The boy were fascinated by Phumleni and his theodolite...sounds like a children's book, doesn't it?
Nkululeko enters data for one of the large trees
Phumlni in front of Malabela High School
Jason attempts to break open a monkey orange on the bricks outside...
Success!!! Eeeeeew! Okay, so it wasn't ripe yet...it doesn't matter though...there is nothing orange-esque about this monkey orange. The weirdest thing about it?...it smelled like bubble gum.
Fence line establishment at Silthukukhanya on Day 2 of construction
The foundation for the ablution block is drawn out on the ground. Everything is measured and drawn, then digging can start.
Here the digging has not started yet, but at Madwaleni...
...either those guys are really short or they are standing in a hole! The digging has begun!
They are digging about one meter down through very dense soil in order to lay the concrete foundation for the ablution block.
At each site, Armstrong Construction has a storage unit to keep supplies safe. Definitely no question whose it is!
The digging thus far has been by hand as it needs to be very precise.
Lucasz (Armstrong Construction) is the foreman on site for Silethukukhanya, although we are chatting at Madwaleni as he came over to pick up some fencing.
It's hot out here and these guys are working very hard. Whenever possible, local workers are hired to boost the economies around the sites. Although it is temporary work, a job well done can lead to a more permanent position.
Not chewing, just resting my face on this chair wheel.
I'm only 3.5 months old, I just got my booster shots, and I need some love.
At Malabela, we had a big gathering for the site handover meeting. Tony Stark (far left) is the man in charge of the building team.
There's Beni and Principal Msweli leading the meeting by introducing everyone.
Mayor Khumalo (Big Five False Bay Municipality) honored us with his presence and gave a nice speech about the challenges Malabela will face and the responsibility of everyone to help.
...and almost everyone wanted to walk the site to visualize the plans.
Derek once again on the ground (see pic at Madwaleni) explaining the drawings of the soccer field, ablutions block and wash facility to the community.
Baba (father) Nduna looking at the project specs. I've noticed that many of the older Zulu men have the most incredible beards.
Principal Ncube introducing everyone at Masibonisane's site handover meeting.
The current soccer field at Masibonisane has the most wonderful goalposts...I may be able to play goalkeeper on these! Also, notice Mpilonhle's mobile health units on the far corner of the field...two of the three units are here all week providing services.
The community gathering outside to do the site walk through.
Derek doing his thing for a fourth time.
At Madwaleni, the makings of the foundation for the Enviroloos are visible!
What a difference one week makes!
This ground is clay, which makes it much harder to dig than the other schools and their sand based grounds. However, this ground a much better capacity to hold water, which is very important for field maintenance.
They are starting the earthworks at Madwaleni by removing the topsoil.
Once that is done, they will level the ground and add nutrient rich soil to prepare it for maximum growth of the grass runners.
There's Mike talking to Tony, Lucasz and Garth (far right), Beni (middle), Eric and myself (hiding in the back), one of the workers, and Jason (behind the lens) all exploring the site in our own ways.
So this is what a borehole looks like? I had no idea it was so small...
Apparently the drillers finally hit water at 137 meters...that's about 450 feet, most of which was solid rock. It took the entire day but the driller was very happy with the flow.
This is a beautiful netball/basketball court at Madwaleni courtesy of the Department of Sports and Recreation. Hopefully more schools will receive facilities like this.
An introduction to borehole drilling...
First you need a truck with a huge drill, hydraulics that make Snoop Dogg jealous, an air compressor to push the soil out, and a five person team of skilled drillers.
Ukuthula is on site, making sure everything is up to code...safety first!
Jhan (pronounced yu-ahn) is the boss around here. He's been doing this for twenty years and never failed to hit water.
Every six meters the soil is analyzed and laid on the ground. We are trying to tap into the aquifer that hopefully holds an underground supply of water large enough to provide water to this entire community.
The drill is attached to the back of the truck. There are 30 drill pieces on the truck, each 6m (~20 ft) long that are added one at a time as the drill bores deeper.
After drilling all morning, mother earth faked us out when we hit a small pocket of water. The ensuing drilling became a little less dry as excavated dirt turned into mud.
Can you believe this is the head of the drill bit? It is made of tungsten carbide, which is very hard and has an extremely high melting point, a good combination for drilling. Cost? ~9000 rand ($1300) The cost of the piece it attaches to however, retails at a much higher price at 130,000 rand ($20,000)!
Once solid rock is hit, metal casing is installed in 6m lengths and welded together one at a time in order to prevent the hole from collapsing.
It was like we were watching Bruce Willis and his crew of drillers in "Armageddon."
While they stood there calmly, Jason, Lucasz (the foreman) and I scattered to avoid the muddy spray. We were unsuccessful.
This is the monster compressor to create the air pressure that both cools the drill and pushes out the soil. It uses an astounding 73L of diesel per hour and compresses air to a level six times that of a truck tire.
We were sitting in front of that trailer until Jhan was kind enough to tell us to move...This poor tree wasn't so fortunate.
On day two of drilling, our dirt pile turned into a clay swamp. The guys drilled down to around 120m.
Here's a good look at the drilling rig.
The truck carrying 15 tons of water to flush out the clay that had collapsed into the hole arrived in the morning and proceeded get stuck, so the compressor truck pulled it out
Make the circle biggah! This is how the camp ends everyday...with a huge circle and some singing and dancing.
The human knot was a challenge the kids took on wholeheartedly...
...but the silent human knot really tested their ability to work together. And yes, they were successful.
Once the rain stopped we were able to go outside for some football...we worked on shooting technique today.
During the relay races, the kids found some pretty ingenious ways to get the ball from one side to the other without using their hands nor letting it touch the ground.
The task was simple...your entire team must have both hands touching the stick, and the goal is to lower the stick to the ground without taking your fingers off. Sounds easy, but all of the groups were surprised to find that the stick went up instead of down. After a little focus and communication, most groups were successful.
On the last day, everyone received TOMS Shoes...and these girls were showing them off!
For every pair of TOMS Shoes that are purchased, one pair is given away. In this case, these two beautiful girls were the lucky recipients. Thanks, TOMS Shoes!
The kids stayed in the same groups all week, lead by a peer educator and Grassroot Soccer Skillz coach. They would have three activities per day, participating in all of the activities over the course of the week.
Siphe, Ntokozo, and Sandile (left to right) helped to fold up the collapsible goals. Jason and I would not have been able to make it through the week without help from some of the members of our community soccer team.
Have a look back at the picture from Madwaleni and compare it to this. The bumpy, sloped, patchy terrain has been transformed!
The ablution block at Madwaleni is starting to take shape, as one wall is going up and the concrete is being poured and shaped into the foundation.
One of the workers is finishing the concrete foundation of the ablution block. The deep section is where all of the human waste will dry and turn to ash, and the upper section will house the toilet itself.
It's just beautiful to see a perfectly level football pitch...makes me wanna go play!
Silethukukhanya - the entire school comes out to the field one class at a time to do their part to get rid of the weeds! Some even asked me for money, so I told them I was weeding with every class, should they should actually pay me. Ha!
The best way to keep track of the areas of the field was to start in a line and simply walk forward, weeding everything in your path. This grade 9 class was great.
These two girls hit a particularly dense weed patch, and had to spend most of the time weeding here. Some complained that only the soccer players should do this, to that the reply was, "Ubuntu."
Unlike Madwaleni, Silethukukhanya's soil is difficult because it is sand. Since it keeps collapsing, the workers have to put water in the sand and compact it, then use wood to shape the foundation.
The weeding was stopped by a Thursday (Sports Day) community match...it was a good thing too because my fingers were pretty sore.
In Graskop, we found our favorite hangout on the first try...the fire pit on the patio of The Firebreak.
At 92m, Lisbon Falls is the highest in the area...and I'm just happy to hike around!
Bourke's Luck Potholes are not the kind you drive over (although you might have the same consequence). These basins are formed by millions of years of sand and sediment in the currents of the Blyde and Treur Rivers...this is where they meet, and it's also the start of our first 10k hike...
This is one of the views on the Belvedere Hike...we spotted a cool looking waterfall that spilled into an intricate array of caves and eroded rock. So, naturally, we went to go eat lunch there.
Jason and I take a self pic at our awesome lunch spot. He's extraordinarily good at taking these perfectly on the first shot.
I don't know what kind of vine this is, but I want one. I was so infatuated with this that I mentioned how cool it was every time we passed one...I'm sure that wasn't annoying.
Yeah, and they are pretty agile too!
Our last stop at the end of our second 10km hike was Tufa Falls...and it was the perfect spot for a little swim. The waterfall is made that much prettier by the tree roots that are reaching down to find the water below. Jason and Tim jumped off the top, and then we went to the upper lookout to eat lunch.
The Three Rondavels are visible on the far side of the canyon. This view is spectacular...funny, the weather forcast was rain, rain, and more rain. Thank you, Mother Nature!
Tim, Jess, and I sitting at the upper lookout. Jason is behind the camera, as usual.
Jason, myself, Jessica, and Tim take a group shot at with the Three Rondavels behind us.
This horned lizard joined us for lunch. As we ate he sunbathed.
Here is a beautiful shot of the canyon...Is it just me or does the far left escarpment look like the profile of a man's face?
The Blyde River meanders through the steep canyon. There is a lot of rainfall here, which helps to keep the plantlife (and animal life, in turn) thriving.
Of course, to celebrate the end of our hike and two days of exploring Blyde River Canyon we turned and saluted the beautiful environment.
The Chacma Baboon in the largest, and definitely played the role of distracting me and puring me away from my ginger snaps just long enough for a Vervet Monkey to snatch the entire package.
Here is the culprit...I was duped by a baboon and a monkey.
Here is the construction site at Silethukukhanya...it was closed for the long Easter holiday.
After the problems with the sand collapsing into the holes dug for the foundation were solved, the building took shape quickly.
Could this possibly be a toilet stall?
Oh how the slant has changed...I can hardly believe how different it looks with a level surface.
The walls of the ablution block are coming along, but as you can see by the cement blocks in the foreground, there is still a bit of work to do!
Not too close to the house or pool, of course.
Notice the decorative stones...smaller on the outside and bigger ones on the inside.
Evidence of the inaugural fire...it was still hot the next morning even though it was raining.
Here are three orphans and their respective food parcels. The government stops supporting child headed households after they turn 18, and these kids want to finish their education, which is the demographic targeted by this grant.
The students open their packages to find some additional item sent from Durban to make their lives a little easier.
Compost is still holding strong, although Ukuthula managed to get in through the top...and then proceeded to try and eat her way out. Guess we've got ourselves a jumper.
Looks like it's time to turn the pile!
Location of the agricultural training near Khula village for the field assistants.
The group had two days of classroom training at Manukelana Nursery before going out to do two more days of field training.
The group of field assistants did classroom training on permaculture for the first two days.
One of the women digging the trench beds.
Watering the soil layer on a trench bed.
Some of the women take careful notes...they were very enthusiastic about the avant garde gardening methods of permaculture.
Dead matter like dry leaves and grass clippings are a couple of the possible materials that can be used as a nitrogen rich layer.
The last layer is the straw, placed on top of the manure layer to help prevent water loss.
One of the women is having a good time building the trench beds.
Manure is layered near the top to help the seeds/seedlings absorb the nutrients.
After building the trench beds, the field assistants learned how to make circular pit beds for things like butternut squash, which tend to grow outward.
After digging, the first layer to be laid is the cardboard layer...it helps to retain water as well as help prevent weed intrusion. (also a good way to reuse materials)
Remember to water every layer!
Tim and his awesome pickaxe!
Seedlings are planted with ample space to grow by burrowing through the straw and into the nutrient rich bed.
The smiles tell it all!
Claire presents one of the mamas with her certificate for completing the permaculture class.
Claire and her enthusiastic permaculture class!
Mama Gugu after a small birthday celebration at the office.
Claire protecting her beloved carrots, which have gone nuts over the past few weeks...she has to protect them from my greedy little fingers. There is nothing like a fresh carrot...you would never eat a frozen carrot again.
The Laundry facility is taking shape at Silethukukhanya, and it looks really avant garde.
The ablutions block at Silethukukhanya, despit the issues with the sandy soil, is finally taking shape and looking like a toilet facility...
Meanwhile, at Madwaleni the ablution block is almost finished, and it looks very natural.
Here are the EnviroLoo tanks where the #1 and #2 get separated and dry out into ash and vapor...
One of the change rooms...with gumpole pegs the players can hang their jerseys and other items.
The big question remains...who will be the first?
At Masibonisane, the foundation for the ablution block is being built.
Up at Malabela, this field, located about 4km from the school, is what the kids use to play. Cow pastures often double as football fields. This one happens to be under water whenever it rains in these lowlands.
I am trying to conquer Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve.
First animal to appear is the awesome giraffe. If these animals were extinct, how funny would it be trying to explain to someone what they looked like?
...and there was another one on the other side of the tree.
Although we couldn't see the whole thing, this definitely counts as an elephant siting.
Water buffalo hanging out at their local watering hole...guess they aren't so different from us. Well, except their horns make it look like they are wearing a funny wig...or a giant mustache on their heads.
Still on of the weirdest, almost surreal animals in Africa. Someone with black paint was having some fun.
One of these impala is not like the other (sing it!)
Lion King..."Man, I'm so hungry...I GOTTA HAVE A WILDEBEEST!"
Ah yes, the namesake of the car that brought the Kickabouters from London to South Africa. The beloved warthog.
I MUST have one of these if I am to ever take over the world...Actually this picture is supposed to highlight the progress of the earthworks at Masibonisane.
The ablution block is coming along nicely at Masibonisane.
Our professional team (Garth, Tony, Derek, and Sven) looking over the newly cleared land at Malabela. It's an incredible sight when compared to what it looked like before...
As a health and safety precaution, we are all required to put on hardhats...of course I always struggle to find one that fits my peahead.
One of the workers puts a wooden stake in the ground at Malabela to mark the boundary of our land for the fencing guy who is due to arrive in a couple of days.
The laundry structure at Silethukukhanya is almost done...all we need are the sinks and taps!
It's time to pick a carrot! Claire searches for the biggest one...
Claire is disappointed with the size of her carrot...It looked so promising from above ground.
Miyere, a maasai warrior walking from Cape Town to Cairo for humanity stopped into Mtubatuba and Beni hosted him for a night.
Of course I walked with him into town from Beni's (only a minute fraction of his journey) and felt like I was in the presence of greatness. Two days later I saw him, happy as ever, jogging up the highway as I was driving back from Malabela.
Silethukukhanya Camp: Day 1 was dribbling and of course they did relays...looks like the girls are winning.
We also focused on passing...and the guys running this part of the session play on our Mpilonhle soccer team.
Ntokozo is explaining a game to the students
Girls and boys practice technical skills together.
Claire gives her approval of the ablutions block
The field at Madwaleni...getting ready to be grassed
The laundry facility is looking great!
Ablution block and tank farm are almost finished.
I nice view of the trees lining the field and a small seating area.
I asked a Malabela mama to teach me how to weave the grass mats and was not disappointed! She allowed me to sit next to her and try my hand at it. Judging by her face I wasn't that good.
Then again...she didn't kick me off the loom.
From left to right, me, Claire, Jessica, and Angie sitting in Claire's rondaval awaiting the start of the ceremony.
Claire and one of her host sisters in Nkodibe on the day of the lobola ceremony.
The sisters were dressed in traditional lobola ceremony garb, and looking glamorous.
The grooms family brings gifts to the brides family. Aside from the negotiated lobola, the family received dresses and blankets.
The sisters (sisters refers to family as well as friends) who welcomed in the bride, cooked all the food, served, and sang!
The bride to be! She was escorted in by her sisters and during the ceremony changed into traditional wife attire to reflect the change from single to married woman.
We got a wonderful visit from the traditional Zulu warriors.
They marched in together, connected by their shields.
They danced for everyone, displaying wonderful athleticism.
Hamstring? Has anyone seen my hamstring anywhere? I'm pretty sure I strained mine just watching these guys do the ukusina (the traditional leg stomp).
Yes....the animal skins are real...
Beef...it's what's for dinner.
These traditional pots, called poikas, resemble the kind of pots that you would imagine would be used for a witches brew. They come in all sizes and are used to cook many things over a fire.
A sheep was given to the brides family and (sorry if you are grossed out) slaughtered out back by the braai. Jason didn't really kill it. Baba Buthelezi is the sharply dressed man in the back braaing some beef. He is the father of the bride.
It will take these women 10 days to complete the seeding of the sports field at Madwaleni, and in a few months it will be beautiful and green!
Derek Van Heerden teaching an architecture lesson at Madwaleni
The class full of students were engaged in the architectural wonders of the world, and some hope to design the next Moses Mabida stadium.
The African Conservation Trust guys are marking out the area that will be the food tunnels for the gardening project.
The ladies prepare the soil for planting by using a hoe to dig the beds, then watering the soil.
There were many bags of grass runners, and the workers will take over a week to prepare the soil and cover the entire field.
Here is our new grass! Winter is a slow time for growth, but hopefully by September we will have a beautiful, grass covered sports field.
The only weakness she has is that once she gets it, she doesn't know who to pass it to.
She's a pretty good defender
I SAID, "UKUTHULA REALLY WANTS TO PLAY!"
At the soccer tournament in Empangeni, Ukuthula really wants to play...
Mtuba Primary (and Jason!) showing off thier second place trophies.
Silethukukhanya gathers around the community laundry
taps and basins at Silethukukhanya
Derek talks to the crowd at Silethukukhanya at the site handover
Mike and his weeds
At madwaleni the agriculture class is about to plant some cassava that Beni brought from her garden
The students are digging the trenches for the garden
an oil drum, some innovation, and a little elbow grease is all you need to make a field roller!
I swear I didn't eat the whole thing...you can't see the other 7 people in the office
Gugu and Thuli have a laugh as I cut the cake
Gugu and her signature smile
Claire and her love of Nik Naks...arguably better than cheetos
The field assistant, Mr Mkhwanazi, is teaching the students how to use recyled materials to enhance te water retention of the garden bed
Even the principal, Mr Xulu, participates in the trench building!
Nkosibonga students around the finished trench
Students and instructors show off the new garden bed
We finally decided to pick Claire's carrots at the Mpilonhle garden...they were definitely short and sweet!
Nkodibe's food garden
Claire and Mrs. Dlula at Nkodibe's food garden. Visible are beetroot, spinach, green beans, and lettuce.
Beautiful beetroot at Nkodibe High School, with Claire and Mrs. Dlula in the background.
Yay for beetroot!
Irrigation system at work at Masibonisane
Grass is planted up the side of the berm to keep the hill in place and also to provide a grassy seating area!
These will provide some nice shade when they grow up!
Um....on the way home from Masibonisane we caught up to this funny vehicle.
The Mayor joins in planting trees for Arbor Day at Mtuba Primary School
The students at Mtuba Primary School pose after planting a bunch of trees.
Even the smallest students want to help.
All the kids put in a helping hand to get this sapling planted.
I joined Claire in her task of starting a garden at La Colline...We didn't know it was going to be a space this big...
Claire and I are digging a swale...it is used to guide rain water and run off around the outside of the garden beds we will be making.
We took a break so I could yell at Ukuthula...she wasn't helping by pushing the dirt back into the swale we just dug!
Claire is using Tim's favorite tool....the pickax! I shoveled the stuff out as she hacked through the dirt, grasses, and roots.
Ah the good ol' drilling rig is back! This time it's JD Waterdrilling and it's at Malabela!
It's all smiles as Beni, Fatman Ngwenya, and Slbe Hlatshwayo hang out...The compressor up in this truck broke down after drilling about 12 meters...that's why I have no video of water exploding from the ground....yet!
Ladies and gentlemen....Afrikaaner Hell's Angel Santa Claus. This is Jan...he runs this rig
Welcome to paradise...Bulungula Backpackers Lodge, located in the remote Nqileni village on the Wild Coast, served as host to Claire, Angie, Ryan, Jason, and me for a weekend at this great eco-lodge that helps develop the surrounding community. It was a haul to get here, but totally worth it.
It's Claire's birthday, and upon arrival she and Ryan have a celebratory beer. The community is an intergral part of the lodge, so there is no crime, no fences, and no beggars. (and yes, those are whale vertebrae in the forefront)
Over the hill is the ocean, and between the dry toilets, rocket showers (they use paraffin combustion to give you about 7 minutes of hot water...brilliant), solar oven, and 40% community ownership in the lodge, this place is absolutely amazing.
25 years ago, Milton Bradley stopped making this game, and we found it here in the middle of nowhere. For those of you who have had the fortune of playing Pig Pong, you will happily reminisce about the hilarity of this game. Yes those are pigs, and they are used to play ping pong with a fluff ball.
Fire side, looking out on where the Xhora River meets the ocean.
This was our luxury tent...it's just big enough to fit a bed...and your bags, depending on how big they are!
Our view wasn't half bad.
This is the sitting room in the main building. The entire place was painted very eclectically, and I thought I was sitting in a cafe in the Haight.
Happy Birthday Claire! Ryan and Angie managed to make the cake for Claire's birthday in a steam oven as there is no oven in the kitchen. There is also a solar oven to cook the Khosa bread we ate every morning.
Gail (Peace Corps Volunteer) helps out with the Special Olympics' Eunice K. Shriver Day celebrations at the dental station. Her teeth bearing dragon was an endless source of entertainment.
Everyone show your teeth!
Gail and the dragon in action, teaching kids with intellectual disabilities how to brush their teeth.
Claire, Jason, and I run the soccer station, which had to be under cover since the weather did not cooperate.
This little guy shows his lovely technique as he attempts to knock over his partner's cone.
The kids were very focused...as if it were the World Cup Final. But all of the kids cheered for each others victories, which was such a joy to see. Cooperation and competition truly working together.
The crowd watches intently as one of the girls tries to score by hitting the cones set on the steps.
With the more advanced kids, we could move past the simple skills and get into things like juggling...in this case we were heading in pairs.
Eric Whittie, a KNVB instructor, flew down from the Netherlands to run the Introductory Coaching Course for 24 high school and community coaches. Here, he critiques the group's prepared training session.
The group discussion in the classroom gets better everyday as the coaches get more comfortable
On the first day the coaches weren't exactly dressed for training...that may or may not have been my fault...but they were still enthusiastic!
Eric showing a proper dynamic warm up with the coaches
It was hot out, and the coaches didn't last too long before water was needed....and perhaps oxygen!
Khaya leading a training session that his group had prepared to focus on possession
Eric chatting to the coaches at the end of a field session
Eric chats to the U11s after they impressed him on the field
On Thursday, we got a surprise visit from one of South Africa's soccer icons. Neil Tovey, former National Team captain and Confederations Cup winner, he was famous for leading the team to victory and raising the cup in 1996 with Nelson Mandela. Needless to say, the coaches were in awe. (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
Here's Neil, Stavros, and Milton (Thanda Royals), Sharon and Shortie (Stars in Their Eyes), Eric (KNVB), and me laughing at something Eric is saying (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
Eric shaking Milton's hand (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
Milton, Stavros, me, Neil, Sharon, Shortie, and Eric (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
Neil Tovey, former Bafana Bafana Captain and Confederations Cup winner and Sharon Lombard from Stars in Their Eyes (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
Neil and Gramwill "Shortie" Pienaar from Stars in Their Eyes (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
Some of our coaches posing: Siboniso, Milton (Thanda Royals asst coach), Khaya, Thulani, Neil (Thanda Royals Head Coach), Deon, and Mthokosini (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
Yeah, I got caught in a rare pic (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
Eric really made the course fun and interesting for the coaches. Afterwards they commented on how wonderful the week was and we have the teacher to thank! (photo courtesy of Zululand Observer)
The coaches successfully organized and ran the 4v4 tournaments on the last day
Two coaches trying to keep score of their 4v4 tournament
The players gather around the score sheet to see who is in the lead.
Each 4v4 tournament had individual winners by playing with different teams every game and recording each player's wins, ties, and losses.
The kids were being patient as the coaches had to use their math skills to add up the points.
After the tournaments were finished the coaches and instructors gathered all three age groups in to give out awards.
Eric Whittie (KNVB course instructor) compliments all the players on a well played tournament.
Here is our proud group of newly certified coaches! They passed the KNVB Introductory Coaching Course with flying colors, and got a beautiful certificate to prove it!
Once you are certified, apparently you are not allowed to smile for pictures anymore...
Deon with his certificate!
But Sibusiso knew that it was okay to smile...halfway.
Alfred, myself, Deon, Sheldon, Eric, Shortie, and Sharon
This will be one of my highlights here, as our neighbor, William Davidson, took us crayfish hunting the day before the season closed. In the US, we call them rock lobsters...oh yes, you heard what I said....LOBSTER!!!
William, otherwise pretty sane, is pictured here with a full wetsuit, thick work clothes, weight belt, socks for his arms. He then puts on his heavy duty rubber gloves and snorkel, and the next thing we knew, all we saw of William was his foot in the air above the water as he wrestled around the rock trying to get the lobsters.
I don't have William's sense of lobster hunting style, but I definitely can appreciate the heavy duty rubber gloves. I look fearless here, but I can tell you that when one shot out from under the rock at my face, I immediately went into flight mode with a high pitched underwater scream.
Rural South Africa eat your heart out! After devouring some fresh raw oysters and mussels and almost running out of gas, we managed to make it home tired, hungry, and after dinner...very, very happy.
This is not a stuffed cheetah...but he's purring quite loudly. We went to the Emdoneni Rehabilitation Centre where they care for Cheetahs, Serval Cats, African Wildcats and Caracal (Lynx), which have been orphaned or injured in the wild.
I got a nice spa treatment from the cheetah, who apparently liked my salty skin.
You too, can enjoy the exfoliation of a cheetah tongue !
...and further up toward my armpit it starts to tickle.
This young male, named Juba, is clearly tame enough hang out with us, although certain ground rules must be set to avoid any unnecessary bites. Cheetahs are the only cat with non retractable claws, which you can see on the hind legs of Juba's brother Moya. These claws, and large nostrils and vascular systems are what makes it possible to accelerate from 0 to 96 mph in 3 seconds.
We kept getting hit by the Moya's tail but we managed to keep our cool and smile for the camera.
Claire, in disbelief that she is actually petting a cheetah. At least we can all check this off of our bucket lists.
The cheetah's tail is what keeps it in control at high speeds, acting like a rudder. To mark territory, they will often poop on a log, as this one is doing. (I know my family will enjoy that poop fact)
Check out the ears on this Caracal. They can clearly hear very well. We were told that many people confuse it with a lynx. This one is playful, but also swipes if laying down when you try to pet him. He ran by us close enough to feel his soft fur, and he loves the attention.
The caracal, not to be confused with the lynx, is a cat that loves to hunt. They are seen as vermin to farmers as they will kill an entire chicken farm and eat only one or two.
This is a serval, which is closely related to the caracal. They are nocturnal hunters, and catch birds by jumping up to 12 feet in the air. They also have very good hearing.
Their legs are the longest of all the cats relative to body size, which help it jump and pounce on their prey. They didn't let us pet them like the caracal, but i think we were okay with that.
Here is the finished ablution block. Over the next year the school will decorate the building, but the landscaping around it is pretty artistic as well.
The laundry facility and garden are looking beautiful at Madwaleni. The seating is all that is left.
Here is one of the beds at Madwaleni. You can see spinach, cabbage, and beetroot among other things.
The agriculture teacher at Madwaleni is holding a permaculture course for the community mamas who would like to start gardens in their own homes. madwaleni has also allocated some garden land for the community to grow food.
Masibonisane has grass. It's coming in very nicely. Here is a view of the ablution block and the top of the laundry facility from the nice green grass. The field has a berm around it where trees have been planted, prviding a wonderful seating area in a bowl around the field.
Here are the buidlings from the top of the berm. The area behind the toilet block will be where the garden is going.
The laundry and ablution block at Malabela. We haven't planted the grass due to the borehole not being operational yet.
Here are the portable goals made from scratch. The wheels also serve as counter balances so that no goals will tip over in the wind. I heard somewhere that there is an average of 1 KwikGoal death per year. Eek!
EnviroLoos at Masibonisane
EnviroLoo training at Masibonisane...it's hard to imagine that poop training could be fun, but Albert's charisma and methods made it entertaining for all participants. And it will also allow the schools to clean the units themselves rather than spend money to outsource the maintenance.
Here's Albert getting geared up for the practical part of the training.
He looks like the medical staff in E.T. Better to be prepared for the worst though.
EnviroLoo training, Albert instructing the practical session
Here he is, standing in the EnviroLoo pit, ensuring everyone that it's no big deal to clean these things!
EnviroLoo training group picture
Check the bird hanging out on this zebra's back....
Dung beetles!....They are amazing to watch in action, creating these snowballs of poop and rolling them home by turning around and pushing them with their hind legs. You are not allowed to kill dung beetles in the game park
Since it's an American holiday, some of the Peace Corps Volunteers decided to improve the decor to fit the holiday
Emmanuel (our night security guard) found another Thanksgiving guest in the yard...I'm pretty sure it's one of turtles that Jason found on one of our walks and brought home. He named one of them Richard a while back and although it was months ago and Richard was a lot smaller, there are a ton of great things to eat here. So we are just going to call this big guy Richard.
The table...beautifully set for 18 people
After stuffing ourselves, we attempted to too the football around before dessert. That lasted all of about 10 minutes due to the, um, sun setting....not the stomach cramps.
This was not including four dishes and all of the turkey....er, four large chicken sized turkeys, I mean.
Our dessert table...I don't know how Jason's sangria made it to the dessert table....actually yes, yes I do.
Our awesome Thanksgiving feast hosts, Michael and Christine
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!