Rambles a la Myriam

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Community Visit to Kuebung

A few more pictures from my 2nd community visit to the village of Kuebung. It is an extremely rural area without electricity, indoor plumbing or network. It is such a beautiful place! I was there for 3 weeks in October to run a tournament, meet with women about an outreach program and organize women's netball. This was at a farewell for the last headman. Every area has a chief, but each village must have a headman to govern its people. It was all in sotho, but I think the learners were getting instructions for the day.
These are the chefs cooking for EVERYBODY! They made so much food!
And here is the Molutsoane family that hosted me. Darlings...everyone of them. I am dressed up in traditional Sotho wear. Funny coincidence- it happened to be halloween! :)

2 quick shots from Namibia

Here are a couple pics from my time in Namibia at Sossuvlei. I was there in October for a KICKING AIDS OUT! training with the other Canadian volunteers and a few of us stuck around afterwards for a road trip. It was incredibly scenic.
Here is Kim on the long hike. The sand was so hot and it's exhausting to walk up. It seems as though you will never reach the top.

And here I am at the top! This was a sunrise climb so the sand was still cool enough for me to be in bare feet.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hosted by SCORE!

Tessa Jowell shuns luxury for an African hut
By Stephen Bevan in Pretoria and Melissa Kite
UK Sunday Telegraph
(Tessa Jowell - British politician - Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for the Olympics)

Last Updated: 12:30am GMT 14/01/2007
Tony Blair may have a taste for high life at luxurious holiday locations but his Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has gone to the opposite extreme.

Tessa Jowell in her hut in Gwalana. Pigs woke her in the morning
She returned last week after four days in a hut with no running water, and just a pit latrine across a field, after working as a volunteer in a remote village in South Africa's poorest province.
While Mr Blair holidayed at the Florida mansion of Bee Gee Robin Gibb, Miss Jowell spent part of her Christmas break in Gwalana — where more than half of the 100 villagers are HIV-positive — near the town of Peddi in the Eastern Cape.
Working for the charity Sports Coaches Outreach, she scrubbed floors, weeded a football pitch and made 500 rounds of sandwiches for children. She also joined in ceremonial dancing wearing full African dress.
Last night Miss Jowell, 59, said she hoped to make other such visits and urged colleagues to do the same. "We all run the risk of a remoteness in government and we have to fight that pressure. I came back inspired by the experience, and by what I learned from the people I stayed with: the strength of their communities, their optimism in circumstances of great poverty and what we might consider hardship.
"For someone used to her home comforts it was physically hard. But whatever I gave to them, they gave me more."
Miss Jowell slept in a hut with a leaky, corrugated iron roof through which the rain poured. "I was absolutely determined I was not going to wimp out," she said.
The lavatory was a "drop down", a wooden box over a pit in a corrugated iron shed, and she was woken in the morning by the grunting of free-roaming pigs.
Meals consisted of cereals and fresh pineapple, as well as umgqusho — a mixture of samp (boiled starch) and beans — and a porridge of maize meal and amasi (sour milk). The family she stayed with spoke little English, but they communicated by talking about football.
"They asked who my favourite team was and I said Arsenal, and they asked who my favourite player was and I said Thierry Henry. The little boy said, 'Oh, I love him'. Everywhere I went I tried to explain who I was and what I did, and it was difficult, but when I said David Beckham everyone knew who I was talking about."
Miss Jowell, who travelled with one official and no bodyguard, helped to run a sports festival in Peddi and said it was heartbreaking to see hundreds of children who had walked miles to be there just because there would be free food.
"There was amazing raw talent. One boy was a genius shooter at netball but his trainers were falling apart. A lot of the children who came were very hungry.
"I got involved in making packed lunches for 250 children. I made 500 rounds of sandwiches. I weeded the pitch. I cleaned up the stadium afterwards. I did timekeeping for matches."
At night, she joined in with local events, including a party to celebrate a young man's circumcision.
After one of the most difficult years of her career, Miss Jowell could be forgiven for wanting to get away from it all. She was recently spotted house-hunting following the break-up of her 27-year marriage to the lawyer David Mills, who is contesting corruption claims involving his links with the former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
If she was looking for somewhere far removed from life in London, she could not have chosen better. The Eastern Cape — birthplace of Nelson Mandela — is a rugged land of green, rolling hills, cattle, winding dirt roads and picturesque villages of round huts with thatched roofs. It also has grinding poverty, Aids and violent crime.
Busiswe Nelson, 34, the daughter of the family with whom Miss Jowell stayed, said their guest had joined in all family activities.
"We ate together. She was comfortable with our African food, she didn't have any fuss, she was very down to earth."
Asked how Miss Jowell had coped with having to use a drop down lavatory, Miss Nelson replied: "She enjoyed the morning walk."
She also commended Miss Jowell on her attempts at traditional dancing. "She learned very well, she got the rhythm very quickly," she said.
To make a donation to the charity, visit http://www.score.org.za/

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mount Frere

This was my bathing station - you actually feel quite clean afterwards!
And my favourite little brother "Konke". He would come into my room every morning at 6am to see if I wanted to play... adorable.

Friday, December 22, 2006

"Don't I know you from somewhere?"

I love holidays! It's so nice to be off work and enjoying the company of some fellow Canadians.
Sara and Jenny (2 CGC volunteers in Namibia) joined me in Cape Town last week and this past Tuesday we flew to Joburg on our way to Mozambique!
I stopped in at an orphanage (TLC) to see my friend Simon who is volunteering there for a few months! It is an incredible place and even though I was only there for 2 days - I, like all the staff, picked my favourite little bundle of joy as well. It's amazing how they grow on you so quickly... really didn't see it coming.
While I was there, I ran into 2 girls I'd done a tour with to Cape Point in November from Germany, 2 girls I recognized from Wetaskin, AB (although we are still trying to figure out from where) and a girl from Saskatoon who went to my highschool! Random eh?! Plus it was great to catch up with Simon who I hadn't see for too too too many years. It was a grand time and we even went ICE SKATING for a social one night. It was so much fun and before we noticed the rules posted on the boards - we even snuck in a small snowball fight! I think that was enough snow to tide me over until... well next October/November! I can handle that.
Next I met my co-adventurers at the bus station and we began the journey to Maputo. However we were nearly not allowed on the bus because we did not have our visas. But they finally relented and let us board with a warning that they may have to leave us behind if we took too long at the border. We were ever optimistic and assured each other that all would work out. Jenny and I even scored 2 front seats together so we were really sure things were looking up. But, as soon as the bus started they announced that we would be stopping in Pretoria to change buses as the one we were on was not in suitable condition for the trip. uh okay - no problem. New bus, 2 hours later - we were back on the road. A little late, but still hopeful.
Then we got to the border, wow - I have never been so sweaty at a standstill ever in my life! It was sooo hot! We jammed too many people into the crossing offices, filled out the forms, paid the fee, sweated, and waited for the processing.. All the while our bus attendant is threatening to leave us behind if we delay them. Ok, we can do this I thought, no matter that I see the man behind the desk restart his computer every few minutes, it'll work out. Eventually Jenny and Kate did get their visas on time so they left on the bus with all of our stuff. Good plan.
Sara and I waited another hour and teamed up with a Dutch couple to see if we could hitch hike into the city (120 km away). We ended up meeting a lovely man with a truck who lived across the street from our hostel - all's well that ends well...
We've spent a day and a bit exploring Maputo and it's markets and now we're just waiting for the shuttle to Tofo - beach!! Sweet.
So far Mozambique has been lovely and we keep commenting that we don't feel like such an attraction here. I also had the most spicy meal ever - I felt like I had gained the capability to breathe fire - woah!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just had to show this...

This is at Linde's guest house in Fish Hoek. An elephant "foot" stool and a zebra carpet (hooves, head and tail)!

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Born Again Express" - A real bus company

Tonight I am going to see STOMP!! Can't wait - I'm so excited.

Aaaah - I am finally back in Cape Town for longer than a week - hasn't happened since September. Filling up my time with Christmas/Birthday parties, Braais, seeing friends and all the other social things you're supposed to do around Christmas time. I just can't get into the whole Christmas celebration thing yet though - not without the snow. The two seem to go hand in hand in my mind...
I just came back from another community visit to a small township called Mount Frere. And once again I was amazed by what the women can carry on their heads - it is absolutely incredible. Here's a list of things I've seen on tops of heads:
1. 25L pail FULL of water (no spilling)
2. A microwave oven
3. A roll of carpet (it was super long)
4. Groceries/Boxes/Milk crates
5. A HUGE log (like almost 1/2 a tree!!)
And most of the time they do it with babies on their backs! Way to go women!

I also got very used to being called "Mulungu" (white person) while walking down the street. You get so much attention being in a new community - especially one where the locals are not used to seeing a lot of white people, let alone foreigners. The most common thing is for people to stare, mostly kids... and men. I found it rude at first and sometimes I would stare back but I guess people are just intrigued. One volunteer from Norway said once, "everybody is staring at me, perhaps I should entertain them!" :) So she broke out in dance right in the middle of the street. I didn't have the courage to make such a scene! Although I have been teaching myself to juggle - so perhaps that could be my entertainment... I'll have to keep practicing.

Until next time - Keep fit and have fun!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Long time no see...

Wow - time is zooming by. It's been so long since I've been able to sit down and catch up on internet business... I've had many many adventures since September!! I've actually added it up to be over 125 hours of bussing these past few weeks. It all started with SCORE midterm training at a beautiful game reserve. We trained during the day but in the evenings we had an amazing game drive, fire side wine and waterfall showers!! It was a really great time of "unpacking" with the other South African volunteers. From there I bussed back to Cape Town with Nico. We rushed home, showered, then met back up at the bus rank to get to Windhoek, Namibia for KICKING AIDS OUT training with the other Canadian volunteers. I felt like I was in School again... Sooo much information to remember. But it was a really great training - I learned a LOT! From there, a few of us rented 2 cars and drove down to Sossuvlei to see the sand dunes. It was incredible. I can't believe how gorgeous big piles of sand can be. It was so red and very hot! One girl even got a burn blister on her foot!
From there, i went into another community visit in the Eastern Cape province of SA. It was RURAL!! No running water, electricity or telephone network. I loved every minute of it. It's a Sotho speaking community and they gave me a Sotho name within 2 hours of me being there: Dimpo Molutsoane. I went hiking almost every day, saw beautiful star scenes and fell in love with the people. They were so kind and taught me a lot about what we miss when we become too busy to get to know our neighbors.. My host mother, Macobano, said to me one day, "You make smile my heart". I almost lost it right there. Her family just accepted me right away and took me in as one of their own. Unfortunately they didn't speak much English and I learned only a few words in Sotho, but it's amazing how close you can get to people without communicating in the same language.
The same day I got back to CT, my mom flew in to visit! So last week we took a trip through the magnificent garden route along the South Coast. The tour guide in me came out in full force. I had every hour packed with activities... After canoeing, hiking, boarding, a river and yacht cruise, dolphin watching, tree top zip lines, shopping, and lots of beach - we came back to CT, exhausted and booked ourselves massages today! Superb. Sounds like I'm working very hard eh?! Well, I took my 2 weeks of holidays while my mom is here and it's been awesome. So good to enjoy all the touristy things for a change. I've been trying so hard not to be too obvious, you know?
After mom leaves, I'll be heading back to the Eastern Cape for another rural community visit, a new place... Sorry I've been so bad at keeping in touch. I'll do my best but things are hectic here. See you on the flip side!
Love Myr