Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Work - ugh!

Oh my the weather here just keeps getting better and better (sorry to boast I know those of you in the UK are having a crap time of it). 31oC today and is going to get hotter tomorrow. Unfortunately I spend most of my time in the office, in the jeep or in school and as yet I haven’t got much of a tan :-(

We have gotten into a routine now with what we are doing. The mornings are spent training the team in teaching and delivery techniques. I am looking at the singing they have been doing so far and then will bring in all the other music teaching, didn’t want to swamp them all in one go. We then travel to the schools, some of which are easy to get to right off the tarmac'd roads. Some of them are right in the middle of the villages down the tracks which I hold by breath and bite my lip every time I drive down. We spend 2-3 hours in the schools, one team to one school and another to a near by one. Then once that has finished we take round food aid parcels to the choir kids and a few other needy households, it usually works out at 3-5 houses each day covering the 50 kids in the two choirs.

Today I didn’t get to go into school as I had to drive a food aid parcel to one of choir 2 who lives so far away from civilisation it doesn’t seem possible. It was up on a mountain on the boarder of Swazi and
Mozambique and the views over the three countries were spectacular. However, it’s really hard to reconcile the amount of poverty there is in such a beautiful setting. Poverty in the West is usually confined to the inner cities and is ugly; poverty here is wide spread with the worst out in the rural areas which are the most beautiful. Its one thing I'm finding really hard to come to terms with, we drive into the villages and all these children start waving at us and shouting out 'Hello, how are you?' It seems to be the one English phrase they know, you should see their faces when I reply in siSwati, it’s so funny. Going to the schools or visiting the houses is not getting any easier and I'm glad, for if it was then that would mean that I am getting used to the poverty and that’s not something I would be proud of nor want. 

The food aid we take for a family of 8 is 12.5kg flour, 2L oil, 2kg sugar beans, 500g soup, 500g salt and washing soap and apart from anything that they can get from the land to flavour it that’s what they have to survive on for a month. I can’t even start to think about their diet but they survive and grow somewhat. They get a hot meal in school but it generally is not great, but at least it’s something.

This weekend we have 5 of the girls coming over for a girly weekend and I asked 2 of them yesterday what they wanted to eat - apples came the answer!!! Ask our kids at home and it would be sweets, crisps, chips and all kinds of crap. These guys wanted apples...and second came pizza, they are kids after all. We are planning a joint birthday party for me and Shirley, she is 13 on Fri. and I am *cough* on Sat so we are going to have a joint celebration together - I cannot wait.

Just before I go, for those of you who asked about the crickets, no we haven’t eaten them...yet. 2 Nights ago me and Mary went on a search and destroy mission and fond 6 of the buggers living behind the cupboards so we captured and killed them. No wonder we hadn’t had been getting good sleep. For the last 2 nights it’s been blissful but as I type there is at least one of them back and its driving me up the wall. i will have to destroy it tomorrow for if I leave it till the kids are here they WILL want to cook and eat what we catch. Updates on the crickets soon.

4 of the captured (still live) crickets

Traditional dance dress

Right off to bed, early start in the morning.

ERIN - Not too many pics ;-)
PHIL - Enjoy and send me pics please.
DAWN - Hope the week went well, been thinking of you all.

Monday, 23 July 2007


I have uploaded all my photo's so far into an online album. Thy are not tagged or titled as yet but if you want to look the link is 
Off to Nelspriut now to buy clothes for the kids.

Sunday, 22 July 2007


Here are a couple of pics. I am using dial up so it is very slow at up loading them, hence why Im only posting a few. I'm also going to put them under a cut so that those of you with dial up can choose to view or note ( ;-) Erin). Click the link to see them.

Jennette's school in Drakoppies (Jennette front right)

Mangweni school
Mangweni school

Mary in Swaziland

Me and Khanysile (the one who wants to cook me crickets)

James and Muzi (two of the chaperones I'm training) on the jeep I have to drive at the dam.

Shirley, Njabulo and Peaceful (Nkomazi choir 1)


Its beautiful, totally amazing, rolling hills covered in lush green forests, it is a complete difference to SA. Crossing the boarder was ok it only took us about half an hour but it was so funny. You have to stop at a barrier and get this ticket and then drive though and park and go get the ticket stamped. then drive to another barrier to hand the ticket in. You drive through that and park again and go in to get your passport stamped, they couldn't understand why an English girl and a Ugandan were together, they wanted to know how me and Mary knew each other and when we told them what we did and had to show them the paperwork they wanted to join in our mission!!! Anyway we got the stamps to exit SA then we had to drive to the Swazi side where again we got stopped by a barrier where we got yet another ticket and the whole process was repeated. I had to pay R50 (about £4/$8) to take the car in and after a couple more barriers etc we were in.

We spent time going down the western part of the country stopping at little craft stalls on the side of the road and at a couple of them they had boys dressed in banana leaves dancing to attract the customers. We stopped at this nature reserve where we went for a walk to some waterfalls, my thighs now hate me and are letting me know about it!!!

Lunch was eaten in this village of thatched huts, it was so beautiful and idyllic and the people were so welcoming. Last stop was at a craft village which was just packing up for the day, I bought some sisle table mats and coasters and the woman was so grateful she kept bowing and saying thank you ma'am so Mary bought a couple of things and I couldn't resist a carving that she had done. The woman was nearly in tears we were her first customers of the day and it was 4pm. Our money, she said, allowed her to feed her children tonight, she had 6 and 3 of her sisters who had died. I actually believed her as her emotion was so strong and the way she had treated us and thanked us throughout our time there.

We made it back to the boarder 10 mins before it closed and started the whole shennanigan's to get back in to SA again. We managed it ok until we got to the very last barrier and the woman asked us what we had been doing in Swazi and we said it was just a visit. She wanted to know what we had in the back of the car and we told her it was just gifts. She got all serious with us and stepped out, told us to turn the engine off and show her the gifts. I thought we were in trouble, had breached some international trade law or something where you couldn't bring certain things into the country. So I opened the back door and showed her this little drum I had bought and she burst out laughing - I was really confused at this point. She told us  she thought we had gone over to mass buy gifts to sell in SA more expensively. Then she asked us where abouts we had got the drum as she wanted one for her niece's birthday - surreal, totally surreal.

Today has been a quiet, restful day, the first one I have has in the past 3 weeks with school trips and travel etc, I was totally exhausted, the last few mornings have been extremely difficult for me to get up. It was an early start again this morning as church was at 9 (thats 9 in the morning, on a Sunday). I found it quite an uncomfortable service as in their words "we're happy clappy, lets show it", and boy did they. I had met the pastor previously as he is a friend of Tamsin's and he had described it as a spirit-filled church, I just took it to mean that it was evangelical, it was but much more. Their meaning of spirit-filled means that if in the middle of a song, prayer, sermon or what, they feel the spirit filling them to say something then they will. So songs would end but people would carry on singing all different things, in all different keys. In the middle of prayer they would jump up, or fall down or sway about shouting/muttering/screaming things. All in all a very different service than ones I am used to.

It was a different experience - and thats what I've come here for, to have many different experiences. Some will be amazing, some scary, some life changing and others down right weird. And for those of you who asked, no I haven't cooked the cricket yet, thats an experience thats getting closer and closer each night it drives us up the wall.

Some of you have also asked why you cannot post replies - I have had to disable that as the address went out to all the pupils at my school so that they could keep up with what I am doing since the school has been so supportive of what I am doing here this summer. I cannot have them posting anything, you never know what might appear - sorry. Those of you who need it have my email address and I really appreciate emails (hint, hint). I do read them all and whilst I may not have time to respond right away, I will do I promise.

Right another early night I think, last night I went to bed at 8.30 pm. Ive not been to bed at that time since I was little and sent to bed for bad behaviour. But I tell you I slept right through until my alarm at 8am this morning, thats how much I needed the sleep, and I could have slept more if I didn't have to get up.

Take care, hope you're not flooded where you are.

xxnemandjodexx - log in please and read
Les - can you change the link please, it is wrong. Thanks.