Sunday, February 24, 2013


I’m sorry its been so long!! It’s been quite the busy week which meant not a whole lot of down time and hardly any sleep. 

I should have caught you up when I was on cloud nine on Tuesday afternoon!  At Hlengisa on Tuesday, I was finally able to get into the library during one of my breaks.  I talked to the teacher who was in there and she explained that the library was only used for her class.  She teaches 1st and 2nd grade “letters” and they didn’t have enough classroom space for her, which meant the library became her classroom two days a week.  The other days the library wasn’t used at all.  Even on these two days, though, the books were never used.  The library is what they call a “container” which is basically like portable classrooms in the states.  All the walls are full of bookshelves.  In the center, there are brand new wooden tables and chairs stacked up that have never been used.   I spent each of my breaks Tuesday looking through the books.  With each new book I picked up, I could hear the cover cracking like any new hardcover would.  My jaw just continued to drop further and further as I was in awe of these books. 

My English classes also all went very well this day (between my escapes to the library).  I started reading a short story with my 9th graders that was actually provided by the school!!  Though most of them were able to read the words, we had to stop quite a bit so that I could define many of the words.  In my 8th grade classes, I was told to go over periods, exclamation points, and question marks.  After about 6 examples, I realized the kids already knew all of the material….so I brought out my story dice!!  I found 9 dice in KHouse with pictures on each side.  I gave one die to each student, put them in groups of 6, and had each group write a story including every picture that was rolled.  Not only were they ecstatic to have a new activity that they’ve never seen, but they were so excited just for the dice.  Some of the students didn’t even know how to roll a die….there was spinning, rolling, throwing onto tables… anyway they could get a picture!!

After classes, I was able to bring my 6th grade reading club into the library!!! I have never seen children so excited to go in a building.  I got to the container and it was swarming with students.  I walked up to open the door and as soon as I even got the door a crack open, the kids charged.  They ran and pushed to get inside as if there were just mounds and mounds of ice cream and candy on the other side.  They quickly took down chairs and sat in groups waiting for my direction.  I gave each group a book about a South African Historical Leader.  Each book was about a different person.  These books were easier to read because they had heard most of the words, and they were actually learning about major figures in their own history—black and white.  As I walked around, the children were silently listening to one another as they passed the books in circles, taking turns reading.  After about 20 minutes, hands shot up asking me if I could ask them questions about the books!! (BOY WAS I IN TROUBLE! I hadn’t read them all!!)  I quickly scanned each book and asked pretty specific questions—each of which they knew the answers!!  Needless to say, I was just about the happiest girl in South Africa. 

Pearnel, Laree, Rob, and Jamie then showed up after their service site to pick me up.  I thought Pearnel was going to cry because he was so happy these books were being used.  We stopped reading early so the children were able to meet us and ask questions.  Of course, in no time, Jamie then had them all singing Shosholoza with us.  It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.  I have never felt so connected with these children or another culture before this point.  The video is posted on facebook if you’re interested in seeing the singing!!

On Thursday, the four girls in my house volunteering for Amy Biehl all went to “McDonald’s Golf Day” which is Amy Biehl Foundation’s biggest fundraiser.   About 150 men came to Rondebosch Golf Course and we were in charge of selling raffle tickets all day.  It was very interesting to see the fundraising part of an organization after being on the working end of it for the past couple weeks.  The work we do is very sugar coated for these huge companies and men.  Although none of the information was a lie, there was definitely a little coating to the real work done—especially when we were interviewed for TV. 

Funny thing about the fundraiser…all four of us showed up in sundresses, ready for the country club feel of the golf club.  When we got there, everyone else was in jeans and we were told to put our t-shirts on!!  So there we were..the only 4 Americans, in dresses, with t-shirts over our dresses.  Good look, huh?!  I definitely thought so!  Everyone was still very willing to give us money though, we collected more than I ever thought we could selling just raffle tickets!!

This weekend consisted of Robben Island and Kloofing.  Robben Island was amazing to see, but a very rushed tour.  We were able to see where the men slept and specifically Nelson Mandella’s cell.  It was interesting that there are actually people living on the island right now.  All the children who live there take a ferry to school each day and all the adults work on the island.  It is their job to keep up with all the maintenance and the one shop on the island.  It was an interesting tour—pictures with more information to come on facebook!

Kloofing was also a blast!!  Basically, we were picked up at 7am and brought to the middle of mountains after about an hour long drive.  We strapped on harnesses, hiked to the middle of nowhere, and roped up!   In no time, I was walking down the middle of a waterfall with nothing but a rope holding me above a huge pool of water.  We repelled down two waterfalls and at the end of the second one, we were allowed to cliff jump into the pool.  The water was freezing, but we had a gorgeous (and hot) day so it was more than refreshing! 

Once again, thank you for all the thoughts and prayers.  I cannot explain how much communication with home has helped me here.  I hope to get a new blog up on Tuesday with more about what I intend to do for Hlengisa School.  Please check back for that one because I may need just a little help from home! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The First Tear Shed

Aside from the tearful goodbye at the airport, South Africa has been nothing but growing and laughing.  In the past couple days, KHouse has basically been on cloud nine with our emotions: Valentine’s Day, meeting Judy, hiking Table Mountain, Mzoli’s, our first family dinner, and KIM.  Though I already explained Valentine’s Day, I should probably fill you in on the rest.

Judith Mayotte is the founder of the Marquette South Africa Service Learning Program.  She just happened to be visiting Cape Town this semester so we were so incredibly blessed to meet this wonderful woman.  She is quite possibly the most amazing woman I will ever meet in my life (sorry mom, you’re a VERY close second.  I promise).  Though I cannot even begin to describe the things she has done, I can try to tell a little about what she told.  She is extremely humble, to the point where losing her leg in southern Sudan during the war was just a minor point in her stories.  Through attending a Catholic high school and ultimately converting to Catholicism, she became a nun.  After ten years of this life, she decided during Vatican II that it wouldn’t be right for her after the changes were implemented.  She left the convent, but not the faith.  She attended Marquette University for her PHD and found the love of her life.  They married and three years later he died from cancer.  It was then that she found her passion in helping refugees.  She traveled to every war zone during these years, lived with the refugees, and ultimately was forced to retire this lifestyle due to the loss of her leg in the Sudan war.  While trying to airlift food into these refugees, a 200-pound bag of grain dropping at about 120mph fell on her leg.  She came back to Seattle where she was teaching and asked to be on a board with Desmond Tutu.  In the midst of this, Marquette had also asked her to be “a chair of some sort within the University.”   (She can’t even remember the titles she held!!)  When Marquette asked her to make a service learning abroad program, she was sure to make it in Cape Town because this is the place she knew the most people who would help her.  She had such a deep love for South Africa because during the apartheid, instead of choosing war, this country chose reconciliation.  Judy could have been stuck in another war zone, but because of the choice for reconciliation she wasn’t.  She truly has a deep love for every South African because of it.  She has nothing but kind words to say about these amazing people.

Judy began the program with 3 days of classes at UWC and 2 days of service at various sites.  She and a few students exclusively from Marquette lived in the same house (KHouse) we live in now.  She chose UWC instead of UCT because of UWC’s involvement in the apartheid.  UWC was made during the apartheid era for blacks and colored students.  Though it has changed since the apartheid ended, it still is very much local black and colored South African college students—most of the international students attend the University of Cape Town.  We will also be able to meet Desmond Tutu as a house and talk with him due to all the work she has done with him.  Though he is on a ‘semester at sea’ boat right now, he will be coming back to Cape Town at the end of March so we will be meeting him soon enough!

Though I could ramble on about this woman for pages and pages, I won’t keep you much longer.  The above information is just some of the things she has done, excluding her polio, work for the Clinton administration, her book (Disposable People? The Plight of Refugees), being a University professor, and an Emmy-winning producer—the things she didn’t tell us.  We looked up more about her life and found that even her Wikipedia page barely does her justice. 

The two things I will always remember from Judy are:
You can get through any ups and downs in life as long as you’re doing something you’re passionate about.”
“Human beings should never be afraid of human beings—no matter their race or age.  We are all human beings.”

I truly believe I met a future saint on Friday. 

Comparatively, hiking Table Mountain was nothing!  Saturday, we had planned a sunset hike up Table Mountain because we would then be able to take the cable cars down after sunset.  We got about half way up and found out the cable cars were no longer running.  At that point, I decided (being the wimp that I am..)  I had heard enough about the danger of hiking in the dark and wasn’t going to risk it.  A few of us hiked back down while it was still light and watched the sunset at the bottom—still pretty gorgeous, I must say.

After quite the full weekend, we just all wanted more adventure.  Mzoli’s it was!!  Mzoli’s is a huge meat shop in the township of Gugulethu.  Every Sunday they have a huge braai (BBQ) open to the public.  Thank God X-Man (the second Marquette driver who helps Pearnel) was willing to drive us and stay with us the entire time.  We walked in to what looked like a tiny butcher shop, smaller than Thuringer for those of you in Arlington.  X-Man ordered all the meat for us and we were brought into the back room.  After walking through a short, claustrophobic hallway, we were brought into another small room with huge, fired-up grills.  We handed the pan of meat to the men at the grills and were off to find a seat outside in a great, big tent—the party tent, if you will!!  It was really cool to be able to interact with people of South Africa and international students while still helping Gugulethu financially.

Tonight began our first ‘family dinner’ and ‘family meeting.’  Our delicious homemade lasagna, salad, and garlic bread was made by the wonderful Jamie and Jack.  The family meeting idea began in Lizzy’s family and Steph decided she wanted to implement it in our house.  We altered the Owen’s family itinerary a bit and fit it to the KHouse needs.  The meeting was completely optional because it was just something we wanted to try.  Everyone in the house ended up attending and squeezing in Rob and Andrew’s bedroom.  We opened with a prayer and focused the majority of our time on ‘pits and peaks’-highs and lows, if you will.  We also used a cross as a talking piece, so only the person with the cross in their hand was able to talk.  This made sure that everyone was heard and everyone got a chance to speak.  When living in a house with 22 people, I have observed that most of the things shared are happy ones.  We tend to always be laughing and sharing things about South Africa that we have experienced.   This is such an amazing quality, but there are times when tears are necessary and things need to be let out.  It wasn’t until this meeting that we were able to share our low points, even if they had to do with home.  When everyone had a chance to talk, we ended with another prayer.  This time was very much needed and will continue to be shared every Sunday night.

Thank you so much for all the thoughts and prayers from home.  This experience wouldn’t be the same without them.   I continually feel God’s presence in KHouse and in my own life.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A red pen, some chalk, and A LIBRARY?!

I never really understood what the life of a teacher was like.  I’m only teaching two days a week and my mind revolves around these students.  I find myself making lesson plans in the shower, going through names in my head at night, and thinking about crafts I could make when I finish my peanut butter and have only the jar left.  But, today I didn’t even need those plans!  Valentine’s Day is so big in Africa that everything in the schools revolves around it.  I walked in, all the kids were dressed in red and white, and Mr. Gaji had a Valentine’s Day poem with questions for the 8th and 9th grade classes.  He also had cards for the 5th graders to make their parents, so my job was very easy!!  The entire day consisted of writing definitions and directions on the board (chalk) and correcting about 200 worksheets (red pen).

This morning, before I was dropped off, Pearnel told me that a previous Marquette student had found a library at Hlengisa.  He told me to be very inquisitive today because something was going on there….so that’s exactly what I did!!  When I got there, I asked if they had a library.  When I learned it was true, the most information I could collect was that it was not organized and they had no one to manage it.  This library is a colorful building in the back left corner of the school grounds.  The doors are bright blue with murals of children and books painted all over the outside.  I texted Pearnel that I had found it and he replied “they don’t use it.  It’s so wrong, kick some butt!”  I can’t describe how upset I would be if I knew my child was attending a school with a great sized library that was locked and never used. 

When I asked if I could go in, they were a little confused but agreed to let me.  They searched for the key and finally came out with a huge ring and said “maybe it’s on here.”   As we walked up to the doors of this building, I had goose bumps all over my skin and butterflies in my stomach.  I don’t even really enjoy reading (thus the math major) but I can’t describe the excitement I had for this library.  It just doesn’t make sense to me that while most schools in this township are struggling to get books just in the classrooms, this building is full of books that the children can’t use.  We got to the doors and after trying many different keys, none of them worked.  I encouraged him to keep looking for the key while I began my 6th grade reading club in a classroom. 

I brought 4 Harry Potter books to begin a reading club with 40 6th graders today.  They told me some of them had seen the movie and were interested in reading the book. We got through about 3 pages after a half hour.  Although I’m sure the story is going over some of the students’ heads, some were really enjoying it and were able to summarize what was happening.  It went better than I had imagined!

In other news, K-House is celebrating Valentine’s Day all together here in South Africa!  We picked names out of a hat and that is our Valentine for the day.  When I woke up, I had a letter and puppy chow outside my door from the beautiful Lizzy Owens!  Everyone is in such a wonderful mood and we are all showering each other with love—so many smiles!

I’m still in awe of how well this house gets along.  We are all still so excited to hear about everyone’s days when we get home.  Little KHouse update:  Today Jamie and Rob got a tour of one of the townships they will be working in and were able to go inside some of the shacks (which I thought was awesome).  They are working at “Lotus” which is right in the townships and our entire house will be visiting this site together.  Others are slowly getting projects and being invited to meetings at their respective sites, so it’s all coming together!!!  We are still a bit thrown off by the wild cows, horses, dogs, goats, and sheep we see on the side of the road…but the mountains are becoming the norm.  I cannot believe how much we see on a daily basis—the beauty and the destruction within the same blink.  Shacks with the gorgeous mountains in the background…definitely something to get used to.

All in all, things are really coming together and I have so many ideas for my service site.  Although I cannot (or would never) demand things be done my way, I can’t wait to see what I can do for them with my ideas. 
Thank you all again for your thoughts and prayers.  The messages, snapchats, emails, and texts are getting me through!  You’re the best!  LOTS OF LOVE on Valentine’s Day from South Africa! Miss you all!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ALL Thanks to You!!

Another few days have come and passed, yet I feel like I just wrote my last blog.  Time flies here… I guess that means I’m having fun!  On Friday, we were introduced to our Marquette Theology class.  Throughout the class, we have some of the most amazing experiences planned.  We will meet the two men who killed Amy Biehl and started the foundation I am working for in her honor.  We will also most likely be able to meet her mother who just so happens to be visiting during our time here.  This class will also bring about our trips to Robin Island, the apartheid museum, Constitutional Hill, and a Zulu village.

Living in a learning community is an entirely new experience for me.  Every day when people get home, we sit and talk about our days.  It’s like having 20 parents asking how your day was!! We also really do learn from each other.  I was talking to one of my housemates the other day and they brought up their service site.  They said the children had so much to ask about America and most of them thought it was all Hollywood.  They asked about celebrities we knew and have seen…. Just this simple conversation gave me a plan for my entire day at Hlengisa today. 

I began my day with two classes of 9th graders—the students who gave me the hardest time on Thursday.  Needless to say, I was shaking in my boots when good ol’ Pearnel dropped me off.  He wished me luck and kept honking the horn randomly as I walked up to the door of the school.  I have to say, he definitely always makes me walk in with a smile on my face!

When I walked into the first classroom, I was given an entire packet of nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives to teach the 9th graders.  I put the packet on the desk and walked away from it for most of the class.  After having each student stand and tell me their name and something about themselves, I opened the class to questions about me and America.  Hands shot up, one after another.  Every class was interested in if I have a boyfriend…..and then why not, if I have children, and my home life.  When I told them I was involved in musicals and basketball during high school, they wouldn’t let me leave the classroom until I sang for them.  No matter how much I tried to push it off….so yes, me and one other student broke out in Beyonce’s Halo and received the loudest applause I’ve ever heard in a classroom.  After Pearnel dropping me off and this applause, I was pretty confident about the day ahead of me and it was only 8:30am!!
As the questions continued, every class, without fail, brought up Hollywood and celebrities.  They wanted to know if I see celebrities, which one is my favorite, etc…  After I explained that Hollywood is a 4 hour plane ride from my house, they seemed a bit confused.  They honestly all thought America is Hollywood.  When I explained that Los Angeles is about the size of Cape Town, they couldn’t believe it.  They also had no idea that we had crime in the states.  I was interrogated about the kind of crime we have and if there are people in the states that have abusive parents and relationships.  As much as I have been through culture shock, these children were in shock when they heard some of my answers. 

Most of the time, there were people talking and whispering during students’ questions and my answers.  It was only when the deeper questions came that the class was absolutely silent. I was asked if I trusted my friends at home.  When I answered yes, they asked, “some people say ‘love all, trust no one’ so how can you trust your friends?”  I was also asked if I have ever had to choose between my friends and my parents.  Though these questions were simple for me to answer, I was astounded by how quiet my answers made these students.  It was then that I realized that these are the things we have in common.  In America, we are so distant from one another so it may seem unusual to be asked these questions so early…or hugged by people you barely know.  Here, they will ask anything and hugs are a simple greeting.  They wanted to know things that are apparent in their own lives and how I would deal with them.   After all of this, I really felt like I had received their utmost respect. 

Fifth grade was a struggle because of the language barrier.  They all brought in homemade instruments for our music chapter today.  After I gave them notes in “personal and social wellbeing” (PSW), it was time for “creative arts!”  Every time I would try to explain rhythm, counts, pitch, etc.. they would just bang on their instruments exactly like I did.  I think they had a ball, but not so sure about the whole learning part… But hey!  It’s fifth grade and they had fun!  It’s only difficult because they don’t understand a word coming out of my mouth.  They answer “yes, teacher” to everything I say—even when I ask a question that the obvious answer is no.  As I kept thinking about it, it was like when I was in 8th grade Spanish.  I was able to read and write anything you wanted me to, but if you spoke at me I would have no idea what you were saying.  Now imagine that…..and all your classes are in that language.  I can’t even imagine.

I think its safe to say I got through today very well due to all your thoughts and prayers.  When I walked in, I remembered just how many people I had rooting for me today.   So basically you just put smiles on about 200 South African children’s faces in one day.  They all thank you!!! And so do I!

P.S. One student couldn't grasp the idea that I wasn't doing anything for Valentine’s day… He came up to me and asked if he could be my valentine afterward.  SO precious!!  

Also... QUICK SHOUT OUT to all my previous teachers who have been helping me the past week.  You have all saved me, I can't thank you enough!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I think I can, I think I can....

Yesterday after a long morning at school, I was picked up and ready to go home.  Surprise!! We weren’t going home!  I was brought to the Amy Biehl foundation office and dropped off.  When I walked in the office, no one knew what we were there for… TIA I guess.  So after much confusion, we were on our way out to the townships to “pick” our schools that we were to start at today (Thursday).  When we were driving around the townships, it was as if we were in a parade.  All the children would run to the side of the van and smile and wave at us as if we were on display.  I felt like a princess waving out the window to all the smiling children.  When it came time to “pick” our schools, it consisted of pulling up to each one and frantically being shoved out of the van and brought in to meet our teacher.  After this stressful hour, I was placed at Hlengisa Junior Primary/Secondary School for no reason in particular. 

Today was my first day at Hlengisa with Mr. Gaji… well, I thought it was going to be with Mr. Gaji.  The extent of this Gaji man was him introducing me to each class and leaving.  My first class was 8th grade English.  I was not quite prepared for the language barrier, though.  In the past two weeks, we haven’t had much difficulty with English because most of the older people know it.  When you get into a school, you realize that the children barely know it.  If they do, they are very hard to understand….so English was definitely a rough point today in addition to playing the whole teacher game.

I will be there Tuesdays and Thursdays and have classes all day of fifth grade, eighth grade, and ninth grade.  The fifth grade class is a “Life Skills” class.  I will be teaching the creative arts and personal and social wellbeing components of this class.  This should be no problem because the chapter I was introduced to sounds like its mainly musical.  Thank God for my house of 21 people because I’m hoping some empty bottles filled with sand and rice will make for some fun days with 10 year olds!

The eighth and ninth grade classes are both English courses.  I was completely thrown out of my element with those.  This was the biggest culture shock I’ve experienced since I’ve been here.  The 8th grade class was reading a story called “Schoolboy found hanged by his school tie.”  This was a news story that a teacher had typed out and put basic questions with.  They had received the reading on January 29, already answered the questions, already corrected the questions, and were just sitting there with the same story.  Mr. Gaji instructed them to rewrite the questions and answers on a sheet of paper in groups.  As we all know, groups in 8th grade turn into gossip sessions and today I was the gossip of the day.  Once again, I felt as though I was in a display case at the front of the classroom.  I was a foreign object that spoke a different language.   They didn’t really even seem to care that they blatantly stared at me instead of doing their work.  The only upside to this was that about ten twelve-year-olds told me they loved me… so if all else fails, I have twelve-year-old love goin for me!!

The ninth grade class was very similar.  The students took advantage of a student teacher as much as they possibly could and I had just about nothing to go with as far as a lesson plan, so any lessons I make will be an improvement already!  The ninth graders had to write 80 words about themselves.  I began grading them and came across some things I never imagined I would.  I read so many things about townships I never knew existed in real life.  Most of the children live near the school with either parents or aunts and uncles.  They all talked about their family, favorite subjects, and favorite sports.  These were the things I was expecting.  The openness to their personality and ups and downs of life hit me like a brick wall.  Good thing I’m not an easy crier… Though I did not receive one person’s respect today in this classroom, it will get better.   Many wrote about never having a birthday party, so I think that might be a safe place to begin.  (THANKS DIANNE!!!)

Thank you for all the prayers, everything is going well! Life is a bit overwhelming, but its exactly what I wanted!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reality Check

These past few days have flown by.  Friday was the beginning of our Marquette courses.  Though the entire house arrived about 40 minutes late because the drivers were running on “African time,” we still were able to get a great introduction to our first course.  The course title is Leaders in Grassroots Organizations: Community Development and Social Analysis.  Friday was just focused on life in the townships and how these people actually survive. 

During the apartheid, there were many laws about where different races were able to live.  When those laws ended, there was no way of just picking up everyone from their living situations and moving them.  South Africa is still very much living the apartheid just without the laws.  One huge contribution to the poverty is that most of the employment opportunities are in the city of Cape Town. With most empty jobs in the Northwest corner of South Africa and most shacks and poor people located in the Southeast corner, there is not an easy way for these people to get jobs.  If some are able to get these low income jobs, the income is almost completely used on transportation to and from work.  This means these people cannot even afford bread for their families.  This domino effect is seen in every aspect of life.  When you cannot afford food, you certainly are not able to afford garbage bags.  The garbage then piles up in fields and next to the shacks which makes for horribly dirty and unsanitary living conditions.  This, in turn, provides many health issues for the people.  There is no refrigeration, no toilets or sanitary sewage outlets….most of our essential living needs are not even a thought in these townships.

The government has put in place a system where they try to replace some shacks with small houses.  In order to be chosen to move to these houses, you have to have your name put on a list and those who make less than 800 Rand (about $89) per month get first option.  This number may sound low, but most of these people have absolutely no income so there is still a huge waiting list.  Even when some people are able to move into the homes, they will stay in their shack, rent the home out, and make enough money to buy bread for the family. 

A 4-5 person home is 23 square meters of bare, cement walls with sandy floors.  Most of the ground here is very sandy so even when these homes are built, they are never on a very sturdy foundation.  This makes for cracks in the walls and ceiling in a short amount of time because parts of the house sink into the sand.  There is also mold everywhere in many of the homes.  Even if you are lucky enough to move into one of these government homes, it means you must leave your entire community and move to a new place where you most likely don’t know anyone.  The communities of shacks are extremely close knit people because their living arrangements are just so close they become family. 

This was the introduction to our Leadership course which will coincide with our service sites.  All of the children I will be teaching currently live in these townships.  In order to attend the Amy Biel after school programs, they must be a full time student at a school and they must agree to come to the program every school day.  If they are able to fulfill these requirements, they are never turned away at Amy Biel.  This is difficult for children sometimes though because they are needed to take care of younger siblings.  There are many circumstances in which if both parents have passed away, there might be a 10 year old taking care of a 6 year old. 

This is the reality in which these people are living...something I cannot fathom even in my worst nightmares.  The innocent faces of children as they run around at school are just happy to be “away from the shacks” (as I read on a poster a child made at Imbasa elementary school).  We are here to be leaders in these places and to begin community organizations for them.  Only about 6% of the people from the townships are involved in any type of community organization and about 89% think they have nothing to offer.  As we try to understand this foreign life, we are called to implement something they need.   We are called to communicate and understand what the needs of these townships are in order to help long term- hoping our projects will be carried on and fulfilled long after our time here in South Africa.

Our service sites begin this week.  I am excited to see what this semester has in store for me.  I have virtually nothing in common with these children except for true compassion and love.  I’m just hoping that will be enough to get me through some of the stories I will hear.
In other news, K-House had our first braii today!  A braii is a traditional African BBQ/party.  It was scheduled to begin at 3pm and at about 1:30 we were told we had to go grocery shopping and make all the food.  Everyone seems so casual about things like this whereas we were all frantically running around the store and trying to cook as fast as possible.  I never really felt the phrase "a watched pot NEVER boils" before today trying to make pasta salad with 15 mins left before people arrived. Still, none of the Africans seemed worried or rushed! (TIA!) We had about 60 people over and cooked more food than an army would be able to eat.  Our refrigerator is jam packed with leftovers.  It was very successful and we all met some great, new people.   Most of the guests were from UWC and were interested in an international program so were very willing to learn about America.  (MANY more cultural differences were discussed).  This was basically an all day event so now most of the house is exhausted. 
Much more to come in the days ahead!