Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dear Everyone,
I am grovelling, on my knees, begging your forgiveness, for the long wait between posts. I have no excuses. Well I do actually- there was only one computer with very slow internet for everyone at our hostel this month, and we were very busy. So I owe you a lot of information.
The end of Thailand was wonderful. The last night in Ban Huay Hee, we had a going away party in the open bamboo hut we used as a classroom. First they sang and danced for us (which was amazing), then we all had to sing for them. This time we were a little more prepared than we were in Shaxi, so rather than singing Mulan was sang Green Day's 'Time of Your Life' with Alexis playing guitar. Afterwards, we showed them all our media projects. I wasn't looking forward to that, because it seemed silly to show them things that would educate them about their own community, but it went so well. When they saw the stop motion film Renee, Katie R., and Lily made they laughed so hard. All of our families loved the media projects, and were so excited to see themselves and their lives on film. It was a really amazing night. The goodbyes the next morning were very tearful, and literally everyone in the town (the woman and children I mean, the men were out working) shook every one of our hands.
The enrichment week was nice, and relaxing. We took a really cool Thai cooking class. Some of us rode elephants! That was awesome. The last night there, right before we left for our two day journey to South Africa, almost half the group got a horrible 24 hour stomach bug, me included. That was really unfortunate. Luckily it ended not too far into our travelling, so we weren't too uncomfortable.
Then we got to South Africa! We're staying at Amakaya Backpackers. The nine girls are all in a large dormitory with a kitchen-ish set up (no oven), and a bathroom. The boys have a smaller dorm room, with no kitchen or bathroom. They have to use the ones in the main building. It's about time- the guys always have the bigger, nicer, rooms, even though there are fewer of them!
The first few days, we toured the townships we'd be working in, had lunch on the beach (which is really near Amakaya), and had orientation meetings at Plettaid, our partner NGO. After that, we started work. In the mornings we'd meet our care workers in the townships, and go around with them until 1 pm. John and I were partnered with Margaret, a Xhosa woman in the township of Kwanokauthula. She's this incredibly expansive woman- she talks and laughs loudly, and is not afraid of saying whatever she pleases. Becca and Noah were also working in Kwanokuthula, but with Pumza, a new careworker. She worked in Phase Three, the newest (and farthest away) part of the township. Margaret worked in Phase One and a little of Phase Two, both of which were very close to the clinic which was our home base. Becca, Noah, John, and I would all sit there in the morning before Pumza and Margaret met us, in the afternoon when they dropped us off and Percy (the TBB driver) hadn't picked us up yet, and in the middle of the day if the carers had to be in the clinic with a patient. Often passing people would stop and talk to us, becuase it was strange for four white kids to be hanging out in a township, especially at the clinic.
Whoops I have to go romp with the cheetahs and lions and get a massage from a crazy hippy lady (I'm on independent travel in Karoo), so I'll finish later.