Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lots of photos from Tweeling!

We're spending Sunday in Johannesburg, where we can see movies and use high-speed internet, so I wanted to post some of my favorite photos that we have taken so far. The first is of our neighbor, Thokozile, and her mother. I printed this photo for
them and they were so excited to have copies.

The second picture is of our neighbor Zambo (on the bike) and two of the other neighborhood boys cooperating on a bike ride.

The kids at Refeng-Thabo love when I

bring the camera to school, so I have about 200 to choose from. All day, when I bring the camera to school, students come up to me and say "Miss, shoot me..." When I show them the image on the digital camera, they burst out laughing. Every time.

Andy taught Zambo and Debeho how to play baseball and now they want to play all day every day. Kagiso (the one diving for the catch) got very good. There are always a group of kids looking to play here, and they LOVE to pose for the camera.

Andy visited The Crech, Tweeling's township preschool, a few weeks ago. The kids

performed all of their traditional songs and dances for him and now 3-5 year-old kids come running up to him to say hello whenever he is in the township.

The family that lives in front of us is the Motales, and Lerato Motale celebrated his 16th birthday on Friday. Lerato and George are taking part in a very popular South African tradition, grilling a gigantic sausage for Lerato's birthday. The braii (grill) is a big deal here and South Africans love their meat. This sausage is just part of the mixed grill, many different types of meat that the boys braiied for everyone.

Lastly, more pictures of the kids, some at Tweeling township's Valentines Day dance-a-thon/beauty paegent, and some making scary faces for the camera in our backyard. It's hard to take a bad picture of these kids, because they are just so adorable, and you will never want for subjects.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thanks for the Donations Booth-Fickett!

That's what most people here are saying these days. Not only did the librarians at Booth-Fickett help to stock the library at Refeng-Thabo through a book drive, but several members of the staff took on the collections of donations for Refeng-Thabo. The donations were deposited into the school's account yesterday and we have planned to use the money to install an alarm system at the school, which the province of Free State has required before they will install the 25 computers that have been donated by the state. It's hard to explain how huge an opportunity it is for Refeng-Thabo's students to be able to learn computer skills, and that in a community which has 90% unemployment the advantage that learning computer skills provides for these students when they are looking for a job. It is such a touching show of the American culture of charity that it has provided the students, teachers, and community members of Tweeling with a very positive experience of American culture.

The boxes of donated books, pens, pencils, and maps arrived 2 weeks ago and every learner has received a Booth-Fickett pen, which they love. You can see them using the Booth-Fickett pens in the photos, as well as reading donated National Geographics. An earlier post showed students using Jonathan Senn's donated atlases, which students come to my office to borrow as references every day.

It is our hope that the computers will be installed by the end of March, and I will post photos of our students and teachers learning how to use them (most of them from scratch!). The school is planning a more formal thank you, but I am very thankful for the generosity, the compassion, and the initiative that you have shown in gathering books, money, and other donations for this school, where they are definitely needed and appreciated!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Visit to Johannesburg and the Apartheid Museum

Last weekend we visited Johannesburg and the amazing Apartheid museum. The museum follows the history of South Africa up to the instituting of Apartheid and the ways that Apartheid separated and disadvantaged anyone who wasn't white. You are given a tag when you enter that defines your race. Kate was "non-white," Andy was "white." We had to go in through separate entries and were not allowed to meet back up until we had walked through an exhibit on how people were racially defined, which was very much arbitrary. For example, people who played rugby were white, but people who played soccer were colored (of mixed races, it's actually a legitimate term here) or black.

The museum finishes with a celebration of 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected, and an honest look at the violence that existed in the transition to democracy. Given the comparison with nearby Zimbabwe (where there was terrible violence and white farmers were ordered off of thier land for the last 20 years. There was another final deadline just 2 weeks ago and the country looks as though chaos will break out), South Africa has alot to be proud of.

We also had time to explore Johannesburg a little bit. Despite the movies that show it as dangerous and terrifying, it is a very cool city. There are very dangerous parts of the city, but we will be staying away from them and trying to enjoy the cooler parts (good restaurants, shopping, and museums). There is a ton to do there and we were glad to learn the reality of Johannesburg vs. what we saw in Tsotsi.

Friday, February 9, 2007

A Birthday Party and a Beach Weekend

The computers in Tweeling were down for a bit last week, so I haven't been able to update in a few weeks. As soon as we came to Tweeling, our friends Danny and Thokozile Motale invited us to their nephew's birthday party in Sharpeville, outside
Johannesburg. The party was two weeks ago and we had a wonderful time with the family. In Sotho culture, the first birthday is a very big deal and the family went all out for little Carabello (including the slaughtering of a sheep - done Friday before we arrived - and the erecting of a jumping castle).
We were very welcome guests and it was interesting to see the site of the Sharpeville Massacre, when the police opened fire on protesters who were protesting the Pass Laws, which required Black South Africans to carry a pass to leave their town and to enter white areas.

Kate finally finished peeling from her first sunburn, so last week we felt the beach pull. We visited one of the coolest beaches we have ever been to, Zinkwazi Beach in
KwaZulu Natal. It was a 5 hour drive to get there, but worth it to spend some time at such a gorgeous spot. KwaZulu Natal is the province just east of Free State and, with huge mountains and beautiful beaches, is a great spot to be close to.

On the way back we had our first bit of what will hopefully be rare bad luck. We stopped for gas about 2 hours from home and the car would not start after we filled up. The gas station attendant gave us a lesson in push starting the car, which kept us running for about 15 minutes, when evrything electrical in the car came on and the car stopped completely. Luckily, South Africa has a service very similar to AAA
(called AA) and a membership came with our car insurance. They came to pick us up at 6pm and were able to replace the regulator on the alternator by 8pm. Very unusual since everything closes here at 5pm during the week and 1pm on the weekend, but we were able to be back in Tweeling by 10pm and Kate was able to make it to school the next day.