• 21Mar

    Sylvia’s party

    This past Saturday we were cordially invited to a party at the home of Sylvia Nqenqa to celebrate her coming out of mourning. One year ago, Sylvia’s husband passed away, and on the day of his funeral, her house also burned down from an accidental candle fire. Poor Sylvia! Fortunately, there were a few small shacks on her property so she was able to move into another space while renovating, but it was a really devastating blow.

    Sylvia Nqenqa

    Sylvia Nqenqa

    Apparently, mourning is a tradition introduced by missionaries — nothing African about it — and part of the tradition means dressing in dark clothes. For one year Sylvia has worn the exact same navy blazer, powder blue cotton sweater, head scarf, and formless navy skirt…. So you can imagine how exciting it was when the year was up and she got all new clothes, and gifts to replace the items destroyed in the fire!

    Sylvias brother-in-law

    Sylvia's brother-in-law

    Our ASAP boss was in town, so she bought a really nice set of China to take as a gift from the entire Hlomelikusasa staff. We were very excited to go, although it rained the entire night before and the road was a mess. The rural areas are impossible to get to w/o a 4-wheel drive. Even w/ our driver, Themba, behind the wheel we eventually had to get out and walk the last 200 yards.

    Singing and Dancing

    Singing and Dancing

    We were greeted with songs and dancing, and Sylvia Nqenqa–practically glowing in a beautiful new dress made with fabric brought to her from Johannesburg. She was very honored that Hlomelikusasa came to celebrate with her and her family on this special day. There seems to be an uncomfortable dynamic between Sylvia and our project manager. Back in the day (when they were doing Red Cross), Sylvia was her boss, but now that S. is just a village health worker, the power has shifted. But none-the-less it was a festive day, and we seemed to be honored guests.

    In fact, we were such honored guests that they slaughtered a sheep for us. Um … thanks, I guess? They brought the sheep into the room we were all sitting in, and Sylvia’s nephew gave a big speech about what an honor it was to have us there, and would we accept this sheep. If I’d had my way, I would have accepted the sheep and then set it free, but that’s not how it works. Fikiswa (the Hlom. secretary and lovely girl) told me they were going to slaugher it right there in front of us (a mean lie!) which totally freaked me out, but everyone misread my expression and thought I was scared of sheep. Our project manager stood to accept the gift and say thanks. She said that Andy and Themba would go outside and slaughter the sheep and that we would leave the head and feet for the household to say thank you. Andy turned green at the gills and hid inside with the women while Themba went out and did the deed.

    The lucky sheep

    The lucky sheep

    One village health worker grabbed my hand and offered to take me out back to watch the slaughering, in order to show me that sheep are nothing to be afraid of. I declined. Once the sheep was killed and cooked, we assumed it would be passed around for everyone to enjoy, but it was only for us! We were not allowed to share it with anyone else–not even Sylvia! And what we didn’t eat we took with us when we left. Andy, Priscilla, and I donated our portions to Boniswa and the rest of the staff. Thanks but no thanks.

    Fikiswa, Themba and Nokulunga eating Mr Sheep

    Fikiswa, Themba and Nokulunga eating Mr Sheep

    It was a fun party! They were really bummed when we left. Apparently it was going to be an all nighter, with lots of singing and dancing and storytelling. That would have been fun, but there’s only so much fun I can take in one day — especially when there’s slaughtering involved!

    Thanks for the celebration, Sylvia

    Thanks for the celebration, Sylvia!

    Filed under: Uncategorized
    1 Comment
  • 13Mar

    30 Days Notice

    That’s right. Hlomelikusasa is being EVICTED!

    Our office is prime realty, located at the top of the main road in the Public Works Department. We occupy a small 3m by 3m room adjoined to the Traffic Department’s similar sized room. Well, it looks like the Traffic Department wants our office, and an NGO helping orphans and vulnerable children seems to be expendable in the eyes of the Public Works Department.


    Hlomelikusasa office (the door on the right -- not the whole box)

    Our ASAP boss was in town when we got the eviction notice, and she’s trying to make waves — what right does the Traffic Department have to demand OUR space? Of course, when confronted everyone in Traffic denies it. “Who, us? Kick you out of your office? Why, we’d never do something like that!” But they would, and they have. A dozen phone calls were made, and as usual nobody wants to take responsibility. Priscilla even drove an hour away to the head office in Kokstad this AM to meet with the movers and shakers, but apparently it’s a done deal. Traffic wants the office, and so Traffic gets it.


    Public Works Department, (our office in the backround) is one of the most secure & guarded areas in town

    Scilla & Boniswa were able to negotiate that 30 days is unreasonable. If Public Works can’t provide an alternate office, we can’t be completely left in the lurch. The big problem is that there is no free space in town. All the land is “spoken for” which is an odd concept alltogether. People don’t pay for land here, they simply take their case to the Chief or Head Man, tell him what land they want, and he decides whether or not they can have it. Sucks for Hlomelikusasa, because ALL the land in town is either in use or spoken for.

    andy & gcina

    Andy & Gcina hard at work in our measly office.

    fik & sim

    Fikiswa & Simthembile doing officey things.

    There’s a possibility of renting an office in the renovated section of the Makaula Hotel (The Makaulas are Mount Frere royalty), but we’re still waiting on that. We are planning to build new offices, but finding land that is close enough to town for all our Village Health Workers and orphans to get to is posing a difficult problem. We get a LOT of walk-ins here — people reporting cases of abuse, neglect, or death in their area — and if our office is too far out of town, those cases may never be reported.


    Mama Ngule, our project manager at Hlomelikusasa

    It makes you want to SCREAM!!!!! Wish us luck, and if anyone has any weight in the Mount Frere area, see if you can get us a nice piece of land in town, eh?


    Talking with Public Works has just made it more clear that Traffic are indeed the ones trying to push us out. We’ve gained a month or too of time to find a new office and we’re going to ratchet up the political pressure next week. In the meantime, the office at Makaula Hotel turned out to be a shoebox for R2000/mo (OK, it’s only $200, but that’s significantly more than our flat, for example and we can’t afford it.)

    Filed under: Uncategorized
  • 05Mar

    What do 200 chickens look like?

    Livin' in a cardboard box

    Mrs Nomatchaka stopped by the office on Friday, having spent most of the day in Mthatha picking up some chicklets. She raises them and sells them, and this time had bought 100 white ones and 100 red ones to share with a friend.

    Cut to the chase: baby chickens are cute in large enough numbers.

    Two hundred chickens

    Two hundred chickens

    The red ones are apparently just raised for meat whilst the white ones can be laying hens. Because they were splitting them between two people, there was a little sorting to be done (on the porch outside our office, naturally).

    Sorting chickens for fun and profit

    Sorting chickens for fun and profit

    For those of you thinking of starting your own chicken-rearing operation in the Eastern Cape, here’s some quick facts:

    • 100 chickens cost R280 (about $28)
    • You can sell a fully grown chicken for R40-R50
    • Around 95% of the birds will make it to adulthood, barring massive infection which can wipe you out.
    • They take about six weeks to rear if you give them enough food, longer if you just let them scratch for their own food.
    • Full grown chickens are pretty ugly and smell bad.
    • Cats can be friends with chickens.
    Filed under: Uncategorized
  • 24Feb


    There’s no photo to illustrate this post because I promised a guy I wouldn’t post it. We spotted a van parked at our flat which was from an organization called “The Mount Frere Police Tea Club”. I took a picture hoping to share this fascinating sight with you, dear readers. Thirty seconds later we were hailed outside our door by the driver of the van, who was upset that we might reveal his secret — that this van exists — to the world.

    So I told him we wouldn’t post the photo. Sorry! Why is everybody even peripherally  involved with the police so opposed to photography? This was a picture of an empty vehicle and the guy was really nervous about it.

    This post is dedicated to anyone who gets arrested in the UK under the new “don’t photograph the police” law.

    Filed under: Uncategorized
  • 19Feb

    School Registration

    This week I tagged along on with Nokonwaba and Phindiwe to do school registration. It lasts from mid-January until mid-March, and we go to the Junior Secondary Schools (JSS , grades R-9) and Senior Secondary Schools (SSS, grades 10-12) that Hlomelikusasa represents to take down information about all of the orphans and vulnerable children in the school. Most of the OVC don’t have uniforms (or very shabby ones) or the necessary school supplies. The children are not always in the Hlomelikusasa system, either. If you can believe it, our office is horrifically disorganized. Sometimes it takes months for a report to be added into the computer (if at all) because Fikiswa is the only person in the office with computer literacy. (Oh, but we’re going to give computer lessons next weekend! woo hoo!).


    Nokonwaba & Phindiwe registering students at a rural JSS

    Here’s what I saw:

    It is a tough process, probably somewhat altered because umlungu (‘white person’ or more accurately ‘interloper’) was there to observe. The teacher at one school complained to me that the orphans were pretty well off, and that it was the children with two parents who had the real problems. I’m sure most children in the rural areas have it pretty bad, but our focus at Hlomelikusasa is to help orphans, and I doubt the OVC have it as ‘great’ as she seemed to think.


    Children in line for registration at a rural JSS

    The kids waited in a line outside to be seen and assessed by Nokonwaba and Phindiwe. The village health worker for each area comes, too, so she can help wrangle the known OVC. Each child came in one at a time to give their vital stats: age (some kids don’t even know how old they are), grade, whether or not they already have a Child Care Grant or Foster Care Grant. The kids were poked and prodded (in a relatively friendly way) to check their size for a new uniform. And then we gave them learning materials–a pencil for the youngest kids; pencil, pen, simple calculator, and pencil box for the old kids.

    Most kids are wearing school uniforms that are either too big or too small, and completely falling apart at the seams. The situation with uniforms is ridiculous. They cost about the equivalent of $20 for a full uniform, but some kids need 2 uniforms (one for special occasions), or also a track suit, or a blazer, pantyhose, scarves… It’s ridiculous to ask for these things from kids that don’t even have enough money to eat. Some schools deny entry if the kids aren’t wearing uniforms.


    Rural JSS. Most schools have solar panels for electicity (most have been stolen, but this school had a nice one, and a TV in the teacher's lounge!)

    The age range is unbelievable. There are kids as old as 18 that are still in grade 6. Most kids are older than you’d think for the grade they’re in, actually. Some of the really old kids are “mentally disturbed” and shouldn’t even be in the schools they’re in. Unfortunately, the special schools are for reeeaaallly disturbed kids, and most of these guys wouldn’t fit the criteria. “Mentally disturbed” is the blanket term that they use for anyone with problems. I may have already mentioned this in another post, but I think a lot of the “mentally disturbed” kids are autistic, and many of them probably have fetal alcohol syndrome. There are so many drunks around here, men and women alike.


    The government has started providing nutrition in schools--used to just be bread 2x a week, but now it is semp & beans every day (I think). Tasted pretty good!

    One little boy was so dirty it looked like he’d been beaten. Nokonwaba made him unbutton his shirt, and what looked like giant scabs was just layers and layers of dirt. The child had no one around to make sure he bathed. It was sad and gross.

    Oh, this was crazy: at one school, a JSS, there was no grade 9. The way Nokonwaba explained it to me, they had eliminated grade 9 because all the kids were leaving to get married. I asked her “Why?” and she just shrugged and said, “I guess they’re parents are into it.” I haven’t met a married 15 year old, but I guess it’s pretty common.


    Very poor rural school. In case you wondered what they do with broken chairs, they put them on the roof to keep it from blowing off.

    Another boy had moved on to SSS but was visiting his old JSS to try to get a teacher to stand up for him to get his birth certificate. I’m unclear on all the details, but basically, when he was a baby, his mother had locked him up in a room for days at a time. When a neighbor found out, they sent him to Mount Frere to live with his grandmother. When the grandmother died, he moved to the grannies sister’s household. Now the boy is 18 and he doesn’t have a birth certificate and he doesn’t know who his parents are. In order to get monetary support from the government you need to have death certificates of your parents and your own birth certificate. The teacher kept asking me what I was going to do about it, and I didn’t know what to say. That is such a common story around here, and there is so much red tape. The kid is already too old to receive a grant, and his great-aunt’s pension is probably stretched between a dozen people at their house.


    As soon as you get the camera out the kids come running!!!!!

    School reg. is a long, exhausting process. There are almost 100 schools to assess, and most of them are very remote. It’s difficult to assess more than two schools per day, and so the kids that don’t get seen till the end will be without uniforms and school supplies for the first 2 months of the school year. It seems like there should be a more efficient system, right?

    Filed under: Uncategorized
  • 10Feb

    ASAP/Hlom. video

    filming Over the months I’ve talked with Priscilla about the idea of doing a short documentary/promo video for the organization. It’s going to be a “day in the life” look at one of our Village Health Workers. There are so many incredible VHW in the surrounding rural areas, some cooking for as many as 50 orphans per day!
    Ultimately we are planning to put the video on YouTube and the ASAP website, which means that I really needed to find a VHW with good English. It would be too difficult to read subtitles on a small screen.


    Interviewing in the sewing room

    So we finally chose a village health worker named Sylvia Nqenqa (pronounced N-click-en-click-uh.) She is 79 years old. Several days per week Sylvia cooks for and feeds 14 orphans, in addition to her own son who lives at home, 11 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild. There are a lot of stories from her 79 years, and she is totally adorable. A little frazzled, and her train of thought gets really wack-a-doo sometimes, but she’s great.

    Mrs. Nqenqa

    Mrs. Nqenqa outside the garden

    Yesterday, Andy and I—along with Precious, our translator—went out to Mount White, Mrs. Nqenqa’s location, about 50km from Mount Frere. We spent about 3 hours interviewing her; touring her house (including a sewing room with 5 sewing machines where she makes school uniforms, shoes, and decorative items); discussing and shooting her large garden full of mealies, potatoes, cabbage, and many medicinal plants; and looking at old photographs.

    young Nqenqa

    Young Mrs. Nqenqa!

    We’ll go back again in a few days/weeks to get footage of the orphans coming to Sylvia’s drop-in center for nutrition. There’s also a big party coming up at Mrs. Nqenqa’s. Her husband died in February of 2008, and so there will be festivities at the one year anniversary, when she will be given many presents, and finally allowed to change from the navy blue mourning suit she has worn for the past year. We’ve even been invited to the braai—and you know I love a good braai!!!


    Medicinal plants in her garden

    PS-After we’d finished the interview and were waiting for Themba to pick us up in the backie, Mrs. Nqenqa’s granddaughter brought us some mealie juice! It’s been offered before, but this was the first time we drank it. It’s basically stamped corn and sugar mixed with water. It was good… kind of.

    mealie juice

    Yumm... and we didn't even get sick!

    PPS-In answer to Chrissy’s question, and for those of you who are unclear: we work for African Solutions to African Problems, which is a non-profit organization that offers assistance to already-existing community based organizations in rural SA. Specifically, we are working with a CBO called Hlomelikusasa, but most of what we do goes through and is approved in on way or another by Priscilla / ASAP.

    Filed under: Uncategorized
  • 04Feb

    Hiring at Hlom.

    Last week we hired a new assistant for our overworked nutrition and permaculture manager, Nokulunga. His name is Simthembile and seems very nice, if a little shy. Andy and I had a few issues with their hiring process–they did not hire the best candidate, but instead chose the poorest. I can understand their sympathy, but it may not have been the best choice for the organization. But, so far Simthembile seems like a nice guy and eager to learn (though, if he’s so poor, how does he have a sweet mp3 player?)

    Next we hired a youth coordinator. There were only two applicants: former SPW youth, who have spent the past year learning to be peer educators in rural communities. We ended up hiring the young man, Siyabonga, and today was his first day. So far, I think he’s off to a really good start. He seems really interested in involving youth groups, making kids aware of all their options, etc.

    One of the biggest problems we’ve encountered is that kids don’t have a clue what they want to be or do. Most kids that are in grade 11, 12, or have finished matric, tell us they want to be an accountant, police, social worker, or nurse. Those are without a doubt the most parroted job ideas. Here’s the catch: most of the kids who want to be accountants have failed maths, or gotten really bad grades. Here’s another catch: they want to be a policeman, but they need a driving license to apply for the training, and nobody can afford to take driving lessons.

    Part of Siyabonga’s job as our new youth coordinator is to help the youth become aware of all their options. Everyone wants to go to university, but if their grades are very low, it is unlikely that they’ll get bursaries or financial support. There are many local technical colleges and business schools that ASAP and Hlom. can support, and we are trying to get the matrics interested in some of the career paths offered at those schools (FET, CIDA etc). So, fingers crossed. Siyabonga seems full of ideas so far, and we’re really excited to see what he comes up with.

    Finally, we are trying to hire a part time social worker to do Child Assessments and follow ups. On a daily basis there are vulnerable youth and orphans brought to the attention of Hlomelikusasa. It is a delicate job, and we need someone with training and experience who can ask difficult personal questions to the children to find out their level of vulnerability and how Hlom. can help.

    This week alone we have had several cases come in. Yesterday, a 16 year old girl came in (one of the kids from our Xmas trip to Port St. Johns). She was crying, and it turned out that her grandmother/caretaker wants to pull her out of school and marry her off to some stranger. This poor girl looked so scared. She came to Hlomelikusasa for help, because social development was too busy and could not do anything for her. There was another girl, also 17, who’s mother recently died and does not know her father. She wants to go to school but cannot afford her uniform or school fees and supplies. She has a 1 year old baby, and is staying with a family friend temporarily.

    We are in the midst of school registration process, and finding children on a daily basis who are not going to school because they can’t afford a new uniform. The principals won’t let them attend if they are not in proper attire. Boniswa found a child this morning who is starving, and begging for food outside the school before class.

    We’re having a hard time filling the Child Assessment position. Ideally, we would like to hire a retired social worker with lots of experience and nothing else to do but that’s not looking too promising. So far we’ve had the flyer up for a week and have had a few inexperienced teenagers come in, and one girls who is actually in her final year of social work training at Walter Sisulu University. She’s our best bet so far, but I hope we at least get a few more decent applicants!!!

    Filed under: Uncategorized
  • 25Jan


    Last weekend we attended our first Mount Frere funeral. The funeral was for the sister of our project manager at Hlomelikusasa. We knew Boniswa’s sister, Pretty, had been sick with diabetes for some time, and had been staying in hospital in Mount Frere. Unfortunately, on January 10th she died, and the funeral was the following weekend. Since we’d never met Pretty, we were surprised to be invited, but happy that Boniswa wanted our moral support.

    (sorry for no pics in this post, but we thought it would be rude to shoot at a funeral)

    We were nervous to go: what should we wear? What should we bring? How long would it last? Where would it be? etc. What to wear: dresses for girls, anything (even jeans) for boys. What to bring: money–but we didn’t have any! Crap! How long would it be, well, read on…

    Themba picked us up in the backie at 9AM and we got out to Mama Ngule’s family’s house at 9:45. Immediately we were ushered into a room where women from the Methodist church were standing together and singing prayers. The music was beautiful. As each song ended, someone would stand up to give a short prayer in Xhosa and then another song would begin. After a while, the ladies dispersed, and Andy and I were a little shocked to see that the coffin was right behind them. Pretty’s Methodist outfit and cane were laid out on top of the coffin, along with some small floral arrangements– less than 10 feet away!

    They were running behind schedule, so Andy and I were given an assignment: folding programs and making addendums to it. It was a good way to pass the time and for us to feel a little more useful. Then we passed out the programs to all the mourners that were gathering underneath the tents. All funerals in Mount Frere are held under large tents. Sometimes the tents are white (like the one we had at our wedding) but often they are red, blue, and yellow, like circus tents.

    We were told to sit in the second row–right behind the family members and primary mourners–so that a friend of Boniswa’s could translate the ceremony for us. We felt awkward being placed so near the family, surely someone else would’ve preferred the proximity, but we were guests, and guests get a lot of preferential treatment around here.

    The ceremony was … intense. The singing was beautiful (if not a little lackluster–apparently they had been singing and praying and dancing the entire night before, without any sleep, and were now doing it again). There were about 5 preachers there, each slightly different. There was the young, attractive preacher who looked bored and like he didn’t want to be there; the fat bald preacher who screamed his sermon into the microphone at an ungodly decibel; another tall, gruff preacher who almost seemed to be hurling prayers like he was in a kung fu movie; and a few others who just seemed to be there for support. The ceremony–interchanging between sermons and anecdotes told by family members and friends–lasted 4 hours (five if you count the time we spent in the small room with the coffin). Then they collected the programs to be buried in the ground with Pretty–apparently that is a tradition, but we don’t know why–and then with a bit more praying and song, they put Pretty in the family plot behind Mama Ngule’s house.

    After the ceremony it was time to eat. Reluctantly we sat at the 2nd head table (reluctantly because we didn’t want the special treatment while mostly everyone else had to eat off their laps in chairs scattered around the tent). It was a buffet of mutton, rice, semp, chacalaca, mashed butternut, potatoes, and salad. The food was pretty good (minus the mutton, which we didn’t eat). And Iron Brew, a soda I hadn’t had before. It tasted like cough medicine, and I didn’t like it.

    That was it. All in all, a funeral is a funeral. No matter where you are it is full of people celebrating the life, and mourning the death of a loved one. I’d say the biggest difference was those crazy preachers! They were screaming their heads off, but the odd thing was, they were screaming stuff like, “Pretty was a wonderful woman. She had a good life, and never did anything wrong, and so she will be accepted in heaven.” It sounded more like they were telling her to rot in hell!

    *Update: It turns out that the kung fu preacher was the husband of another of Boniswa’s sisters. On his way home from the funeral, driving to Port Elizabeth, he was in a terrible car accident–run off the road by another driver, we think. As of now, he has severe spinal chord damage, and cannot talk or move his legs. It is still unclear what will happen.

    **Update part II: Unfortunately, Boniswa’s brother-in-law died last night. How sad and aweful for the Ngule’s to have another tragedy so close to the last.

    Filed under: Uncategorized
    1 Comment
  • 19Jan

    Holiday round up

    Happy New Year!!!

    We had a great Xmas and New Years holiday in Cape Town with our families. I can hardly believe it’s over already! The seven of us (Andy’s parents, my parents & my sis) rented a slightly-generic-but-fabulous house in a suburb of Cape Town called Bloubergstrand. We spent most of the time lounging around our swimming pool, shooting pool, and cooking in the fabulous, huge kitchen. It was relaxing and fun.

    xmas AM

    Christmas morning in the pool!

    We also managed to keep ourselves busy with various sightseeing adventures. The biggest feat, by far, being our rigorous climb up to the highest point of Table Mountain. It was grueling, but really fun, and quite beautiful.


    Less thank 1/2 way through, and we're already pooped! (not pictured: Jon)

    Early on we went to the highly recommended District 6 Museum, which is an impressive dedication to a sub-section of Cape Town best known for the forced removal of over 60,000 of its inhabitants during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. It was full of personal accounts of life and culture before apartheid, what happened when District Six was deemed a whites-only area and demolished, and where the residents (mostly coloureds, but also Africans, whites, and Indians) were relocated to Cape Flats area. There was a great area w/ recipes written on dish towels that I especially liked–mostly cakes, and a few less delectable recipes, like smilies (sheep heads) and other things I’d be less inclined to reproduce.


    Recipe for Apricot Chutney

    A couple days later we went back to the Kirstenbosch gardens for their Sunday summer concert series, which was … interesting, to say the least. The featured act that evening was Shaun Morgan, of the band Seether. I don’t know much about Seether other than they fit into a general ‘alt-rock’ catagory, which is not really my thing, but we all thought it would be fun. The garden was filled with grunge addicts from 15-50 with bleached, dyed-purple, shaved, or all-of-the-above heads; macabre-ly ironic T-shirts (like, “I Could Fucking Care Less”); and lots of black and safety pins. We felt odd to be there with our parents, but our minds were set to rest when South African native, Shaun Morgan took the stage to great applause and began singing one of his apparent hit songs, “Gasoline,” which opens with the charming line, “I wanna waste her monthly blood; Wanna get some on my love; Wanna get some gasoline; And burn the house down.” Charming, no? It was a strange show, but we had a blast.

    art shot

    Artsy shot of Shaun Morgan through binoculars.

    Another highlight was Robben Island. Unfortunately, Mom and India had to stay home to do flu (which my dad and I both got a few days later). We took a 1/2 hr boat ride out to the island, and were put on a tour bus. It could easily have been lame and touristy, but our tour guide for the first 1/2 was really fantastic. Very enthusiastic and full of titillating anecdotes (like: Robben Island became a leper colony in the 1800’s). He asked where everyone was from and had a story that pertained to everyone’s country of origin (British and Dutch traders began using Robben Island as a prison in the 1400’s). We then took a tour of the actual grounds and cells led by a former political prisoner, which was interesting, but made much more so by the fact that one of the tourists on our tour was himself a former political prisoner of Robben Island. He was one of the prisoners in the famous picture of the final boatload of political prisoners making its way into Cape Town harbour. He had not been to Robben Island since his release, and it was heartbreakingly powerful to see his deep and emotional reaction to the place and his memories there.

    Robben Island

    The last political prisoners to be released from the island.

    Other highlights: our trip to Khalelitsha to show our families Baphumelele:

    andy at Bap

    Babies at Bap

    wine tour

    Obligatory trip to the winelands!

    Bday lunch

    Mom's birthday lunch in CT

    And last, but not least, we finally managed to BRAAI HARD!!! The house we rented had an uber fancy braai pit, and we had Alex H. + family over on Xmas eve for a braai (topped off with Kristen’s killer cheesecake), and then a few more braais w/ various meats, shish-kabobs, and even marshmallows. Thank god we finally braaid, or we might have had to change the name of our blog! (Which, incidentally, makes less sense here since the worldwide release of “Live Free or Die Hard” was called “Die Hard 4.0″. I guess that whole American revolutionary speak doesn’t sell in Europe or something.


    Xmas eve braai. Yum.

    We’re back in Mount Frere now. More updates to come!

    ps-Update on our friend Oscar aka Santa Claus: He got into Wits University in Joburg. Congrats Oscar!

    Filed under: Uncategorized
    1 Comment
  • 25Dec

    Season’s Greetings!

    We’re in Cape Town with our families for Christmas and New Year’s, but before we left we managed to sneak a pic with Mount Frere’s  only Santa Claus. The best part is we recognised Santa’s helper here as our friend Oscar, an orphan who we’ve spent a lot of time with this year as he prepared his university applications.

    Mount Frere Santa

    Mount Frere Santa

    Anyway, happy holidays to everyone at home. We’re thinking of you. Cape Town is fantastic – we’ll have more photos and posts about that in due time. For me the best thing is having a washing machine!!!