Filed under: GOMamelodi08
As a final tribute to my trip to South Africa, I would like to share my experience with all of you in the form of videos. Please take a look at my GO Mamelodi video album here. The best way to watch them is from earliest upload to last upload, which means you’ll watch “Warm Welcome” first, then “Game Drive”, “Kids”, “Gardening”, and “Fun” last. These videos were painstakingly put together in bits and pieces in the wee hours of the morning, with time I’ve been able to squeeze from my schedule over the last two weeks after work, holiday festivities, and quality time with friends were over. I loved every minute of it though because it allowed me to relive my experience over and over again.
For your immediate viewing pleasure, I’ve included my final video, “Fun” below. Thank you for your interest – stay tuned for regular programming! 🙂
We had a rare treat in South Africa last week, as the work being done through the Charity and Faith church caught the attention of the US Ambassador to South Africa, Eric Bost. Ambassador Bost came and addressed our group on Tuesday afternoon and discussed some facts about South Africa, the AIDS epidemic, and expressed his gratitude for the partnership between Crossroads and Charity and Faith. He also mentioned how some United States corporations, like Waggener Edstrom’s new client Chevron, are being good corporate citizens in South Africa. Check out this video of his address to our work group (the Chevron mention is in the last 2 minutes of the video)
Thanks everyone for bearing with me while my normal blog subject matter has taken a back seat to this experience. I’m still readjusting to being back in the States, but things should be getting back to normal this week. I’ll pepper in some videos from the trip with my usual post topics of research and social media.
I returned home from Mamelodi on Saturday morning. I’m still trying to digest the whole experience and put my thoughts together coherently, but in the meantime here is a photo account of the 10 days I spent in South Africa. Enjoy!
(written Saturday November 22nd)
I have now been in South Africa for about 24 hours. We arrived in Johannesburg around 4pm local time (time zone is +2), after approximately 26 hours of traveling, to a fantastic welcome from our friends from Mamelodi. We then piled onto our buses and headed off to the first hotel we were to stay at until moving on to Pretoria (tomorrow). However, the trip really began before it even started…
Our departure time to head from Cincinnati to Dayton to catch the first leg of our flight was a bright and early 5:15am on Thursday morning. We arrived at the Dayton airport for a 10am departure to head to the Washington Dulles airport (IAD). With a 6-hour layover in Dulles, we meandered around the airport, checking out stores, exchanging our dollars for South African rand, and I personally settled on a nice little sushi place for lunch. We finally boarded our airplane – South African Airways Airbus 340-600 (the big dog) – for a 5:40pm departure. This was one BIG airplane – I’d say we had about 350 seats on the plane, and just about every one of them was full! Keeping in mind that there were only about 1/3 of our entire crew of 200 on this plane, I heard later that one of the groups that flew out of Atlanta actually got to have former President Jimmy Carter on their flight!
We settled into the cattle car (economy) for a short 14-hour hop across the Atlantic, crossing over some of the western African countries before heading over water again to come back on to the continent in sub-Saharan Africa. From the sky, it didn’t look much different from the American West. Once we hit the ground though, I knew we were worlds away.
You can definitely sense the European and Western influence in South Africa. Cars drive on the left like in the UK, and there are plenty of European cars on the roads (Citroën, Mercedes Benz, and Volkswagon to name a few). City and town names, such as Randburg, Gordonweg, and Johannesburg, definitely reflect the presence of European influence. And of course, American companies have a major presence here as well – Lexmark, Nashua, ReMax, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, etc) There are 9 different languages spoken in this country, and most people speak at least 4 of them, putting us Americans to shame!
The first place we went to was a hotel called the Kopanong, just outside of Johannesburg. A very nice hotel, and our home for the first night of our visit. This morning (Saturday) we visited the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and then we took a bus out to Pilanesberg Game Reserve to take a safari drive. (Yes, I really took this photo on the drive, and yes, the zebras were that close to our vehicle – many more photos to come!)
You may be thinking at this point, I thought you were going on an aid trip to help others, not to take a vacation! Trust me – this is no vacation; there is a reason for us participating in these activities prior to beginning our work. I’ve always believed that the best education a person can receive is through their own personal experiences. We have all participated in pre-trip educational opportunities to learn about South African history, culture, wildlife, the effect of the apartheid, etc. But without being able to see it, touch it, feel it, experience what this country is all about firsthand, I believe we cannot begin to understand what the people we are here to help could possibly need. It was the request of Titus Sithole, the pastor at the Charity and Faith Mission Church, which we’ve partnered with here, that we receive the beauty and history that South Africa has to offer in addition to the work we will be doing. He believes that by gaining a little bit of understanding of the country, we will gain an understanding of the suffering, the poverty, and in general the need that we are here to help meet.
The visit to the Apartheid Museum rocked a lot of people. In fact, while we were on the plane, there was a white South African man sitting behind me and he told us that mentioning the word apartheid in the country is still a bit of a taboo. It is still an incredibly painful subject for many. To have visited the museum and learned a little bit about the history of the segregation in South Africa makes one really think about how evil people in general can be sometimes. I’m grateful for the learning experience.
Tomorrow, we will make our way to Pretoria and Mamelodi, and we will all be staying with host families in Mamelodi tomorrow night. Over the course of the week we will begin our various tasks involving construction, gardening, children’s activities, and technology. Thank you for taking an interest in this project, and make sure to check out the video blog from our team on www.gomamelodi08.com
Filed under: GOMamelodi08
Well, I’m down to 24 hours before I leave for South Africa! I’m obviously excited about this trip, and I am looking forward to whatever experiences may come my way while there. My intent is to make some blog entries here while I’m in South Africa. This depends, of course, on internet access but at the very least I will write about my experiences when I return and will be sure to post. We have been instructed that communication will be limited while we’re over there, so just keep in mind that no news is good news 🙂 I am bringing both my FlipCam and my digital camera to capture as much of the trip as possible. Stay tuned!
- Thursday, November 20th: departing Dayton, OH on United 7977Q at 10:10am (local time), arriving in Washington, DC (IAD) at 11:36am (local time)
- Thursday, November 20th: departing Washington, DC (IAD) on South African 208V at 5:40pm (local time), arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa at 4:05pm on 11/21 (local time)
- Friday, November 28th: departing Johannesburg, South Africa on South African 207V at 6:05pm (local time), arriving in Washington, DC (IAD) at 6:00am on 11/29 (local time)
- Saturday, November 29th: departing Washington, DC (IAD) on United 7991Q at 12:28pm (local time), arriving in Dayton, OH at 2:03pm (local time)