Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thoughts & Prayers!!

Receiving an email from Peace Corps director Mr. Williams early this morning to inform everyone of yet another death of a volunteer really hurt/worries me. Should I just pack up and go?

During my time in South Africa volunteers have been lost for an array of reasons: rock climbing accident, attempted robbery/ murder and natural causes at the early age of 26. Every time I hear news of a PCV losing his/her life I think about my friends and family back home. I know they are receiving the same news and are probably just as worried as I am.

Personally I don't know any of the fallen PCV'S, but as long as I am a PCV they are family to me. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones while serving as volunteers..

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bella Bella Game Reserve

Mcgrath, our country director, granted one of our four wishes, a trip to a GAME PARK!! Bella Bella game reserve in Limpopo. Look at the Pics.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Site Annoucements

The day we find out exactly where we will be placed for the next 2 years!!! I was sooooo PUMPED!! I was aware that we may not be able to visit our sites this week due to the on going strike, at least we will know where in South Africa we will be so we can plan vacations, yes Peace Corps Volunteers do travel.

I have been placed in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province. All I can think about is DURBAN, RICHARDS BAY AND ST. LUCIA!!! O and the Largest elephant park in Africa!! My site is Jozini, check out the pictures.

What a short distance to DURBAN!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Site visit cancelled the strike continues..

McGrath THE Country Director of South Africa arrived at the training site to explain to us in detail how training will be structured moving forward.
I was not surprised when she informed us that the site visit and supervisors workshop would be postponed.
The supervisors workshop – A 3-day event where our assigned principal, peace corps staff and us, the volunteers come together to discuss the roles and expectations of all three parties.
Example – The principal should understand that we are not paid staff, we will be involved in secondary projects.
Example – Americans for the most part are anal in regards to time. “when we say 10 o’clock we mean 10 o’clock”. From what I’ve heard that’s not the case in South African rural schools.
Before McGraph arrived, some of the trainee’s asked, “why cant we just do the site visit?” During our sit-down with her it became clear why that was not an option.

McGrath explained, “It’s your principals responsibility to introduce you to your host family, shop owners and police. This cannot be done without having this very important workshop. Your host family also needs to understand that as Americans we are vary independent, that you are not sick or sad if you decided to stay inside your house for a long period of time”. During the strike the principals, teachers and staff are discouraged from participating in any kind of school related activity.
She then switched gears and asked the group for suggestions regarding our last week of training since there was not going to be a site visit. At this point all important material had been covered. Here was the groups list.
1. Trip to Game Reserve
2. Mall Trip
3. Pizza/Pool Party
4. Cape Town…haha

After McGraph spoke I thanked her for taking the time to come out and thoroughly explain the situation. It is now that I completely understand how everything works and why things are organized in such a manor. Something like a strike was not planned for.
It has been an intense 6 weeks. Since the beginning of week 3 we have witnessed this Public Sector Strike that wont go away!!!! This was the week scheduled for our site visits, I have been looking forward to this since day one. I mean yeah the 8-week home stay is important but not like your permanent site, your new home for 2 years.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Since the beginning of training the medical staff has held many sessions. Today the topic was anti-malarial drugs. Some of us will be placed in malaria regions, all volunteers who are placed in Kwal-Zulu Natal, will take malaria meds.
Peace Corps currently prescribes two types of anti-malarial drugs, Mefloquine & Doxycycline. Medical explained how each drug should be administered, side effects and possible complications. If you are curious just google “Peace Corps Volunteers and Suicide from Lariam” The first hit really bothered me and other volunteers. Luckily, I have been prescribed Doxy. I can manage sun sensitivity and no milk, but vivid dreams and thoughts of suicide, not so much. As a default you are prescribed Doxy, but if you are taking other medications you maybe prescribed Mefloquine. After reading the reports on Mefloquine (Lariam), I don’t think I could bring myself to taking such a drug.
While we are in training we don't have to take anything.

Read this and form your own opinion..

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Terri Shaved her head!!

Terri cut her hair!!! She shaved it.. look at the pics.. This was sooo funny.. I guess you had to be there.. Her host family enjoyed this very much..


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Apartheid Museum

This week nothing much has changed, the strike is still on, more informational sessions, and of course more language lessons. On Saturday, we were taken to Johannesburg to visit the Apartheid Museum.

This was a very moving and intense experience, similar to my experience in Amsterdam at the Anne Frank House. Apartheid ended in 1994, by 2001 the museum was up and running, this really threw me of.
When you enter the museum you are handed a card; the card reads either WHITES or NON-WHITES. When I was handed my card chills ran up and down my spine. The WHITES enter through a separate entrance than the NON-WHITES. Posted on the wall was an explanation of the racial classification system. This system was used as a basis for enforcing Apartheid.

I viewed numerous pictures videos and testimonies of victims, a lot of these videos were in color. Growing up I’ve watched many documentaries on the civil rights movement, as we all know those were in black & white. Now for those baby boomers reading this I’m sure you remember the civil rights movement. For me seeing people being discriminated against in color, in the 1990’s was just mind blowing. I do understand that things like this are currently going on in other countries, but im here, I’m in South Africa where 90% of the population is, for lack of a better word NON-WHITE.
My only questions is where was our all powerful military, I guess by that time all the gold was mined out of Johannesburg. AT the end of the day it was a great museum and an eye opening experience.
When I returned to Siyabuswa, I spoke with other South Africans and the overwhelming majority have never visited this museum. When I asked my friends host father why he replied, “Apartheid just ended in 1994, 16 years ago, I still have nightmares. I can still remember being beaten, turned away from shops and denied many things.” I felt so bad. Standing there breathless I began to weep.....