1 April Monday
Time to drive back to Cape Town, we had planned to leave early in the morning, but we also learned that it is nearly impossible to leave early with a big group such as our own. We even missed our reservation at the Cango Caves but luckily this was no problem, we only had to wait for another hour for the next trip. There were two different trips into the caves. The normal trip and the adventure tour deeper into the caves. Guess which one I chose, the adventure tour! Wow wow wow that was a good decision, I loved every second. The cave itself was impressive, it contains halls and limestone formations and has chambers that belong to the biggest in the world. The adventure tour took us about an hour and we went crawling through narrow passages and climbing up steep rock formations. To exit the caves, we had to pass through a passage just under 15 centimetres, and we had to slide head down first. The caves are part of the R62 road, the road we followed after we exited the cave. Route 62 is a tourist route in South Africa between Cape Town, Outshoorn, the Garden Route and Port Elizabeth. With all the wine growing areas, ostrich farms, valleys and mountains it was simply beautiful. As a finishing touch, we came home in Cape Town through the mountain pass with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. Home sweet home, back in busy Maitland.
2 April Tuesday
Back to school today, but first -unfortunately- we had to drop off our rental car, must say I quite liked to drive again, it really feels free when you have a car and are able to go when and wherever you want to go. Always nice to drive into the centre of Cape Town in the morning… But the driving went well, slowly getting used to this hectic traffic! Once I arrived at the school the first thing I had to do was finding my little friend, we made a deal, she had made a present for me (a beautiful drawing) and now it was my turn to keep my end of the bargain, giving her a present. With a little help from Fien I came up with a nice idea, printing some of the photos we had made together (which are a lot, the children here love making pictures). To keep the pictures nicely together I used a photobook and placed the book in a pencil case (which I bought from Drakenstein), with a little elephant I bought at the elephant park.
When I gave her the present she was so happy, that really made my day, just seeing her face when she was opening her present. The present itself might have been a bit too much but I’m really glad I did it. I will never forget this moment, seeing so much happiness in a child’s face for something we in Holland might see as ‘just’ a few photos.
Furthermore, I had conversations with the children about their holiday and what they had been doing. The simple fact is that they just hung around on the streets (along with the gangster culture and all the other bad influences). Some of them went to the holiday program we organised in the first week, just as we hoped they would, to give them something to do and to get them off the streets. Sadly, they also told me that there had been a lot of gangster violence during the holiday, gunshots in their streets. I asked them what they would do in such a situation and they said the only thing they can do is lay on the ground and wait till it is over…
Today is also the start of the new semester, the second semester of the year. This also meant that there was some administration waiting for us. We had to prepare some lesson plans and an overall schedule for the rest of the semester. I also had the chance to take a look at some of the life orientation books they use. In the picture underneath you will see a book used for grade 5 pupils. For me when I read through the book, I was both shocked and relieved. Shocked because of the subjects the children are exposed to during this course. They will gain knowledge about alcohol, drugs, violence, gangs and choices they will have to make concerning these subjects. Relieved because at least this way the children will be a little bit prepared for what they will be exposed to or are already exposed to. Hopefully, this knowledge will help the children while making decisions.
3 April Wednesday
Dear Mommy Carmen
I want you to know me.
You have saved my life today!
I have a difficult life.
I have nobody in life.
I have a mommy and a daddy,
who hit me.
I have no rich clothes.
I want to stay by you.
My life is so (drawing of a broken hart)
You must make it so (drawing of a beautiful whole hart)
I love you Carmen
This is a letter I received today from the girl I gave the photos to yesterday, I really felt like crying after reading this. It’s so unfair, how can it be that some people have so little and others so much. I wish I could do more for her and all the others! For now, I do what I can, which mostly is giving them love and attention, something they don’t get (enough) at home, and a bit of fundraising to make their lives easier for now.
Some shocking school news today, a grade 1 pupil got caught with a tube full of weed… Even more shocking, I was the only one really surprised… Apparently this is something that happens more often, when the children are hungry and there is no food in the house, they will just give some weed to the children to keep them quiet.
After a school day full of surprises, I went home looking like Pippi Langkous, the children still love it to braid my hair. Apart from that the girls gave me some homework, they are teaching me a rope jumping game, really fun, good exercise for your coordination as well.
4 April Thursday
A normal day at the office? Definitely not, I don’t think I will ever get bored at the schools with these children. Today we had PT with the youngest grades, R to 3. I think I at least lost a third of my hair with all of them touching and braiding it but it was great fun and we played a whole lot of games. After school Fien, our Belgium student, made a typical Belgium dish for dinner, … and sweet potato fries. Happy that I live together with such a good cook!! In the evening Fien and I decided to go to Claremont, today is first Thursday again, so there are a lot of events going on in the city centre, but we wanted to avoid the big crowds today so we drank a really good cocktail in Claremont.
5 April Friday
A day off, and both Fien and I haven’t been shopping since we arrived in South Africa so today we’re going to the V&A waterfront! We went to every shop possible at the Waterfront and tried on all the clothes we liked. Such fun, our wallets weren’t very happy afterwards so we will have to go on a diet from now on :). In the evening we had a Braai at Miles place, our host from the accommodation and the founder of the organisation PS4L were we are working for during our project. The braai was held at Miles house in Sea point with a beautiful view of the sea. That in combination with the nice food, music and perfect warm weather made for an awesome night.
6 April Saturday
Matchday!!! Today it is time for the first official hockey league game. We’re playing against Stellenbosch’s’ second team (and in two weeks time against the first Stellenbosch team). Unfortunately, we lost 1-0, but it was a good game and now we know what we need to train on and how we can improve. Loved playing again! My grandfather and grandmother even came to watch, which was really nice of them :).
In the evening we went to a Mexican party organised by a baseball club in the area, this club is also part of PS4L which is why we were invited to come as well.
News from out of the community: the leader of one of the gangster groups got assassinated this night by four men from another gang. It happened at a tank station, he was shot in the head. As there was a camera at the tank station, they caught the four men who were involved with the assassination. News is already spreading that the gang who lost their leader is planning to kill all four assassins when they are on their way to court.
7 April Sunday
Spent my day as a real tourist, in the morning I went up Signal Hill because I made a reservation for paragliding!! Together with Laura, one of the Finnish girls I decided to go paragliding, the Finnish girls are leaving in a weeks time and we have been talking about this for a long time now, so today is the day! I’m not sure where to begin describing this experience but I will try. For starters, if you haven’t been up signal hill yet, please go! The view from there is stunning. The paragliding itself is actually really relaxing. Only the first running and jump of the hill part is a bit exciting but after that, it is so calm. You’re flying through the air with a beautiful view on all sides. It is magnificent! Just before landing my guide did some awesome tricks and with a smooth landing, I was back on the ground. These were definitely the most expensive ten minutes of my life, but wow very much worth it!
After some cruising around all of us went back up signal hill in the evening to watch the sunset. One thing is for sure, I’m doing that again.
8 April Monday
” Mommy I don’t know you like a daughter should, but I can already imagine, how the two of us would be. Everyday your absence make me wish I had you by my side. I’m not the perfect daughter you want but I can assure you that you wouldn’t want any other daughter.
I wish you by my side everyday but maybe I’m the unlucky one, maybe you’ll never appear in days that I really need you. Sometimes I wish just for one hug from my mommy’s side but it never comes. All I can do is wish you were here, dream you are here and think a relationship can be built although it’s never gonna happen.
Promises were made and promises were broken. But still, I forgive you because you’re my mother, the woman that carried me for months. I love you mommy.
I prepare myself for the worst everyday but I also take everyday step by step. By the way, I hate standing up everyday wishing I had a mother, I had to be strong for the people around me. I break down most of my days, get bad dreams and so do I cry myself to sleep waiting for someone to support me. I wanted to make you my role model so bad but you were never there for me so how can I make you my role model. The day when you gonna see how big and beautiful you daughter have grown your tears are gonna role down your cheeks and your gonna be proud just to see that I’ve grown into so much. I love you mommy and I promise that I’ll be making you proud one day. I don’t only wane make you proud but myself too…
Love you … …
With lots of Love
From … … “
I really have no words left, this is written by a 12-year-old girl, she never knew her parents and lives in an orphan home. What a talent she has, she writes stories like this every day and she makes drawings even more beautiful, she really is a true artist, able to show her emotions through her work.
Since today is Eevi’s (Finnish student) last day at WD Hendricks she organised a fashion show for some girls of grade 5 to 7. Eevi collected clothes from primary schools in Finland to give to these girls. It really was fun, we were having a great time with the girls fitting all the different clothes and the model walking. Eventually, all the clothes were evenly spread over the girls and they all wrote a thank you letter to the primary schools who donated the clothes.
So much happened today when I think of it, a girl came to me today with all here school certificates, she asked me to keep them safe for her because she was scared that at home they will get lost. Of course, I can’t keep them, I told her that she must protect them and treasure them, and instead of giving them to me she showed me all her papers. Which actually were quiet a lot of certificates, given to her because of outstanding performance. After that, we started talking about both our families. More children joined and they also asked about my family. When I mentioned my brother, they all got really excited and asked if they could speak to him. Eventually, the children had a skype conversation with my brother, they asked him all different questions. The boys, of course, wanted to know if he played soccer and they also asked him to show them around the house. When our dog came in the picture, they were all shouting my dog’s name, it was so sweet to see.
9 April Tuesday
Today I had my first observation day at one of the schools where I’m going to start my research, Factreton primary. It was interesting to see how different this school was in comparison with WD Hendricks Primary. The background of the children for starters, at WD you will see way more children living in really bad circumstances. Where WD is a non-fee school, the children at Factreton will have to pay a small school fee. Where at WD children aren’t always that disciplined and sometimes just walk out of classes, this would not be possible at Factreton. It was really interesting to see all these differences and I’m looking forward to tomorrow since I will do my second observation at again another school, Garden Village.
In the evening I went to the dance show of my niece Livi, it was a dance show organised by her Highschool. She performed in I think at least eight different dances, all different dance styles and she is so good!! Better than good actually, she was amazing! I really loved watching! Today is also the birthday of my cousin Seb, so I went to my uncle’s place afterwards and we had a nice braai to celebrate.
10 April Wednesday
Today I had my observation at Garden Village Primary. Like yesterday I had a meeting with the principal and spend the whole day observing at the school, how it works around the school, the lessons in general and the PE lessons. I spoke to the teachers of some classes and to the children itself. Like Factreton this primary school also is way more structured then WD, but if you look at the relationship the children have with the teachers and coaches, you will see that of the three schools this is best at WD Hendricks.
As netball is a favourite sport amongst all the girls at this school as well, I spend the interval and a few lessons playing netball with the girls. Another funny fact is that the girls at this school know the rules. WD is really a fantastic school with fantastic and loving children but when it comes to the rules, they need some practice.
After a day full of observations Fien and I started making sandwiches, Fien bought 14 loafs of bread and when all the sandwiches were ready Quinton one of the coaches form PS4L took us into the community and onto the streets, we handed out the sandwiches to the children and adults who can’t afford to buy food themselves. Again, this was that kind of experience that will always stay with you. The faces of the children, when they saw Quinton’s car, they all know him because he tries to come as often as possible. Quinton runs his own organisation, he made up a feeding scheme for the school, so the children who don’t get food with them from home still get something healthy to eat. All food comes from either himself or from donations, that for me, knowing that he himself isn’t living a luxurious life, is really special. That’s love for your community, and I’m happy that today we were allowed to be part of this organisation. It was also quite shocking to see, you will see children, adults, elderly people, all hungry coming up to you. Meanwhile, we were standing in between a group of gangsters, it was actually bizarre when I thought about it afterwards. Speaking to some people and seeing children walking alone without supervision, I’ve heard and seen so much already but this really showed me what living over here can mean.
11 April Thursday
So, I’m quite used to children playing with paper guns now after these first months but today a child came to school with a fake gas gun. It looked so real!! And when you would hold a lighter in front of the gun it would even fire a flam when pulling the trigger. Apart from that the day went as normal as a day can be over here, I got lots of love and energy from the children and I will do my best to give the same thing back to them.
12 April Friday
In the afternoon the girls who have their project in George will arrive in Maitland to stay with us for a week, so in the morning Fien and I made a plan to go to the outlet store. The outlet store was full of sporting clothes, surf equipment and especially lots of shoes from all different well-known brands. We went into all the shops but decided there was too much to look at and we will have to come back to take a better look later. There was also a food lovers’ market and they were really good with their fruits and vegetables and I finally found my witlof 😍. I’ve been searching for witlof ever since I arrived in Cape Town, so since I had finally found it, I bought a whole lot of it. In the evening we went to Ferdinando’s pizza (in the Observatory), except for the long waiting time I would recommend it to everyone, their food is really good! And the atmosphere inside is so nice, it’s really cute and very colourful.
13 April Saturday
Time for some team building with my hockey team. In other words, in South African, that means we’re having a team braai. In our hockey team, we are with three Dutchies (three girls from Holland), so we came up with the idea to bake pancakes as a dessert for after the braai. Pancakes with Nutella, I would say that was a good plan, they were finished in no time! When I came back from hockey I went straight to Tokai. We have some problems with the Wi-Fi in Maitland, not unusual but today was very bad timing since I have a lot of schoolwork to finish this weekend because my testing for my project starts next week. Lucky I’m that I have family in South Africa where I’m always welcome to stay 😊.
Funny fact, my father is in Hongkong for work at the moment and Calvin (my brother) is away for the week on a school trip to Barcelona. We’ve never been so far away from each other, quite weird actually that we are all so far away from each other, and still also so close. We can skype everyday if we want to, wakeup call that I’m again lucky to have all this technology to use.
14 April Sunday
I’ve been working on my schoolwork the whole day!!! The day might not have been really exciting but at least I’m ready and totally prepared for my testing now. In the evening I really needed a stretch so I went with my uncle to walk the dog. Furthermore, my aunt gave me a whole lot of recipes to try out for when I’m back in Maitland, those ideas were really welcome since my cooking inspiration was getting to its end.
15 April Monday
Back at WD today, today I took the sixth-grade girls for a class of history. It was really fun, the lesson was about Europe and in Afrikaans, reading Afrikaans is relatively easy for me to do. Understanding Afrikaans when the girls are speaking in Afrikaans is a bit harder, especially when they talk fast. We finished the history lesson fairly quickly so the girls came up with a plan to completely braid my hair. I must say it looks much better on the children 😂, it felt like I was nearly bolt, and wowww it was soooo tight, actually painfully tight. The girls eventually ended up braiding the left side from right to left and the right side form the front to the back. It looked ridiculous but we had so much fun. In the evening I really had to take the braids out though, I have no clue how the girls can walk with their hair like that all day, it is so tight. Fien and Charlotte helped me unbundle my hair, and as to be expected my hair just exploded, another funny picture 😂. In the last picture of today, you will see something which I don’t think you will see anywhere else, at least not in the Netherlands. The children just walking, or even running on the roof. Another student today walked around with one of the drain pipes, which had mysteriously broken off the wall.
16 April Tuesday
The first day of testing, I’m starting at Garden Village primary. Charlotte offered to help me today so I’m really grateful for that, all help is welcome. The first class I’m going to test is the fourth grade, a class of over 40 children. The test they needed to do was the D2 test of concentration, any test, in general, is already hard to get a class of 40 to do, let alone a concentration test. I’m a bit afraid of the results of this class, in particular, some boy even managed to make the test upside down… The second class already went way better, I guess it’s a good learning curve for me as well. During interval, I went to the youngest children’s playground. It’s one big pit of energy, all the children are running everywhere, they were again braiding my hair, and at some stage, we did some kind of dance where we formed a big circle with nearly all the children and went around and around. Wish I had a picture of that, it was really impressive actually. And they were all playing together and in big groups which was really nice to see.
In the evening we had a goodbye dinner for the Finnish girls… time went so fast… They are leaving tomorrow in the afternoon and I’m working in the morning so I won’t be able to see them a lot tomorrow, will try to organise that I can come with them to the airport, waving them goodbye and wish them a safe flight. After dinner, we had a nice glass of wine together and we played our card game one more time, so we spend some more quality time together :).
17 April Wednesday
The second day of testing, today the testing is planned at Factreton, because I organised a lift to go with the Finnish girls to the airport, I had to do the testing in the morning. Luckily this was not a problem for the teachers, and they were really helpful. The testing went really well with both classes. Around 12 o clock, I was already done for the day, I spoke to the principal, to the teachers, to the coach, did the testing and explained the plan for the afterschool program. Perfectly in time to go to the airport. At the airport we (of course) needed a photoshoot before they left. Once I arrived back home, I decided to slowly move my stuff to the other room, with (table)mountain view 😊.
18 April Thursday
Play Sport 4 Life has been consistently involved in the communities for many years. It is now YOUR chance to get involved and give back! By purchasing a R50 raffle ticket, or three tickets for R100, not only are you giving back to the kids of impoverished communities by improving their lives greatly, you also stand a chance of winning amazing prizes:
• 1st Prize: 2-night stay at The Bay Hotel + R1000 spa voucher
• 2nd Prize: 2-night stay at Pezula Hotel R500 dinner voucher
• 3rd Prize: Adidas voucher.
Help change a child’s life! We will be at the Two Oceans Marathon Expo form the 17th to 19th at the CTICC, you can also purchase tickets physically at our stand. You can purchase tickets from our website at www.playsport4life.org, click on ‘Donate’ and then email us proof of payment at email@example.com. Ticket numbers will be computer generated.
So that’s what we did today, raise some money for PS4L, we organised a raffle at the convention centre, and I’ve been trying to sell tickets the whole day. One thing is for sure, a career as a saleswoman is not going to work for me… It is actually really difficult to get people to listen to you and especially when there are two other stands right next to you also holding a raffle for a good cause.
Unfortunately, I haven’t sold as many tickets as I hoped I would, but I tried, and every ticket sold means some extra funding for PS4L! tomorrow is the last day of the Two Oceans Marathon Expo so I will get another chance to sell as many tickets as possible.
19 April Friday
It’s definite I’m horrible at selling tickets!!! It’s so frustrating, some people just walk right past you… they don’t even listen to what you have to say. To keep our positive spirit up we decided to take an extra break and to eat a nice big piece of cholate cake and with renewed energy we finished the rest of the day! We didn’t achieve the goal set at the beginning (which as really high), but we surely got a nice amount of money together which will be really useful for PS4L to help the children!
20 April Saturday
Part of the African experience is watching a rugby match, so that is what we did today. Miles gave us tickets to go watch the Stormers against the Brumbies. Really was an exciting game to watch and our places were perfect, we sat in the middle, first row. The game started with the brumbies taking the lead by scoring a touchdown, the Stormers eventually managed to take over the lead with a score of 17-12. The end of the game was definitely the most exciting part, in the last 30 seconds the Brumbies took the lead again and won the game with 17-19. Although the game sometimes looked like a warzone to me, it was really cool to watch. Hectic sometimes, at some stage one of the players was throwing up behind the poles and continued playing afterwards, what a mentality.
21 April Sunday
Happy Easter everyone! This morning I got up with a lovely breakfast waiting for me, credits to Terri!!! Savoury, sweets, eggs, sandwiches, fruit, everything you can think of was there. In the afternoon I had to continue working on my afterschool project.
The aim of the afterschool sports program is for the children to be physically active. The children participating in this afterschool program will be children from grade 4 and 5 (of the classes included in the project) who are from the community. This means that the children from the same classes who have transport back home after school will not be competing within this afterschool sport program. The children who have transport back home will be participating in the testing just like the students from the community. The transport students will be the control group within this research. The aim of this research is to see if a positive connection is found between an extra hour of sport in the week and the concentration and school results of the children.
Every training will take up an hour in total, in this hour we will have a warming up and cooling down session as a collective. After the warming up the children will be split up in groups. Within the smaller groups the rules will be explained of the sport theme chosen for that day. Through the weeks different sport themes will be chosen like netball, soccer, hockey, dodgeball, softball, cricket and touch rugby. During the program one sport per week will be taught to the children, except for the last week, the theme of this week will be mixball. Mixball means that several of the sports covered in the last semester are practiced in this lesson.
Fien (my housemate) and I also booked a ticket to Durban today!!!! Already looking forward to it, going to visit family, sightseeing and most of all relaxing, few days away from busy Maitland 😊.
22 April Monday
Still Easter and still working on school, tomorrow I will have my first afterschool program, and I want to be totally prepared, so I did everything I could to make it a success. Instead of working in Maitland Fien and I went to the Main Loaf in Observatory. With a nice smoothie we worked from 10 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon, a nice lunch break included. After the afterschool program was totally prepared I continued working on my main research, because the afterschool program is something extra I’m providing for the kids who are part of the project. The main aim of my project is to find out whether there is a positive effect of extra physical education in the week on a child’s concentration and academic performance. To measure the concentration level of the children I’m using the D2 test of concentration, before the assessments start the children will perform the D2 test of concentration, both the control and the test group, and after the assessments I will also include all the marks of all their subjects. My hypothesis is that the children who got the extra physical education during the week will increase their mark on the concentration test and hopefully also their average mark on their academic performance.
23 April Tuesday
My first afterschool program will start around two o clock in the afternoon at Garden Village Primary. Because I also love being at WD Hendricks Primary I decided to first go to WD Hendricks in the morning till one, and afterwards right away to Garden Village. The sport theme of today for the afterschool program will be netball, so it’s going to be a nice challenge for me to include the boys as well and get them to participate.
A total amount of 28 children was asked to join in the afterschool program, of which 10 children attended. Three boys and seven girls. Although the attendance wasn’t great the program itself went really well. All the children listened and did what they were asked to do. The motivation level was high, they all understood the rules and were improving during the hour of practice. Boys are often not really keen on playing netball, the boys that attended today were at first not really enthusiastic either but a big compliment towards them, they did really well and were actually very talented and they even enjoyed playing netball after a while.
As it was Easter last weekend the winning team of the tournament received a bag of Easter eggs, which also worked as a great motivator for the children. The feedback I received afterwards from the children; they really enjoyed the program and asked if I could maybe do the afterschool program every day after school, so that for me was a good sign, the children enjoyed it and were physically active as well. Hopefully next week the attendance will be a bit higher.
24 April Wednesday
The mountain that appears and disappears. Every morning it is a surprise again, will I be able to see Table Mountain, or is it to misty, cloudy, or like today will I see Table Mountain with its famous ‘tablecloth’. One thing is for sure I can really get used to this life, waking up with an amazing view, while being in fruit heaven with a fresh mango waiting for me.
Today the afterschool program is planned at Factreton Primary, like yesterday I also decided to go to WD Hendricks first in the morning till one, but around 12 I got a phone call that the coach at Factreton was sick so unfortunately I had to cancel my afterschool program today. Instead I choose to stay a bit longer at WD Hendricks to give an extra lesson and to do a nice photoshoot with the children during their break. Really love being at WD Hendricks, the children are fantastic, talented and full of love. Yes, they are a bit uncontrolled sometimes but that doesn’t stop them from being amazing children, who deserved to be loved.
Ever heard of Muti murders… today I had a horrible but interesting conversation with a local about those murders. Muti is a term for traditional medicine that originates from the Zulu language. African traditional healers believe that the organs of young children, often babies, can be used as ingredients to make medicine. Young children and babies will then be abducted and murdered, and these kinds of human sacrifices are also happening in the area where I’m staying. Maybe not as much as in other African places but even one child is one to much…
25 April Thursday
Quinton, one of the coaches of PS4L asked Fien, Pepijn and myself to help him out at Hidayatul Primary. This is an Islam primary school, small in size and quite a good school in comparison to the other primary schools in the area. Quinton couldn’t make it in the morning so the three of us gave the physical education lessons for todays grades. It was really interesting to spend today at a different school and also at a school of a different religion. Before school starts all children and staff gather together at the entrance of the school and pray, then again after interval they gather together with the whole school to thank Allah for the food. After school the grades 6 and 7 go to the Mosque to pray again. All the younger grades stay at school and have their own prayer mat in their class. Further more the children have subjects such as Arabic studies all part of their religion.
The lesson we prepared for the different classes consisted of some teamwork exercises, reflex and running exercises. We started our lessons with a proper warming up, to prevent injuries. Next came a teamwork exercise were the boys had to work together and the girls had to work together, during the exercise they had to concentrate on each other and adapt so that everyone was going in the same pace. Especially within this exercise it was nice to see the improvement of their teamwork throughout the whole exercise.
26 April Friday
So since I’m here on an Erasmus plus scholarship I have to keep all my receipts, copy them and make a total sum of the amount of money I’m spending here. I have been keeping all the receipts but unfortunately, I’m not that far with the digitization of them. So that was today’s job, putting all the receipts in order, digitalize and make a total sum of all my expenses.
27 April Saturday
Happy Kingsday! Well, I wasn’t happy at all in the morning, I discovered that my credit card got hacked… 😭😱 Transactions were made, and are still ongoing or reserved, in Russian valuta.. . I was lucky actually that I looked this morning because that is not normal routine for me to do so. Apparently I was hacked via the taxify app and as soon as I saw the weird transactions I immediately called my bank, I was already afraid this would happen and indeed the bank had to block my credit card. After this small drama Kingsday went on.
Together with Pepijn I went to a Kingsday event in Pineland and it really felt like I was back in Holland for a few hours. Everyone was dressed in orange (except for me 😅, oeps I forgot about that). We had poffertjes, appeltaart, (Pepijn had a) frikandel speciaal, karvan cevitam, witte vlokken, ontbijt koek and they even had jonge kaas! Apart from eating a lot we also played Dutch games such like sjoelbakken (sjoelen) or Dutch shuffleboard.
In the afternoon I had my hockeygame against UCT, but first a team photo!! Finally, it took us long to make one, but I’m happy we did! The game itself started pretty good, we were playing quite well during the first two quarters, but we really lost the game on the last two… the final score was 4-1, although I don’t think that represented how the game went, 2-1 would have represented the game better.
28 April Sunday
A double hockey weekend, today we have a home game planned against Stellenbosch’s first team. This is one of the top teams in our competition so it’s going to be a tough game, and with hot weather conditions. The game is in the middle of the day with the sun shining right above us, which means we better put a lot of sunblock on as well. Although we lost the game, we played a really good first half, for some reason we keep losing our games in the second half. We had two goals against us in the last few minutes of the game, they were not necessary at all, so we will have to train on our basics. Making sure that the basics are perfect, both under pressure or fatigue.
29 April Monday
Monday meeting, all students had to give an update about their projects plus we discussed the past week and its ups and downs. It was a day full of organizing, the trip to Genatendal for the grade 6 and 7 children of W.D. Hendricks is facing some problems after all. We thought everything was organised but the school made some mistakes with the finances and communication towards the accommodation. This means we are actually nearly 8000 rand short… So now they asked me to help overlook the finances. We started all over with the planning, tried to phone a lot of companies hoping they would still be willing to help us on such short notice. We found a new transport company which will charge us only a third of the price and we are still waiting on an answer from the accommodation. During all the planning and organising we also had to give some lessons. I did the grade R on my own today, this was still quite hard actually. These are the youngest children and since their first language is Afrikaans, English is still difficult for them, it makes it hard to communicate with the whole group and explain what they have to do. It’s important with those children to show emotions as well and use non-verbal communication skills. After that came the older grades, we trained with the grade 6 and 7 girls on their netball skills, because if we get everything organised, they will play on a netball tournament on their weekend away and will have to know the rules and skills. An intensive day, but hopefully everything will work out, I have put a lot of effort in this trip and the preparations already so I will keep trying!
Tomorrow I have my second afterschool program at Garden Village, which means I still had to do the last preparations for tomorrow, printing papers and organising the list of equipment needed. Furthermore, I had another skype meeting with Menno, my teacher in the Netherlands. Last but not least Fien and I started making ‘’happertjes’’ for the kids at W.D. for tomorrow, while watching Mamma Mia.
30 April Tuesday
Yesterday evening Fien and I started working on the ‘’Happertjes’’, these are paper made toys for the kids. You can move the papier in two directions which will show different sides of the paper. There is a different colour on each side of the paper, which will give 8 different colours. First you ask a number, it can be any number, then you will move the paper the amount of times the other person said. So for example, three, then you will have to move the papier three times. Then 4 colours will show, next question, which colour would you chose? For example red, next you open the paper which is coloured red and read what’s underneath. This can be a compliment, a question, a task, a dilemma. Examples of things we wrote on our Happertjes; What animal would you be? Would you rather have a long neck or a long nose? You look stunning today! What is your dream job?
It was much fun to make them but even more fun to play with the kids. We had conversations about their life, what they want to be, how they see the future but also funny conversations out of dilemmas. The kids even started making them by themselves and wrote all different kind of things in the happertjes. The girl’s compliments and the boys started making them with insults.
Fien started a new part of her project at the school today as well, which I think is fantastic. Through a game she talks with the children about their home situation, life and aims. This is something more people should do, these children come from such bad backgrounds and to give them a chance to talk about it, and someone who really listens as well is really important for those children.
In the afternoon my afterschool project was supposed to happen at Garden Villages, unfortunately I had to cancel todays program due to the bad weather. It was raining so badly and with the sport facilities they have it would be unsafe to let the children sport outside. Besides most children don’t even have sports clothes, and probably had to wear the same clothes for the rest of the day, and they might get sick if they have to walk around in wet clothes the whole day.
While I was watching the game between Ajax and Tottenham with the other students I later heard that one of the coaches of PlaySport4Life got stuck in a cross fire, Quinton stood in the middle of four gangs shooting at each other. This happened while Quinton was handing out food to the children of the community, what Fien and I also did a couple of weeks ago and are planning on doing again… Luckily Quinton got home safe but it’s again an eyeopener, which again shows us that we have to be careful. Although they didn’t harm Quinton it is devastating to hear that the gangs will just start shooting any time they like, even though a lot of children might be on the road, because this was the case…
1 May Wednesday
Public Holiday, in other words, a nice day to both work on school and relax and enjoy the South African weather. I continued working on my research plan and afterschool program. I also came across a nice old photo of me and my cousins when I was younger. A nice reminder that I’m close to family now as well and it’s awesome to be able to hang out with them and get to know them better.
2 May Thursday
I’m soooooooo frustrated the trip got cancelled by the school, one day before departure…… I’ve put so much effort in this and because of a miscommunication we had to postpone it. Worst thing was to see the faces of the children when they heard it was not happening this weekend… Some of them had even packed their bags already. It happens so often that trips like this, or a soccer match, things the children look forward to get cancelled at the last minute, I guess that is also why this frustrates me so much, the school should have told me that they needed some more help and then I would have been able to organise something. The weekend is now planned for the 8-9 of June, and luckily Fien will now be able to help me with the planning and come along (this weekend she wouldn’t be able to help because her parents are coming over).
After school I went to get a gadsby with Justin, not really healthy but maybe this would help against the frustrations of today. Back in Maitland my housemates Pepijn and Terri also took me out to get a drink so at least I had a nice ending of the day.
3 May Friday
Since I was supposed to be away this weekend, I hadn’t planned anything. Fien was gone with her parents and Pepijn and Terri were gone for the weekend, so all of a sudden I was home alone. This doesn’t happen often in Maitland. Actually, I think this is the first time since I arrived in South Africa that I’m home alone.
4 May Saturday
Well at first, I wouldn’t be able to play this weekend but I guess every downside has its upside as well, at least I could play my hockey game today, and what a game it was. We played really well actually, we started really strong in our first two quarters. At half time we were up with 3-1, and I even scored a back-stick goal! Second half started and again we weren’t as sharp as in the first half and made a lot of mistakes, they scored a goal which made the score 3-2. The last few minutes were killing, they were on our half nearly non-stop, the final signal sounded but we still kept playing, 30 seconds after time the opponent scored another goal……….. 3-3 scored AFTER time. The referee wouldn’t listen to us and kept the score 3-3. Of course it was our own mistake that it had to come so far but still it was irritating that they scored after time. It kind of felt like we lost the game there but we didn’t, it was a tie! 1 point in the pocket.
Local news: today the public hospital in Kensington got robbed. All the equipment is gone and they also took all the HIV medication. Apparently no one noticed and the staff only found out the next morning. Which is surprising actually because it was a mess inside, it looked like the ones robbing weren’t really careful or silent, everything was turned upside down. The hospital will have to stay closed now for a certain period of time, since it’s going to take time before all the equipment will be replaced and ready to be used. it’s terrible to think that the community is doing this to itself, robbing their own hospital, the place that will help their family and friends if necessary. Equipment stolen for money and the HIV medication is not even stolen to help cure people but to make crystal meth out if it.
5 May Sunday
Fien is back home!!! We went to Observatory to have a drink together at Trenchtown. It was really strange because this was the first time we had to pay for our entrance, but we went inside and only noticed while we were sitting what was happening. We were in the middle of a weed party. Since this was not really our kind of scenery, we quickly drank our drinks and went back home to enjoy the sunset from our own balcony in Maitland.
6 May Monday
Monday coaches meeting, nothing special was discussed this morning, we discussed our progress and the week schedule for next week and after that we were done early and went to W.D. Hendricks Primary school right away. Guess what we saw went we came in… children walking with hedge trimmers, a saw and shovels. Apparently they got the task to the trim all the trees on the school ground. Well I can tell you one thing, they were not trimming the trees… they were busy cutting holes in the fences and in the window bars… There seemed to be no one controlling them or checking on them, so Fien and I went to them and talked with them. After that they went back to work on the trees this time, guess it will always be a surprise what you will find on the Monday morning!
Instead of attending our own hockey training, Leonie, Sydney (another team mate) and myself went to see a Varsity Cup game, today’s game was at UCT, UCT against Stellenbosch. It was an exciting game, both teams are in our league as well so we had played against both of them (lost both as well). it was interesting to see those teams playing against each other, although most people would expect Stellenbosch to win, UCT held them up for a long time. It was 0-0 after the first three quarters. Stellenbosch only managed to score in the last quarter during a power play. A power play is a special rule made for the Varsity Cup, each team can call one power play per match. A power play will take two minutes where every goal scored will count for two goals (doesn’t matter which team scores), the benefit during the power play is that the other team will have to take of two players. As Stellenbosch scored during the power play their goal counted for two goals, this gave a final score of 2-0 for Stellenbosch.
7 May Tuesday
I had a quiet day at W.D. Hendricks today, rare but true. During interval we had a photoshoot with the children which was loads of fun. The children love taking photos and are very photogenic! I have some lovely photos on my phone taken by the children, some were spontaneous others by striking a pose. I nearly lost track of time today because of the photoshoot. I had to race to Garden Village to be there in time for my afterschool program.
Because of the tight time schedule, on my way to Garden Village we had to take the W.D. soccer team to the field as well. This was an interesting experience, I have never seen so many children in one bus, they were all sitting on each other lap, standing, talking (shouting was more like it), and I even had some children on my lap. After dropping off the children, Tony dropped me off at Garden Village so I could set everything up for my afterschool program, today’s sport theme is hockey. Which for me was really nice because it’s my sport and I have no assistance today during the program, I will have to do it on my own.
Not only was I late today, the teachers were taking long to send the children as well. I still had to wait for another 45 minutes before the children that were supposed to participate in the program arrived. During those 45 minutes many other children came to see what I was doing and apparently hockey at Garden Villages is really popular but the school doesn’t provide hockey for them. I had nearly sixty children running around at some stage, it was really chaotic, but they were so enthusiastic and they were running and moving around so those were to important aims. Because of the huge group I had all of a sudden I had to improvise a bit and change my plans. The different skill levels also made it a big challenge.
Quite a lot of kids from the area of Langa are playing for Langa Hockey club and are already skilled in hockey. The children that took part in my project (from the community) didn’t have any experience at all. But my main focus had to be around them, so I started with the basics. All the extra children from Langa (not the kids form my control group, I checked that) are children that have transport to and from the school, that’s why they are never able to participate in after school programs. Some of them were so happy to play hockey that they missed their transport and that gave me another problem, how where they going to get home now? The school principle took care of that but it was really a sad situation. The children really love to play sport and especially hockey is really popular but they never get the chance to play it at school, and then there is their home situation. The children rather stay at school the whole day instead of going home because it’s not safe and they are most of the time just hanging around on the streets.
8 May Wednesday
Today is another free day, because of the elections all schools are closed. Fien and I made another plan to go into the community with Quinton again and hand out some pasta to the children. Quinton also took us to the place where the people could go to vote during the day. it was an interesting experience, inside the building no one was allowed to advertise for their party but just outside the building you would see lots of stands and people walking around in t-shirts with their party on it. Quinton is also a party leader, and in charge of the advertising. He gives shirts with his party to teenagers and pays them to walk around in the community all day. He especially asks them to walk around the voting area. I found it a bit strange because most of them walking around are not even allowed to vote yet and the ones that are, are either not voting or maybe not even voting for that party. They just walk around for the money and not because they want this party to win the elections.
After Quinton showed us around we prepared the last bits so we could hand out the pasta. We went back into the community and again it was devastating to see how those people have to rely on donations from others, they are really starving of hunger, some haven’t eaten for days. Devastating but also beautiful to see how much it means to them to get some food, their faces light up and they are so thankful. I also want to say respect towards Quinton, he himself doesn’t live in really luxurious conditions and definitely not in the nicest area but he gives every extra cent he has to buy food for those people. That, to choose others above yourself shows us that there are also good people in this community full of gangsters and people that are working hard for a better future.
9 May Thursday
Two-day road trip with the girls, we left early in the morning with the six of us (the four girls from Mowbray and Fien and I). Our final destination Cederberg, Gecko Creek, for a night camping in the pure African nature. A nice two days to get some rest after all those weeks in busy Maitland. Really love being in Maitland and working with the children, but you don’t get much rest, it’s never silent in our area, so that’s why we choose this destination. We hired a car and drove towards Cederberg, but first we went on our mission to find a Rooibos farm, to get a tour or high tea on a real farm. That was quite a challenge but eventually we found a rooibos farm. Although they were actually closed today the owner welcomed us and even gave us a free tour though the farm. After our rooibos tour we looked for a nice place for a high tea but strange enough there was no place close by were this was possible, so we drove further to Gecko Creek, our camping site for tonight. Luckily for me it wasn’t really a camping, more like a glamping. In pairs of two we each had a huge army tent with a king-sized bed inside. The tent was located in the middle of nowhere, there where no lights, no other people, only 10 tents in total in the middle of nature with a stunning view of the mountain pass.
Just before sunset the owners asked us to join in for a hike, a hike up the Leopard rock. While hiking the sunset started and gave us the most stunning view. On our way up we saw rock paintings made years and years ago by the people that used to live here. A soon as we reached the top, we saw the last bits of the sun disappearing while our guide played some songs for us on his djembe. While heading back to our camp the braai had already been started up and they prepared a nice meal for us. When I walked out the dining room I was shocked, while walking outside I saw the most wonderful (there are no words to describe what I saw today) starry night. There were so many stars and we could even see the milky way. I felt like I could cry at that moment, I’ve never ever seen something so beautiful before in my life. For the rest of the evening I just lay outside enjoying the view, looking at the stars and thinking about when I can plan my next trip to this place. I even saw four falling stars!
10 May Friday
Long time ago that I slept this well, such a nice and quiet place, the only sound you will hear is from the birds flying around, that makes waking up even an easy thing. Plus of course the amazing view you have as soon as you open the tent door. A pity that we are only here for 1 night, I think I would be able to stay here for a month if possible, so peaceful
After breakfast (which again was all prepared for us), we took off towards a hiking trail in Cederberg, a waterfall hike. The hike itself was quite steep, especially the last bit. The fact that we only started our climb at 12, in the middle of the day made it a though but nice hike. A good thing that there was water up top, we all could use a refill of water, plus a nice lunch with the waterfall on one side and a view of the valley on the other side.
Back down at the foot of the mountain we all changed into comfortable clothes and headed back to Cape Town. Back in Cape Town we decided to spoil ourselves a bit more and had a nice tapas dinner at a restaurant named Fork.
11 May Saturday
My teacher in Holland asked me to make a video about all the CASO students, it took me over a week to collect all the film material from all the students (we really are with a lot of students…), but I can finally start with the editing part. After working on it the whole morning I could finally say that the video was done and ready to send to my teacher. The video will be used at the end of the international symposium as a product created by all the students.
Apart from the video my teacher also asked me to make a presentation for the symposium, which I’m going to do together with Fien my roommate, who studies Social Work and is working together with me at the schools.
In the afternoon I played my hockey game, which I’m not going to talk about because it really was a disaster, we lost!!! And we really could have won this game…
So far so good, this day seemed to be like any other day, nothing more out of the ordinary then living in South Africa can be, so we thought… Imagine; You went to bed, after what feels like an hour of sleep a housemate wakes you up and asks you not to freak out and to listen carefully what he is going to say. ‘’Max just go stabbed multiple times in the heart area, he is in hospital now, all students are getting together’’. For a second, I had no clue what was going on, it was all so confusing. I was moving but it felt like time was standing still. We went to the student house in Mowbray and waited. Speaking about timing, all our teachers had just arrived at the airport and they were now at the hospital with Jana, Jana doing an amazing job both helping Max and keeping everyone up to date. We waited till three o’clock at night for the results of the CT scan, to hear if any organs were damaged. His lung got punctured but apart form that everything seemed to be intact and luckily all four stabs missed his heart. Around 4 o’clock we arrived back in Maitland, Fien and I decided to put our matrasses together in my room and try to get some sleep. Although it probably won’t be necessary, we set our alarms for early in the morning, tomorrow morning we are going back to Mowbray to meet up with all the students, and also the teachers will join us in the morning to talk. Fien and I are planning to do some grocery shopping for all the students, so we can make some eggs, bread rolls and to make sure we have enough food for everyone for the whole day.
12 May Sunday
Wow I really think I’m only now starting to realise what happened. It is so surreal but also something we all knew that could happen. What happened to Max actually happens on a daily base and we all know it does but this time it was someone close to us that got stabbed. Where my mind was blank yesterday and it felt like time was standing still, my mind was going everywhere now. Evaluating everything I did while living in Maitland. Walking to do some grocery shopping, walking on my own across the road to withdraw some money. Everything could have happened. Another thing that really bothers me is that it happened in the Observatory, of all places, Observatory always felt like a safe place, especially in comparison to Maitland where I live or Kensington where I’m working.
My thoughts are going up and down. I’m thinking about the people that stabbed Max. How could someone ever hurt another person, not even hurt, stab, in the heart area.. I want to say that I don’t get it, because I would never be able to do so. Then again, I’m also thinking about the primary schools where I’m working, those children. They grow up in this area seeing gun shootings and stabbings on a daily base, those children probably already lost multiple friends, family, their parents. Most likely half of these children will do the same later, that’s what happening here, they don’t have a role model telling them what’s right or wrong, they have gangsters as an example. I feel so bad knowing that the future of these children is so vulnerable, they are so sweet and loving, sometimes a bit naughty, but all they need is some extra love and attention and they are the sweetest. So what am I saying, that I maybe do understand why they did it? Maybe I’m not sure, I know that this is wrong but that these children maybe with a good role model in their life would have had a totally different life… I really do feel sorry for them as well.
It’s crazy realizing what happened, I really don’t want to be scared, I don’t want to change my way of living or sit inside all day long. Maybe that’s why I decided to do the grocery shopping this morning. We have done this for over 3 months now, why would we stop all of a sudden. I don’t want to be afraid about living in Maitland. I enjoy my time here, always have and will keep enjoying it, of course I’m going to be even more careful from now on. I will always go in groups, don’t go out in the dark, but on the other hand, if someone really wants something from you, they will get it, no matter if you are alone or with two or three or maybe even more. Don’t go out on the streets with only girls, was one of the advises I got, well look what happened, they were with two, male and female, if people are motivated enough they will get what they want. I will definitely think twice or maybe even three times now before doing something but I will still go on with everything I am doing. I’m going to my school, to the children, try to help and inspire as many children as possible. But being realistic, you might inspire only one or two, but then again that’s a start and that’s one or two children preventing from doing something they will regret or getting a life they don’t deserve.
After our grocery shopping we went to Mowbray, Fien and I made eggs with bacon, cheese, bread rolls. Just keeping busy, that’s what feels good at the moment, I can’t sit still and do nothing now. During breakfast we were all sitting together, teachers and students, eating a bit but mostly talking. Talking about what happened, how Max is doing, what’s going to happen, how we feel now, what can we do. Enough to talk about, but it was nice talking to each other and the teachers (again, what a timing, all of them being here with us), there were lots of tears from all of us, everyone was in shock but Max is doing really well and that’s such a relieve!
Special to see what this does to the dynamic of our group, the group in general didn’t always get along really well, we all had our arguments but after what happened now this is all put into perspective. We are helping each other as a group, being together now and doing what we can, a close group all working towards the same goal.
13 May Monday
Something I really wanted to do today is to get back into my normal routine. I really want to go to my school, talk with the children, give the sports lessons, and play with them during interval. Our teachers told us that it was oké to take a break and that we didn’t have to go if we didn’t feel like it yet. Use some time to process what happened. I am really glad that I did go today, being at the school gives me energy, and those are the kind of things I need right now.
14 May Tuesday
Both Fien and I invited our teacher to join us today at W.D. to see the school, but also to see where we have been working, in what environment, with whom and what we’ve been doing the past few months. Eventually more teachers came along, eight in total and the atmosphere really was great. Together with two pupils I showed the teachers the building of the youngest learners first, the grade R teachers were really enthusiastic and showed our teachers around in the classrooms and told them about the school and the way the schools works. During interval we went to the older grades building (grade 4-7). Interval had just started so all the children were running around and curious who the visitors were. It was really funny to see their confusion when I told them that these were my teachers. I had told them so many times that I’m also still studying but they couldn’t believe that those were my teachers and that I still had teachers. The boys challenged the teachers for a soccer game, which was really awesome to see, again sport can do so much. Sport can really bring people together, everyone was either playing with or cheering on the players.
I’m actually really glad that the teachers came today, it’s way better to show them how it is to work with those children then to tell. I can tell what I experience but they won’t get it in the same way and now they saw what I meant and I am glad they did, because it really is beautiful to be part of this.
Afterschool the boys and girls’ soccer team of W.D. got ready for their soccer game against Factreton. Normally I would have had my after-school program but the school forgot to tell me that the children where done early today… so again the afterschool program got cancelled. But at least now I could finally cheer on my two W.D. teams!
Around 4 I was getting ready for my run with coach Nicole, we had tried to go for a run now for three weeks and today it looked like it was finally going to happen. Well that’s what we thought. WORST TIMING EVER, Nicole was running late so I was waiting in front of the gate together with Fien (Fien was so kind to walk with me to the gate and wait till Nicole came to pick me up). It took longer then expected so we sat down against the wall. Kept the gate open though, I even said to Fien that we should keep the gate open just in case. After all that happened with Max we were actually really sharp and focussed on what was happening and who walked past. I can tell precisely how many people walked past, how many children etc but then for ONE SECOND we looked at our phones, because we just got a great idea for our presentation for during the symposium on Friday. All of a sudden a man was standing above us, he was standing not even a meter away from us while we were sitting on the ground. He shouted that he wanted our phones, that he had a gun and was going to shoot us. That moment I completely froze, luckily Fien was with me and we both ran into the gate and slammed the door. We both were in shock, we were already tired and stressed about what happened to Max and then this happens a few days afterwards. I was both in shock and angry, how can this happen, nothing happened in three months and now two things in three days. Worse was that we were really focussing on everything and everyone around us except for that really short moment, that’s what maybe scared me most, how quick it went. Luckily there were still people downstairs at the office who came to help us right away. They called the police and they told us we had to come back tomorrow to try and identify the attacker. So again no running today…
15 May Wednesday
Fien and I are still sleeping together in my room on the ground, it’s nice to be close together. Sleeping wasn’t really going well this night but at least we could talk about how we felt and what happened which was nice. We decided again to just continue ‘’working’’ and went to W.D. in the morning. For some reason all the kids knew what happened (someone must have told them but it wasn’t me), and they were so sweet, they gave me lots of hugs (even more then they normally do), they talked about what they have been through and how they deal with it. They really are the sweetest kids, they cheered me up with some games and taught me a clap song.
In the afternoon I really had to face it, Fien and I had to go to the police station to report what happened and try to identify the attacker. It felt wrong for me to go to the police since eventually nothing was stolen and yes my knee is swollen but that was because I slammed the gate closed and hit my own knee in the hurry. Especially when you see what happens at a daily base and what happened to Max and Jana it really felt wrong for me to make up a report. When we arrived at the police office this feeling only got worse. What a waste of time, the officers told us that we had to come in today but when we arrived, they were not helping at all. They were writing a report and at the same time making jokes to each other. Next, we had to try and identify the attacker and they put us in the crime office where we had to wait for the officers to get back. It took long for them to return and when the sergeant returned that was supposed to help us he smelt like cigarettes… I wanted to get out as soon as possible, so after trying to identify the attacker (which I couldn’t) we went straight back home.
16 May Thursday
For today the teachers organised a group counselling meeting at the campus with the school counsellor of CPUT. It’s optional for everyone and although I really appreciate that all the teachers organised this for us I decided not to go today. What helps for me is spending time at my school, W.D., working with the children gives me such positive energy and since today is the last day of the week at W.D. I don’t want to miss it. Instead I asked my own teacher if we could just talk about what happened privately and of course I’m also talking a lot with my friends and the other CASO students.
Afternoon program: working on the presentation with Fien. Tomorrow the final international symposium of the CASO project is taking place. Menno (my teacher) asked me to put together a presentation with Fien (student from Belgium) about our experiences, our project, and the things we learned along the way. We already had lots of ideas for our presentation which made it really easy to put everything together. We practiced it together a few times and whatever way it goes tomorrow we are already proud of the result. Hopefully everyone who is listening tomorrow will see that we worked on our project with passion and we are glad that we can share this with everyone, because there really are some important lessons that everyone can learn, starting with how privileged we are!
17 May Friday
The day we’ve all been looking out for and the reason why all the teachers are here in the first place, the final international symposium of CASO. It was a day full of surprises, full of knowledge exchange and full of reflections. The symposium started with a timeline from the start of the CASO project until now, the final symposium. There were different workshops held and during one of the workshops Fien and I had to give our presentation. We were the first ones to start, they told us we had 10 minutes so off we went. From the beginning to the end it went great. Fien and I were enjoying it, the message we had in mind was well received by the people listening and it really was an eyeopener for some people. After our presentation, one man, in particular, stood up and talked to us. He was the head of the department of culture and sport in South Africa (was glad I didn’t know that before we started though). He gave us such a nice compliment about what we showed them and how we showed everyone what really is going on and what those children are dealing with. He actually told us that from now on he is starting a collaboration with PS4L! that was the biggest compliment we could get, and I can say that we both really enjoyed presenting our work and are also proud of what we achieved.
Remember APD Drakenstein? During the intensive program, the first two weeks of our project, we had visited APD Drakenstein, an organisation helping disabled people and working together with them to give them some handles and opportunities in life. When the day came to an end and all the workshops where done we all met in the main hall. The APD choir came and performed three songs for us. At least half of all the guests were in tears, it was beautiful. They didn’t sing like some might have expected because there are also deaf people amongst them, they sang using sign language, very special!
After a long but satisfying day, I ended the day by watching the soccer game of one of the coaches, Nicole Jacobs. Another soccer talent, really passionate about her sport and a fantastic coach for the children as well!
18 May Saturday
What a strange week, I lost complete track of time and wasn’t really in the mood for a hockey game yet. Because my knee is still a bit swollen (after I slammed the gate closed against my knee) I asked my teacher yesterday if he could take a look. Apart from fluid under the kneecap it actually looked quite good and he said that it might even be good for me and my knee to go for a run so that’s what I did. Totally right he was, both my knee and I were really happy that I played that game. I felt my knee yes but it also felt good to use it again and it wasn’t too painful. We played against Somerset West, a middle mode team (and as you might have noticed we are one of the weaker teams in the league). As soon as the match started I was getting more and more in my element and was really glad I was playing, or even running again. It felt good to run and to forget about the hectic week for a second and we played a hell of a match. We were behind 1-3, the score came up to 2-3, then 2-4, 3-4, 4-4, a good come back and still a full ten minutes to play. In the last three minutes of the match, I scored the 5-4 which gave us the lead for the first time in the game, unfortunately, one minute before the end of time Somerset scored another goal which made the end score 5-5 but none the less it was a fantastic game. It felt good afterwards and we deserved the point we won!
In the evening we had a dinner planned at Kloof Street (this was supposed to be the second time for us to see our teachers but meanwhile we had seen them nearly every day of the week). since the teachers are leaving tomorrow this now was our goodbye dinner.
19 May Sunday
Morning plan, shopping in canal walk. The kids at W.D. Hendricks have been telling us to go there for so long now, it’s supposed to be huge and you can find everything you’re searching for. Well, it definitely is huge, not sure about the ‘you can find everything part’, it really is a maze.
In the afternoon Fien, Lieselot and I started doing some schoolwork, it was a strange week and we really had some catching up to do!
Plus had a nice chat with my friend (Marloesjeeee) )again!!!!
20 May Monday
This is the last week before the assessment week starts at the primary schools. This is also a short week for me, I only have today and tomorrow since I’m leaving for Durban with Fien on Wednesday to visit family. The school day at W.D. was as usual fantastic, got so much love from the children again and I really have no clue how I will ever be able to leave this school. I’ve also been busy organising the trip for Genatendal for the children. Been raising money and emailing different accommodations, today we finally got a response back from one of the accommodations telling that they are happy to have us and are even willing to give us a discount of 20 rands a child. This really is great news, accommodation organised, transport nearly organised, t-shirts organised, only food, drinks and still a bit of fundraising.
In the afternoon all the children were called in a hurry to go home. Police were standing everywhere, apparently, there were shootings close by the school and even with the police on top of it they are still not stopping. A group of policemen with the biggest guns I’ve ever seen were standing at the school gate making sure that all the children could get out safely and could go straight home. Imagine this happening back home? Well, I think it would be chaos with everyone running around to get home as fast as possible. Over here the children were just walking slowly, some were even standing still, the police really had to tell them twice that they had to move. After all the children had left all the teachers and coaches including me also had to leave.
I ordered an uber eventually and went to Tokai, to my uncle’s place because today is Livi’s birthday!
21 May Tuesday
Since I’m doing my testing and afterschool project at both Garden Village and Factreton I had to plan in an evaluation day. Today I spend the full day working at Garden Village Primary. I interviewed the coach Nicole Jacobs, I did the second D2 test of concentration with the children of my project and spoke to the principal. Due to the weekly assembly, it took me really long today to finish. The grades five that I needed for the testing were just starting their assembly so I had to wait till the end. Communication is really not the strongest side in South Africa, all the teachers knew I was coming for the testing but I was only allowed to do the testing during PE, but they forgot to tell me they didn’t have PE today because the assembly was planned in the same timeslot. Every downside has its upside though, it was really interesting to see how an assembly works. At first, they start with calling out all the names of the children achieving a sports performance, they are all called up the stage and get a certificate. The same thing happens with all the children achieving academic performance. Next is a moral story, a story told to the children to teach them a life lesson, for example not to bully others, to always respect one another. Everyone who had his birthday this week was also called up the stage and birthday songs were sang towards them. They sing religious songs towards God and more stories are being told. Also sad news, the father of one of the pupils died this week, gets shared with everyone, and some normal house rules that the children have to be reminded at. I think especially the part where they give special attention to the students performing something special is a good thing and something they can do more often at other schools as well. it’s a simple way to give some extra attention and appreciation to the children. Same counts for the moral storytelling, if you ask me this is a great way to show a child an important life lesson.
22 May Wednesday
On our way to Durban! Fien and I left around 8 o’clock in the morning for the airport, we booked this trip a month ago and we were so happy we did. We are planning on just relaxing and enjoying the peaceful area where we’re going to. Get some rest and fill up our energy level! We landed around 12 in Durban, George and Sharon were already waiting for us and took us to their house in Umzumbe. While driving towards Umzumbe it was so strange to see how the landscape looked so different. I have not seen so much green since I left the Netherlands. The whole way it was green everywhere, especially lots of sugar plants.
When we arrived in Umzumbe, we had our first beach walk, collected some shells, and garbage (George, my grandfathers’ brother he always collects all the garbage from the beach). Every time a storm passes and takes all the garbage from the river into the sea Georges starts a cleanup action to clean the beach. While sitting in the garden we were really enjoying everything. From the garden we could hear and still see the sea. It all sounds so calm, I guess that was when we noticed how tired we really were, we both went to sleep really early that night.
23 May Thursday
Rise and shine! Today we planned to see the sunrise at the beach. All three of us took our camera gear and off we went to the beach. It was an early morning but so worth it. We saw a beautiful sunrise and took lots of pictures with the sunrise and the sea and waves splashing up. We stayed at the beach for I think two hours just enjoying the sound, view and stunning morning.
We had planned to go to Oribi Gorge today but there were protests going on on our way so we couldn’t go. Apparently they were throwing stones at cars and jamming the traffic. Instead we stayed home had a nice lunch on the beach and just cruised on the beach for a while. We looked for shells and Fien found two huge ones, the ones you can hear the sea through if you put them against your ear.
24 May Friday
We enjoyed yesterday so much, and we’re here now so today again we got up early and watched yet another sunrise. We also started a shell collection with holes on the top so we can use them to make bracelets with the children during our trip, and of course we collected all the garbage (which wasn’t much at all) that was still laying around. On our way back from our morning walk to the house we found out that there were more than a dozen monkeys all sitting in one tree. They were so cute! The monkeys were really photogenetic as well, they were just posing for us all the time and it didn’t bother them at all if we came closer.
Since there were still protests on the way to Oribi Gorge we decided to go for a nice walk somewhere else. It felt like we were in the jungle for a while, it was a short but nice walk. Saw lots of interesting plants and the weirdest spider ever. Just before dinner George took us to ‘The mantis & moon backpackers’, one of the best subscribed B&B’s in South Africa. They showed us the place and we had a drink together, such a cool atmosphere and great staff. Good tip for everyone who wants plan a trip to Umzumbe and hasn’t organised accommodation yet.
25 May Saturday
This morning we ‘’slept in’’ a bit, till 8, had a lovely breakfast and after some pictures taken together with George and Sharon we hit the road again, on our way back to Cape Town. We had two flights ahead of us, the first plane dropping us off in Lanseria and the second in Cape Town. Sounds a bit unnecessary, especially because these are both quite long flights, but it was the cheapest way and we are students after all! Between the two flights, we had three hours to cover and also still a lot of schoolwork. We sat in a small restaurant (the only one available for non-VIP guests), ate the worst sandwich ever and worked on our projects. With all the delay counted, we arrived around seven at our house in Maitland.
Downstairs our goodbye (because the first students are leaving in a week already) party had already started (started around four o’clock). All the other students, coaches and staff were already there so Fien and I quickly went up, had a shower and went down to join the party. We had a nice braai and some drinks, a night to remember.
26 May Sunday
If I wasn’t in love with South Africa yet then I certainly am now! With all the girls we went Kayaking at sea in the morning. We left really early from Seapoint and peddled out for thirty minutes. On our way, we saw birds, penguins, a seal was giving us a show and all of a sudden around twenty dolphins were swimming next to us. They stayed with us for at least twenty minutes, it was stunning. What beautiful creatures they are, they were not even a meter away from me, I saw them jumping and swimming in groups up and down. After a while we had to turn back otherwise we wouldn’t be in time for our other appointments but wow I could have stayed there the whole day just watching them. On our way back our friend the seal joined us again and was dancing in the water for us.
Back on land Leonie and I quickly ordered something to eat and an Uber because we have our hockey game in a few hours time and we still had to get dressed. We are playing against Milnerton today at the Hartlyvale pitch. Although my head was still with the dolphins I was really looking forward to playing, it felt like it was going to be a good game today.
A good game it was, we were down one point at first soon but eventually, we won 3-1! We won our first game in South Africa!!!! Also, my last game of this first season part because the last two games I won’t be able to play, my weekends are fully booked. Going to the National Kruger Park next weekend and the weekend after that I will finally have my weekend away with the kids from W.D.
27 May Monday
Today the assessment weeks start at all the primary schools. This means all the children will be in class for a change, no kids cruising around, running, shouting. It was quiet when we arrived and I am glad it was! It’s good that the children realise that the assessments are important and they will have to focus to write them and to pass the tests. We only took the younger classes today, the grade R tot 3 don’t have assessments in the form of tests so we were allowed to take them for lessons. The older grades are also allowed to have PE, but the teachers prefer not to, because with the PE classes the children will all get hyperactive and make a lot of noise. This will make it difficult to get them to concentrate again and all the noise will distract the other classes from their assessments. I get why they choose not to take the classes but still, I think it would be way better for the children to also have PE lessons. You can’t expect a kid to focus for a whole day long, it would be good for them to get active in between the assessments. This might actually improve their performances as well, but of course, we would need to prove for that before they will even consider this.
In the afternoon I made some holiday plans, I’m going to Victoria Falls!! Together with Leonie, we booked our flight tickets today and contacted some places for accommodation. Already looking forward to seeing Zimbabwe and the magnificent falls!
28 May Tuesday
Our day at W.D. was even quieter than yesterday, we couldn’t take any classes today and because we didn’t want to distract the children, we decided to stay till the break ends. During break time we had some fun with the children, being active and chatting about how their assessments went and afterwards our driver picked us up.
In the evening I went with to soccer practice, since Justin (coach of W.D.) is injured, sports injury of the medial collateral ligament, it was a nice practice for me as a physio. I came along to look at the practice and did some easy exercises on stability and strengthening exercises. This was also good training for me since my training got cancelled yesterday.
29 May Wednesday
Another day of assessments but luckily we were allowed to take some classes today. We also received a donation from Central Hockey Club, the school was given ten hockey sticks and hockey balls so we used them right away. In groups of ten I taught the grade one and two children the basics of hockey. How to hold the stick, how to walk with the ball and how to pass and stop the ball. It was so cool to see that the children are really interested in learning a new sport. You will always see them play either netball or soccer but they love it to play something different. One class, the grade three class, even just came outside to watch the lesson.
30 May Thursday
My head is killing me today, luckily all the schools are closed so I just stayed in bed today. When my head felt a bit better I worked on school for a while, but apart from that I had a quiet day and hopefully my head will be better tomorrow because I’m leaving tomorrow morning with Fien and Lieselot to the airport at four in the morning to fly to Johannesburg and drive straight through to the National Kruger Park.
31 May Friday
Early morning, our alarm went off at 3:40 and at 4:00 we ordered our Uber to get to the airport. I’m so excited!! Today we will already have our first safari, a sunset safari but first we have to fly to Johannesburg and our flight was having more than an hour delay. Which wouldn’t be a problem if we hadn’t organised our transport to get to the Kruger Park yet, which we had. Our taxi was supposed to leave at nine. Eventually we only departed Cape Town at quarter to nine which was a bit stressful. We send a text to the taxi company and luckily they responded that they would wait till ten. But even that was going to be a challenge. Eventually we made it just in time and we were on our way to the National Kruger parc!!!!! It was still another five-hour drive but the drive itself is beautiful. Lots of mountains, waterfalls, baboons on the side of the road.
When we arrived at Marc’s Treehouse Lodge, our accommodation, we discovered that we weren’t sleeping in a treehouse but in a tent, fun surprise but even more adventures. We left almost immediately for our sunset safari, we drove through the private parc and saw lots of impalas, Nyala, Kudu, monkeys, a wild cat, but no big five yet. It was so cool driving around, we drove at night, pitch dark, the only light we had was the one from the car and the flashlights. We could have come across anything, leopards, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, lions even. Luck to see any big animals wasn’t with us yet, but the experience of driving around at night was awesome.
While we were in our beds, we could hear the hyena’s, they were crying the whole night. It was cool but a bit scary as well since we were only lying in a tent. But the same thing goes for the leopards they are also walking freely and could walk in between our tents as well.
1 June Saturday
Second day, a whole day in the National Kruger parc. We left straight after breakfast towards the parc in an open van, no seatbelts, racing towards the entrance. I felt like an ice cube when we finally arrived, good thing they had blankets in the truck. In the park we spotted our first animal just past the gate, Zazu! You all know Zazu right? The bird from the Lion King, Zazu is a red-billed hornbill.
Next we found the zebra’s drinking next to the impala’s. Giraffe necks popping out of the trees, walking beside us as elegant as they can be. We saw elephants, not just one or two, a whole group of I think twenty elephants, moms, baby’s crossing the road in front of us. Magnificent how they move as a group all together, looking so calm but at the same time going quite fast. We saw buffalo’s in great numbers, wildebeests and more zebras walking (and baby zebras!!!). From a distance we saw hippo’s chilling in the water and some other animals joining them to get something to drink. It’s hectic to see how dry the whole parc is, so many times we saw signs indicating that a river is close by but all we found was sand, the whole river was dried out. At the end of the day we only saw the big two, being the elephant and the buffalo, we haven’t seen any cats or a rhino but non the less I loved it. I love being here and love making pictures of these stunning creatures.
2 June Sunday
Early day nr… lost track of count but again worth it. We started the day around 5, getting together for the walk around 6. We did a safari bush walk through the private camp and we were tracking animals by looking at their dump and footprints. We walked with our guide (who was armed with a huge gun) and discovered that a leopard had been less then a few meters away from our tents last night (kind of glad I hadn’t noticed that). We found footprints of both male and female leopards. We found buffalo dump, giraffe footprints ands lots of impala and nyalas that had been walking around us. Again not much luck with spotting the actual animals but it was a nice experience. We had an interesting conversation about termites. Apparently by looking at a termite hill you can discover which way is north. If you take the highest and second highest hill and draw a line in between, the highest will point out where north is. So if you’re lost look for the termite hills. Termites are actually quite interesting, they have one queen, she is way bigger than the others and leading the whole system, since she is also the only one with a brain to do so. She lays 3000 eggs a day, probably necessary because a lot of animals feed off the termites, but imagine getting so many children. She also regulates the temperature, which at the point where she is located in the termite hill will always be 28 degrees, both in winter and in summer. A termite queen lives around 25 years and if she dies a new princess will come up, an interesting process. Those termite hills can get up to five meters high but then lots of animals also use the tunnels underneath the termite hills, which can go up to ten meters under the ground. Animals such as snakes, leopards, wild hogs, they all use these tunnels.
After breakfast we took off towards the airport of Johannesburg again but not without taking a D-tour. We visited the panorama route on the way, STUNNING!!!!!!! One of the biggest canyons in the world and really beautiful. The rock formations and the water running around the formations gave a breath-taking view.