Africa Makes Us Smile

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Having fun in Knysna township

We’re back in Canada and enjoying the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. Canada is a wonderful country and we are so fortunate to have been born in this safe and  economically/politically stable country.

However, we miss Africa because Africa makes us smile!

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It is difficult to travel 10 minutes in South Africa without seeing something that makes us smile or laugh! Crazy things happen in Africa. Kids dance on top of guardrails, people sway to music while waiting for a traffic light (a.k.a. robot) to change, piglets scurry across the road in the township, and people commonly find a reason to laugh.

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Onke (grade 11)

Onke is among the top 2-3 students in his grade 11 class, studies hard, is articulate, clever, and will inevitably do well in life. He remains an active member of our original Bulele mentorship group and plans to study economics and work as a government economist. Janet presented Onke with a reconditioned laptop donated by friends of ours in Ottawa and delivered to South Africa a few weeks ago by a visiting Canadian friend.

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prior to entering the prison

Have you seen the American television show Beyond Scared Straight?  At-risk youth, most of whom are already in trouble with the law, visit an adult prison where guards and inmates provide a no-nonsense taste of prison life. They get frisked, lectured, screamed at, locked up, and intimidated by inmates and guards alike.

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The boys being indoctrinated by the guards on arrival at the prison entrance. “You are now on our turf and will do things our way”. (Notice that no one is smiling)

Just prior to returning to Canada Jim took 21 of the 45 gang youth to visit the Knysna Correctional Centre. These are the same youth who signed a Truce and agreed to stop fighting 4 weeks ago (the Truce remains in effect).

The American television show has nothing on the performance the inmates and guards delivered on each of our 2 visits! They were very tough, and all of the boys were scared. Within minutes, the inmates and guards eradicated any signs of bravado from the boys.

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This photo captures Janet saying good bye to some of the boys on her final day of tutoring high school math. Leaving is always difficult and, while we keep in touch with many of the youth using WhatsApp instant messaging, it is never easy to depart or be     so far away.

Jim & Janet return to South Africa in October 2015. 

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