Africa’s Allure

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Knysna (photo by Terrah-Caleb Mello)

In a matter of weeks, we commence the return-journey to beautiful Knysna. What better time to reflect on why Africa has captured the hearts of so many, including ourselves.  

“Few go there. Africa has a reputation: poverty, disease, war. But when outsiders do go they are often surprised by Africa’s welcome, entranced rather than frightened. Visitors are welcomed and cared for in Africa.  If you go you will find most Africans friendly, gentle and infinitely polite.  Africans meet, greet and talk, look you in the eye and empathize, hold hands and embrace, share and accept from others without twitchy self-consciousness.  All these things are as natural as music in Africa.”  Richard Dowden – Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

“It’s addictive. Get’s under your skin like chiggers (mites). You scratch and it gets worse.” Kathy Eldon – In the heart of Life

We received the following whatsapp message from a grade 11 youth who, 18 months ago, was gang-involved, stabbed at school and nearly died, and on the wrong path. This youth proved instrumental in helping Jim connect with other gang-involved youth and work towards the signing of a truce between 3 gangs in April, 2015, which remains in effect:

“Hi jim am working hard on my studies i want u 2 see de guy u give hope on is going 2 prove u right.”

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Carpentry-Mentorship Initiative: Last week we commenced the search for adult mentors using social media, letter-to-the-editor of the local Knysna newspaper, and advertisements (see photo) in the weekly issue of Knysna ‘Action-Ads’.

The youth we have identified for this initiative are not ready for employment, or on-the-job training, and are best-suited to a mentorship relationship.

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Thank you for your donations, as this is the time of year when we rebuild the war-chest for the challenges and opportunities awaiting us. We are anxious to return to South Africa, and will keep you posted on our progress. Janet, Jim, & Clarke

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Literary Festival

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Knysna is a scenic retirement and tourist town on the south coast of South Africa which hosts many annual events, one of which is the Knysna Literary Festival.

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March 2016

On Friday we took 9 grade 10-12 boys to the Literary Festival event “Fate of The Nation”, in which 4 South African authors and journalists explored the major issues impacting the country. Political, social, and economic factors were debated over a 90 minute period, culminating in questions from the 200 member audience. Thank you to our friend, Ken, who volunteered his time to help with transportation.

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Being interviewed by a journalist

The media were intrigued by our group of 9 boys from 3 local high schools and immediately requested photographs and interviews. As the only youth members of the audience, and the only blacks, the boys grabbed the attention of the journalists.

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Literary Festival – Siyathemba, Kweila, Prayer

“Boys Being Boys” outside the 5-star Pezula Hotel, site of the Knysna Literary Festival.

We selected the 9 boys based on their academic focus and potential. One of the boys, Onke, has the highest grade 12 marks at his school. Thank you for your donations which sponsored the boys’ tickets (R100 each -$9.00 CDN).

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Ntokozo

Ktokozo survived the 400km, 20 day Oakhill Odyssey which is a mandatory experience for all grade 10 students at the private school he attends.

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Ntokozo & Mom (Thoko)

Ntokozo’s mom was waiting at his school when he and his group returned on Thursday morning. Ntokozo and his mom are very close. African boys LOVE their mothers.

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Vogen

The Hands & Heart construction-skills program helps fill a huge need for practical training to enhance the employability of youth. Vogen is 17 years old and a terrific kid. He was unlikely to complete high school, so stopped attending grade 10 in January once accepted into Hands and Heart. Vogen loves the program and now knows he is “good with his hands”. Your donations sponsor Vogen’s tuition of R100 ($9.00 CDN) per month and provide toiletries and basic clothing. Like many, his home situation is challenging.

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Robin

Robin is thriving at TSiBA college and loving the practical program in business administration. He was 1 of 3 students selected to attend an event at the literary festival in recognition of the leadership skills he demonstrated during his first term at TSiBA. Thank you for enabling the sponsorship of Robin’s R180 per month tuition & residence fees.

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Stephen & Ella

Stephen is one of the 15 children Ella & Penny care for. He recently became quite ill and the doctors suspected meningitis. Despite a negative spinal tap, he was treated for 5 days with intravenous antibiotics and is now home and doing better. We wish him well.

L to R: Masande, Azo, Mziyanda

Thank you for your continued support – Janet & Jim       Contact Us / Donate

En Route to South Africa

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If you are viewing this photograph of Knysna on October 15th, we are in London and waiting to embark on the second leg of our trip from London and Cape Town. While not visible in this photo, the opening to the Indian Ocean is just a few hundred metres further left (south).

Knysna, South Africa

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This is beautiful Knysna, the town where we stay in South Africa. The population of the town, including the 2 townships, is 51,000. You can see a portion of the township we frequent in the right corner of this photo along the top of the large hills.