Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week 5 and beginning of Week 6

We had a really short week at Sarah Fox last week because of the National Holiday on Friday.

Wednesday- really easy day compared to Tuesday, and the kids were much better behaved. Brie came back for her last two days at Sarah Fox so I had an extra hand.. We took the kids outside really early in the day so they were worn out by lunchtime.

Thursday- Brie's last day :( . It's so weird to see her go.. She has been here for a month already, but it seems like she just started last week. I tried to have the kids make goodbye and thank you cards before Brie got there in the morning, but only a couple of them actually finished. The kids were extra sweet all day long, so I think they actually understood. A new shy little girl came to the hospital and she stayed by my side the entire day. ..She even waited by the door when I left the room. I still have yet to hear her speak a word.

After placement on Thursday, Karen and I went to the beach for a couple of hours and then met up with the rest of the group for dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant on Long Street downtown for Whitney's birthday. The rest of the group went out afterwards, but Karen, Brie, and I went home to bed for our big day on Friday.

Friday - We were picked up early in the morning for our Hike and Bike adventure to the Cape of Good Hope - the most south-western point of the African continent. Our first stop was Hout Bay where we rode on a glass-bottomed boat out to Seal Island. . beautiful views and tons and tons of seals. We then continued down the western coast to the winelands in Constantia and across the mountains toward Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, and Simonstown. In Simonstown we stopped at Boulders Beach to see the penguins (they live there) and do a little shopping. We went on to the Table Mountain National Park and the Cape of Good Hope. We biked to a shelter in the park for a picnic lunch and then down to Cape Point. At Cape Point we hiked up some cliffs. Again, it was one of the best days yet.

Saturday- Brie ran in the Two Oceans Marathon! Great Job Brie!

In the morning, Bailey took me to the organic market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town. They had amazing food, smoothies, baked goods, jewelry, scarves, etc., all for really good prices. I met Karen and Brie at Clifton Beach and later we took a taxi down to the Waterfront for a sunset sailboat ride. We ended up hitting some unexpected wind and waves, so our ride wasn't so peaceful... Within the first five minutes we were all drenched from head to toe and every person on the boat was rolling with laughter. The captains admitted that they weren't at all expecting the ride to be as exciting as it was, but it ended up being the most spontaneous and fun night yet...

I'm still sad I had to miss the Easter and birthday celebration at home :(

Sunday- Bailey, Brie, Karen and I had a fun morning in Constantia and later we went to Kirstenbosch Gardens for the last performance of their summer concert series.. We saw Goldfish. The group is popular here and is actually supposed to be huge in the US soon.. They are already in a couple of commercials. Kirstenbosch is so beautiful and I really hope I get the chance to go back to walk around the gardens more before I leave.

Monday - We were still off for the holiday.. We had a group day at the beach.

Tuesday - It hit me today that I only have 3 more days at Sarah Fox. My time has gone so fast.. It will be really hard to leave. I tried to arrange time in my last two weeks in Cape Town to visit a few more times and hopefully help out. We'll see how it works.. The administration at Sarah Fox isn't the most organized.

The kids were so good today. We actually finished a couple of puzzles in the morning and the kids were SO proud... The puzzles were only 30 pieces but it was a huge accomplishment. We spent the rest of the day outside.

We learned today that one of the kids in the baby ward passed away over the weekend. We're all keeping the family in our prayers.

After placement, we went to finish a couple of last-week errands and had dinner at the Waterfront.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Week 4/5

I haven't updated in forever so I'll make it super short.

The rest of week 4 went pretty well. The weather was nice so we got to dress the kids in swim suits and take them outside to run in the sprinklers and swim in the kiddie pools. I've never seen kids so excited.. They thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Allie's last day was Friday :(. We went to the Red Cross Hospital in the morning to visit one of her favorite patients who had plastic surgery on her face last week for her burns. The two of them have become buds over the last twelve weeks and both were in tears by the end of our visit. Later at Sarah Fox we had a going away party with ice cream and more swimming/sprinklers. I'm not sure what we'll do without Allie there.

For the first time we had all of our afternoons free last week. I took some surfing lessons (amazing) and relaxed at the beach. Friday Bailey picked me up right after placement for my weekend away. We went to the Taste of Cape Town Friday night. I caught some kind of stomach bug and was really sick Saturday and Sunday. We did manage to make it to a new beach and some cool new sites in Cape Town on Sunday, but I was sick again Sunday night. On Monday Bailey took me to Charly's Bakery for my birthday (famous in South Africa.. they've even made cakes for Oprah!). ..My cupcakes are still sitting in the box because they were too pretty to eat. We went to a movie and shopping for the rest of the day. Some of the volunteers met us for dinner at a nice sushi restaurant. The weekend was amazing minus the sick part.. Whitney and I are going to try to celebrate our joint birthdays next weekend at the Ethiopian restaurant when we are both feeling up to it.

Placement today was tough. I was the only volunteer in the hospital again and one of the nine-year-old boys was really hard to handle.. I'm starting to really miss the days when it was just me with the toddlers.. I'm really having to work hard at patience.

After placement we went to the beach.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Week 4

Monday 3/30 – We didn’t have very many kids today at Sarah Fox because all of the burn patients and some of the HIV and TB patients had to spend the day at the Red Cross Hospital for appointments, procedures, etc. Brie and I were the only volunteers there so we brought everyone into the older kids’ ward again. One of the nine-year-olds spent the entire morning performing Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girl in song and dance. I caught some of it on video.

We were going to take the kids outside, but for once they were content playing inside and watching the music videos on my camera.

After placement, Bailey and I had lunch at a Sushi restaurant in Claremont, about 10 minutes from my homebase. Her roommate is leaving for Italy on Friday for 10 days so I’m going to stay with her this weekend. I can’t wait!

My throat and ears started hurting again today.

Tuesday 3/31 – About 5 of us had to stay home from placement today to go to the doctor. Turns out I have a severe ear infection and pharyngitis. Two of the girls have strep throat. All of us are on antibiotics. Some of the volunteers swear there’s mold or something in the house because everyone keeps getting sick.

One of the volunteers got mugged today.. YIKES!! He is okay.. They took his phone and money.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Red Cross, Stellenbosch, Safari

Friday 3/27 - I got to attend a medical meeting at the Red Cross Hospital where doctors from all over the world came to discuss unsolved patient cases and metabolic disorders. It was so interesting. A pediatrician from London and a pediatric neurologist from Switzerland seemed to have all of the answers. It was sad to hear that some of the treatments and procedures that are pretty common in the US and other countries are simply not possible here. The meeting lasted the entire morning.

After placement, a group of 9 of us hopped on the train to a cute little college town called Stellenbosch. After getting lost in the train station in Cape Town and boarding multiple 'wrong' trains, we finally made it to our hostel, Stumble Inn. Friday night we went to dinner with the group in the little town and walked around to different restaurants afterwards. It was definitely a college atmosphere and so much fun.

Saturday 3/27- We woke up early on Saturday to start our wine tour. The Stellenbosch wine route is one of the country's most famous, and the area includes 110 different cellars. Allie, Karen, and I decided to join a guided tour we found through the information desk at the hostel. The others decided to try and rent bikes for the day to use for their own tour, but it turned out that the bikes were gone and the wineries were actually pretty far from each other. They ended up shopping. Our tour was unbelievable. The winelands were gorgeous. All we could talk about in the bus between the wine farms was how impossible it would be to try to explain the experience to any of the others or to anyone back home.

At the first winery, Simonsig, we did a wine tour followed by a tasting, and it was perfect. At the second winery, Fairview, we did wine tasting and also a cheese tasting.. There was also a bread bar where we got to sample all different delicious fresh bread. At the third we had lunch and more tasting, and at the fourth we just tasted. The scenery was the best part. The weather was so nice. We got a ride back to Cape Town from one of the couples on the tour with us. The entire trip including transportation, the hostel, meals, wine tour, everything, cost each of us less than $50. It was my favorite experience yet, even better than Table Mountain.

Sunday 3/29 - Happy Anniversary Hilary and Joe!

Today we went on a safari at the Aquila Game Reserve and Safari Lodge. We saw elephants, rhinos, hippos, zebra, gnu?, cape buffalo, ostriches, springbuck, and all kinds of animals, but we never saw the lion, cheetah, or giraffe :( . I'm so glad I did the safari though and it made me so excited to come back someday and do a bigger one.RhinosElephants

Friday, March 27, 2009

Week 3 Continued

I haven't updated in almost a week, but I'll try to keep it brief.

Tuesday 3/24 - At Sarah Fox they were painting the toddlers' playroom so we combined all of the kids into the older kids' ward. Since we had enough volunteers, we took all of the kids outside for most of the day. They loved it.

After placement we visited the District Six museum in Cape Town. District Six is a former residential area in the inner city. Over 60,000 of its inhabitants were forced to move in the 1970's by the Group Areas Act where the government declared the area "whites-only". Most people were relocated to the township areas about 25 km from the city. The museum was designed to serve as a remembrance to apartheid and the culture and history of the area before the removal. So interesting but very intense.

Wednesday 3/25 - Worst Day ever at Sarah Fox. The nurses decided to call an "all-staff" meeting. So basically, two other volunteers and I were left to run the entire hospital. The meeting was held right outside of the door to the older kids' room and we were told not to interrupt for any reason. Since we were short on help, we had to combine all the kids into that one room. One of the kids was screaming in pain at one point, but when we tried to take him in to the nurses they shooed us away. The same happened for multiple kids that had gotten sick or had made huge messes on themselves. After awhile the situation got a little out of control. Fifty kids in one tiny room for several hours didn't go over so well. The other volunteer walked out crying.

When we were about to leave, I went to see how Alex was doing in the baby ward.. and she was crying too. She was trying to feed one of the babies that had come in earlier that day. The baby had herpes lesions all over his mouth but he was so starving that he was leaning in for every bite of food. The food was hot though, and every time it touched his mouth he screamed in pain. He was also bleeding down his chin. It was obvious that the baby needed different food, but there weren't any nurses or other staff around to ask.

A couple of people came in to relieve us when it was time to leave, but the staff were all still in the meeting.

After placement we went into one of the townships called Guguletu to a little outside restaurant called Mzoli's. The restaurant serves meat but everyone is responsible for bringing their own drinks, sides, etc. CCS takes volunteers to eat there about once every three or four weeks as one of our cultural activities. Usually there is a band playing from the township and one of the local residents will paint volunteers faces with cool African tribal-looking designs. When we got there today though a film crew was shooting some sort of movie so we had to eat quietly and didn't really get the full cultural experience.

When we got back Whitney and I went into Rondebosch and bought some more clothes for placement since mine always get ruined at the hospital. We had smoothies for dinner at one of the little internet cafes.

Thursday 3/26 - Much better day at Sarah Fox. I was the only volunteer in the entire hospital in the morning, but the nurses were actually there to help me out a little bit. I combined all of the kids again in the older kids' play room and when the two other volunteers got there, we took all the kids outside. I tried to teach some of the older girls how to "pump" on the swings because they are always yelling for me to push them.. None of them really understand English, so most of them had no idea what I was talking about, but one actually got it by the end of the day. Hopefully she can teach the others.

After placement we had a farewell meeting for all of the 3-week volunteers who are leaving this week. So weird to think we've already been here that long. It seems like we just got here yesterday. Some of the others are leaving too that have been here for almost 12 weeks. More will be coming next Saturday.

The rest of the group went out for a farewell dinner after the meeting, but Bailey came and picked me up for a night away. We went to eat at a little restaurant in Green Point called Manos and then to a couple little cocktail patios afterwards. I don't think I can handle any more meals at the house, so it was so so nice to go to a new place to eat. I had a salmon and avocado salad yum. I saw Bailey's apartment and met her roommate. Both so nice.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Week 3 and Table Mountain

Monday 3/23- Another hard day at Sarah Fox. All of the kids were extra rowdy from being cooped up all weekend long.

Nothing really happened out of the ordinary today, except that one of the really shy little boys actually broke out of his shell. :) Usually he stands in the corner and won’t say a word the entire day, but today he read books, played with the other kids, and smiled all day long.

Since Jessica left, I am permanently the only one in the toddlers’ room. It’s a little frustrating not having help on days like today because there are now 4 volunteers in the older kids’ room, and the older kids usually require less attention than the toddlers do.

After placement, five other volunteers and I decided to climb Table Mountain. It was much harder than I expected, and there were times when I wanted to cry because we were climbing so fast, my legs were stinging, and everyone was so far ahead of me. The view at the top though was worth every minute of the climb, and I would do it a thousand times over again. We rewarded ourselves with a glass of wine at the little restaurant on the top of the mountain and then rode the cable car back to the bottom. We ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Mowbray called Fat Cactus. I think now Table Mountain is my favorite thing I’ve done in Cape Town.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

End of Week 2

Friday 3/20 – Really good day at Sarah Fox. Some students from one of the local high schools came to do some community service and about 10 of them were sent to help me in the toddlers’ ward. We took all of the kids outside for the first time since I’ve been there. I laid out a blanket on the grass and three little toddlers curled up on my lap and fell asleep.

It was Jessica’s last day today :( . She has been volunteering at Sarah Fox for six weeks and it was so sad to see her say goodbye to the kids. She was bawling as she was feeding them, and I think she was seriously considering adopting her favorite little boy. To make it worse, the nurse told us as we were walking out that her favorite is leaving Sarah Fox to go to a foster home this weekend. He has been there since he was a tiny baby, so it was a big deal to see him leave. Jessica cried the whole way home because they haven’t been able to find him a family.

After placement, a couple of us got on the train to St. James which is about 35 minutes south of Cape Town. We went to the beach for a couple of hours and then got back on the train to Kalk Bay which is one more stop south. There we had a goodbye dinner for Jessica in this little restaurant on the ocean, lost track of time and missed the train back. After calling a million taxi companies we finally found one to bring us back to Cape Town.

The view from our table at dinner. So pretty.

Saturday 3/21 – After last weekend and our crazy busy schedule, I needed a weekend to lay low. Today Whitney and I went to Green Market Square downtown where tons of local vendors come and set up tents where people can barter for cool trinkets, clothes, and handmade African art, jewelry, etc. I was really overwhelmed so didn’t buy anything but decided I really need to go back. We went to Camps Bay to the beach for a couple of hours after Green Market but felt like we were getting sunburned so hopped on the train back to Kalk Bay. There we spent the afternoon looking around at a bunch of little boutiques with clothes, scarves, jewelry, etc. We didn’t buy much but it was so fun to shop anyway.

Camps Bay

Sunday 3/22 – Half of our group went back to the beach today, and the other half went shark diving. I needed a break from group traveling and am a little sunburned from yesterday so I decided to explore on my own. I took the train downtown and walked around to find my bearings. I went back to Green Market Square and then ate lunch at McDonalds in the train station yumm.. The Human Rights Day celebration was this weekend so I walked around in Company’s Garden which is a 15-acre park in the middle of downtown. It was so nice to have time to myself. And I can’t wait to see the kids in the morning.