Hitting the Streets

In our matching Living Hope T-shirts we took to the streets of a township, Overcome, today to spread the word about the importance of hand washing and rehydration as they relate to the prevention and treatment of diarrhea. It was a powerful experience for our group to witness such poverty first hand.  We split up into smaller groups with local interns working with Living Hope (the faith-based NGO sponsoring the project) as well as similarly associated community members familiar with the people and streets of Overcome.  We were very well received by the residents who seemed appreciative of our presence and message.

I managed to sneak a pic, but for some reason it won’t upload. Rah!

More service tomorrow and an afternoon with kiddos in the after school program.

-T. Melissa


Finally Starting Our Service in South Africa!

We visited the community of Capricorn today. There we met interns working with Living Hope (a local faith based non-profit that provides supports for those struggling with addiction, HIV/AIDS, poverty, etc). We made portable hand washing stations which we will distribute to residents tomorrow in an effort to reduce the rates of diarrhea in the neighborhood. 

You start with an old soda bottle, drill two holes in the cap, insert a tube in one, fill bottle with water. Give it a gentle squeeze and gravity will help the water flow.  We also learned about the causes of diarrhea (contamination with fecal matter via flies and dirty hands, etc) and how to treat dehydration, especially in small children. 

Electrolyte mixture as prescribed by the department of health. 

Two of the guides going with us tomorrow role-played how to engage clients. 

The students are excited and nervous at the same time about the start of their service projects.  As the Service Coordinator it’s exciting to experience this part of our journey here together. 

It was a misty day and the winds picked up this afternoon. Here’s hoping the sun comes back tomorrow!

-T. Melissa

Sunday food and fun 

Everyone has very happy tummies this evening. Our day started with bread, peanut butter, nutella, croissants, coffee, yogurt, cereal, fruit and a random large bowl of shredded cheese. 

For lunch we ate at Moyo Restaurant in the Kristenbosch National Botanical Garden. It was buffet style and AMAZING. lt reminded me of a cross between Indian/northern African and just straight up yumminess–lamb, sweet potato soup, couscous, salad, the best rolls I’ve ever had, chicken, kebob with chicken, beef or antelope. 

And a tasty dessert selection. 

My choices included an incredibly rich and smooth chocolate mousse, the most moist orange cake with possible pistachio bits on top and the most incredible cheese cake with passion fruit something or other on top. In-cred-ible. 

Then there was entertainment! A trio came around and sang to us in Xhosa (a clicking language). (Pics coming from other camera). 

And THEN! Some of us had our faces painted! 

Afterwards, we went to the top of Table Mountain in a cable car!  (pics coming from other camera). 

We arrived back at Team House to yet another delicious meal, salad, rice with vegetables and an incredible sauce of some sort that I need to get the recipe for!

We’ve just wrapped up evening debriefing to prepare us for our service work that begins tomorrow. Yay!

Nighty, night. 

T. Melissa

A Saturday in pictures

We moved to The Team House today. It’s a hostel… And the nicest one to boot! Here’s an example:

And here’s a little selfie fun:

On Thursday we went to the beach and these brave souls had body boarding lessons. 

Last night we went had dinner at Sun Valley School’s camp out (literally, each family paid ~$4.00/person and set up tents on the field to spend the night. Some folks even brought their mattresses!). We had braai (South African BBQ). 

Sunset at the camp out. 

Now we’re off to Carnival!

More to come. 


South Africa in Pictures

Wow. So much to process here. I’m trying to wrap my head around the inhumanity of Aparthied. It’s just mind boggling to me that at one point in history, a mere 20 years ago (!), 9% of the population had control over 80% of the land. (Don’t quote me on those numbers).  It’s just unreal.

We visited some poor communities yesterday. It took me back to my high school summers visiting Squatters camps on the US/Mexican border–cardboard shacks, lack of running water, electrical lines tapped into city lines, overcrowded dwellings with tin roofs held down by rocks, children running barefoot. And then there’s the other side of the coin, beautiful homes, gated front yards, sprinklers watering the grass,  and ironically privileged white kids (and some black kids) attending a top-of-the-line public school barefoot because the philosophy is that children learn better when barefoot.  Then every shoeless child across the globe must be super smart!  But seriously, the constant shift between the Haves and the Have Nots is just that… constant.  I can’t possibly do any of what we’re seeing justice through my writing. At least not yet.

Tomorrow we’re heading out to see more of the city from an open top red tour bus. Our tour guides will be 5th graders from The Sun Valley School. Then we’ll spend the afternoon at the beach. Friday we’ll head to Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned.

Here are a few pics from the past couple of days.

Table Mountain

Kids  playing on the beach at ground after dinner last night.

The balcony at City Hall from where Mandela spoke upon his release from 27 years in prison.

And lastly, you can take the kids out of Work Program, but you can’t take the Work Program out of the kids. Dinner wash after take out pizza for dinner.


T. Melissa

19+ hours ~35,000 feet 

Greetings from South Africa!  We made it! Not going to lie… The leg from Heathrow to Cape Town was painful in terms of How much longer?  Are we there yet? swirling through my head (not to mention, holy cow these seats are TINY!).  They did, however, serve delicious food, (I know, right??) and then scored big points when they gave us tiny Ghanaian chocolates. Our attendant placed a generous handful on my tray when he saw my excitement over it being from Ghana.

We’re staying at a GORGEOUS bed and breakfast in the Table Mountain range, about 45 minutes from the airport. We were met by a wonderful driver, Ramos, and his assistant James. We were in awe as we climbed up the mountain range which incidentally suffered a great fire earlier this week. Our gracious hosts prepared an amazing BBQ for dinner. We had a pick-up “monkey-in-the-middle” soccer game.

We’re just back from exploring the neighborhood.  It’s full of houses with horses in the yards, guard dogs and the occasional brightly colored flower nestled in with some greenery that casually drapes itself over a residential wall.

More to come!  (Wifi is awesome here) 😉

-Teacher Melissa

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s been just over a week since  our group arrived here in Ghana.  I keep thinking about blogging, but honestly I don’t know what to write.  If only blogging was a thing ten years ago when Kwesi and I lived here and everything was new to me.  I wonder how my experience would have been knowing what we know now.  For one, I would know the foods I like, or don’t.  Kwesi and I look back on that year with a smile and laugh.  Don’t get me wrong, it was H-A-R-D, but we’re able to look back at it now and feel accomplished. Continue reading “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

It’s Ghana be hot-o!

Ghana 2008 709I love the snow.  I can’t believe we’re expecting the biggest snow this season on Monday and I will be missing it! Instead, I will be with 14 awesome seniors and two colleagues (one of whom is my hubby!) sweating, teaching, learning, guiding and exploring in Ghana.  To put more emphasis on something in Ghana, you add an “o” to the end of it.  ie:  really, really, REALLY hot becomes hot-o.  Or, we’ve had a lot of snow-o this year.

Having lived in Ghana for a year when we started Heritage Academy, I learned to pick up some of the local dialect.  There is nothing like seeing the look on local’s faces when I fling a little Fante.  I slipped back in to Ghana dialect on the phone tonight when talking with Kwesi.  It made me excited to see friends and family again and share the experience with our seniors.

It never ceases to amaze me how much Heritage has gown in just under 10 years.  Heck, I can’t believe it’s BEEN just under 10 years-o!  I was wowed two years ago when I went and saw the high school for the first time.  I can’t wait to see what awaits me this time.

There’s a simplicity to life in Ghana that I long for here.  Yes, It’s frustrating at first when the light goes off in Ghana, but once I remind myself to just kick back and relax and be in the moment, it actually feels like a luxury in a way.  Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to putting my phone down and not checking email, texts, Facebook and Candy Crush.  The human connection and simplicity are what awaits us.  Bananagrams, here we come!

While I’m not a fan of heat and sweating-0, I can’t WAIT for the first step off of the plane in Accra when the Sub-Saharan heat hits you in the face and then the smell of things burning in the air blows by.  If I could bottle those feelings and sensations, I would-o.

Obroni, bye-bye-o.


(Above photo is two of the three cooks at Heritage.  Every day they provide a hot meal for about 1300 students).