Warning this should of posted yesterday.
Happy Leap Year Day everyone! On this year that you have one extra day to be awesome. Enjoy it and make the most out of this day. Today was a mixed emotion type of day. Christine Revell Orphanage allows the volunteers to take a few kids of their choice out on a “day outing”. The volunteers can take the child anywhere they want as long as they are back by 4 pm. The kids absolutely love when there is a “surprise” or something out of the normal routine. Today three Danish girls took Caleb, Karen, and Tyress out to the botanical gardens. As they grabbed their shoes and put on nice clothes they were excited for the surprise ahead. The smiles on their faces lit up entire room when they found out they were leaving for the day. If you looked across the room at the other children you could see the disappointment in their faces. Several became extremely upset once Caleb, Karen and Tyress left the center. many of the children are too young to understand why the others got to go out and they didn’t.
As you scanned the room, you could tell which of the children regularly got to go out due to host parents, these were the most upset. These children know that good exciting things can happen outside of these walls. For example Bradley has a host family and went out for the weekend a few weeks ago; once he saw the others grabbing their shoes he immediately knew what was happening. He then continued have an emotional break down for the next two hours. This situation is very tricky because it’s nice for the children to leave and have fun for the day, but on the other hand it upset so many. Now that I understand the policy of “day outings”, I will make it a point to take several kids on a regular basis. A day outing can be as simple as going to the mall and walking around, or going to the park. The different scenery and change in routine brightens up the child’s day. My first outing will be Thursday. Another volunteer and I will be taking two kids, Tatum and Kyle, to the beach to have a fun day in the sun day. I am extremely excited and already brought them cotton candy. Whether or not they have ever had cotton candy or gone to the beach it brings me joy to see the smiles on their faces. I hope Kyle and Tatum are ready for an awesome Thursday.
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Until next time
Stay Extra Awesome,
As I sat in the hospital clinic for three hours waiting to see a nurse, there were many different types of people around me. I was in the clinic with one of my kids, Pearle, who was born extremely underweight. Every month she is required to see the nurse to get vitamin tablets and to have her weight monitored. Pearle is a petite young girl. I never suspected that she was underweight. Due to complications from her birth, she has significant developmental delays. She is about two and a half years old. She has verbal delays and is not potty trained. Many of the children at the home have similar difficulties due to the volatile nature of their short lives. They have speech delays, milestone delays with motor skills and emotional immaturity. The emotional impact of their situation takes a toll.
As I sat and waited for the nurse, I watched others in the room. Cute children kept staring at me. Here are some pictures: (None of these pictures are of my little Pearle)
Siblings sitting next two each other.
This baby had the most adorable smile I have ever seen.
This little girl was modeling for me.
The doctor’s visit was long and tiresome, but Pearle is slowly gaining weight. I was happy for some good news.
Until Next Time,
Many Europeans (and some Americans) tell me this isn’t “real” Africa. Apparently South Africa is too urbanized with big cities and night life to be considered a part of “real” Africa. Let’s not forget about the strong European cultural influence that thrives through the Cape Town streets. I am not too sure what “real Africa” is, but I’m guessing since I haven’t seen a lion walk by me on the street, or I am not living in a hut, South Africa isn’t “real” enough. If critics would open their eyes and closed minds, they would see the unimaginable living conditions that some people endure. Cape Town has two of the largest townships (hood) in South Africa. The abject poverty is apparent. If these critics open their eyes, they would see people begging on the street at every robot (Traffic Light) in order to survive.
Last week the staff members were at a training to improve the ways things are accomplished at Christine Revel Orphanage. In this training, they discussed how the children in the orphanage are actually being spoiled and are living better than the average child. They noticed when a child is released back to their parents, they struggle with the adjustment and actually run away from their regular home life and return back to the orphanage. At the home, the children receive two snacks, juice/water and three full healthy meals throughout the day. This is considered growing up privileged. My heart sank when I heard this because for me eating three meals a day with snacks was not considered growing up privileged. While growing up I never had to wonder when my next meal was or where I would be sleeping. The fear of not knowing sends these kids into a panic of just wanting to be back where things are consistent. I realize that many families in America have struggles with poverty, homelessness and providing food for their children to eat. It is difficult to see the reality of some people’s lives.
Whether you think it is “real” Africa, South Africa is Africa. Many people with jobs are struggling to provide for their families. Even if South Africa isn’t “real” enough, “my kids” are growing up without a family or a loving home. They don’t get to hug their parents good night, kiss them good bye, or snuggle up under their mom when they are having a bad day. These are all things I have taken for granted. “My kids” are given the best atmosphere that the orphanage can provide, but it still is not a family. I guess once I have a pet lion, I will finally be in the “real” Africa.
Until next time.
I am living my dreams out. For years I imagined what it would be like to travel abroad and to help other while I am there. Exploring Cape Town is amazing. I am enjoying meeting all the different people from different walks of life. I have been in South Africa for about a month now and things couldn’t be any better. I have wondered if people think I am having too much fun, and not doing enough volunteer work. Here are my thoughts on that; I came to South Africa to help, develop, love and care for my kids. I also came to South Africa to be immersed in the culture, to learn about what makes this country amazing, and to appreciate life in my motherland. Therefore, I am taking an opportunity to do all of this. South Africa has taught me several things that I can implement into my everyday life.
- I can play hard, but work harder. Working in an emotionally draining environment can affect your emotional health and the quality of work. I have fallen completely head over heels in love with my kids. When I am out of sorts, they can pick me up and brighten up my day in an instant. They can make my troubled heart melt with a smile. I have found my calling in life. Yes, this is not a job that pays a lot, nor a job that is always rewarding with happy endings, but this is a job that I absolutely love.
- Asking for help is okay. Although South Africa is an English speaking country, the simplest tasks have become difficult. People do not always understand my dialect of English or my accent is too strange; therefore I have to explain things a bit more. Whether it was to help me with my kids or help me pick out a product; I have found that asking for help from people is necessary.
- Americans are privileged. In South Africa there is such a large gap between the “middle class” and the “poor.” There are people living in a small four wall house made out of tin metal with at least 8 people residing inside ( below is a picture those are houses). Many people are begging on the street asking for food and money. There are areas in town where I must be extremely careful because people will mug me just for my cell phone. I have learned that I would never travel with an IPhone again to a country that majority of the people cannot afford one. American Privilege, allows you to take advantage of things that make life easier such as a washer and dryer, 3 day mail service, air conditioning and unlimited WiFi. My experience volunteering here has made me more sensitive to the luxuries that many people around the world do not have.
- Exploring is a must. Getting lost in Cape Town for hours, seeing an amazing view at Lion’s Head or trying sandboarding with new friends are all a part of what makes this trip awesome. I find it very important to explore where I am volunteering to understand and experience the culture more. While I build the structure for Something Amazing, I will always have activities and outings for the participants to see other parts of the country in which they are volunteering.
My list of things I have learned could go on for miles (or kilometers, something else I had to learn). I will continue to add to this list as my trip progresses. I am extremely proud of how Something Amazing and I have grown since the beginning of this trip. I cannot wait to experience more.
Something Amazing has been extremely busy with mapping out ways to help Christine Revel Orphanage and details on ways to help will be available shortly.
Today, I climbed Lion’s Head with my fellow Germans after work. The view from Lion’s Head was impeccable. Many people told us that Lion’s Head was difficult walk, but the view was worth the climb. For those of you that don’t know, I am afraid of falling from high heights; therefore I do not rock climb. On portions of Lion’s Head I was put out of my comfort zone and forced to rock climb. While looking at the route I became discouraged; and I thought to myself I cannot make it. In life when you are looking at the obstacles ahead, you become discouraged. Sometimes you don’t know how or why things happen, but you feel defeated before the race even starts. My thoughts were crippling my actions and making it hard to move forward on my hike. After a few deep breathes and focusing on one step at a time the route became clear and less terrifying.
Since coming to Cape Town, I have been challenged in many different ways. I no longer rely myself; instead I must have faith. I have been forced to look past all the trials and tribulations that have presented itself and keep a smile on my face. The first week at the orphanage I cried almost every day because I didn’t know how I was going to impact the kids’ lives. I didn’t know how God want to use me and in what way Something Amazing could help. Sometimes you may not know how it will happen, but that’s when faith comes in. Faith is that little piece of hope that you aren’t sure, how, or when something will happen but God will provide it. Instead of giving up, I am staying true to the course and will continue with my head up high. Just like my hike, sometimes when the route isn’t clear you just have to take it step by step.
Until Next time,
If you have ever wondered what genuine happiness is, follow your dreams. Since the beginning of high school I’ve wanted to travel. Since 11th grade year, I’ve wanted to teach abroad and since 12th grade I’ve wanted to start a non profit which would allow me to help others abroad. Each year the dream became a little more concrete. I won’t lie to you and say the journey has been easy. I won’t lie and say I haven’t called off the dream and chased the party life or money. But now living and breathing my dream, I know it’s something that I want more than anything.
This weekend I went to Muzinburg, with two Germans and an a fellow American. I had a amazing time falling even more in love with Cape Town. We went surfing for two days and it was such an amazing experience. Surfing truly teaches you perseverance as the waves and wind will knock you down many times, but all you have to do is keep trying. This weekend I found out my long lost hidden talent isn’t surfing. My goal is to still learn to surf while I am here, and I’ll keep trying until I accomplish that.
Also in Muzinburg I have an uncle who lives there. (Distant family, long story). Visiting him was really fun. I met a lot of people and everyone was very welcoming. We had a big braia (barbecue) for his birthday. There was a lot of singing and everyone is very talented in his family. It was a little difficult for both of us to understand each other but we persevered and figured it out. I enjoyed being welcomed with open arms into his family and definitively will be back again. Life is what you make it. If you don’t like where you are in life, then change it. There is not a single person stuck in a predicament that they can not change. I am glad to say this was the best decision I have made so far in my almost 21 years.
Until next time Jill
Well that’s easy to answer. There is Immunati. He is a two year old boy who has been here since November. He hasn’t said a word since being here and the reason may be because he doesn’t speak English or Afrikaans. He requires a lot of attention and love. I love just holding his hand to comfort him while crying. But then there is Karan. She is 1 1/2 years old and is very tiny. She has been at the orphanage since a birth. She has a smile that will melt your heart. Also, there is Bradley. He has the biggest personality. A smile that lights up the sky and when he cries it hurts your heart. He loves playing with my rings on my necklace and making them disappear into my shirt. Wait, what about the twins, Asher and Aiden? They love to play rough house and get each other in trouble. Everyone gets them confused even though I can clearly see the difference. Both of them love it when I read the “dog book”, constantly screaming “DOGGY DOGGY!” Cecil (Cee) is my little angel from above. Most will say she is too much of a handful because of her autism. With a little tender love and care she is incredible. Don’t take your eyes off her, because she’ll be standing on a windowsill. I can’t forget about Tatium. She cries a lot, but a big hug and a push on the swing usually brings a smile to her face. Lastly Pearl. Pearl keeps to herself. She is very quiet; but, also very sweet. If you haven’t noticed, I can’t just pick one child. Each child has a very special place in my heart and adds character to the class. They teach me how to love and smile no matter what. They also teach me it’s okay to cry sometimes as long as you get back up.
Until next time Jill
The orphanage is not a place for the weak at heart. I have so much love and compassion for each child that lives at Christine Revel Orphanage. The staff takes wonderful care for the kids and there are many volunteers that come from all over the world. The kids that live here are either abandoned, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, neglected or the family could no longer afford to keep the kids. It’s heart breaking seeing and experiencing it first hand. Each kid melts my heart with their smiles and laughs,then when they cry because they need to be comforted. My group is one and two years old, they truly don’t understand what is going on, but simply have fun. Christine Revel does its absolute best to find a host/foster family, adoption, or any place for the child to go before they are five and head to another orphanage. Once they head to another orphanage it is difficult for them to leave the system. The thing is these kids can grow up to be anything they want, the sky is truly the limit. I try my best to instill love, hope, and patience into each child while dealing with him/her. I can not change any system, or way things are done, but I can impact one little heart. That one heart can then impact another and eventual the world starts to change. Now on my second day I am heart broken, but I have to be strong for the kids. I want to donate, or help the orphanage out in some way,. I am not sure how just yet, but a plan is now in the works.
If you, or a company wants to help sponsor a gift towards the orphanage at the end of my four month stay. I.E. Gloves, there are many kids that are HIV positive, there are not enough gloves to go around for the staff or volunteers. Please email me at ExperienceSomethingAmazing@gmail.com
Until next time, Jill
P.s. My cousin TaTiana is amazing for uploading my post for me since I cannot hook up to the Internet here.
Here is my insight on solo female traveling. My number one pet peeve is when someone only has negative things to say about me traveling abroad or alone. I understand there are many risks of being a female traveler, but it doesn’t make it impossible. Safety is a big factor to why people discourage solo female traveling, but i encourage it. I encourage traveling alone whether female or male because it allows you to follow the wind, you can go where ever you like and do not have to debate it with anyone else. You can see the culture of the town and go where the locals go, or go where the tourist, or whatever catches your eye. Today was my first solo outing and here are the stories that go with my time alone.
My methods of traveling are not conventional and actually pretty crazy, but they work for me. I came initially to downtown Cape Town with no plan, and didn’t plan on taking local transportation. I decided throughout the day where I wanted to be and what I wanted to eat. I walked all through the street markets, it was interesting talking to the different vendors, all of them were from different places in Africa. They love to argue the price and forth, I love the different art, jewelry, clothing and cooking utensils, it intrigues me. Because I look like I’m a colored girl from Cape Town until I speak I tried not to talk in the less tourist areas. One moment I didn’t realize that I was in the market for locals and it got extremely unsafe very fast. I ended up getting lost majority of the time, but I eventually found my way.
For lunch I went to a locals favorite eastern food Bazaar, it a similar to street food vendors in a long sketchy hall way. The first booth I went to I saw a giant rat crawling near the food so I politely went to the other side of the ally way. I have no idea the name of what I ordered, but essentially it was chicken in a semi spicy red sauced stew with long grained rice and this yellow pea curry stew on the side. It was amazing, I got all that food for about 3 dollars. I continued my journey back to the local street market where three men were playing instruments and a homeless guy was dancing, that was entertaining til I got kick out where I was sitting because I wasn’t eating.
Later I stumbled upon a street with different color houses, I’m not sure why they were different colors but they were so pretty. In route to meeting up with my friend My phone died so now I was walking around lost trying to find a Internet cafe. I graciously stumbled into R cafe, it’s a little hole in the wall with a very unique vibe, the staff was amazing and extremely friendly. I definitely recommend to stop by just to speak to the staff. The day consisted of me walking around and finding whatever pleased me. I probably walked 30 blocks in total, I’m exhausted. That’s all solo traveling is about, other than the one time of walking down the wrong street I didn’t fear for my safety. I definitely was carrying a knife in case anything broke out but luckily I didn’t have to use it.
Until next time, stay awesome
I was feeling a bit out of place once arriving to Cape Town. The person responsible for picking me up was 30 minutes late, that was a bit nerve racking. Once arriving to the volunteer house I met majority of the volunteers, who were all from different parts of Europe and speak German. I felt a bit isolated because no one would speak English, the spoke the most common language between everyone, it seemed rude, but I kept it moving. It did not help that everyone went out to Long Street to party that night. To each his own on why they came here and what they are doing here, but that is not my mission. All I knew is I had to get out of Collegeville.
I was invited to church by Danny accompanying the owners of the hostile a local church. After a slightly rough day, church was a good change of scenery. Church was similar to non denominational churches back home, with a wide range of nationalities. The lesson of the Day was: God works through anointed skills, sometimes when we need something done prayer is where we need to turn. At the end of sermon, there was an alter call for anyone who felt like they were battling the enemy in their life. I went down to because I had been feeling like Something Amazing was too big of a task for me to accomplish. I am only 20 and at times I get very discourage because I do not know which way I want to lead this company. At the end of prayer the lady comforting me told me, “God showed me a blind man walking around, bumping into things while in a room very lost. But when he trusted and believed in God he was no longer lost.” I became emotional and explained to her why and what I was going to be doing in Cape Town. This was a great reassurance that even when things look impossible God Is still there. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.
Until next time Stay awesome Jill
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