Sinethemba :)

Today we started off by driving to Sinethemba Home for Vulnerable Children. We were greeted by many joyful faces full of energy ready for a fun day out. After about twenty minutes at the home, we separated into our own two vehicles to drive to the movies and arcade. To begin we split into two groups- one would watch a movie, the other play games.

 

The first group consisted of mainly older children from Sinethemba and had two of the year 12’s from Alexander Road High School, whom we met on Friday. The movie the first group watched was Dumbo. It was said to be very cliché but an enjoyable movie suitable for the age group.

 

Whilst the first group was watching Dumbo the second group, which included the younger children and the rest of the group went to the arcade. To begin with we went bowling. This was lots of fun but extremely chaotic, due to the number of young children running around. Afterwards there were many tired faces which soon enlightened when they were able to play the arcade games.

 

Afterwards we headed back to Sinethemba for a braai, an African barbeque. It was a new learning experience and we were guided by the students from Alex Road High School, and was a huge success, which tasted delicious. Whilst lunch was being prepared, we used the time to bond with the children. Many played netball, soccer and some were happy playing around in the space available.

 

Whist we were there many had a tour of the house that the boys lived in. It was very compact and each had small locker in which they kept their few belongings. The sleeping arrangements consisted of bunkbeds. The youngest had a room of four whilst the other two rooms consisted of six beds each. There was very limited space and the closets were in poor condition.

 

Afterwards, we spent some more time with the kids until it was time to leave. It was quite emotional for some who had formed some great bonds with particular kids. No one wanted to leave and the hugs and kisses from every child made it even harder. After we had pulled out of the drive we had to take a U-turn back past the home. As we drove past the children all ran up to the gate waving and screaming goodbye.

 

For dinner we had a master-chef challenge. We had half an hour to shop for ingredients in our accommodation groups with a budget then an hour to make the food and plate it up. The boys made a curry, one of the girls groups made nachos with smores and the other group made pizza with brownies. It was an intense competition taken extremely seriously by everyone, but enjoyed thoroughly.

 

Today was an eye-opening day which provided us with an insight to what these children have to live through every day.

 

Charlotte and Ellie

JBAY!

Day 6 – JBAY!!!

We started off today by watching Alexander Road Highschool participate in their weekly hockey, rugby and netball games against the other local schools. For many people it was their first time watching a rugby game, a highly competitive and renowned sport in South Africa.

We watched the games for about an hour before we headed off to Jefferey’s Bay, a popular costal town about an hour’s drive away. Here we were allowed to explore the nearby stores, where many people spent a little too much money shopping! We were allowed to choose our own lunch from the local healthy café, where many people had fresh juices and salsa lunches.

After lunch, we took a stroll down to Jeffery Bay beach, a scenic location filled with family lunches and wild children who backflipped off walls. Some people decided to go surfing; hiring boards from the local surf shops. Others decided to take a splash in the water, which was undoubtedly freezing cold. It’s safe to say most people only lasted a matter of minutes. For a lot of people chilling in the sand was the best option, we relaxed by listening to the waves crashing and watching fellow surfers.

Two hours later we headed off back home, but not before taking a short pit-stop to Sardinia Beach. We climbed up to the top of the sand dunes to watch the sunset… which we never actually saw as it was incredibly overcast towards the end of the day. The sand dunes are a popular spot for special occasions, specifically proposals and wedding photos. It was Darcie’s birthday today, so we decided to sing her ‘happy birthday’ on top of one of the sand dunes, the same spot where Mr. Kelly proposed to his wife.

On the way back we enjoyed an enthusiastic sing-along to a various array of music, such classics include Evie Let Your Hair Hang Down, Fat-Bottomed Girls, Party Rockers and Who Let the Dogs Out, beautifully accompanied by the boy’s scarily accurate chihuahua impersonations. We stopped off at a beach restaurant for dinner, where we were served monster-sized burgers and salads. Darcie was given a special birthday brownie and ice-cream, and one final birthday song.

Today was a very fun and relaxing beach day, a perfect lead towards the incredibly busy days ahead of us.

Maya and Sophie

Tomorrow Night

Good evening SA Tour Team

A quick reminder about our reunion tomorrow night.

Please note that we are not in the Year 7 building as initially planned. Due to a double booking we are now in the Community room in the Library.

Remember to bring a plate. The sign up sheet is in the post below for you to use.

 

TOUR REUNION Next Wednesday

Dear Tour Students,

I hope that you have been able to relax with your families and have enjoyed sharing photos and stories of the adventures you had in South Africa.

 

The details for our Reunion Dinner are below:

TIME: 6:30-8pm next Wednesday, the 9th of May

VENUE: Duncraig CAMPUS in the Community room and Library studio

 

This is a time for students, parents and staff to collaboratively reflect on the tour.

 

What to bring?

We ask that each family bring a dish to share for dinner. Please let us know what you are planning to bring to share by clicking on the link below and completing the short online form.

Reunion Dinner Sign up sheet

 

Please let me know if you or your parents are unable to attend (my email again is: gillian.erasmus@ststephens.wa.edu.au).

 

Kind Regards

Ms Erasmus

Day 13 – Our Last Day

Other than a deep, guttural interruption by lions roaring at 4:30am, we had a pretty good night’s sleep. Our rangers picked us up at 7am and we climbed back into the safari vehicles for a morning drive. We started out by spotting some zebra, impala, nyala, heartebeast, and warthogs too numerous to count. Acknowledging we were up-wind, and taking into account our general position, we quickly realised that conditions were perfect for the lions to hunt. Two minutes later, our suspicions were confirmed when we noticed a female lion hunkered near a bush on a hillside. With her nose pointed into the wind and her ears flattened, her intentions were evident. Clearly, she was hungry and scanning the hooved smorgasbord below. We watched with great anticipation as soon her male companions flanked her on both sides at a distance of around 50 metres. They sauntered slowly in a wide, arcing pattern to the right and left in order to surround the unsuspecting game below. Eternal vigilance would pay off for the hunted as suddenly they raised their heads and became like statues. Moments later, the prey bolted, and sprinted down the hill and disappearing into the bush. Breakfast would have to wait for the lions as their targets would live for another day.

After spending about half an hour following the lions searching for food, we changed tack and went in search for more of outstanding wildlife. One of the groups even stopped to investigate one of the large, dome-like termite mounds.

 

 

There is always wildlife to find in the the South African wild and sometimes it finds you. A couple of our groups had interesting encounters with ‘Clyde’, one of the well known White Rhinos in the area. It turns out that Clyde is not particularly fond of safari vehicles, especially when his companion ‘Bonnie’ is is in the area. While travelling down a bush track, without warning Clyde charged out from behind a bush and rammed into the bull bar and caused some damage to the front quarter panel. As you might expect, this sudden jolt caused some screams of surprise and even laughter. It also served as a reminder that the bush is never a safe place to be walking around. With the sold construction of the vehicle and the height of the passenger seating in the back, no one was ever in any danger.

 (I don’t have any photos of ‘Clyde’ on this day, but if a tour student has any, please eMail it to me and I’ll put it in)

Nevertheless, the encounter with Clyde served as great conversation starter during our hot, coal-cooked breakfast. Bacon, eggs, sweet corn, toast, hash browns, toast and a homemade tomato chutney were only some of the delicious items available to everyone. A melancholy feeling began to set in for many students at the realisation that the tour was about to enter its final chapter and it was time to depart Schotia.

 

We drove the 40 minutes into Port Elizabeth and went back to one of our favourite places…Sinethemba Children’s Centre. We dropped off another bag of donations and shared the exciting news with Avril Landman and Mama Signoria that we will be paying their vehicle fuel bill, which has been a burden hanging over the heads of Sinethemba. This will allow Sinethemba to continue to provide transport to run errands and allow them to continue to drop the children off at school and pick them up at the end of the day.

 

Afterward, we went to Spur in Somerstrand where John’s wife and children met us for a planned celebratory lunch for his daughters 6th birthday. Everyone deserves to be sung to on their birthday, so the staff obliged and surprised her with their rendition of Happy Birthday. They even brought her a birthday dessert. With time quickly running out, it was time to make our way to the airport.  

 

Goodbyes are difficult, but especially when it comes to John. A chance encounter on a routine driving assignment 3 years ago has developed into an ongoing relationship with St. Stephen’s School and the South Africa Tour. Once again, he has really bonded with all of the tour students. He is no ordinary driver. All the tour staff and students are convinced that he is a superhero with a heart of gold and a passion for service. He worked beside us every step of the way and often provided students with direction and and guidance on their various projects. We are truly blessed to have him as part of this tour, and we all consider him to be ‘one of the family.’ As a token of appreciation for all he has done over the last 3 years, we presented John with a brand new mobile phone to replace his damaged one.

This is a bitter sweet ending to an amazing trip. Whilst we are very excited to be reunited with our families back in Perth, the beautiful people in South Africa have well and truly been etched into hearts. We came to serve but are leaving more impacted by the service of others. We are humbled by the generosity of Mama Signoria, Molly and especially John.

We may have arrived back in Australia, but there are more surprises to come in the next few weeks, so keep following the blog!

-Mr. Clay Osborne

Day 12 – Goodbye to JJH and Hello to Schotia

We woke early as usual and made our way down to the house and waited by the security gate to say our final goodbyes to the JJH children as they left for school. It was an emotional goodbye as laughter was replaced by tears and hugs. Many of the JJH children handed out individual letters to us. We dragged our feet with our heads down back up to the rooms and wrote notes for the children that they would receive after they returned from school. We had a delicious breakfast then went back to work for one last sprint to the finish. We were able to complete some final touches. There was a lot of rushing around the site till we had to leave in the early afternoon. The younger children came to the gate and hugged us goodbye. Many of them were crying as we drove away from JJH, some of the children sang as we hopped into the van. We drove off waving to the school age children as they were walking home from school.

 

After we left JJH, we drove to Schotia Safaries for our 3:00 appointment. Everyone was fixated by the wilderness. A family of African Elephants drinking from a windmill pump walked right past us covered in mud. It was just amazing.

My tour group drove to see the hippopotamuses chilling in the water. Their relaxation was abruptly ended as the male Hippo launched up, flashing his huge teeth as a warning to all of us.

Click HERE to see a video of the Hippo

Giraffes were easy to spot, with their long necks protruding from the scrub. We saw 4 juniors and 2 older giraffes feeding on the tall trees.

 

Our ranger took us for some lion spotting. Surprisingly, we found them after about 20 minutes. We watched as the male circled around the herd of springbok, ushering them towards the female lion who was lying low in the grass. We couldn’t believe our eyes…we were actually watching lions hunt in the wild. It all happened so quickly, but the attack was unsuccessful.

 

After driving a bit more, we found some large Southern White Rhinos and stopped to watch them graze.

 

We went for dinner at the LeLapa, which was a secured, fenced in area in the middle of Schotia. After a relaxing and delicious dinner, we went back out on our night safari. We did not see as much as we did during the day, but we did find the lions again. It was pretty easy to locate the area of the lions as one of the males began roaring as he wondered off into the darkness, looking for the female. The volume and projection of the lion’s roar was incredible.

Click HERE to watch the lion roar (turn the volume up!)

Afterward, we were dropped off at our rooms and treated ourselves with our first hot shower for several days. We repacked our bags as we are leaving to go back to Australia tomorrow.

– Luke Gomez

Day 11 – Something Special

We awoke early today to get ready to complete more work on our group projects. The picnic table group had to build one table, sand and varnish a few other tables, whilst the painting group had to put extra coats on the walls, and the gazebo team had to build a second gazebo.

We left our accommodations at 6:30am to start, all groups had a bit of a slow start before the momentum kicked in. The paint group had to put up with the interesting smells of the bathroom while they worked, and the picnic table group had to all work together to help stop the ‘Porky’ the pig from scratching its face and getting hair on the freshly varnished tables.  The gazebo team had a few equipment issues with their drills, which slowed them down, and the footing pole for their second gazebo began to shift overnight due to high winds and a 2am rainstorm. This meant they had to make some minor strategical adjustments. Today was a true test of our patience, flexibility, and problem solving abilities. Resilience carried each group and allowed them to reach their targets.

Painting video

Eventually, around 10:30, all the groups had a delicious morning tea/early lunch. Afterward, we visited Port Alfred to have a rewarding milkshake from Wimpy’s, buying treats from a local supermarket, and shopping for TV’s to donate to give to JJ Haven. After completing these errands, we headed off for a ‘special surprise’ from Mr. Osborne, Miss Erasmus, and Mr. Thomas. The ‘special surprise’ was a drive out to Kikuyu Lodge where we went for a swim in a very cold pool with a spectacular view. After our dip we were treated to a selection of treats by Harry Fourie (the owner/operator of the reserve), which included a milk tart, cheesecake and an assortment of soda beverages.

The walls on the inside of the lodge were lined with stuffed animals, which included an elephant, and a rhino (which was sadly fake). The overall experience was great and provided us with a nice break from the hard work at JJ Haven. We thanked Harry for his hospitality as we left and then travelled back to JJ.

After finishing the last bit of work for the day and playing with the children, we took the remaining donations we had left and walked down the hill to the children’s home. We entered their dining area with the bags of donations and presented it them to our JJ Haven family. Alex Stevenson and Alex Avern-Taplin gave a speech about how thankful we were for letting us stay in their homes, and how we would always remember and love the kids for the rest of our lives. Molly gave a wonderful speech and the children sung for us to show their appreciation. We left and had the most delicious dinner in the girls house (prepared by the wonderful women of JJ Haven). Afterward, we had quite an emotional de-brief.

Today was a very important day in the tour, not only was it one of the last days we would get to work on our projects for the kids, it also provided all tour members with a break from the hard work that we had been doing over the last 3 days. It also was the final day that we get to see a lot of the kids at JJ Haven. Tomorrow, we will be leaving while many of them are still at school, so it was quite emotional for all of us. Even though it was a sad time, it was also an amazing opportunity to show our appreciation for the kids with gifts such as soccer boots, toys and new clothes. So in short, today was an emotional, but very fulfilling day.

-Connor Sproule and Steven Booth

Day 10 – Work Day 3 at JJH

Today at JJ Haven we began another hard day of work at 6:30 sharp. The painting crew started by sanding the walls and making them smooth for another coat of paint in the girl’s room. They proceeded to finish rolling the last coat on and looked to their next goal. Miss Erasmus entrusted Jazmin with the leadership duties while she went for more paint supplies. Jazmin did a good job keeping her team on task. After finishing the girls room, they started the cutting-in on the boy’s room. Mr Osborne’s table group got off to a bit of a slow start on their next few tables as they had to wait for most of the wood to be delivered. To make the most of their time, they measured and cut the last bit of remaining wood they had and drilled the holes. The crew also finished sanding and varnishing the two tables constructed the previous day. With their spare time, they looked to help other groups with their projects.

The Gazebo group moved quickly to finish the roof on the gazebo. They set the goal of finishing their first gazebo before lunch and worked well together to complete it. After a large lunch, they looked to dig the holes for the next gazebo. The group made sure to double check the alignment of each hole and then went about digging them. Due to the compacted African dirt, It took the group about 3 hours to dig four holes 60 cm deep. The group then put up the posts and lined them up perfectly. The last work of the day involved racing individual scoops of concrete approximately 100 metres up a hill to secure the posts in place.

 

Following hard day of work, the group was rewarded with a braai prepared sponsored by St. Stephen’s but prepared by Neels (Molly’s husband), his son-in-law Eugene, and Peter.  The braai was an amazing experience as all of the kids and the tour students had an opportunity to bond and spend quality time together. There was lots of music, dancing and the atmosphere energetic and warm. The night ended with a reflective debrief that was led by the students. We discussed the positive experiences we have had with the children of JJ Haven and how much they have touched our lives.

– Jack Hogarth and Lachlan Meagher

This entry was posted on 19-April-2018. 1 Comment

Day 9 – Work Day 2 at JJH

This morning we started our day off at 6:30am on site, where everyone started off with their projects (the gazebos, picnic tables and the painters).

It was a slow start for some groups, just getting into the hang of things and learning how to do everything. For the picnic table group, we encountered some problems by cutting the legs of the tables at the wrong angle but adjusted our thinking and ended up making a smaller table for all of the younger kids. The gazebo group started off by not having any concrete to start off the posts and main frame. Once the concrete had arrived, they started to gain momentum. The painters, started by filling in all of the cracks and holes in the walls of the bedroom with polly-filla. This polly-filla took so long to dry that it delayed some of the painting.

Although there were challenges that we faced in the morning, there were many highlights throughout the day for all of us. The picnic table grouped managed to build 2 whole tables today. Everyone worked really hard with most of us learning new skills such as using the grinder or jigsaw.

For the gazebo group despite having no concrete to begin with they ended up finishing their main frame work and putting in all of the poles which is a massive achievement in a small time. They dug all of the holes out in the rain as well.

And yes, the weather today wasn’t so great. This morning when we woke up it was a little windy and cold and very cloudy. At about 10:00 it started to rain. So, the picnic table group had to retreat under cover and resume work under the shed.

Some highlights for the painters, was that they put their first layer of paint on for the whole girls room. On top of this they have also fully finished all of the roofs for both rooms. Both of these rooms are huge spaces that took a lot hard work to finish.

Today everyone had a massive lunch, which was delicious, and the family who live here put in a lot of hard work to get breakfast lunch and dinner for us. The amount of food and choices are abundant.

We finished all work today at 5:00 and went up for dinner. After dinner today, all of the kids came running up from their house to the playground to see us and we were flooded with many hugs. They were singing, dancing and playing with all of us. It was eventually time for them to leave and it was hard for them to leave. None of them wanted to go!

Once all of the kids had left. We went into the girls’ house and went for our nightly debrief run by Alex Avern-Taplin. We discussed all of our challenges, highlights and our plan for tomorrow. She did a great job!

It’s easy to say I think everyone was ready for bed by 7:30!! We were all very tired from a hard days work. We are looking forward to another busy day.

Written by Samantha Ross and Caitlin Anastas

This entry was posted on 18-April-2018. 2 Comments

Day 8 – Work Day 1 at JJH

Starting from an early morning clean up at Kragga Karma we left at 8:30 for Alexandria, stopping along the way for fuel and breakfast at 10am to try the famous “Wild Bore Pie”. We then arrived at JJ Haven just before 12pm. We were greeted with a warm welcome from some of the children and Molly but lots of the kids were still in school.

After meeting and greeting with the children we then dove head first into our site projects such as touching up last year’s group’s work, painting and going off to collect our wood and other materials that we will use to build our picnic tables and gazebos. Searching various different stores and evaluating our options we spent a lot of our afternoon that day gathering and locating the materials. Arriving back at JJ Haven we then unloaded and realised that the children had 2 pet pigs that they didn’t mention, just roaming around, which came as a surprise. Most of us were on edge although the children treated it like a house pet.

From 3pm until our rushed clean up at 5:45, we repaired most of the playground and painted the ceiling of one of the children’s rooms. Among the chaos of the children bouncing around us whilst we worked we found time to play and run around with the kids, learning new names and different faces we enjoyed the company in the sweat with them wrapped around our arms and legs. Ending off the long and rigorous day with a home cooked meal of noodles and sausage with other little things from the amazing families who have moved out of their homes so we could move in for the nights we will be staying.

Tomorrow will be a big day starting at 6.30am, but we are excited to really get our teeth into the work ahead!

Here are some of our photos we’ve gathered from the day:

 

Written by Mitchell and Alex S.