Archive by Author | Craig Thomas

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


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

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 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.

Day 7 – A special day with Sinethemba

Our day started at Builders Warehouse, where we bought supplies for our projects at JJ Haven. The initial projects include painting, building picnic tables and a gazebo. This took some time as we had to make sure we had everything we needed, because it will be very difficult to resource some of the supplies once we arrive.


Afterwards, we went to get some food for the braai that we were to host in the evening. We also grabbed some food and ate lunch. Our plan initially was to watch a movie and go to a Timezone with the Sinethemba kids, but in the end we joined them just for bowling, games and taking them on some of the small rides.


We then invited the kids back to Kragga Kamma with us and John (our driver) took us all on a game drive to see the animals at the reserve. The Sinethemba children were all really excited to see the different animals, including rhinos, giraffes and zebra. Many of the children had never seen before.

Whilst we were playing with the kids at Kragga Kamma, Mr Osborne and Miss Erasmus went back to the Cheetah lodge to fetch some extra equipment for the braai with some students. The house was locked, however, and were able to find a way inside by climbing through one of the windows. The nearby rhinos came to investigate the attempted break in resulting in a very close, yet humorous, encounter between Mr Osborne and one of the rhinos.


After the drive we spent time with the Sinethemba children at the playground before the Mr Kevin Golightly and students (our new friends) from Alexander Road High School arrived as our guests for the Braai. Everyone pitched in and the food was delicious. Alex S was a legend with the spices learning some local secrets off John, and the masterchef group of Connor, Mitchell and Stephen made sure that they flew the Aussie flag in BBQing.  After dinner, it was time to say a goodbye to the Sinethemba children. It was quite hard and a bit emotional, as even though we have only known them for a short time, we have all formed strong bonds with the kids. We waved them off the bus, and went back to the Cheetah lodge for the debrief.

Tonight is our last night in Kragga Kamma as we excitedly look forward to our next phase at JJ Haven.


Written by Holly and Jazmin

This entry was posted on 16-April-2018. 1 Comment

Day 2 – Learning to be a traveller

Day two was an opportunity to see some of the sites around Capetown with the firm focus on “being a traveler, not a tourist”. Often people can get caught up trying to get the perfect photo or see every sight, that they forget to be in the moment and be aware of what they are experiencing.  So with that in mind and a packed lunch in our bags we began our adventure for the day heading to Hout Bay and visiting Seal Island.  Along the way we were able to see the segregation of the townships and witnessed the affects of the significant unemployment problem that South Africa is facing with people lining roads to ask for daily work.


The coastline south of Capetown is spectacular and we drove from Hout Bay to Simon’s Town further along the peninsula to make our second stop at the penguin colony.  We didn’t have to go very far before we saw two African Penguins who hadescaped and were crossing the roads on their own adventure.  The boardwalk allowed us to go down to the beach where we were able to see many more penguins enjoying the beach sun baking or going for a swim!



From there we continued south to Cape Point, the south-western point of Africa.  More wildlife for us to see which included some ostriches, antelope from afar and the cheeky baboon.  Where else but in Africa would you see a baboon taking a ride on a visitor’s car!  Arriving at the Cape of Good Hope we took the obligatory photo in front of the sign before heading up the small mountain for a better view. To the east we could see our next destination which was the Cape’s lighthouse where we also took the long inclined paved walk to the top.








Returning home to our guesthouse, we drove through some more affluent areas which were in stark contrast to the townships which we passed on our way out from the airport.  Our final challenge for the day was again in line with our “be a traveller” focus. The minimum monthly wage in SA is R3500 ($350A)  and there is 28% unemployment so the staff/student challenge was to eat dinner for less than R50.  Driving on our way to the Waterfront we once agin were reminded of the intrigue of Africa where one minute we are behind a red shiny Ferrari and the next we are behind a vehicle that had a cheetah in the back!

Whilst the challenge was not impossible it was restrictive in the choices that we could make.  We were all successful, however it took more time and effort. Some chose meals that they would not have first chosen, others were resourceful and pooled their money, whilst others showed initiative and looked for other options than the easy to find.

In our end of day reflections, students were able to identify a way that they had attempted to be less of a tourist and how this had helped them have a richer experience.

Today was an opportunity to recognise the differences in how people live in SA. Tomorrow we get to experience this more closely as we begin our service component by visiting Langa township and Capetown United Football Club.


Mr Thomas

This entry was posted on 11-April-2018. 2 Comments

Power adapters

If you are chasing phone adapters here are a couple of stores in Joondalup that had them this afternoon.

Officeworks – $11.50 (only one or two left)

Anaconda – $15 (4 – 5)

Make sure you get ones that are suitable for SA as not all are.  They have 3 large circular pins.


Not long now….

Mr Thomas

Meet up – tomorrow

Hi all – I hope you are starting to get as excited for the trip as I am.  I need to do a final sizing check for the hoodies.  Could you all please meet me outside Mr Osborne’s office at recess?


Please pass the word to those who may miss this message.


See you tomorrow

Mr Thomas