Monday, August 10, 2009

the "service-learning" begins...yay!

Hey sorry for the lack of blogging that has been going on in my life lately.  Basically for a short excuse, there is just so much to take in here that the last thing I really want to do at the end of the day is write about it.  But here I am to update you all!

So I started my service this last week at Ubuntu Africa, a nonprofit in the township of Khayelitsha (pronounced Kai-leetch-a).  Ubuntu is an after-school type program with kids 4-18 years old who are HIV positive.  At the center the kids play games, have one-on-one counseling, have one meal (usually their only meal for the day), and learn about nutrition and health and whatnot.  Basically, it is a safe place for these kids to go after school and have a community with kids like them.  All but one of them is from single parent homes or foster homes because they have lost their parents to AIDS. 

Khayelitsha is the biggest township in Cape Town and has about 2 million people living there.  The majority of people live in one-room shacks made out of sheet metal.  The HIV rate for children is about 40%.  There are hundreds of non-profits working in the area and it seems from first impressions that they are barely scratching the surface of a giant wound.  That may seem really negative, and I really don’t mean it like that. It is just that it gets to be a little frustrating to want to help so much and to not really be able to.  But I also know that I am lucky to be able to affect just a few people’s lives and so I am thankful for that.

At Ubuntu I am working with my housemate and friend Briged.  We have three projects that were given to us for our time here. The first is to put together a database of the nonprofits in the area.  We are going to be meeting with them and learning what they are all about so we can see how they can help us and we could help them.  It will be great to talk to other institutions to see how they work.  The second project is to find some type of income generating venture for the 15-20 highly involved mothers of the center.  They currently have no source of income so we are looking to find them jobs, either by starting their own business with a micro credit loan or to join another project that is already in place.  The last project is to create some type of book for the center that includes writing and artwork from the kids, parents, workers, and more.  This will hopefully be a good way to fundraise and spread awareness about Ubuntu. 

All in all, the service is going to be a lot of work and keep me very busy here in Africa.  But I really couldn’t ask for anything more.  I am so so so excited to get started on all of these projects and really be a big part of this organization.  It only started two years ago, so our place will be very large and a big help I think.  I will let you know more how it goes once we get more into it, but initially that I all I am doing there.

On a different note, this weekend was pretty crazy and fun because it is Women’s Day today so we didn’t have classes or anything.  On Friday we had a braai (or bbq) with our local friends and our neighbors who are a part of the arts and science program with CIEE.  Then on Saturday we went to bar to watch the South Africa vs. Australia rugby game.  It was a very important game and South Africa won so that was great! Then yesterday we went to Misoli’s, the restaurant where we ate with our hands in the township of Langa.  On Sundays all the locals and a bunch of tourists come in and they have a DJ and things get pretty crazy.  We were there all day hanging out with our local friends and some new people and celebrating Women’s Day! Yay women!

Ok, well that is about it for me! I would love to get emails with updates about how everything is going at home, wherever that may be! Miss you all and I promise I will try to be better about blogging so they are not essays every time! 


  1. Hey Madds! You missed a kind of chilly weekend here. The temp got down to about 75 degrees on Saturday and was maybe a little warmer on Sunday. It's supposed to warm back up this week.

    I'm glad you're enjoying your time so much. Your projects sound like a lot of fun and a lot of work. It will be awesome to get to know everyone at the organizations to be able to network with them.

    Keep up your hard work... we're cheering you on!

  2. Sounds like the work has just begun, Remember to savor the time and enjoy it while you can. If you make a difference in just one life, that is significant!

  3. My dear sweet Maddie, how wonderful to get your updates. A lot of people have good intentions but rarely do anything about them. How refreshing to know that YOU ARE making a difference. We are so proud of you. Keep up the good work and have fun. Oh, how about some handmade crafts that could be sold here in the U.S. at churches? Just a thought. I would love to be involved in making that happen,.
    Jill and Paul

  4. Sounds incredible!! The work you're doing is so important... even if it's just a drop in the bucket!
    It's mind-blowing when you stop to think just how many people are HIV positive there. All of those kids!! It makes me sad! Especially when it's so easy to prevent the transmission from mom to baby. But it's easier said than done when you're dealing with that kind of poverty. You are an amazing woman...

  5. Maddie! I am in the progress to create my very first blog, I am pretty excited! I leave in like two weeks, Sept. 6! The anticipation is killing me! I miss you like crazy! I can not wait to see you, it is going to be crazy when we reunite. I was reading your blog and I will have to tell you in a private manner that I would love to comment on some of the inappropriate things. AHAHAHAHA.... oh maddie. I hope you are enjoying yourself! love you... :-D

  6. Madd - sounds like you're keeping pretty busy. Don't get discouraged by the seemingly overwhelming need and amount of work that needs to be done - at least you're contributing to the solution(s). I have no doubt that you will make a difference in the lives of many children/families. You are an inspiring young woman whose kind heart and giving spirit are just what those kids - and the world - needs. Keep up the good work(s) and don't forget to have some fun too. You're in my thoughts and prayers.