Monday, September 7, 2009

Too long

So, I looked at my blog today. I haven't written since may. In that time a lot has happened. It is always difficult to summarize 3 months of work. I'll give a bulleted outline of events.

* Artfest: Every June we have an arts festival that has world wide recognition as being the biggest performing arts festival in Africa. It is in Grahamstown. The unfortunate reality is that most of the kiddos that live in Grahamstown don't get the opportunity to see many shows. Untill this year..... After a brief letter to the Arts Festival director, I recieved tickets to over 20 shows to take kids from the After School Programme. After the first two days of shows, I realized that some of the shows may not have been appropriate, and I didn't have time to ferry kids to all 20 shows, but the following are a couple highlights. -Ten tickets to see the ballet with Nomamyasi, and Tombekaya and 8 9 year old girls and boys. (Several left during the intermission not knowing there was another hour of fun!!) -Took 5 of my boys to their first rock concert. (their ears were ringing and they didn't get home 'till 1 a.m.) - MaRavan was a traditional dance show that was incredibly unique. -Shosholoza a play about the life of mine workers around Johannesburg.

*One Laptop Per Child: Being in the right place at the right time, I had an opportunity to help with a grant to get 100 children's laptops to 100 kids on Grahamstown. Sounds like a possible nightmare of logistics, but with adequate help from several volunteers and well run programmes in Grahamstown (Monastery after school programme and St. Mary's daycare center) it has been a roaring success. Kids get computer lessons. These child friendly laptops, have wireless internet, video cameras, and play mp3s. On top of that they are waterproof! General Mills (make cereal and fruit roll-ups) are big sponsors and did a photo shoot which was awesome. Look for kiddos from Grahamstown on fruit roll-up boxes in the states in the coming months! To see details on one laptop per child: Check out the website: one laptop per child.

* Reading Camp: I was involved in preparation and planning of Reading Camp, a week of learning and fun for 18 grade 4 learners from the Township of Grahamstown. We selected students from 10 schools to send their top readers. These kids were then pampered over the week with four meals a day, learning centers in the mornings and adventures in the afternoons including game drives (looking at elephants and rhinos and hippos) night hikes, exploring the beaches and obstacle courses. To be brief, it was a successful endeavor.

* 6 weeks in the classroom: After being out of University for 5 years, I was aching for an opportunity to learn from more than just my mistakes and experiences. I wanted someone to teach me. I enrolled into a course put on by MSF (doctors without borders) and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The course was a diploma in humanitarian assistance and took place 10 kilometers from Kruger National Park. It was amazing what I learned about the world. Most people there (me being the only americans) hated the USA. But I was given immunity having been in South Africa for 2 years. I learned about the politics of humanitarian aide and hitories of struggling countries in africa. I also learned the practical things about setting up refugee camps (digging toilets, supplying food and water etc.) I left with a distinction and energy to save the world.

*Hit the ground running: I'm now back in Grahamstown and am back in the routine of peparing for the end of the year and transitioning out of my position with GADRA at the end of the year. After hiking the remainder of the wild coast in late November, I am a free agent, looking for opps. to work in the area of education in emergencies (setting up schools and safe places in refugee camps post war and natural disasters.)

*10 months and going: Zinzi and I are doing well. She will be working in Johannesburg as a programme manager with the Art Therapy Center starting in December.


lori lls said...

WOW, MATT. I'm glad you're over there giving of yourself in massive ways to save humanity; makes up for us lazy loafs over here. You continue to inspire, though I know that's not your aim.

Your experiences sound fantastic - a little of everything: art and culture with the kids (the rock concert is funny), literacy, further personal education, hiking. Two things I'd be darned interested in hearing more about are

1) Zinzi
2) the humanitarian assistance class

We love you, Matt!
- Jason, Lori, and Zoralee

Dustin and Abby Terpening said...

You're a rockstar!

Thanks for making time to post to the blog. I've been wondering what you've been up to for a while now. It's so good to hear about your crazy adventures and wonderful stories.

Two things I'd be interested in hearing more about are:
1) Zinzi
2) Hiking the coast

Do you know what month and year it is? September 2009. Do you remember when we met? Ten years ago this month. Can you believe it's been 10 years already? We miss you tons!

Keep up the great work and keep saving lives.


Katie said...

wow, you've been busy! sounds like an exciting and eventful 3 months. can't wait to hear what you end up doing at year's end... we miss you in the US though!

Kim Davey said...

Good to finally hear from you, my Continent buddy.

We will have to talk soon.