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Are we there yet? Leaving for South Africa soon... then traveling from Capetown to Joburg, Cotlands Orphanage to Mosetlha Bush Camp. Safaris, conferences, volunteering...

First week...

SOUTH AFRICA | Saturday, 28 July 2007 | Views [497]

Susan, Mary and I arrived in Cape Town after two VERY long plane rides. As you can see from the photos we were very lucky to end up at an awesome bed and breakfast-- The Paradisio in Constantia. The first day was spent exploring in the rain in our little Toyota. We found a shopping mall very similar to one you might see in the states, we saw penguins at Cape Point and went further down the cape to the ostrich farm. All the shoes, bags, boas and eggs in those pictures are made from ostrich skin, feathers etc. They are actually pretty interesting birds: apparently, like penguins, they mate for life; they can live to be up to 70 years old; and they can maintain a speed of 50 mph for over 15 mins! Today, we went to the Cotlands orphanage in West Somerset. We met with a social worker, Mariethja, to learn about the children they see and the stay of each child. We also got a tour of the orphanage and a group home nearby, called Macassar. The orphanage gets mostly babies who are in stage 4 of AIDS. They stay for an average of 5 months, during which time they are treated with antiretrovirals and rehabilitated (i.e., nutrition, speech, psychosocial). We were able to meet the children briefly, however, could not pick them up or spend too much time with them as it is confusing for them to bond with too many people and then say goodbye. We may be able to spend more time with the kids at the Johannesberg Cotlands b/c we will be there for two weeks. Next Thursday and Friday, we will return to the West Somerset Cotlands to do team building exercises with the staff and volunteers. You will also notice shanty towns on the side of the highway in many pictures. This area is part of Cape Flats, which we drove through on our way to Cotlands. The "squatter camps" or "townships" continue for miles, splicing wires from main lines to access electricity. Seeing these camps in comparison to the area we are staying in was quite a shock. Constantia is a rather affluent community, including many large homes, in gated communities, with nice cars, shops and mostly white people of Dutch decent. Until our drive today, we often felt as though we were still in the states, as this area of Cape Town appears so safe and well-developed. Tomorrow we may take a guided tour of one of the townships. Although, I am not sure if I can bring my camera or take pictures.

Tags: Culture

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