Thursday, August 31, 2006

Peer educators, behavior change and my first chance to facilitate a training.

I finally got a chance to lead part of a training while with Ben and Douglas at a multinational automotive company Tuesday and Wednesday. We spent both days training a group of 25-27 employees coming from various departments from the plant where we were training and another one about 40 kilometers away. We were supposed to have around 50 people to train as peer educators but for a variety of reasons ended up with a smaller group which is unfortunate as it means that less people will feel the impact of the training we were doing and will continue next week. Normally the peer educator training is done over a six day period with a seventh day for written exams, presentations and other activities to test the knowledge, confidence and ability of the peer educators so that they can receive certification before beginning their work as peer educators in their places of employment, communities, families and more. Our training will be done over four days with the fifth day being our exam and presentation day.

Peer educators are not just trained in HIV/AIDS (which is more properly referred to as HIV and AIDS so as not to further confuse and conflate the two as being one in the same) like we are doing at ETC but also trained to provide other information to their peers. The definition for peer educator that we use is “someone who is trained to inform his/her peers about a particular subject so that they can make informed decisions about the subject”. We focus mainly on HIV and AIDS, related diseases, the varied socio-economic conditions that people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) find themselves in, how HIV and AIDS plays a role in the lives of those who are infected as well as affected by it and many more important topics related to HIV and AIDS.

The idea is for those that go through the peer educator training with us to share the information they have learned with their coworkers, families, churches, etc. and to be a positive influence for change in the lives of others. We don’t want them to keep this information to themselves or just better those in their close circle of friends and family but to be open and willing to share with anyone at anytime. A key distinction to make is that during this particular training we are not training peer counselors. We do offer a 10-15 day course for those who want to be trained as peer counselors but do not cover all the necessary skills for this in our peer educator course.

One of the biggest components of the training that we do and the work that these peer educators will be doing after being trained is behavior change. They first must go through a change in behavior (if they are still practicing unsafe sex, living a risky life, etc.) and then encourage the same in others. We are not out to change cultural or traditional practices (unless these create unsafe situations) but rather to get people to better realize the impact of the various decisions they make and be more responsible with their lives and the lives of others. It is important for each individual to take responsibility for their own actions and to see how what they do can and affect others. In a future blog I will discuss behavior change in more depth and detail as it is one of the components of the work that we do that I find the most interesting and crucial.

There are 12 modules plus the assessment (exams, presentation, etc.) that make up our peer educator training. I spent most of the time with Doug’s training group and near the end of the first day I began facilitating Module 3. This module includes defining health and disease, discussing the four components (bio, psycho, socio/spiritual) that make up the whole human being, discussing the nine foundations of health and talking about germs and how they get into the body. Due to limited time I wasn’t able to cover all of this at the end of the first day and thus concluded on Wednesday. The module took about 105 minutes from start to finish and went well considering that this was my first time training for ETC. I enjoyed participating in the training with the rest of those who were going through it but it was nice to finally be up in front leading discussions, sharing information and facilitating learning. I am looking forward to facilitating two or three other modules next week when we return for further training. I will definitely have more to share on this specific experience after next week.

A final thought is that it was good to have Doug there to lend support as my medical knowledge and history is very limited and thus certain questions were beyond my realm of experience and Doug was able to help. It is challenging and interesting to be involved in this work as a Christian Scientist but I think it can be rewarding as well. I will also return to this topic in future blog entries. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pics to pique your interest or funny hats and funny people too!

Here is Ben wearing a "Soviet" era hat that Doug got in Russia which fit Ben well, gave him that "big boss" or "chefe" look and went well with the rest of his dress.
Douglas remains seated while Deidre the President of Toastmasters and the friend who played darts with us on Women's Day presides over the meeting.
And the last one shouldn't really need any explanation...right?

All three pictures were taken on the 10th at the Bedfordview Toastmasters humorous competition in which both Ben and Douglas participated. I will tell you more later about how it went, who was funny and who won and show some other pics taken during the night. The theme of the night was "funny hats" so we obliged and rummaged through Doug's collection of odd and interesting hats that he buys at antique shops.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Images from the south side....

Ben, Doug and I passed part of South Africa Women's Day playing darts. Not exactly the most appropriate way to spend the day but it was fun and we were joined by a lady, Deidre, who is the President of the Bedfordview Toastmasters. I will write about Toastmasters International and Education Training and Counselling's involvement in one of my future blogs.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What I do….A New Hope....

Creative title if I do say so myself. Any guesses as to why I chose this? If you think you know feel free to post a comment below with your guess. It has come to my attention thanks to my one of my greatest enemies who at the same time can be my best friend i.e. my self-conscious or Jiminy Cricket (my apologies for the Disney reference, yes Fiona this is another thing I don’t like) that I have written very little on Ripplefxs about me, my time here in South Africa and what I do here for work, fun and more. I started this blog with the idea of sharing about my time here but have found that it has been a good place to share my epiphanies, rants and random thoughts with you as well as a cathartic activity. I promise to return to the theme of “my life” from time to time.

I would like to briefly recap what I covered in my first and second entries just a month ago to share a bit of the work I do and purpose behind my 6 months here. I am working, as an HIV/AIDS consultant, for an Ashoka Fellow, Linzi Smith, who was a government nurse for over 15 years in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Linzi started Education, Training and Counselling (ETC) five years ago after a trip to the United States which inspired her to take a new approach to the HIV/AIDS situation here in South Africa. Along with Linzi, who works about 16 hours a day, I work with Douglas Smith, Linzi’s husband, and Ben Brown. I have mentioned about Doug before as he is very memorable, funny and kind and Ben who I watched play soccer my second weekend here and who has an amazing story of his own that I hope to share in a future blog posting.

Last Friday, Ben was finishing facilitating a five day training at a mining company where he was training a “select” group of employees to be certified “peer educators”. Four of the people out of about 20 that he was training disclosed to him on the final day that they were HIV positive. Ben stayed much later than normal to counsel these four individuals and he only began to start the two hour trip home around 6 PM. One of the people had only been tested last Tuesday, the day after the course started, and thus was disclosing some very traumatic and personal information with Ben who as is his nature stayed to provide the best support and care that he could. I will write more about Ben later but should get back to “my life” which is not to say that Ben, Linzi, Doug and others are not a part of it as they are a huge part and I am grateful to each of them for their friendship, guidance and all the rest.

So far my work has mainly consisted of helping around the office with various computer problems (I am not an expert but sometimes it is all relative), searching for funding sources and grant writing, marketing/sales and preparing PowerPoint presentations. Next week I am excited to tell you I will participate in and co-facilitate my first peer educator training. I will give a more in depth explanation next week of “peer educator” training in the context of HIV/AIDS, South Africa and ETC.

I am really looking forward to this training as it seems to be the seminal component to the work that is/can be done to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, protect the rights of people that are HIV + and prolong the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) through proper nutrition, exercise, medication, etc. I have been told this training is a life changing experience for many and it was for Ben, who I will have to ask to do a guest blog entry. You can look for more on “what I do” in a future blog and don’t forget to guess why I chose the title for this blog.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Neo-colonialism, ABCs, the American way....

Amongst the highlights from the XVI International AIDS Conference, dubbed “Time to Deliver”, held this past week in Toronto, Canada was the keynote speech to open the conference which was delivered by Bill Gates. I have my issues with Microsoft’s monopoly and doubts about Gates’ sincerity or “goodwill” being more than a way to protect business interests, potential customers and get positive PR. Yet in light of his comments this past Monday I might be seeing a Gates who I appreciate more. Gates was critical of the main approach employed, promoted and financed by the US at home and abroad to “fight” AIDS which is abstinence. The ABCs, abstinence, be faithful and condomize (use condoms) is a popular method being used in many places to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. The US places the added emphasis on abstinence which sounds good in theory and goes well with many religious people, especially Christians, but it is not really in line with reality. Most women, especially in Africa and other parts of the world where HIV is spreading so rapidly don’t normally have an option with husbands and lovers about when, how and if to have sex to tell women to abstain from having sex with their partners is ridiculous and often their objections cause distrust, violence and worse. Is it better for two people to not use a condom because their church or society prohibits it and infect each other or become pregnant with a child that might get HIV or to use a condom and save lives? Read this article from the Guardian about Gate’s words at the conference for more.

Another person who I have been gaining respect for these past few weeks is Stephen Lewis who is the UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS a man who takes his job very seriously and now I see doesn’t pull his punches when he sees that words can have great impact. Lewis was also at the conference this past week and made some critical remarks of the US policy on AIDS saying that the US was practicing "incipient neo-colonialism" through the way it has chosen to fund HIV/AIDS work in particular in Africa. The US Global HIV Policy makes it mandatory for at least 33% of its prevention funding to go to abstinence only programs. Once again, great in theory if you believe people should have sex before marriage but this keeping your head in the ground like an ostrich tactic isn’t proving beneficial. There are claims that Uganda, which has done a great job in battling HIV is losing ground thanks to this US policy as money that once went to provide condoms as well as teach how to safely use and dispose of them is going to abstinence programs which are proving less effective. Top-down pie in the sky programs do not work and we need to wait up and see the reality of the situation of the problem and attack it in a way that is realistic and as effective as possible. See this article at BBC to find out more as well as this one with a bit of a different twist from

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Racism Part I: "You can't teach the aborigines..."

So what are you doing here…specializing in AIDS? To which I responded “I wouldn’t say specializing but it is something in which I have a lot of interest.” He continued, “We have a real problem here…well I guess the rest of the world does too with HIV/AIDS but here you can’t teach the aborigines” referring, I imagine, to all South Africans who are not white or rich. Later this person said “They have stiffed the rest of Africa up why should this be any different.” I had met this man before and heard stories about him as well but on this day had tried to start up a conversation and give him the benefit of the doubt but I soon learned my lesson.

He was wearing those same digs that you occasionally see male South Africans wearing, short shorts usually blue, green or khaki and the two toned button down short sleeve shirts. I am told one name for them is “safari suits”, when referring to the shirt and shorts together. Here is a decent picture just to give you an idea of what I am speaking. I am not trying to equate racism and this type of dress, it just happens that this individual was dressed in this manner.

So far I guess I have been fairly sheltered in my time here or just met some of the more kind, accepting and open minded South Africans but I imagine with more time I will encounter more ignorance, hate and anger. Not to say that any of us are perfect because as I learned this past year “we are all a little bit racist.” I think it really comes down to how we look at the world and if we are trying to change our tendencies and be more open to people that are “different” than us, understand them better and make ourselves better understood. I will share more on this subject in entries to come as I encounter more examples of racism here in South Africa or in my travels in other parts of the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Politics of Terror.

This is the first "guest" blog, written by my uncle Terry. The text comes from an email I just received from him and a story on MSNBC about Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" yesterday.

"A few press outlets are finally reporting the fact that the U.S. Government essentially browbeat the Brits into making the recent terror arrests before they wanted to do so, with the result that terror arrests wiped Connecticut voters' ouster of Lieberman off the front pages.

Last night, Keith Olbermann updated a previous report and ran down ten instances in which bad news about the Administration, Iraq, military atrocities, etc. were followed within a day or so by announcements of imminent terror attacks and (usually) a hike in "terror alert" status to "orange." I encourage you to have a look - it begins about halfway down the page:

In his conclusion, Olbermann acknowledged the danger of "post hoc ergo proctor hoc" reasoning:

"In all fairness, as we observed last October and we observe again tonight, we could possibly construct a similar timeline of terror events and warnings and their relationship to the opening of new chain stores around the country. But if merely a reasonable case could be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, especially the one last week in which terror policy was again injected directly into a political race, it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country, questions about what is prudence and what is fear-mongering."

Monday, August 14, 2006

The inside story on being held hostage in Iraq.

Many of you know that I am a Christian Scientist and I am sure many of you have heard of the Christian Science Monitor, a weekly international newspaper which has been in circulation since 1908 and was started through the initiative of Mary Baker Eddy who was the “discover and founder” of Christian Science.

This entry is just to alert you to an interesting 11 part series starting today the 14th of August on Jill Carroll’s kidnapping while reporting for the Christian Science Monitor in Iraq. I will leave the details to this in-depth series but just wanted to bring it to your attention. If you have not heard of Jill a simple search of Google will bring up over seven million hits.

An excerpt from an email/letter sent on August 9th by Nate Talbot who is the Clerk of the Mother Church said “the series will run for 11 days (from Aug. 14 – Aug. 28) and will weave together Jill's own story with the "outside" story written by Peter Grier of what her family, the Monitor, and others were doing to free her.”

One final thing to leave you with which will undoubtedly be covered in the series is that the Monitor went out of its way during the time that Jill was kidnapped and since to work for her release and comfort her family. They went as far as promoting her to a full time reporter’s salary, etc. even though she had been in Iraq doing part time or freelance work and kept in close touch with her family. I think this is an amazing story with a happy ending despite the people who died such as her interpreter. Also just last week four people involved in her kidnapping were captured by US Marines in Iraq. See this article at the NY Times or search for others on the net.

You can find more information about the Monitor’s history, mission and work at in the About us/Help section.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pepsi or Coke? Don't choose either and save yourself and the planet.

While reading articles on Al Jazeera about alleged terrorist plots, toothpaste explosives and more craziness I came across an article about the state of Kerala in southern India which has banned the manufacturing and selling of soft drinks. Finally, some good news I can get excited about and get behind. As many of you know I have not been a drinker of soft drinks for almost 10 years now. I admit I have accepted a very rare soft drink here or there as it is hard enough, especially in Africa, being a vegetarian and not drinking alcohol and then going out and eating or visiting people with them wanting to buy you something. I chose to stop drinking soft drinks as I recognized that they are carbonized sugar water and have no real nutritional value for a person and worst of all once again they are a way to use unnecessary packaging that might be recycled in some places but even where recycling is available it is not always done and so on.

Enough about my reasons for not drinking soft drinks let's now get back to the article I found. I will give you links to another story on BBC and I am sure other news sites have their versions too. In this case the ban has come into place due to high levels of pesticides being found in the soft drinks which isn’t surprising seeing as how India is being increasingly forced by globalization, government deals and very nasty multinationals to “mass” produce crops using more hazardous chemicals and non-natural techniques. It is scary when the “canary” in this case is soft drinks but I guess what ever it takes for people to realize the danger we are in is a step in the right direction. The Al Jazeera article can be found here and if you want to read the BBC one you can go here.

Serendipitously enough I was teasing Doug today about drinking Coke and I felt the need to know more so I went to the internet. I Googled two words “Coke” and “thirsty” which came up with two different articles on the growing public dislike of Coke in India. Did you know that soft drinks are depleting water across the globe and taking this precious recourse away from the people and crops that need water the most and are most affected by its lack? Read this and there is also this article. The second article was posted on a site which chronicles the exploits of Coke in Columbia that has caused the deaths of hundreds who have worked for Coke and tried unionize and labor reform.

FYI, I know and have looked at Coke’s website and the section where they claim to debunk rumors but I am not totally convinced about it all yet. I still want to find out more about the potential for Coke to cause dehydration through diuretics it contains and if you know anything about this I would appreciate your input. It will have to wait for another blog though. Thought, reactions, life changing decisions due to this information? Another topic I will address at a later date is bottled water which if you must drink something and you can't get "fresh" water is a better alternatives to soft drinks but is creating many of its own problems as this fad is growing greatly.

Monday, August 07, 2006

FIRE....FIRE...the world is burning are you gonna help me put it out?

Friend, foe, family or fan I hope you will read on even if you don’t agree. I feel it is finally time to write something truly important and hopefully convince you to work with me in changing this world for the better, 'cause as we can see it really needs our help right now! This is something that I cannot do on my own and I ask you to join me. I know that my SIT colleagues are doing their part and others I have met in my work, studies and travels are helping too but we all must unite to protect our planet and all of its inhabitants human and animal regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and more.

Justice and equality are not privileges for a few but necessary rights for all and we should not strive for or accept anything less. Who is the terrorist?...the person flying the gunship that mows down people in the name of retribution and justice or the people who take to the streets with rocks or rockets to fight with what they have to protect themselves and their rights? Fancy equipment, support from the US and UK and “modern” tactics does not a “civilized” people make. I am sorry to offend any of you but it is time that we wake up and realize that the news that we are being fed by the media is not the whole picture. I think that George Galloway a Member of Parliament from the UK speaks many truths in his recent interview with an “anchor” from Sky “News”, another creation of Rupert Murdoch of the infamous and terribly “right winged” biased Fox News. Click here to see his interview from Fox…uh I mean Sky "News" and let me know what you think. I look forward to comments of support or opposition via email or better yet, here in the blog. Just scroll down to the comment button directly below this entry, click to enter, choose an identity (anonymous if you don’t have a Blogger account) and leave your message. This is meant as a public space where you can voice your thoughts.

Another day, another concert and more great African music.

Props to Suely for telling me about Lura and broadening my knowledge about Cabo (Cape) Verdean music. Thanks to her when I looked in the paper a few weeks ago and saw that Lura, from Cabo Verde and Busi Mhlongo from South Africa would be doing a concert together my interest was immediately piqued. The two played together this past Saturday the 5th at the Bassline at the Newtown Cultural Precinct in downtown Johannesburg. I saw a few concerts at the original Bassline which was located in Melville, Joburg, in 2000 when I was here on a six-week abroad with Principia College and again in 2003 my dad and I saw a show there. The concert I saw at the new Bassline was called Afro/Latin Connection and it was in celebration of South Africa’s National Women’s Day which will be on the 9th of August. The concert was also part of the Urban Voices International Festival which included poetry and music from Africa, the USA and Palestine. It was special to have Sifiso Ntuli a South African freedom fighter/activist and music producer, announce the acts and give some commentary on the event. I know Sifiso from a great documentary which I hope you will all borrow, rent or buy called Amandla a Revolution in Four-Part Harmony. Amandla chronicles the amazing and in many ways essential impact that music had during the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Music was used as inspiration for those fighting for freedom, a way to share hidden messages, resist the abusive system through music and more.

From funana to batuku to morna Lura sings a bit of each of these styles which come from the various islands that make up Cabo Verde. Cabo Verdean music is very beautiful and diverse and often talks of very serious topics such as drought, emigration, poverty and loneliness. Probably the most famous Cabo Verdean is Cesária Évora who has been dazzling audiences for many years now. Cabo Verde is a small archipelago made up of 10 islands and has had a rough and torrid history marked by the slave trade, famine and mass exodus from this small nation due in major part to its inhabitants leaving to make money to send home in what is called remittances which is a growing epidemic especially amongst those who have left underdeveloped nations (so-called third world). Despite all of this Lura’s music is passionate and beautiful while telling of these stories. She played for over an hour and it was a pleasure to listen to her and her band and watch her dance too! I would highly recommend her album Di Korpu Ku Alma (Of Body and Soul) most of the songs in which are in Cabo Verdean Creole which is a mix of Portuguese and African languages. An interesting fact is that Lura was raised in Portugal and didn’t visit Cabo Verde much in fact she spoke Portuguese as a child and only learned Creole from friends in school. Now, she is fluent in Creole and most of her music is sung in the language native to her families’ homeland.

After Lura I was treated to the passionate, intoxicating, powerful and at times ghostly sound of Busi Mhlongo. I say ghostly not to offend but to say that her voice was very shrill and unique at times and she was clearly moved by the atmosphere, music and crowd especially during one of her songs called Yapheli'mali Yami (My Money Is Gone). During this song she was clearly moved to tears even and wept openly as she held the hand of a young woman from the audience with whom she seemed to make a special connection. I had not heard of Busi before finding out about this concert and had listened to very little of her music before attending but immediately fell in love with the enthralling sound of her voice and the music played masterfully by her band. She is certainly now at the tops of musicians I have heard and seen in concert and probably the most memorable musician I have seen in a while. Sorry Amadou and Mariam and Baba Maal I loved your shows but there was really something to this show. The crowd certainly loved her and most knew her music which was sung mainly in Zulu with some sprinkled in English.

If you recall in my last blog posting I mentioned that the crowd, which was in large part white, was a bit “reserved” and in fact during the first half of the show the crowd only stood up to dance for one song. Well the crowd on Saturday at the Bassline which was more even in terms of a racial mix was much more animated and willing to dance, sing, etc. This might have been due in part to the setup at the Bassline which had actual space to dance as opposed to the Nelson Mandela Theatre which had only seats and no official standing room but I think it was also due to the type of music being played and the crowd who came. I had forgotten how fun it can be to see concerts in Africa not only because of the musicians but also because of the audience. It may be a surprise to some of you to find that I too was dancing and enjoying myself during the two great acts that I saw. A highlight of the evening was when she allowed members of the audience to get up on stage and dance and after 10 or so black people had done so a white women got up which received a great applause from the crowd followed by a white man who was thoroughly enjoying himself and while not the most polished dancer he seemed totally at ease which might have been helped in part by alcohol or maybe just the lively crowd.

I would like to leave you with a recommendation which is that if you at all like African or World music or even if you don’t but want to give it a try please go to and buy some of the great stuff they are selling. I bought Busi’s album “Urban Zulu” there after the concert and get one to two songs for free by visiting Calabash each week. Calabash calls itself “The World’s First Fair Trade Music Company” as half of the money spent to purchase music goes to the artists which I assume must be more than they make off of selling their albums as CDs, tapes, etc. Also it is great as you don’t waste all the plastic and other materials in buying the physical CD and you can download it as many times as you like which is much better than iTunes where you can only download and share songs a limited amount of times. Calabash has also recently partnered with National Geographic to better make the music it sells more marketable and recognized. If you go to the site that combines Calabash and National Geographic you can find out more. I like that they are helping small and independent artists in getting their music from around the world more into the mainstream.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

African music oh how I love thee!

African music is amazing because it can be so diverse, vibrant, inspirational and sad all at the same time. Thanks to loan money, the good natured Douglas, who is slowly becoming my chauffeur and of course the creativity and passion of African musicians I have been witness to some great concerts these past two weeks. My first concert was on Friday the 28th of July and I saw “White Zulu” better known as Johnny Clegg who was beautifully accompanied by the Soweto Gospel Choir at the Nelson Mandela Theatre the largest of three theatres at the theaters Johannesburg Civic Theatre. With the theatre has a capacity of 1069 people and all the seats were sold out and the show was great.

It was part of a multi-week show called “One Life” with the above artists and some dancers. There was a dance off between urban hip hoppers and rural traditional Zulu dancers and the music the show was very entertaining. This was the second to last show and the crowd had a good time but was a bit reserved. The Soweto Gospel Choir played a show at Carnegie Hall in New York this past year that sold out six months in advance. They are touted to be the second biggest “choral” group to come out of South Africa after Ladysmith Black Mambazo and they didn’t disappoint. The only disappointment was that they never had a chance to sing a song entirely on their own which I would have appreciated.

Johnny Clegg is a very interesting character born in the UK and raised in various countries in southern Africa before ending up in South Africa he and his friends and fellow musicians fought apartheid in their own way by forming mixed race musical groups and Johnny got his nickname the “white Zulu” by not only becoming fluent in the language but also the music and dance of Zulu culture. He was an anthropologist and university professor before focusing fully on music. One of the songs off of his new album is a commentary on corrupt leaders and focuses on a revolutionary leader who is infamous for the hand that many say he has had in the downfall of his country. It was about Robert Mugabe the President of Zimbabwe since Zim got its independence in 1980. There was a large screen that came down above the musicians at various times during the concert to show scenes of Africa from urban to rural with beautiful and startling imagery and scenes of poverty and prosperity together. For this song there were various images from Zimbabwe and information talking about various events under Mugabe. I am not putting my opinion on this but rather reporting what I saw and allowing each of you to do your own research and come up with your own conclusions. I for one feel the need to go to Zimbabwe to witness it with my own eyes.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Khaya Smith and ETC HQ (Khaya means home)

View of the Smith's house from the other side of the pool. Don't worry Lori I haven't gone swimming yet as contrary to popular belief it is winter here in the southern Hemisphere. I am sure that once it gets above high 60s/low 70s we will go swimming. I say contrary because the obnoxious US announcers during the World Cup, a few weeks ago, when thinking ahead to the 2010 World Cup that will be here in South Africa said how hot it would be during the World Cup. They were saying this as it was rather hot throughout this year’s tourney which was in Germany. This just goes to show you that “Africa hot” is not only a silly and overused phrase but also one that is not always right all of the time. Yes, it is probably really hot in other parts of Africa right now but not here in the south at least. Today, in fact at just before 9 AM it is 34°F so it is just above 1°C or freezing. In fact the fountain outside has a thin layer of ice on top. Definitely colder than I ever remember it getting in Mozambique even at night.

View of the ETC office which is located to the north of the Smith's house. Looking at this photo you can just imagine the Smith's house to the left of the office. Behind me when I took this photo was the top gate/entryway to the grounds. I live upstairs in a loft in the office and will take photos of the inside one of these days and post them as well.

This picture was taken in front of the office with Linzi's door to the right looking at the back of the Smith's house.

Taken from the front of the house looking at the lovely lemon tree that supplies us with fresh lemons.

Porch at the front of the Smith’s house where Ben, Doug and I played darts this past Friday at lunch. I will take a photo of us this coming Friday if we have time to play.

These spikes cover the walls going all around the house to keep intruders out or maybe just to keep me inJ This is nothing compared to the razor wire or electrified fences at other houses.

Doug’s precious fountain which today had a layer of thin ice over the middle and top parts I guess it was not cold enough to start freezing over the large section at the bottom. It also had small gold fish in it for a day or two prior to the birds eating them.

Finally, a nice image to leave you with. This is Willow or Willy the family cat who spends the day seeking warm places to sleep such as the front office window when sun is coming in, my bed or the couch in the house nearest to the electrical heater. When I was taking photos she was following me around looking for attention.