We had our Life Skills training at the lovely Sparkling Waters Hotel near Rustenburg. We had an earlier training at the same location, but, knowing what to expect, I made the best use of my time and resources. (Play, play, play, relax, play, play, eat, eat, eat, play, rest, play, mostly. Also: sleep unworried about stinging, biting, critters under crisp, clean sheets knowing someone ELSE would make my bed in the morning.)
I also knew to expect wonderful, wonderful, bountiful food and three meals a day. I was determined to load up on meat and wonderful salads. This ended up being a mistake, as my body was accustomed to a simple diet and rebelled against the rich, delicious food.
We were to take our community “counterparts” to this training and I invited my counterpart from my primary school. To protect her anonymity, I’ll use her first name: Kelebogile. She is an educator that lives on the college campus, but teaches in the primary school. She helps me a great deal at the primary school.
Conveniently, her husband is the man “in charge” of the community garden, so it’s nice to have both of them as resources and they’re both conveniently located in the same house!
The first part of our training dealt with HIV/AIDS education. The speakers were two gentlemen doing wonderful, amazing things in distributing helpful and practical information to those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS: David Patient and Neil Orr. You can see more of what they are about at the following websites:
They approach the disease with a whole health model, which I greatly appreciate. Their presentations were wonderfully informative and I felt I had great information to carry back to our community. These guys are doing great, great work in Southern Africa (and all over the world).
The last part of the workshop dealt with project design and fundraising to help volunteers and counterparts learn how to design and implement projects within our communities.
I loved staying at the hotel mostly because I could hike about in the wilder areas. Yay! I get to walk in the woods! It was beyond wonderful!
Also, I had a poignant evening one night when the hotel presented a concert by Simon and Garfunkel on a large screen. The concert was filmed from their famous 1982 (?) concert in New York’s Central Park. It was an overwhelming experience: to be in Southern Africa, in a resort hotel, with fellow Americans after living for six months in a rural village. I was so homesick during the performance that I ached. (Homeward bound…)
And lastly, I was somewhat charmed to learn that we had small toads in our HOTEL ROOM every morning. I would try to chase them out, lest they be killed by the cleaning crew. We were perplexed as to how they came in; at one point, we thought they were coming in from the large crack at the bottom of our main door. But, we blocked the door crack with a towel and they still came in. We could only surmise that they must be coming in through the open windows. (We had the bathroom window open along with the window above my bed.) I didn’t know toads could climb trees! Can they??
If you’d like more information on the hotel, see their website:
If you’d like to see more photos of our training, including more photos of volunteers and counterparts, see my Facebook page (You need not be a Facebook member to view the photographs):