Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Week 1

Cape Town could not be any more gorgeous. It's prettier than I imagined. I've been here for about ten days now and I'm still finding it hard to believe that this is where I LIVE!

The flight was painful, but everything went smoothly. Unitl I got into town. Apparently there is a shortage of electricity in all of South Africa and they have known about it since 1998, but never took action to conserve or make amy changes. So when I arrived and drove in from the airport, the entire city was experiencing a 'blackout'. Starting at 8pm all of the city's lights shut off and didnt turn back on until 3 am. So it was incrdible waking up the next morning and looking out my window to the sight of table top mountain behind me and the ocean out ahead.

On my first day I ventured out to the winelands with other Connect-123 interns. The vineyards were beautiful the way they rolled down from the mountains. We also stopped at a cheetah farm and we were able to actually pet them. They are quite tame!

Sunday afternoon I was up on the rooftop by the pool and this was the view. They call it the "tablecloth" on Table Top Mountain. It looks like liquid clouds pouring off the top of the mountain due to the wind. I've never seen anything like it. This is by far the windiest city I've ever been to. Some days it feels like a hurricane is sweeping through and it is hard to keep your feet on the ground. But without the wind, temperatures would be too hot to bear!

The beaches are gorgeous as well. We made it out to Clifton this past weekend for a day under the sun. The water is a Carribean turquoise, but it feels just like home. I would guess it was about 60 degrees...not cold enough to keep me from going in!

Now I'm sure you'd like to know how work is going. Well....I'm having a blast!!! These kids are so adorable and loving. It is obvious that they get very little attention. I play games, do arts and crafts, take them swimming in the pool, and play out on the playground. I basically feel like a kid again. The other day I had a couple little girls try fingerpainting. They had never done it before and have probably never even used paints at all. It was amazing watching their little faces light up as they mixed colors and splattered the paper (not to mention their feet, clothes, and, my face). The kids here range from age 1 to 18. Each age group is so much fun to work with. The older kids look at us as peers and like to hang out and talk or play cards, while the little ones beg to be picked up and held. Although it is hard work and exhausting keeping them all in line and under control, I always leave with a big smile on my face (as cheesy as that sounds, it is true).

It's hard to tell that some of them are even sick, but others are in wheelchairs due to missings limbs or paralysis, or they have physical deformities, traches in their throats, or drainage bags coming from their stomachs. No matter how they look, they are all chronically ill and will probably live here for years. There is one ward specifically for HIV children, most of whom are under the age of 8 because they dont manage to live much longer. I won't lie, it is pretty sad, but I try not to take work home with me. The kids love what we are doing with them and hopefully we're making each of their lives a little bit better than it would have been.