RiTara Williams
RiTara Williams
South Africa 2014 - 2015
My name is RiTara Williams and I will be working at an internship in Cape Town, South Africa. I will be working with African Impact and The Happy Africa Foundation. Read More About RiTara →

Unbelievable Journey

This roller coaster ride of experiences, emotions, and events is shortly coming to an end. This Friday I will be boarding that silver bird in the sky and departing this beautiful place for an undetermined amount of time. Reflecting on my time here drudges up a multitude of emotions that I can’t quite grasp completely yet. I have been waiting on a flood of emotions to overcome me but I mostly feel numb.

My heart has truly been torn in two for the country that I am from and my new adopted country. Many of the people I hold nearest and dearest are in the US and they have been an amazing support system but I will always have this pull from South Africa that will keep me coming back. I have found beauty in the small things and learned to love the the process. Not only is the love of my life is from South Africa, but the family and network of people I have had the pleasure of getting to know here have consumed my heart with a level of love that you only find once in a lifetime.

Not to say that I haven’t had some low moments living here but that can be expected. I have cried hard and prayed even harder. I have had moments when I just wanted to come home and I have moments when I just wanted to be left alone. The moments of amazement and adventure have completely outweighed the bad.

The list of things I will miss is endless. From the Molo I hear every morning from fellow commuters, to the sound of waves crashing on the beach in an undefined pattern. From the children preforming on the streets for change, to the melodic sounds from all types of bands and music. From the height of Table Mountain showcasing Cape Town’s beauty below, to the way that mothers wrap their young on their backs with blankets instead of buying baby carriers. From the random people you meet on the train, to the almost magical sunsets producing an array of colors across the sky. From the various food and craft markets to the beautiful languages spoken by all of the people you pass. From the children that are grateful for you run around and act like a maniac with them, to their creativity to come up with new names for me when I came around. Cape Town is not perfect, but it sure has become home.

I am a firm believe in the fact that God will only take you where he can keep you and I have felt his love all the way throughout this year. His love manifested in the people I have met, the places I have gone, and the level to which I have grown. I needed this year to take a break from school but I have learned so much more than you can even imagine. Now I am ready to take on my next adventure and see what God has in store for me now! And I know that coming back to South Africa is somewhere near in my future, I just have to follow the path the leads me back to here.

Until next time Cape Town,


Belmont Abroad

I waited a bit to write this blog because I didn’t have much that was blog worthy in the past couple of weeks.

This past Friday I met up with the study abroad group from Belmont and spent the day with them! I didn’t think any group could be better than my own but this group was amazing! Meeting up with them, I wouldn’t have know that they had only been together for a week so far! They were worked well as a group and I didn’t see any cliques that had formed (which is usually what happens in a large group of people).

We started the day up at Red Hill (which brought back so many memories about my group and falling in love with that place). Team Belmont jumped right into leading class activities and assisting the teachers with their day! Our awesome African Impact groups leader laid out the plan for the day but Belmont put their twist on the days activities! It was only their second day in the community but you wouldn’t have known that by the ease at which they operated themselves with the kids!

After a morning of kids and activities, we headed over to Kalk Bay for some indescribable fish and chips! I LOVE fish and chips and this place takes the cake for the best in Cape Town (in my opinion). We then had a treat of soft serve as we watched some seals playing in the water. A cheeky booger sneaked up behind us and I am convinced he was trying to push us in the water but we all fled to safety!

After my first game of “Cards Against Humanity”, we were off to the Cape Malay cooking class! Being one of my favorite activities from my trip, I was beyond excited to go again. We cooked basically the same food as my last class but it was still fun to do again. Once again, team Belmont worked as a well oiled machine!

To further the group’s cultural experience we painted the red... and blue on Long Street! Fun is always to be had when you can ditch the teachers and dive head first into a city’s night life! Having been on the China study abroad trip, I know how crazy students can get on a night out but this group, once again, impressed me with their ability to keep things “Belmont Approved”.

I ended up having an amazing day with a group of amazing people! I hope to see them when I give my Lumos Presentation on campus in the Fall!

Free Falling

Last weekend calls for its own blog post! I JUMPED OUT OF A PLANE WILLINGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is something so freeing about going skydiving! As I was getting hooked up in the harness I started to get really nervous about what I was about to do but there was no backing out now! There wasn’t very much instruction about what was about to go on so my nerves were through the roof! We walked out onto the tarmac to meet the plane and this super small plane landed in front of us. I was not sure how this plane was about to carry 6 people, let alone get off the ground with us. We all packed into the plane in an interesting arrangement and off we were!

The beautiful views helped calm my nerves about the jump but I could no longer deny that I was terrified to jump out of this plane. I was sitting there thinking about all that could go wrong and how I could have a heart attack from the fear and I decided that I needed to be at peace about jumping out of the plane because that is the only way I was getting back to the ground at this point. I sat in that tiny plane and prayed for peace in my mind. I prayed that I would have an overwhelming calm come over me because I knew that he would keep me through this! I let go of all of my worry and all of my doubt and by the time the door was opened I was perfectly fine.

The girl jumping out before me began holding on to my leg for dear life but out the plane she eventually went. I let out the quickest scream of excitement because I was next and I scooted to let my legs dangle out of the plane. We were instructed to get in the shape of a banana to avoid any injury from the initial force of wind and what felt like an hour I sat dangling waiting for my jump master to push off. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and without even noticing, we were falling through the air.

There was no feeling of falling and I felt no fear. I was basically just along for the ride falling through the sky enjoying some amazing views. Everybody has these amazing videos of them screaming with amazed looks on their face and then there was me just looking down at the views with the calmest look on my face the whole time. The coolest part of my video was how straight my Afro got in the wind.

In all, being able to put my faith in the fact that God would get me safely back to the ground was the most humbling part of skydiving. I loved my experience and I would definitely do it again!



Bunny Hop

Trying to find a job from another country is literally the most stressful, anxiety inducing process ever! Actually, trying to find a job in general is stressful! It just sucks even more from South Africa.

There have been things that have happened in the past few weeks but I am not able to recall what exactly happened with out looking at my work notebook! I have had a bunch of days away from work lately because a) I have been going out on project now b) this is truly a christian country because we had a four day Easter weekend as a public holiday and c) GAPA finally made it up Table Mountain!

Easter weekend did not spark many plans so it was quite slow. But because I like to go above and beyond, I ensured that I will have a slow break by spraining my ankle a day and a half into the four day weekend! In a “only RiTara could have done that” way of doing things, I was walking down the stairs in front of a large crowd of people just before a fashion show was starting and I completely missed a step and fell! I had my food in my hands as well as a drink so first priority was to not spill anything. I tried to catch myself before falling all the way to the ground but I failed because I stepped down on my ankle wrong and could no longer support my weight. If it counts for anything my roommate said that it was the most graceful fall she has ever seen and I did not spill any of my food.

At first my ankle was completely fine! I sat down to watch the show and propped my leg up just in case but I felt no pain at all. It wasn’t until my roommate left to buy something in the mall and a creepy guy attempting to flirt with me caused me to flee my immediate vicinity that I realize I could not walk or put weight down on my ankle. Trying not to cry I hobbled away from the old man and called my roommate in a panic. We were on the complete opposite side of Cape Town than what we live and we had to use multiple forms of transportation and walk quite a bit to get home! Needless to say, it was the longest journey home as I could only walk at a snail pace.

My ankle healed quite quickly but the whole weekend was lost to icing the pain away. But to look on the bright side, I was able to bond with the Easter Bunny since we were both hopping around.

Beautiful Differences

I am not sure why I am just now being more attentive to the differences between South African Culture and US Culture but I have made a few observations in the past two weeks.

First of all, I love that in SA I am everybody’s sissy (sister) or auntie. It makes me feel like I belong here even when it is a complete strange calling me these things. It actually puts a smile on my face to have my taxi driver call me sissy.

In the US walking around barefoot still produces strange looks from people you pass on the street. In SA, walking around barefoot is a way of life. The children we pass walking to primary school in the mornings never have shoes on (before you think it, they are not barefoot because they cannot afford shoes, shoes just aren’t a necessity here). I have actually been called weird for wearing shoes or socks during a time other felt they were unnecessary.

I am sure that I have spoken on this before but I have finally gotten to the point where classifying someone as ‘colored’ is normal to me. I am sure that when I first got here I told people that my boyfriend is black which is not the case here. He is classified as colored but because of obvious cultural differences between the US and SA, I could not say ‘colored’ at first without feeling like I was running across the line of political correctness.

In SA, English is not the law of the land. Yes, almost everybody here can speak English to some degree (except my boyfriend’s parents- awkward) but it is not the only language I encounter in a day. Getting in the taxi in the mornings I hear a cheerful ‘Molo’ or ‘Molweni’ (Good morning in Xhosa). Depending on the energy of the group I am riding with I can hear a symphony of clicks coming from daily conversation and it warms my heart so much. Hanging with my Godson’s family or getting mistaken for a colored person or my boyfriend just messing with me can produce the language of Afrikaans. If there were one other language I could learn in this world it would be Afrikaans. I am actually sure that I will start learning it soon. Most of the time I have no idea what is going on because speaking in English is not the main concern of people. I will also drop in the little fact that there are 11 official languages here (Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu).

CP time (colored people time) in the US has nothing on Africa time (and it is not seen as derogatory to say things run on Africa time because they do). Things do not run on the scheduled time here almost ever. If your train is scheduled to come at 12:05 than you can expect it at anytime from then to 30 mins from that time, sometimes even longer.

There is this fun thing called loadshedding where the power is cut in certain areas for two hour time periods because South Africa as a whole is running out of electricity. I have to admit that I was ignorant to the fact that one could simply run out of electricity. You could be in the middle of cooking dinner on your electric stove and if you are not paying attention you can end up having a two hour delay in your cooking.

Living in Cape Town is amazing for experiencing different languages and traditions! I will miss being here.


The Blessings of Friendship

Life has been a bit more real since moving to Fish Hoek. Not living in a volunteer house means that you have to be more intentional about connections with people outside of work. I wrote about the pros and cons a few posts ago but I am still not completely sold. I am okay with cooking and clean for myself but I miss meeting new people so much.

Since I have been missing human interaction I have been more intentional about the relationships I do have here. I have been spending more time with the people I love and care about. My boyfriend (of one year and 10 months) is still in police training so I don’t see him much but we have been more intentional about talking and connecting with him. My brother from another mother recently asked me to be the God mother of his new baby boy so we have been spending more time together lately. This past weekend I had the most amazing Sunday with his whole family for my God son Ajay’s dedication service.

I always get nervous about social events but I was really nervous to spend time with my brother’s family (especially since I know that my boyfriend is amazing in social events and he wouldn’t be there). But the day went extremely well especially considering his family speaks Afrikaans and sometimes forget that I have no idea what is going on when they speak in Afrikaans. I have also been able to recently meet up with a few friends of an old Lumos Scholarship and had a nice time at a dinner party in my old neighborhood here. Living in a secluded area is helping me to feed my relationship with the people who care about me most.

I have also been intentional about not feeding into fake and toxic relationships. I have never been good at hiding my true feelings about someone so none of what I do should ever be surprising. I am not someone to hold on to fake friendship or be in bad situations long. One of my friends once said that my biggest flaw is how direct I am with people.

But when it comes to work relationships you will never know what I am thinking because I will keep it professional. Unless we are actually friends in real life, family or you’re my boyfriend, there is no reason for me to tell you my personal issues with someone. I was put into a hard situation at the end of the year with someone I used to live/work with and I  started to let go of my character but it took someone I’m close to to talk me off the edge. I was ‘lectured’ by someone close to the situation but it only did more harm than good because of the way it all played out. I concluded that our differences in mind-sets and culture played a big part in the falling apart of the whole ordeal.

That’s why it is so important for me to keep my loved ones close. Even though everybody I am close to here is from a different culture and lifestyle as mine, they know my heart therefore they understand why I do what I do.

I thank God for not only sending me  people that take the time to get to know me but family!


During Ajay’s dedication ceremony. The only thing missing is my boyfriend Franky.





Ajay was sick because he has started teething. He was not happy.

Hilarious Encounters

You never really realize how much of a role internet and Wifi play in your life until you are constantly struggling for a connection.

So after being told that I speak good English and unknowingly making morning travel buddies I have decided to write a blog about some of my mini bus taxi weekly travels experiences.

I have had many interesting encounters with people in random places but the mini bus taxi takes the cake as my daily entertainment. Growing up I used minimal public transportation due to the lack there of and over protective family members so this is all new to me (not that there is anything like a mini bus taxi in the US).

So some may ask what a mini bus taxi is. It is as simple as it sounds.
They are 14-16 passenger vans that you can catch almost anywhere to get you from point A to B. The route I take only costs R7 ($0.70) each way each day. When the bus starts moving all you have to do is pass your money up and get change when needed. The driver knows the total of how much they should have. I am not sure what happens if that total does not add up but I pray that I will never know.

Now, there are vague routes that the drivers take but each day can
produce a new adventure. In my first week of riding the bus taxi another intern and I learned that you must let the driver know when your stop is coming up because if nobody says anything they will drive past where you need to go. Going on a tour of Noordhoek was not how I thought I would start my work morning.
My first Friday riding the bus was one of my funniest rides so far. When you get on the taxi and see a large bottle of Coke and a bottle of liquor, you just know that everything that is about to happen is worth writing about. The three gentlemen in front of us decided to get the party started in the taxi and started pour drinks for each other. On a Friday the only thing I am thinking about is getting home so I can take my clothes off and relax after the workweek so I was quite impressed that they thought far enough ahead to bring cups to mix drinks in their mobile bar. Our ride is pretty short so we were at our stop before we knew it. Before we could say anything to the driver someone up front ask for him to stop. This being a tightly squeezed taxi it was difficult to get out of the back row. Without noticing our struggle, the driver started to drive away. Thankfully some of the Xhosa speaking passengers got the drivers attention and stopped him again for us. Jessica, the other intern with me
at the time, thanked the driver for stopping again and that is when one of the gentlemen decided to make his move and flirt with her. His expression of how much he liked her voice was returned with total silence. Jessica refused to say another word until we escaped from the taxi that seemed to not want to let us go. We both laughted about the encounter the rest of the way home.

January produced some good stories so I am confident that I will keep you entertained.

Changing Views

Another intern interviewed me recently to hear about my time here so far and I thought I would share it on here as well:

Why did you choose to intern in Africa?

During College I went on two study abroad trips; the first to China and the second to Botswana and South Africa. I have traveled around my whole life as a result of my father being in the US Army but no place has captured my heart quite like Africa. So when it came time for me to graduate from University I decided that I would go against the grain and take a year to explore the place that stole my heart. The reason I chose Cape Town as the city I would reside in is because of the vast difference between wealth and poverty seen sitting right next to each other in several areas. I wanted to gain an understanding of how this can be and what can be done to help bridge that gap.


Why choose THAF over other options?

On my first trip to South Africa I volunteered with African Impact in an informal settlement called Red Hill in Cape Town. Learning the history of this settlement and interacting with the residents sparked the interest in me to learn more. There are no words to describe the warmth and love I felt in that community but it was a feeling that stuck with me all the way back to the US. We interacted with other organizations while in South Africa and Botswana but I knew that I had to go back and work with African Impact. When searching for an area I would fit in I found the THAF internship and that was the only fit that would allow me to be active in the communities while finding solutions to social issues faced by their residents.


What is the average day as an intern like?

An average day as an intern can be best described as unpredictable. My time so far has been unique because I have held three positions within THAF and African Impact. I have worked as the THAF office head office intern, THAF Cape Town project intern, and the African Impact Marketing Intern. You can imagine how working in these three very different position have tough me completely different skills. As a THAF head office intern, I work on the behind the scenes work of THAF. From grant writing, to working on the annual report, to making new flyers, to posting on Social Media, to fundraising, I have been a part of it all. You also get to grasp what is going on with all of THAF’s projects across the continent. As the THAF Cape Town project intern you work first hand with the projects in that specific area. You get to plan fundraising events, manage funds for the focal projects, interact with the volunteers working there every day, and see each specific need first hand. You will get to know the communities you are advocating for and draw a personal tie to each area you are working in. My favorite part of working close to a project was seeing the finished product of your hard work. The smile on the children’s faces and the gratitude received from the communities is enough to get you out of bed in the morning. Both positions provide their own benefits and difficulties but it was such a great opportunity to experience them together.


What is life in Cape Town like? (food, atmosphere, tours and things to do)

Waking up in Cape Town every day is the added bonus to this internship. At the risk of sounding biased, Cape Town is the best city in the world! Where else can you get mountains right next to the sea with wine lands in between and some of the best surfing in the world? There are four penguin colonies, wild ostriches, baboons, rock dassies, springboks, and an animal called a quagga, which is a subspecies of a Zebra, along with several other animals. You will never get tired of exploring new places and seeing new sites. Every weekend there is plenty to see and do. Cape Town is full of markets, festivals, events, plays, great food and musical entertainment. There is literally something for every type of person to explore which makes Cape Town a favorite destination to millions. I have been here for seven months and I still have plenty on my list to do.


How do you think this internship will benefit you at home? (work life and otherwise)

Working for THAF has taught me so much about working in the NGO/Non-profit sector. Not only have I learned about what it takes to run at the capacity that THAF does but I have also learned how to be an employee. Only have ever work as a volunteer or a mentor, I had never been in a position where I have a boss that I report to so I had to learn what that meant. When working in a different country than your own you have to learn about customs and ways of doing things. You have to be able to adjust to the needs of what you are doing to work effectively. I have met some challenges in some of that but I have grown from every problem or issue I have faced. Going home I will have a unique set of skills and experience that will set me apart for other candidates in a competitive work environment. I am not sure if I will work with non-profits or in international development but either way, I have an experience that has prepared me for both.


Anything else you want to say?

If I had to make the choice again, I would choose to work here every time. What I have gained here in invaluable and I will always be thankful for this opportunity. I am not one to show emotion which makes me hard to read at times but I have enjoyed every moment here in Cape Town so far and I look forward to the next couple of months here.



I haven’t been up to much else other than work lately so this post is a bit dull. But I am thinking about starting a new blog about my public transport adventures so I may be sharing that with you soon!

Cheers for now!

New adventure

I am finally settled into my new apartment and I am still deciding how I feel about it.

  • I have a new found freedom. The rules are not as strict as the Vol House and it feels more like I am living here in my own apartment. Not having the “politics” of living in the volunteer house will also be refreshing.
  • It is a very peaceful area. Aside from the occasional soccer game between neighboring kids, it is a very quite area.
  • The beach is a 10 minute walk from my front door.
  • I can cook my own meals and control what is put in my food.
  • There is only two beds in my room (for now).
  • I was able to completely unpack and put my stuff in my own space.
  • I can actually have company over without feeling like they need to leave immediately.
  • Getting to work in the morning is not a long journey! I still get a bit car sick in the back of the taxis but it is a short journey.
  • It is fun experiencing another side of Cape Town and living like a local. I have regulars I ride the taxi with in the morning and afternoon and it is always a interesting experience.
  • I think I will save a lot of money living over here as long as I act smartly.


  • It is so lonely! It is so far away from everybody that I know so it is hard to meet up with anyone. Also this week I am the only one in the house so that sucks.
  • No volunteers to interact with. I have gotten used to constantly meeting people from all over the world, now I do not have that opportunity anymore. Always having somewhere to go and something to do will not be as easy anymore.
  • It is not easy to get to other parts of Cape Town without a car. This goes back to the lonely part.
  • There is no internet in the house which means no working from home on Wednesdays when no other THAF staff member is in the office. It also means no more Skype or Facetime with my parents because I can only do that late night when they get off of work. I have to pay for my own if I want it which means more monthly costs.
  • It is too quiet lol! It is a blessing and a curse.
  • I am bored out of my mind (see points about the difficulties of getting around and no internet). With no internet or TV there is nothing to do once you get home from work. My movies on my computer will only last me so long.

As you can see the Pros definitely outweigh the Cons but it still an adjustment to get used to. I am sure that I will find a way to remedy some of my cons but this next 5 months will be interesting. I keep telling myself that I wouldn’t feel this way if I hadn’t lived in Observatory at the Vol house first so I am keeping an open mind and figuring things out. But know... I MISS YOU LION HOUSE!

Until next time!

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The Kaapse Klopse Carnival competition thingy... We actually just stumbled upon that, we didn’t know what we were watching. I had to text my boyfriend to find out what it was.

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First cooked meal in new apartment!








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Walking through Kalk Bay my neighboring area



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I have so much space in my new bed!



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This was one of Cape Town’s bands on New Year’s Eve going through the streets. It was fun for the first two hours lol... four hours later, not so much.

Happy days, Holidays!

I know that I have not posted in a while but between not having Wi-Fi long enough to post anything to traveling all over the place, I have simply not had the time to sit down and do this.

There has been so much happening that I do not know where to start so I will just start where I left you last.

Germany was such a great trip! Seeing my brother and sister-in-law along with my precious niece made me so happy! I really enjoy being around my sister-in-law and I am so glad that my brother married her! My brother is on the way to spoiling my niece rotten but she is so cute it is hard not to. It was just nice to be around family when I have been away for so long!

When I came back to Cape Town I had a few days of housesitting before my parents came to visit for Christmas. It is really peaceful in the times of silence, especially after living in a volunteer house for almost 7 months. It also allowed me to think further on my future and what I want out of life. My conclusion is that I will not come up with a conclusion any time soon because I am not in a place where I know what is coming up next yet. I know what I would love to do for the rest of my life, now I have to trust that God will steer me in the right direction.

A few days after arriving back in Cape Town my parents arrived for their Christmas visit! I was so excited to see my parents because it is rare for me to be with both of them for Christmas and this is the second year in a row we were all together. I was able to play the tourist and tour guide taking them around the city that has stolen my heart. This was also supposed to be a time for my parents to get to know my wonderful boyfriend but he ended up catching a nasty stomach virus for the majority of the time my parents were here (fail). Because of some other complications we ended up spending Christmas with my friend Jeremy’s family. We all got up in the morning and went to a phenomenal church service and then headed to Jeremy’s mother’s house for Christmas dinner. Walking into a house filled with stomach growling aromas was such a treat because we originally planned to eat at a Christmas buffet at the Ritz. Christmas turned out to be one that I would never forget. I just felt bad that my boyfriend was sick in bed all day.

A few more days with my parents in Cape Town produced new discoveries and wonderful food. My mother loved her trip so much that she did not want to leave. It was so rewarding to hear that my parents finally got to come here and see what I saw on my first trip here. Hopefully they will be able to come back at some point in the future.

New Year’s Eve did not go as planned because TIA (This is Africa) and things never go as I plan but I am excited to start a new year in a place that I love. I have so much to think about in this year and so many life decisions to make but I am ready for whatever life throws at me!

See you in the summer Nashville!