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 →

Amazed by the amazing

It is just beyond me how time can move so fast! I am in my 6th week already! However, I am still amazed by the beauty of the place I get to call home (I will never get over the beauty of Cape Town).

One thing I cannot get over is this cold weather! I know that I am at the southern tip of Africa but I underestimated the level of cold Cape Town gets. Moreover, South Africa is in denial that winter is actually a thing here so it is rare to have central heating. But then God sent me (I bought it at the store but this invention is heavenly) a hot water bottles and things seem to be a little brighter (and warmer). For those of you that do not know what a hot water bottle is, it is a thick rubbery container that you pour hot (in my case boiling) water into and then you cuddle with it at night to keep you warm! It is such a simple concept but it brings me much joy!

Another thing I have learned about in my time here is that electricity and hot water are things to be very thankful for. We went from having 12 people living in the house to 24 people living in this house and 6 that live across the street on Monday (I am in name overload so there is no way I will list everybody out for you; however, I will say that America and Holland are in competition for the most people in the house so far). With these numbers you can understand how having a hot shower can be tricky right now. And let me explain to you how electricity works here. There is a box in the cabinet in the kitchen that tells you how much electricity you have available to you. If the number on the box hits zero, there is no more electricity to run through the house and everything shuts off immediately. To avoid your box hitting zero, you have to go to the store and buy more electricity! That concept blew my mind when I learned about it! The tricky thing is that with so many people in the house we go through electricity like crazy so I am constantly on patrol for lights being left on in rooms not being used (I got dressed in the dark once and it was not fun).

Now let me tell you about what I’ve been up to at work! Last week the organization I work for (The Happy Africa Foundation) took over 100 children from one of the townships we work in to the aquarium! With the help of volunteers from our partners African Impact  we facilitated two days work of fishy-fun. The first group on Monday was the younger children and they were more than excited to be coming to the aquarium. The group I lead was called the Starfish and they were awesome (aside from the fact that they think I am lying about not being able to speak Xhosa- their native language). Every time I wanted my group to assemble and move on to the next section all I had to do was yell STARFISH and they would come running and line up so I could count them (I wouldn’t want to be the one that lost a child at the aquarium). The second group came on Wednesday and they were slightly older than the group on Monday. My group name this day was the Crabs! My group impressed me so much because they were so well behaved and filled out their worksheets as we went along. In all I enjoyed both days for different reasons and we didn’t lose any kids!

Other than the field trip I have been doing some planning of events in my office time but I will tell you more about those as they come alive.

I do have a very amazing story I have to share with the world because this was a very rare situation. My roomie Naz left her Iphone in a taxi and we got it back! Here’s how: Last weekend a group of us spent some time downtown roaming around and just taking in the diversity, history, and beauty of Cape Town. After eating mid Saturday evening, we took a cab home to rest after walking around all day. Within minutes of arriving home Naz realized her phone wasn’t in her purse. She had taken it out in the cab the take a picture of Table Mountain (The way the sun was hitting it made for a stunning picture).  In a panic, we ran out the front door in different directions to see if the cab was still in the area. We saw the cab turn down the main road headed towards the city but we were not able to catch it. We jumped in the first cab we saw, not worried about price and went on the search for the cab. She luckily left the phone in a car with the wrap advertisement around it making it easy to spot (we googled and found that there are only eight cabs in Cape Town with that advertising on it). Our cab driver was very nice to drive a bit faster and slower when we needed him to.  We ended up driving up this road we wouldn’t have thought to go up and we spotted one of the cabs. We quickly jumped out of the cab and surrounded the cab in the hopes that it was the one we took. Turns out it wasn’t but with there only being eight of those cabs, the one we found was able to radio out and find the cab we were in. BUT we ran into another issue, none of the cab drivers responded because they were all watching to soccer (football) game on. We began to describe our driver to the guy helping us and he knew exactly who our cab driver was. He called him on his cell phone and he agreed to meet us so we could look for the phone. To make this a bit shorter, in the end the cab driver had the phone and gave it back to Naz! That is something that rarely happens anywhere you go!

I am looking forward to the coming weeks so I can share with you what I am working on! In the meantime, enjoy one of my pictures from the last few weeks (I would show you more but my computer decided it doesn’t want to download anything due to a SSL network error that I can’t figure out how to fix).

2014-06-29 15.19.08


The beauty of Cape Town is unreal!

Moving Seasons

Now that I am a bit more settled I can tell you all what I have been up to the past couple of weeks!

Let’s start off with the big news... I finally have a new phone! My wonderful, amazing, caring, great  mother was able to file a claim on my stolen phone, have it shipped to her house, set up my new SIMS card, package and ship the phone to me AND pay the duty and taxes South Africa charges to import goods all in less than a week! I am pretty sure that is the fastest my mother has ever sent anybody a package but I also just have a great mom.

In the past two weeks I started my office job. I love being out in the community but one of my main goals for this trip is to learn how a NGO is ran and the things that happen behind the scenes. What impressed me about the organization I am working for is that the first thing we did was sit down and discuss my goals. It is easy for an organization to just tell their interns what to do and what they will learn, but The Happy Africa Foundation and African Impact want me to get as much out of this as they are getting out of me working for them!

I absolutely love the people that I get to work with everyday and the relaxed work environment I get to work in. I never saw myself as the business suit type of person so it is great that I can wear jeans and a t-shirt to the office everyday! I have to stay bundled up because there is no central heating or air in the office but it is never unbearably cold (and I don’t have to wear a suit so I am happy!).  This internship is really going to spoil me!

The down side of this trip is that I  arrived during South Africa’s winter season which is also FLU SEASON! I have been dodging coughs and colds left and right! I made it through Tennessee’s cold and flu season unscathed but South Africa’s flu season has proven to be stronger than Tennessee’s. It also doesn’t help that everybody who was in the house before I arrived has been sick at some point in the last three weeks.  I fell victim to the house cold on Monday but I was in denial until Tuesday night when I desperately needed a trip to the pharmacy to get medicine! The pharmacy trip was quite easy, all you need to do it tell the pharmacist what you need and they will get it for you! I spent Tuesday night and all of Wednesday nursing a cup of Flu-ex  and drinking Sprite to settle my tummy. A new group of victims... I mean volunteers showed up this past Monday so I tried to stay in my room in hopes that I won’t get anybody else sick.

I am having a great time here in Cape Town! I live in a house with the most diverse group of volunteers, interns, and staff I have ever known ( Hugo, Huguette, Kelly, and Julie are Dutch,  Naz, Jenn, Kaylynn, and Lynsey are Canadian, Thuvaragan is from Singapore, Carla and Michelle are from Ireland, Dalia, Michelle L., and Dan are from the UK, Elly is from Holland, Thulani, Sandiso, Jane, and Shecky live here in Cape Town and Zoe, Mara, Lauren, Kristen and myself are American). I enjoyed having a small group of people in the house at first but it has been nice meeting new people this week. I can see how it will be hard to live in the house long term and see people come and go often but I will have so many international friends by the end of my stay!

Moving into a new season in life can be so scary but the people I get to interact with daily make the change so much easier!

Here are a few shark cage diving pictures!


From the top of the boat


It looks like the shark is waiting for him to fall


This is Mara! She went with me on this adventure (These are also her pictures I stole)


I forgot my sea sick pills so I was not a happy camper! But I had so much fun!



It is so crazy how so much can happen in one week!

First things first, the flight here was nothing less than a journey. This is the second time I have made the 30 hour journey to South Africa but that is something I will never get used to.

Over packing is a real thing!

When I tried to check my 70+ pound I was informed that it would be an extra $400 to check my bag; however, if I bought another bag I would be able to check both bags for free. So I frantically ran to the convenient airport shop, that happened to sell luggage, and bought another bag to stuff all of my heavier items in. When that fiasco was finally over I was exhausted, but I was off on my adventure.

When I landed I was relieved to be greeted by some familiar faces but I was so tired.


Now let’s talk about my first week here.

I thought I escaped the cold weather but I was very wrong! From Monday to Thursday it was cold and raining! When I walked into the preschool I worked in in the morning, I could still see my breath when I breathed. All of the children were bundled up in their winter jackets and scarves sitting at their tables. Sometimes in life you see something that puts your problems into perspective and that was one of them for me. I kept thinking how if this were the States I would be complaining throughout the day or school would be cancelled. The sun finally came out on my first day at the office. It was a half day so there wasn’t much to do but I enjoyed it.


Friday night to Saturday night felt like I ran a marathon. Within this marathon I managed to get my cell phone pick-pocketed (it was actually in my zipped purse), got sea sick, and felt like I was going to die via shark attack. To explain, I thought it would be a good idea to go “out on the town” the night before I went shark cage diving. I was having fun dancing with my new housemates until I realized my phone was no long in my sling purse that was in front of me the whole time. Needless to say, my night was ruined from that point on and I decided to come home (at 2am) with one of my housemates. I fell asleep at some point but I was suddenly awaken by the doorbell ringing repeatedly. I thought the rest of my housemates were lock out but a quick look at my iPod made me realized the person ringing the doorbell was there to pick myself and the other girl up for shark cage diving. In a panic I told the bus driving we would be out in a bit and we frantically threw clothes on and ran out of the door. In our panic, I forgot to grab my swimsuit and the other girl forgot clothes to change into after the dive. Even though I became instantly sea sick on the boat, seeing sharks coming at you that close in the water is an experience most will never get to see.


My first week has been so full of so many emotions but I am having great time here! I would post picture but unfortunately those are on my phone I no longer have. I will start to post pictures the moment I can!