Category Archives: Travel Adventures

Enkosi S-CAPE!



It has been about a week since returning home, and I am still at a loss of words for what this experience has done in me.  I have been putting off writing this because I don’t think I have the words yet to convey what I truly feel inside. People keep asking how the trip was, and I suppose I should have formulated a better answer, but all I can muster is “it was incredible!”  I have been thinking a lot about the limits of language and pondering how to express these inexplicable feelings of the purest love, joy, peace and hope I have experienced. My time at S-CAPE taught me, just as Thistle Farms proclaims, that love heals! There is truly no other force greater than the power of love.  I feel incredibly grateful to have witnessed the transformation of women by love. To see others glimpse their worth and begin to walk into their fullness, something I too struggle to do everyday. I am crying as I write this sipping my tea at Thistle Farms because it truly feels like a dream. But this is what heaven on earth looks like, and this is my heart for the whole world, to glimpse and walk into this life of love and service to each other.

My project itself looked a bit different than I anticipated, but I am very thankful for that because it was the things I had not planned on that changed me the most.  The goals I had for my five months at S-CAPE included grant writing, working on sustainable business/entrepreneurship projects with the women, assisting with fundraising, and running workshops.  I did indeed work in all of those areas along with many others.

I submitted a grant we are still waiting to hear back on, and compiled a detailed grant application and all supporting documents that S-CAPE can use in the future.  

My sustainable business project manifested more as an entrepreneurship skills training for the residents.  We received a large donation of old costume jewelry, so we used that along with other avenues to develop our entrepreneurship skills.  We began by talking about budgeting, marketing, how to set up an email and how to keep track of revenue and expenses, which we worked on during my workshop time.  Each of the residents designed their own brand for the jewelry and I printed labels for them to retag the jewelry with. We discussed revenue and expenses, along with loans and how to grow a business. The residents each received 20 sets of earrings, bracelets and necklaces as “seed funding” per say.  They reworked the items, retagging them and fixing any broken pieces. We then went to local markets to sell the jewelry at and to learn about our target market. That was probably the most challenging aspect of the project for several reasons. First of all, culturally it was very different. I did not know that the best time to sell at markets is on the second and last weekend of the month because that is when payday is.  Secondly, finding markets that actually fit our target population was difficult. We tended to sell at flea markets, or cheaper, family oriented markets (because we had a lot of kids jewelry) due to the nature of our product. In my head, I wanted Thistle Farm’s quality products, I wanted to be in all the local stores, at the bougie markets where people with lots of disposable income shop, etc, but at this time that is not feasible.  There are two values I held very closely, the first being that I wanted to women to feel empowered selling their product, thus when we went to market, these women were not victims of human trafficking but business women. Secondly, I wanted this project to be culturally relevant and be in line with the goals of the residents. And because of this, entrepreneurship skills training seemed to be a better fit than trying to create a business in my short time there without someone to hand it over too when I left.  We were also very short staffed so inevitably the neverending list of day to day activities of running the organization and keeping up with the Department of Social Development’s standards so we can retain our recently increased funding would take precedence over this baby social enterprise. All this being said, the final phase of the project is that the women have the option to buy a box of jewelry (and there is A LOT of jewelry in each box) for a low price so that they can continue selling jewelry when they leave the safe house if they enjoyed it.  The women also learned to make lip balm which we sold and used in the goodie bags at our fundraiser. Finally, the women learned to knit and made a plethora of beanies and scarves that they also sold. There certainly is an entrepreneurial spirit in the ladies I worked with. Everytime someone new came to the safe house for a workshop, or they went to church, they would take some of their product to sell. It was really powerful and encouraging to see how empowered and at ease they were when selling.

Lip balm we made for the fundraiser!

Lip balm we made for the fundraiser!

Fundraising wise, I did help the part time fundraising coordinator in the acquisition of vouchers for our big fundraiser.  I helped create a sponsorship inquiry letter in an effort to get corporate sponsors that will donate a certain amount of say, food, each month to help keep our cost low at the safe house.  That is something really amazing about Cape Town, people are so willing to help, all you have to do is ask!

What I treasured the most though in my work is the amount of time I got to spend with the residents.  From long days at the clinic and home affairs, to workshops and outings, to covering house mother shifts and long car rides, some of my sweetest memories have been in the conversations I had with the women who taught me how to hold great love and great suffering, to embody joy, love, hope and peace while simultaneously holding the tensions and pain of the world and my life.  I miss each of them dearly, and I can hear their laughs in my head right now and them imitating my most used line, “what is happening here folks?”

In the sweetest birthday card and words I have ever received (I am not exaggerating), one of the residents wrote that I was like Esther, and God sent me to bring joy into their lives during a very tough and sorrowful season.  I immediately started to weep and told them that I felt the same way about them. Again, there are no words to convey the feeling I have when I think about the past five months. The only way I can describe it is feeling fully alive.  I experienced and felt love in a way that made me simultaneously want to laugh and cry. Like my insides were the sun and my body a stain glass window. My deepest desire is to reflect the love and joy and hope and peace of Christ through this stain glass window of this wonderful human abode.  I break so more light can be let out and heal so that the colors turn into even more magnificent and mystical hues.

And on that note, I feel it appropriate to share that this is not the end of my journey with S-CAPE!!!  It has been made abundantly clear (which I would love to elaborate on in person) that it is where I am supposed to be at this point in my life.  So, Lord willing, I will be returning to the Mother City in January 2019 for a more long term commitment to the work of S-CAPE! And the will of God is a tricky phrase, but I do believe it is the Lord’s will, if by the will of God we mean as, Thomas Merton says “the will of God is not a ‘fate’ to which we submit but a creative act in our life producing something absolutely new . . . something hitherto unforeseen by the laws and established patterns. Our cooperation (seeking first the Kingdom of God) consists not solely in conforming to laws but in opening our wills out to this creative act which must be retrieved in and by us.”  I am VERY excited for what is to come, and the real challenge is trying to be present in this season and figure out what the next few months mean, as my “five year plan” has drastically changed. But I have a great deal of peace, because I trust the direction I am journeying in now is exactly where I am supposed to be.

On one of my last weeks in Cape Town, I got up to walk on the beach for sunrise as had become my morning ritual.  I was feeling a lot of dissonance, doubt, sorrow about leaving and confusion for what the next six months will hold.  I was walking towards where the sun was supposed to be rising, but there was a thick layer of dark clouds so I turned around to walk back down the beach because it appeared I wouldn’t see the sun glide over the mountaintops this dreary morning.  I was walking and looked up at the mountains in front of me, the greatest contemplatives of all creation as O’Donahue says, and I felt this still, small voice say “Behold, I am doing a new thing” and something in me decided to turn around to look back at the sun and it was the most magnificent sight.  Rays of bright light were breaking through the dark clouds and I just had to laugh at the awe and wonder of the inexplicable mystery of God. I don’t know what this new thing is, but I know I walked home that morning with an insurmountable peace about the uncertain future.

Pictures cannot do it justice!! Behold, I am doing a new thing.

Pictures cannot do it justice!! Behold, I am doing a new thing.

I am not sure how to neatly tie together the wild, life altering, better than I ever imagined adventure that the past five months has been.  I am forever indebted to the Lumos committee for receiving this opportunity, indebted to S-CAPE for inviting me back and indebted to the women who loved me so well and taught me so much.  This experience has cultivated a deeper compassion, love and authentic joy in my soul and I am very excited to share more about my time at S-CAPE with everyone here in Nashville. Stay tuned for how you can maybe partner with me and the work with S-CAPE in the future too 😉

Enkosi (thank you in Xhosa) for reading and trekking along with me on this journey.  May we live with a deeper understanding of ubuntu, that I cannot be fully me without you, and wake up to the beauty and gift that is the inescapable network of mutuality connecting all beings everywhere.

Friends from around the world

Friends from around the world

Last sunset :(

Last sunset 🙁

My flatmate, hero, German teacher, co worker and dear friend, Lina.

My flatmate, hero, German teacher, co worker and dear friend, Lina.

The last days

Some quick highlights/updates from my last two weeks!  These will be expanded upon in my reflection post upon returning home L

Both our residents had some big, and positive developments in their cases the past few weeks.  Again, for confidentiality and safety of our residents I cannot share specifics, but we are VERY thankful.

Me and the other volunteer, Lina, took the two residents to Robben island last week.  We had told them that we were going to a surprise outing and when we arrived at the Waterfront and told them what we were doing, we were greeted with the sweetest, most excited reactions.  Neither of the residents have ever been on a boat, let alone Robben Island.  It was a beautiful time seeing their joy and excitement about riding on the ferry, the passion and emotion with which encountered the stories on Robben Island, and the thankfulness they expressed for this experience.

Robben Island

Robben Island

It has RAINED A LOT in Cape Town over the last weeks and it has turned into proper winter.  The days are cold and windy but we are all so thankful to see chilly drops of water falling from the sky, finally!  I have also encountered more rainbows in the last few weeks than I have maybe ever in my life.  Every time it rains, I see rainbow and that is a magnificent thing!



I finally got a proper African meal, pap and chakalaka (minus the meat) at Mzoli’s,  a famous restaurant in Gugulethu, a local township.  I was met with much surprise when I greeted the people there in Xhosa 😉  They didn’t think this umunglu could speak Xhosa! (given I know only a few words, but some is better than none!!)

Pap and chakalaka...a proper African meal

Pap and chakalaka...a proper African meal

I have seen the sunrise almost every morning, and each day I learn a little something new about myself and the world.




We have a big fundraiser tomorrow, which is a culmination of many months of planning and effort, so for that I am very excited.

We have had some incredible, divine intervention moments with needs being met, and important connections being made with the right people.  It is a very exciting time for S-CAPE and the way we are growing to serve more women and kids who have been trafficked in South Africa.

I submitted a grant for S-CAPE that I have been working tirelessly on.  Which was a big goal of mine for my Lumos project.

I went back last night and re-read some of my goals, journal entries and reflections I have written over the past five months, and it is amazing to see how much I have grown.  I wrote things I am proud of, I read a LOT of books by people who I admire, I have listened to a lot of podcast, I have had conversations with incredible people who are very different from me in all sorts of ways.  I have become more open minded and compassionate with myself and others.  This season has become more than I ever anticipated it would or could be.

There has been a lot of unrest in Cape Town recently, especially places near Muizenberg.  It is odd how close to home it is, yet how far removed I feel from it.  It is a strange dichotomy and a reminder of how my privilege follows me everywhere, and begs the question of how I can use that privilege as an agent of social change so that the it will be on earth as it is in Heaven.

These last few days a very busy and I hope to expand on all these points, along with other reflections upon returning home and having some time to reflect on what has occurred here.

Bye’s, Belmont in Africa & Birthday’s!

I am down to my last two weeks in Cape Town and I have not come to terms with the fact that I actually have to leave.  I am in sheer denial.

Waited two years to see the view from Table Mountain on a clear day!

Waited two years to see the view from Table Mountain on a clear day!

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

“Justice is what love looks like in public” Cornel West

The last week has been filled with many exciting and bittersweet things!  Two of our residents left the safe house, and that is not an easy process for any of us.  One left under less than ideal circumstances, however it was best for the safety and well being of all involved.  The other had decided she wanted to return home, and even though we wish she would have stayed longer to process and work through some things, she left with grace and joy, and we had a proper farewell filled with lots of laughter, tears and faith that her time with us was enough.  One thing that was echoed during her farewell, and the farewell of others, was the love she experienced and how it was unlike anything she had ever known. And that is the heart of S-CAPE and the heart of each of us who work here. Love is not a scarce resource, though society, and many of our circumstances and experiences, would like to tell us otherwise.  On the contrary, love is the essence of all things. It the essence of our being, of God, of the Gospel. Love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things. Few places and times in my life has love been so tangible as it is as S-CAPE. The other place that sticks out in my mind is Thistle Farms, and I am not surprised. It seems that humble, honest, hopeful communities of imperfect people pursuing wholeness and living life together are the breeding ground for sanctuaries of love and acceptance.  At S-CAPE and Thistle Farms, and I would venture to say places like the Simple Way and L’Arche, there is a spirit of ubuntu that runs deep and wide, that I am not me without you, and until we are all free, none of us are free. I am so thankful to be apart of the S-CAPE family, and lifetime of learning what it means to love in the way of Jesus.  So to all the residents who have said they had never experienced a love like this, well neither had I.

Some other exciting events that occurred this week were that the Belmont in Africa Maymester arrived and I got to tag along with them!!  It is such an out of body experience seeing my University, some friends and one of the most formative professors in my collegiate experience here in Cape Town.  It has been a long time since I have been around so many Americans! It was exciting to get to re-experience some of my favorite places through the excitement of the students on that Maymester. I also got to share with some of the students about what I am doing here and my favorite places in Cape Town and that was very special for me.


#BelmontinAfrica round2!! Where is the #hashflag

#BelmontinAfrica round2!! Where is the #hashflag

Finally, it was my birthday!  My second South African birthday!  I turned 22 on May 13 and it was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!! My sweet friends know I love surprises, and so they did just that, surprised me with all my favorite things.  The day started at Jeremy’s (the Belmont in Africa tour guide and my adopted South African father/mentor/friend/life changer) church and we had proper African worship. Then my friend picked us up and took me, my friend from Belmont (who was on the study abroad) and my flat mate to Paarl!! It was magical.  We did a chocolate tasting with all fair trade, organic, ethically sourced and produced chocolate (of course), we petted GOATS!!!! And it is truly amazing how much goats smell like goat cheese (or vice versa). Then we went to a lion and chimpanzee sanctuary, two of my favorite animals!!!! And finally we ended up at my favorite market, Root 44 in Stellenbosch and I ate the spiciest curry of my life.  And to end the day, we hiked my favorite mountain, Lion’s Head at sunset. I celebrated with friends from around the world, at my favorite place in the world, it was truly a dream come true.

"It's my birthday!"-Burno Mars" -Madison Barefield

“It’s my birthday!”-Burno Mars” -Madison Barefield

Friends from around the world!

Friends from around the world!



little bokkie!

little bokkie!

Today I went for a walk on the beach as I do when I need to process, and I was reminded of the necessity of cultivating an attitude of gratitude.  I keep say that I never want the beauty all around me and the joy of my work to become “normal.” I want to always be surprised, thankful, amazed at the miracle that is life.  I want to recognize every ordinary moment as extraordinary, and every encounter as one with the Divine. There is so much beauty and hope in the world, we must just open our eyes to the magic happening around us all the time.  

I still have a lot of work I want to finish over my next two weeks, like submitting a big grant, helping with some last minute fundraising planning before our event and taking the residents on some special outings.  People keep asking me if I am excited to go home, and as much as I miss my family and friends, Cape Town is my home! It is going to be very difficult to transition back to so much comfort, as strange as that sounds.  As Miriam Adeney said, “you will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That’s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

I screamed when I saw this....chicken feet...apparently is lekker...

I screamed when I saw this....chicken feet...apparently is lekker...

Joy Joy Joy!

Greetings from chilly Muizenberg, where it turning into WINTER!

Happiest girl in the world!! It is avo season, and they are $2 for 6 avos!!! WOW!

Happiest girl in the world!! It is avo season, and they are $2 for 6 avos!!! WOW!

I told myself that I would be better about posting updates on this blog:

  1. So they are not novels like the past few have been
  2. So I can remember all the good things I want to share!
  3. So I won’t forget to blog every two weeks (opps)

WOW! It has been a very exciting and busy week at S-CAPE.  About a week ago, I took the women to another market to sell the jewellery, crochet hats and scarves and lip balm that they have been making.  It was a great experience and we all learned so much. It is incredible to see how empowered they feel when they make a sale. For many of them it’s the first time they have ever sold something they have made with their hands, so that is a very powerful experience.  It was a long day (10 hours to be exact), but it worth every minute, drop of sweat, and tetris game we played attempting to fit the table and chairs into our tiny car.

A few days ago I met up with a new friend, Rae.  I had met someone at the nonviolence conference and told her what I studied at Belmont and she wanted to connect me and her friend Rae, who was also passionate about entrepreneurship.  So we grabbed coffee on Thursday and Rae absolutely blew my mind! She is the most humble, kind, passionate and inspiring entrepreneur. She wants to start a training center for disadvantaged people to help train them and change their mindset about entrepreneurship.  She said that South Africa actually has one of the lowest rates of entrepreneurship, partly because of the mentality around it. I was so inspired hearing her describe why she wants to do this and her plan of going about it. We both agreed, in the wise words of Jeffery  Cornwall…”trust the process.” I was very encouraged by her and reminded of ubuntu and the beauty of sharing passions and ideas across culture, country and continent.

Other exciting things happening this week at S-CAPE are that we had two very good days in court with two of our women.  I cannot share details for confidentiality reasons, but when things go well in court, we celebrate!

I have been taking the women to horse therapy twice a month and it is so incredible to see how much they have progressed.  The first week they did not even want to touch the horse, and would run away when the horses got close. But NOW they are grooming, petting and riding the horses without fear!  I am so amazed by horses and their gentle, intelligent, sensitive spirits. The horses we work with are rescue horses and carry with them their own trauma, just like the women who ride them.  It is truly a beautiful process to watch unfold, as the women learn more about these majestic creatures, and assist in their healing, just as the horses assist in theirs.

One of the horses at horse therapy

One of the horses at horse therapy

I am currently working on writing a grant, and finishing a lot of smaller projects I have been working on, like a new menu for the safe house, a volunteer orientation packet for future volunteers, creating a document for other volunteers who need to apply for a visa (so they don’t have to go through what I did), helping organize our big fundraiser next month, researching future job opportunities/educational courses our women can take, and other admin work I have acquired for the Department of Social Services.

Everyday I still wake up so grateful, I really cannot believe I am here doing what I love!  There are tough days of course, but the only way to describe the past few months is JOY! I have found unimaginable joy in the mundane (like long days at the clinic or learning about all things meat during the weekly shopping).  Each team member, and especially the women at the safe house have taught me an immense amount about joy, and how it is an attitude of the heart not based on circumstances but on the truth that we are loved and valued beyond comprehension.  

Muizenberg Beach

Post-work walk on the beach

Holiday week!

It is turning into autumn here in Cape Town!  Quite a strange experience to celebrate Easter as the leaves start to change colors, the air gets cooler and the days are a bit shorter.  Although, South Africa doesn’t change their clocks, so sunrise keeps getting later, but sunset gets later as well, how crazy!

My friend from Belmont came to visit me this past week.  We studied abroad here together about two years ago and she too fell in love with this beautiful country.  So I am having a little holiday in the middle of my project which has been so fun and extremely refreshing.  Although I have taken a week off of work, I have continued to learn so much about the diversity and beauty of South Africa.

Our adventure started last Friday, I picked her up from the airport and the next morning we left for a four day stint on the Garden Route, which is perhaps the most incredible drive of my life.  We stopped in Knysna and slept in a treehouse and had a braai with the owners of our Air B&B.  We talked travel experiences, culture, politics, religion, and it was fascinating and thought provoking.  Most of them had been alive, albeit young, yet still remember apartheid, so I am always curious as to what that was like for them, and their opinions of what South Africa is like now.  It was also interesting to hear how some of them felt about our president and government.  And thankfully, many of the conversations ended in “agree to disagree” but were fruitful and enjoyable nonetheless.

Knysna Heads!

Knysna Heads!

The next morning, we drove up to a lookout point over the Knysna Heads, the two mountains that help create the Knysna lagoon, and it was simply the most stunning view!  And when we thought it could not get any more beautiful, we ended up in Robberg hiking one of the most magnificent trails through the mountains and down the sand dunes to a massive beach.  We checked into our Air B&B, got some recommendations from our sweet host and headed to the beach to watch the sunset in Plettenberg Bay.



Our last stop on the Garden Route was the most adorable and incredible town of Tsitsikamma.  Situated in a forest with the mountains as your backdrop on one side, and the ocean on the other.  We stopped at Bloukrans bridge, the largest bungee jump in the world (but thankfully we both had a mutual agreement that bungee jumping was not on our list of things we wanted to do).  Instead, we opted for ziplining through the canopy.  We had the best guides and the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours is a fair trade tourism company, meaning their workers get paid a fair wage, they give a percentage of their income to forest preservation, education and a social enterprise restaurant that employs women from a local township.  In all, they only keep about 43% of their profit, which was AMAZING and obviously was in sync with my heart for business for good.

Tsitsikamma National Forest

Tsitsikamma National Forest

After ziplining, we headed to Tsitsikamma National Park and hiked to the suspension bridge and watched the sunset, then headed back to our glamping tent at the Tsitsikamma Backpackers Lodge.  We slept in a tent under the stars and froze our faces off, but it was SO. FUN!  The next morning we got up early, drove over to Nature’s Valley (home of the granola bar?), did a short hike up to a viewpoint to see Salt River Beach, then headed over to MONKEYLAND!!!!!!  It is a primate sanctuary that rehabilitates monkeys that were in zoo’s, hurt in the wild, rescued from people’s homes, etc.  We took an hour long meander through the woods and saw so many monkeys and lemurs.  Monkey’s are my favorite animals so it was a dream come true to be so close to these amazing creatures!!!

Finally, our Garden Route stent had come to an end and we opted for the longer, more scenic R62 home.  And it was worth every extra km.  I have never seen anything quite as beautiful.  It seemed like every thirty minutes we were in a new town with a new terrain, in a new temperatures, new mountains.  One hour we were at a viewpoint overlooking lush green mountainsides, the next hour we were at a viewpoint overlooking mountains with red rocks that looked like they belonged in Arizona.  We saw the most magnificent sunset somewhere about three hours outside Cape Town and honestly, all we could do was laugh at how absurdly beautiful South Africa is.  We passed so many farms and little village towns (dorps) and kept asking what do the people do who live there! There is absolutely nothing for miles.  I have realized, however, that most of the food I buy here says grown in South Africa, and after seeing the amount of farms and farm land, I believe it.  I think that is so incredible that South Africa still feeds itself with so much local food, which is pretty much the opposite of America, and it is probably why the produce here taste so good!

Route 62!!!!

Route 62!!!!

After an educational and adventurous four days, we are back in Cape Town.  I got to show Alexa a bit of the work I am doing at the safe house, and she tagged along for one of my workshops with the women.  We are hiking, reminiscing on our favorite spots from study abroad, and making memories in new places.  Tomorrow is Easter and we are going to church and to have lunch with Jeremy (the guide for the Belmont in Africa Maymester) and his family!  Every day just keeps getting better!  It has been an amazing week getting to see some of South Africa that I have never seen before, and meet people from all over the world in new places.  It is crazy how much of an impact people can have on you, even just knowing them for a few hours and it feels like you have been friends your whole life.  Relationship is such a gift, and this week has given me a real taste of ubuntu.



Bless the rains down in Africa!

Bless the rains down in Africa!

Cape Town's best kept secret

Cape Town’s best kept secret


What Words Cannot Describe

Greetings from my bed after a very long, very hot day!

Driving out to Pringle Bay for our first market! Most beautiful drive I have ever witnessed.

Driving out to Pringle Bay for our first market! Most beautiful drive I have ever witnessed.

It has been a busy, but good few weeks!  I was talking with a friend from home the other day about how incredible it is that even on the hard days, getting up and going to work feels like a privilege.  I have been thinking about, reading and listening to a lot of podcast recently about the limits of language, and how sometimes words cannot do our experiences justice.  I have witnessed this especially in cross cultural context, in talking with my German flat mate about how she wants to express something, but there is no equivalent in English for what it means to her in her mother tongue and culture.  Aside from language and cultural barriers, I have recently been trying to put my experiences and emotions into words, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.  There is something unexplainable about how fully alive I feel right now.  That is not to say that I have not had my fair share of moments where it felt like parts of me were missing, sorrows were real, and anxiety and dread were looming in the corners of my mind.  But even in those moments, there was a new kind of hope and resiliency that I had not experienced before.  And every evening when I crawl into my bed and reflect on the day, I have this overwhelming and unutterable joy, peace and fullness.  I think this is equally internal and external, as I have come to understand more about myself over the past few months, while simultaneously being surrounded and immersed in a culture, country and cause that I love deeply.

On a less poetic and more practical level, my days look very different.  Monday’s we have our operations meeting in the morning, and because we are in Africa, operation meetings run on African time which I really enjoy.  Monday afternoons I spend grocery shopping for the Safe House.  I have come to learn a lot about meat over the past few weeks.  And have spent more time around dead cow than I wish.

On Tuesday’s, I do some office work in the morning, my current projects are working on project files for the Department of Social Services, helping organize an upcoming fundraising event and updating the Safe House shopping list and menu.  Tuesday afternoons I have my entrepreneurship workshop with the ladies at the Safe House, which has been so amazing.  This past weekend we went to our first market! The women made lip balm (they do not understand my use of the word “chapstick”) to sell, as well as repurposed old costume jewelry.  They designed their own brand and had tags made, kept track of expenses, were taught the basics of a loan and given a small loan, set up their own business email, and sold their product!  It is just the beginning, and it has been such a fun experience.  The women were so excited to go to the market, one of the residents told me (paraphrasing here) that she never imagined herself to be a business woman, but selling something she made with her own hands was the most empowering experience!  I was empowered just watching them with such excitement and fervor set up and sell their product in the marketplace.  WOW!  And their goods were not branded as a charity project for survivors of human trafficking.  No, they were just business women with a great product that could sell without the cause (Social Entrepreneurship 101).  It was a fabulous experience for me, and the women and I cannot wait to see how this unfolds.

  Wednesday’s are my off day, so I usually sleep in a bit, go for a long run, then practice some self care by reading on the beach or spending some extended time outside.

Thursdays, I do more office work in the morning on different projects, or I take the residents to different appointments/therapies they have.  And in the afternoon we go to kids ministry, which is a special time for our residents to give back to the community.

The next few Friday’s I am covering a shift as a house mother, so I will either run a workshop with the residents or take them for an outing around Cape Town.  Outings are really exciting for me and the women because some of them were trafficked from other cities/countries and only know the most beautiful city in the world from the hell the endured.  So getting to experience the beauty and grandeur of Cape Town together with them is a really special moment.

I never fail to learn something new each day, wether it be a new word in Xhosa or Afrikaans, something about mine or another culture, or about the beauty and light that is still present in a world that seems to be getting uglier and darker by the day.  This work is challenging and heart breaking, but it also the source of so much hope and faith in the long and humbling process of love, peace and reconciliation.

Sit down, be humble: A South African Embassy Experience

Greetings all!!

I am so very excited for this adventure to begin.  It has been a bittersweet seven months leading up to my departure (which is happening very soon).  I have grown a lot, and become much more self aware (thanks to the enneagram, the mystics and yoga) over the past year.  I have also had a lot more free time to think about this trip and my expectations, or lack thereof, which has caused some internal discomfort as I am forced to face the fact that things change, and when I return, not only will I be different, but the people around me.  Not only in their emotional and spiritual state, but their physical state.  I will return to Nashville after most of my friends graduation, and so realizing that some of the people I love very dearly will not be residing in Nashville anymore is quite saddening.  And over the past seven months I have also grown more and more excited about this unique and incredible opportunity that has led me into more gratefulness for whatever this adventure may hold.  Though sometimes I oddly wish I had more strings tying me down to Nashville (a strange thing for an enneagram 7 to admit), the fact of the matter is I do not, and instead of always trying to change that, I am thankful for the freedom and willingness for spontaneity that has led me right back to Cape Town.

Even in the months leading up to my departure, I have learned some very valuable lessons, like humility, flexibility and patience.  If I have talked to you about my trip since starting the visa process, you have probably heard me complain about the FBI.  Well fourteen weeks, yes fourteen, that is three and a half months after submitting my fingerprints, I finally received the long awaited piece of paper stating I had no criminal history, a surprise to many I am sure.  I received my background check on Monday, and on that Wednesday I was on a flight to DC to go to the South African Embassy to apply for my visa.  Let it be known that to apply for a visa, you have to go to the Embassy/Consulate to apply in person.  This means flights, hotels, ubers, the whole nine yards.  So, I arrive to DC Wednesday evening, eat some vegetable korma because Indian food reminds me of South Africa and every Sunday my roommates and I at S-CAPE would make veggie curry.  I wandered around for a bit, it was freezing but I saw a Christmas tree at the capitol building and that was pretty neat!  In the morning, I awoke, walked the mile down Embassy Row to the South African Embassy building and patiently waited outside.  And to those who know me, I was 30 minutes early, which may be the most absurd thing you have ever heard because I am never early anywhere! But I was and am serious about this visa.  So I stood on the other side of the fence next to a monument of Nelson Mandela, sipping some now lukewarm coffee and reading Desmond Tutu. The clock strikes 8:30, I ring the little bell and I am directed inside the small warm room with rows of gray chair lining the wall.  I was told to wait and they would call me up.  It was only me in the little warm box of a room so I observed the lion photo on the wall for what felt like an eternity before hearing “ok, come in.”  I was then directed to an even smaller and darker room where the visa man sat on the other side of a pane of glass.  I pulled out my folder with every single document they had asked for, from bank statements, to a radiological x-ray.  The man asked why I was there, I tell him “I am here to apply for a Charitable Activities Visa”, and he asked for the letter from S-CAPE inviting me to come.  So I proudly handed it to him, and waited as he glanced at it.  He then proceeded to ask me many questions and, in essence, told me that there is an unemployment crisis in South Africa (which I am indeed aware of), and that by volunteering I would be taking away potential jobs from South Africans.  Now I understand where he is coming from, however, I tried to explain that S-CAPE relies on volunteers, and the position I am taking would never be a paid position, thus leaving me confused with his reasoning.  But there was no convincing him otherwise.  He told me I could apply for a visa extension once I am in the Republic, or I could just go for 90 days (which Americans can do without any visa).  Frustrated, I left with all the unseen documents I had compiled, and walked back to my hotel in the cold, got on a plane and flew back to Atlanta discouraged and upset.

I called my wise friend, Hunter Wade, in the airport to tell her what had happened and as she always does, she pointed out some valuable opportunities to learn and grow.  It was quite humbling for sure.  As an American, a white, middle class, educated, straight, able bodied American, I have not been denied much in my life, especially when I have followed all the rules and done everything “right”.  This is one of the most poignant moments for me realizing that this happens to so many individuals.  People wanting to immigrate here to the states, or even simply visit their loved ones.  Arbitrary reasoning and unnecessarily difficult procedures are routine in the visa process to enter the United States as well.  And in that moment, I realized this is how most individuals feel: hopeless, powerless, frustrated, defeated.  It was quite a sobering moment.  South Africa owes me nothing, though I went in with the mindset of an easy visa process because why wouldn’t they give me visa? I followed the directions, I think I am pretty nice, I had good reason to to go, I have good intentions, I am not a criminal (the FBI even said so).

On the bright side however, I was told I can apply for an extension of my 90 days visa (which is automatically given to visa exempt countries) once I am in South Africa.  This means some more money, waiting and bureaucracies, but I have a better chance of obtaining an extension that would allow me to stay in Cape Town for the full time I had anticipated.  But it is hard being so uncertain!  I want everything to be sorted now, but it simply cannot.  My impatient nature is surfacing and it has been quite the practice of learning to let go of what I cannot control.

If you have made it to the end of this very long first blog post, thank you.  I am a written processor as you can tell.  I am excited to update yall as I begin my journey in a few short weeks! Hopefully next post will be me on Muizenberg beach with an extended visa because it is going to be SUMMERTIME in the southern hemisphere 😉mandelaembassy

Simba vs. Yanga

August 23rd

Today I really got an amazing cultural experience!!!

I went to not only a football (soccer) game in Tanzania but also my first one ever!


It was absolutely unbelievable! We took a bus and said we were with the U.K. embassy. This football game was so popular because of the teams playing so we had to tell a little lie to be able to be let in. We of course already prepaid for our tickets and everything. The President and Parliament were even there. Everyone in Tanzania LOVES football! The game was being broadcasted in Kenya, Uganda, everywhere! When you’re in Africa you literally feel like a celebrity simply because you’re white. We had a big bus take us to the game because everyone in the house went and three of the staff members so 23 total. When you have 20 mzungu’s (white, foreign people) people S T A R E.

When we walked into the stadium trying to get to our seats everyone stood up and started cheering for us. It was the funniest thing! Everyone was shouting at us cheering us on and taking pictures. I can’t even tell you the number of pictures that are of me on strangers phones. People would come up to you and put their arm around you and just take a photo. However, we ended up having to change our seats. The football games get extremely heated and especially these two teams because they are big rivalry teams. The crowd is literally splint amongst Simba fans and Yanga fans. For our safety we had to move because Yanga fans have the reputation to get a little bit rowdy. I was SO happy we did because I was wanting to root for Simba! Last year Yanga beat Simba so I always like to go for the underdog. Before the game it was really cool because people would come by with Polaroid cameras and take a photo of you. If you liked the photo you could buy it.  IMG_5636

IMG_5674Random people would even come up to you to take a photo with you and buy it simply because we were white. There was a little boy (probably 9 years old) sitting beside Alex and I and he was at the game all by himself. The stadium was absolutely huge! It reminded me of a UT football game! I was amazed that this little fella was so brave to come to the game by himself!

The game was absolutely unbelievable!!! Both teams were playing so good and no one was scoring any points because of how good both teams offense and defense were. The game ended up going into overtime and then that tied so then it pretty much went into sudden death. I was so captivated and into the game! It was unbelievable! Luckily I was surrounded by my England friends so they were able to answer any questions I had about the football game!

And!!! Simba won! The fans went crazy!!!

They had these red explosives that were shooting off in the stands and everyone was going wild. However, Faraja (one of the men from Work the World) became very serious and told us to put our phones away. Supposedly people can get very out of control at football games and Faraja didn’t want any of us to get hurt or get anything stolen. As I looked down at the field I could see ambulance after ambulance and so many police officers. People from the other team were beating on Simba fans because of the win. Supposedly on game day if you walk near one of the sports clubs in the other teams colors you will get beaten and can even die. We got escorted out by police officers and made it safely on our bus. It was so cool seeing all the Simba fans prancing around fully hyped. One lady kept twerking on the hood of every car since we were in dead stop, bumper to bumper traffic. It took forever to get home but it was a bomba bomba game and one that I’ll always remember!

#TeamSimba IMG_5631 IMG_5671

Vietnam in 5 days!

This past week, my friend Ashlyn and I visited Vietnam. Since we both wanted to see as much of the country as possible while only taking a few days off of work, we decided to fly into Hanoi and spend five days backpacking our way down the country via night bus, then flying out of Ho Chi Minh.

As we are both somewhat averse to meticulous planning, Ashlyn and I tend to fly by the seats of our pants. We knew there were night buses and trains we could take, we knew we wanted to keep it as cheap as possible and we had a vague itinerary of what we wanted to do when, but that was it! The rest we discovered moment by moment.

One such discovery was that our travel plan, or lack thereof, was VERY ambitious. I mean, explore an entire country in less than a week? That’s crazy. BUT I am proud to say that, somehow, we managed to squeeze what could easily be a month long trip into our five days, and the hiccups and obstacles we encountered only served to enhance the adventure.

Here’s a brief overview of our travels:

Tuesday 10/17 – Fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok in the evening. Sleep in the airport.

Wednesday 10/18 – Wake up super early to get our boarding passes (and Krispy Kreme, PTL). Fly to Hanoi. Arrive at 9 am and get our visas and coffee. Take public bus #7 and #46 to the My Dinh bus station. Buy public bus tickets to Ha Long Bay and get on the bus, which leaves immediately. The bus ride takes about 4-5 hours, and we stop frequently (often just by the side of the road) to pick up/drop off passengers (how do people know where to catch this bus?!) and cargo (plants, boxes, live chickens). Arrive at the Bay Chai bus station in Ha Long Bay. Take public bus #3 for its entire route (to get our bearings, see the city, and also we had no idea what we were doing!). Take public bus #3 again to the tourist area. Find a hostel (we had to go to a coffee shop to get wifi and look up cheap hostels nearby. We found a few and walked to check them out. One was an abandoned building. The next was a fancy hotel, just to see their prices – why not, right? Next, we passed a man on a motorbike who told us about his hostel: $4 a night, free breakfast, great deal! That’s where we ended up). Grab dinner at a little street grill. Wander around the closed Sun World park. Go to bed.

Thursday 10/19 – Wake up early. Eat breakfast (Vietnamese toast and pineapple jam. So good!). Get picked up by bus for our Ha Long Bay boat excursion (booked through our hostel). Explore the most beautiful and incredible place on earth by boat (seriously... Ha Long Bay is one of my new favorite places ever. The rock formations were absolutely stunning. I am still in awe!). Check out of hotel. Grab bubble tea (rediscovered my love for boba. I think I drank at least one a day the rest of the trip!) and try to figure out how to get to our next destination from Hanoi (sooo, night buses are a lot less regular than we thought. There’s usually only one or two a day. But, we found a night train to Hue that left at 10 pm). Take bus #3 back to Bay Chai bus station. Take public bus back to My Dinh, Hanoi. Take taxi to train station. Buy soft-seat tickets for 10 pm departure to Hue (pronounced Hway. Definitely botched that on multiple occasions). Walked 30 minutes to a local Vietnamese restaurant where Obama went when he was in Hanoi. Arrived right as it was closing and ordered the only thing left on the menu – crab rolls, rice noodles, and this strange, but incredible, soup that tasted like apples. Walked back to the train station – while stopping to get bubble tea and use the shop’s wifi – and arrive right in time! Get on the train (which was amazing! So roomy, the seats reclined, there were sinks to brush your teeth, and there weren’t many passengers. Definitely recommend) and depart. Go to sleep.

Friday 10/20 – Wake up on the bus to the most beautiful view – sunrise and fog and Vietnam’s countryside (the scenery was gorgeous. There were lakes and rice fields and pagodas and mountains... breathtaking). Arrive in Hue around 11 am. Evade taxi drivers and stumble upon a very helpful travel agent type man, who tells us there’s a bus that goes to Hoi An, our next destination, at 1 pm. We decide to book it (there’s another bus that leaves at 4:30, but it’s more expensive), and figure out what to do for our two hours in Hue. Walk to the Imperial City, where we figure out we have to pay to get in aaand we only have 20 minutes max, so we just take some photos outside and grab food at an ice cream/noodle place. Get a taxi back to the train station, where a man meets us and drives us to a travel agency. Get on the bus to Hoi An (such a cool bus – there were three rows of single seats, but each reclined like a semi-bed, and there were two levels. So like... chair bunk beds...?) and drive 4 hours to Hoi An. Get dropped off on the side of the road. Immediately, we are approached by the owners of several hotels. After listening to each of them make their case (mostly talking over each other), we decide to go with Mrs. Flower, who seems trustworthy, offers us a private room in her guesthouse near the Old City, negotiates with us down to $5 each and volunteers to drive us there on her motorbike. Book the last room in Mrs. Flower’s guesthouse. Sit down to figure out our plans to get to Ho Chi Minh the next day. Realize that our options are very limited and give us almost no time in Hoi An or Ho Chi Minh – there’s a night bus that takes 24 hours and a 17 hour night train, but neither are great options as my flight leaves from Ho Chi Minh at 9:30 pm on Sunday. Have an exhausted mental breakdown (just me, actually. Ashlyn kept a very level head). Figure out that we can fly to Ho Chi Minh late the next night. Decide to do it, even though it costs more than either of us were planning on – yikes! Venture out into Hoi An to grab pho for dinner and (me) buy a bag of mint M&Ms that cost more that our hotel room for the night (oops. Stress eating?). Go to bed.

Saturday 10/21 – Spend the day enjoying Hoi An! Grab breakfast (pineapple pancakes and Vietnamese seafood pancakes). Walk to the Old City and explore – art galleries, the famous Japanese covered bridge, souvenir shops, coffee cafes, the marketplace, pagodas. It was so cute and fun! Go to the beach and relax. Walk back to town after a few hours and stop at a local restaurant on the way. Also stop for more bubble tea. Arrive back to our hotel and get picked up to go to the airport, which is the next town over in Da Nang. Get on our (delayed) flight to Ho Chi Minh and land at 2 am. Walk to our pre-booked hotel (only a 15 minute walk from the airport) and realize that it is not where Apple maps says it should be. Wander the streets of Ho Chi Minh, ask workers at other hotels and finally get a vague direction from someone and find more accurate directions on Google maps. Finally arrive at hotel and crash HARD.

Sunday 10/22 – Wake up early, but not on purpose (someone is hammering, and this hotel is a concrete echo chamber). Get ready and grab a taxi to the War Remnants Museum, where we spend a few hours (more on that later). Walk to the famous Lunch Lady, a very local restaurant popular with ex-pats. Arrive. Are unceremoniously ushered to a tiny table, asked a question in Vietnamese that we don’t understand, nod our heads yes and are promptly served a Vietnamese feast (so much amazing food! Huge bowls of pho, spring rolls, salad rolls and fried prawns). Walk to the Emperor Jade Pagoda (at first, we couldn’t find it, because it’s not as big of a tourist spot. It’s very local, and we observed many people worshipping there. It was beautiful, and unlike anything I’d ever seen! I expected it to be more like the Thai temples, which generally only have one room in the center for prayer. But this pagoda was two stories, with many rooms and passageways, all filled with incense and statues and paintings and symbols. It felt very sacred). Walk 30 minutes for bubble tea (it had become an obsession). Use the last of our Vietnamese Dong to get a taxi back to our hotel. Walk to airport. Say goodbye to Vietnam, and fly back to Bangkok. Go through immigration and find a place to sleep.

Monday 10/23 – Wake up in airport. Check in for flight, and grab Krispy Kreme (again). Fly back to Chiang Mai. Get a taxi home. Sleep for an hour, shower and go to work.

An exhausting and amazing trip!!!

More on the War Remnants Museum: I was absolutely wrecked by what I saw. The museum is amazing, well thought out and extremely powerful. I even shed a few tears.

The most poignant and heart wrenching exhibits were those on the US war crimes and Agent Orange, the chemical toxin sprayed across Vietnam. I never realized how absolutely brutal this war was – villages were massacred, down to the children. Innocent natives were tortured. And it wasn’t even that long ago – many of the children that were killed would’ve been my parents’ age.  The ___ referred to it as a genocide on the Vietnamese people.

I don’t understand how this kind of violence can even happen. It blows my mind that people are capable, either through brainwashing or our own fallen nature, to dehumanize someone else to that extent.

The effects of the war are far reaching and long lasting as well. Even as recently as 2003, unexploded landmines were still killing and injuring locals. Agent Orange has caused genetic mutations and disabilities over four generations of people (US citizens included). It’s devastating. How long will it take to rebuild and recover from something like that?

The thing is, I don’t remember learning much about any of this stateside, in high school history classes or otherwise. I’m not sure if it was just because all my teachers ran out of time towards the end of the year to go into detail (the Cold War, Vietnam War and Korean War all kind of blurred together), or if our society simply refuses to widely acknowledge itself as an imperialist power capable of such destruction and devastation. Maybe a little of both? Either way, I’m glad to have seen it from the Vietnamese perspective.

One last story – while I was reading an exhibit on global activism against the war, I was approached by a young Vietnamese man. He asked me, in hesitant English, what I thought about the war – was it justified? Why did it happen? I explained that I didn’t agree with it, and was horrified by the senseless violence. He nodded his head and looked relieved. He told me he agreed – he didn’t understand either. He then introduced himself, asked me my name and told me he was a law student in Vietnam. He asked me where I was from, and when I said the US, he looked apologetic and a little uncomfortable. I waved my hands and tried to explain “it’s ok! It doesn’t mean I agree with the war!” We’re on the same side. 

He looked relieved and we continued chatting. At the end, he told apologized for his English, and said that this was his first conversation in English with a foreigner. I was honored! Then he gave me a piece of Vietnamese candy, and we parted ways.


Rafiki Florida

September 3rd
I would love just to write a quick post about one of my rafikis, Florida. My first day on the Pediatric Oncology Unit she greeted me with open arms. She is also a nurse at Muhimbili. She’s shared her lunch with me countless times at work


Ugali, fish, and cabbage

and she has taught me so many Swahili words. Labor Day weekend she invited me to her home. She lives in Kigamboni which you have to take a ferry from Dar to get there. She met me at Muhimbili where we took various buses to finally get to the ferry. It was so amazing to actually see how local people use transportation in Tanzania daily. She lives over an hour from the city but with traffic that can double even triple the commuting time. Public transportation costs about 600 Tanzanian shillings; however, if you were to use a taxi to take you to the island it could be around 25,000 Tanzanian shillings. I had been to Kigamboni before to go to Kipapayo beach in a taxi. But my experience was a lot different this time. I truly got to experience African culture.

When we were in the waiting area to get on the ferry there was honestly probably 700 people. Imagine being in a big enclosed room with no room to move because there isn’t any extra space to move. I had bodies up against me on all sides. I had never been so claustrophobic in my life. There was no AC (which is typical in Dar) but it just made me feel very anxious. Moreover, there were beggars just lying on the ground all around. It was very heartbreaking. A lot of them didn’t have limbs and couldn’t walk. With everyone crammed together you have to be very careful because you can very easily get things stolen. I had my backpack wrapped around the front of me and I was carrying my phone and money in my bra. Once the ferry arrived everyone pushed one another so they could get a good spot on the ferry and not have to stand. It looked like a stampede of ants dispersing everywhere. For such a little lady Florida sure can go fast. I’m like twice the size of her but she is so determined and fierce. Luckily we were able to get a seat on the ferry.
Once we arrived on land we went to the local market and got some onions, tomatoes, and rice. She had already gotten fresh fish before we met up. She wanted us to have lunch before we went to the beach since it’s cheaper to make food at home compared to buying it at the beach. When I asked her how much it was at the beach she said 10,000. Which is about $5 US dollars for food. From the market we had to take another bus to her village. That was about 30 minutes. It was a pleasant walk from her bus stop to her home and all of her neighbors were so kind and friendly.

It’s always so different when people see you here. You literally feel like either you’re a celebrity or you look really funny. Everyone just stares. The children who are brave will come up to you while others may cry because they’ve never seen a mzungu before. Florida had a very comfortable place to live in. Her home was made out of concrete compared to her neighbors who had homes made out of dirt. She didn’t have any electricity or running water. She has two sons, one is 15 and the other is 9, and when they’re back in town from boarding school they stay at her parents. They don’t like staying at her home because they can’t play their video games there since there’s no electricity and they don’t like how dark it gets at night. However, she bought her home a few years ago and she’s saving up for electricity. She said it’s about a million dollars which is around $500 US dollars. She made food for me and it was so eye opening watching her make it. She had a little stove she used that was on the ground.


This was her stove and the big circular device on the ground was how she went about picking up the pan and taking it off the stove. The big blue container on the right is what she had her clean water in. It wasn’t clean to drink but she cooked and bathed with it.


You have to mix the rice in here and take out any dirt that does not belong


The fish that she cooked over the stove


Meal time!

IMG_6210 IMG_6211

We ate rice, fresh fish she got that day, tomatoes, and onions. I told her I would eat like a Tanzanian. They eat with their hands. It was very good! And she made it so fast so we could go to the beach. After we ate we got on another dala dala and then on a piky piky which means motorcycle. They’re a big type of transportation in Tanzania. I was TERRIFIED. I asked her if there was anything else we could use but she said no. I have seen SO many horrific accidents in the ED at Muhimbili that involved motorcycle accidents. I kept having flashbacks of all of those patients. I was in a dress too! So I put the helmet on, plopped my other leg on the opposite side, and grabbed onto the guy in front of me. Just burying my head against his back with tears filling my eyes. I was so scared because there aren’t speed limit laws. However, he didn’t go too fast. I told him to go pole pole which means slow but it’s still fast compared to America. The motorcycles took us to the beach!

We went to South Beach which is a public beach; meaning that I was the only white person there. I purposefully didn’t bring my bathing suit because it brings a lot of unwanted attention. I brought shorts to put on underneath my dress and I was just going to tie my dress with a knot at my hips and go in the water like that. However, Florida insisted I put her bathing suit on. I kept saying it was okay and I wanted to go like this but she insisted I just wear my bra. I had a lace bralette on underneath my dress. She just took the dress off and said go like that. In her mind it was completely normal! A lot of people at the beach will go in their bras rather than a proper bathing suit and the guys will wear their skin tight underwear.
I        was        m o r t i f i e d.
I put my hair down immediately and got in the water as fast as I could so I was covered. It was so funny to me how natural she thought it was and how I practicality felt indecent on the beach even though a bra is practically the same thing as a bathing suit. We swam and swam in the ocean and it was so much fun.
Florida doesn’t know how to swim and I promised her I would teach her. She was doing really well for being a beginner! I was really proud of her. In addition, I’ve finally learned what to say to the guys here! If you tell them hapana which means no, I have a boyfriend, they don’t care. However, if you tell them you have an mchumba (fiancé) or that you’re married they’ll say congratulations and typically leave you alone. So any guy that would come up I would say that. I just kept having to say it over and and over again and eventually they’d swim away. We stayed in the water until the sun went down and Florida asked if I was okay with spending the night with her. My initial gut feeling was that it would be safe and I just thought, when would you ever get to have an authentic experience like this again? So I agreed.
We ended up taking two more piky piky’s and we actually went to her parents home. I got to meet her two sisters and her nephews and nieces, her parents, her son, her grandmother, her mom’s sisters, and family friends. It was absolutely amazing. They welcomed me to dinner and made me a plate. It was rice with potatoes on top. It’s so nice to see how close families are here. Even if you’re not family here you’re still family. I can’t tell you the number of times people call me sister or dada (when means sister in Swahili). People will refer to boys as kakas (which means brother). Countless times at the hospital I’ve seen nurses and doctors call patients mama (mom) or baba (dad). Even on the dala dala people will get up to let an elderly person sit and will say, Mama, and help them to the seat. I asked why they do this and it’s because they have the same respect for one another like a sister, brother, mother, or father. It’s quite lovely and really makes you feel safe for some reason. Tanzanian people are truly loving.
After I got to bond with her family we then took a dala dala to her home which was 30 minutes away. I had never been out that late on a dala dala. It was almost 9 at night. We got dropped off near a market and she insisted on buying me panties and a tooth brush for the night. It was so thoughtful and sweet. After buying it we then took a piky piky to her home. It was pitch black in her home and almost 10 at night. We used our phones for flashlights. She said we need to take a shower since we had salt water on us so she warmed up a bucket of water for me on the stove. She didn’t have a shower but in the bathroom there was a toilet in the ground. I poured the water on myself over the toilet hole in the ground. She let me use a kanga to dry off with and let me use one of her pajamas top.
This experience was so funny and different. I literally slept beside this woman with her pajama top on and the panties she got me. She said a night time prayer in Swahili and prayed how Catholics do. Even though I couldn’t understand everything she was saying it truly touched me. After that she said how even though she didn’t have electricity we could use her phone as a radio. She turned on her little flip phone to the local radio station and put it between us. It was Swahili singing and there was some static. H
owever, she began snoring within 10 minutes and I just laid there w i d e awake. I kept thinking, I’m in the middle of a village right now sleeping next to a lady I’ve known for a week in Africa. Life is too funny. When would that ever happen in America? I was in and out of sleep all throughout the night. We got up at 5:30am on Labor Day so we could head to the hospital. When we brushed our teeth we brushed them outside on her front porch. She also just threw her trash and spoiled food out her front porch. It was a very different way of living and was very eye opening to see. We then took the local transportation to Muhimbili. SO many people use public transportation to commute. It was mind blowing to me! Hundreds of people waiting in line to get on the ferry. There weren’t even enough seats so, so many people just stood by the cars on the ground level.


September 9th
Yesterday Florida and I went to Bongoyo! I promised her I would teach her how to swim more. It’s very sad how a lot of the native people in Dar have hardly been to the really nice places of Dar because it’s too expensive. I’ve been to Bongoyo once and it’s such a nice little island but she has never been and she’s lived here her whole life for 40 years! It costs 46,000 (almost $25) for me since I’m not a local and 26,000 ($15) for her. I told her it would be my treat for the day since she treated me last week! It was honestly so much fun! I couldn’t get in the water and swim because of my armpit but it was still very relaxing and fun. I loved just walking the shoreline listening to the seashells role down the sand as the waves came and went. While we were on the boat ride to get to the ferry we met a gentleman who was Portuguese. He was also 22 like me and was there working. He’s doing an internship for his masters program. He’s majoring in economics for undeveloped countries. Which is something that really intrigues me! He spent the whole day with us and it was honestly so much fun!




Honestly one of the best meals I have ever had. Florida ate the brain and eyes for me though, haha.


Such a communal meal. An American, Portugal, and Tanzanian all at one table who hardly know one another. Great conversation.


Mzuri sana Florida!

Him and Florida talked about football and he helped practice with her swimming since I couldn’t. We had a delicious lunch on the island. Florida taught me how the brain and eyes are one of the best parts of the fish. I trusted her opinion but couldn’t make myself try it. After the beach we got ice cream which was the perfect ending to my last full Saturday in Dar.

It’s just so amazing how God places so many amazing people in your life right when you need them. Florida made my experience in Oncology amazing and I am so blessed to be able to call her a friend. She’s such a strong and sweet woman.