Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Chicken's come knocking

Firstly sorry at my laziness at completing these blog posts, in all honesty spare moments have gradually become more sparse. I am now at the point when I can say that I am going home next month - exciting stuff, though I will miss the bizarre nature of a chicken pecking on the front step before it wanders in uninvited. Our sessions here seem to be running smoothly now where we're timetabled in to do various workshops, which run on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Following us tailoring our sessions to the community in Zozo and their interests, we're now running Arts amd Crafts, Taekwando and Sewing lessons to engage with the community, as well as to make the sessions seem fun to the local youth.   The younger children remain our most euthusiastic students, especially when the football comes out, (as I found out when I tried walking home with the ball and got followed by a group of younger boys). We're finding it harder to get the teenage youth more involved and interested in our sexual reproductive health and CV writing skills workshops, partly as an effect of it being the school holidays, coupled with the embarrassment some of the youth feel when tackling sex related issues. To try and bump up the numbers to this regard I have taken to  extending my friendly conversations with youth in the village from «Molo» (Hello), to «Make sure you come to the Community Hall, we'e running workshops on numerous helpful things» etc, hopefully this strategy will work and getting responses like «Hello Baby will you be there?» from the older boys, will all be worth it in the end. On the plus side schools will be reopening soon, and hopefully we can try pushing the sessions more to the older youth through the teachers in the local schools who we have already made contact with. On that note of sessions, I've been trying to work in every area exculding Taekwando (obvious reasons) but sewing has seemed to be the focus over the last two weeks. We get the older women in the community coming in which is great as it has been mentionned that some of these women will be hopefully starting their own sewing garments business in the future. It's been enjoyable  co-running these sewing session and teaching the locals  a variety of skills, but I will gladly be moving from that area these next two weeks before I go raving mental as the sessions can be quite stressful when there's temperamental machines and a continous stream of people waving in and out. In fact I am very happy to be moving over to career skills and teaching CV and interview skills in the next couple of sessions. With regards to recreational stuff we had a lovely weekend in East London a few weeks back where we stayed in the ever so friendly and upbeat (insert sarcasm) Niki Nanas backpackers with it's Zebra print roof. The highlight of that weekend would have to be the Port Festival we all went to which proved to be an entertaining event, particularly when we  volunteers were in the minority cheering on England in the rugby match with South Africa...which we also lost like the Football. On the Saturday just gone we all had a lovely time at the beach too! Though I can't say the same experience reflected itself at the tavern later that night which is the South African equivalent of a low market pub/bar/nightclub, too many groping men and too little personal space. Overall, however, things seem fine and the sessions seem to be on their way onwards and upwards, though I am quite pleased with their progress so far. This seems to the end of this post and I hope to update everyone soon, till then  Sunaina x

Friday, 15 June 2012

And Then There Came Progress...

Nearly a week since my last post, and there has been much happening that I need to jot on here. Currently on a Friday off at the moment since I have not been feeling well with a fever, but on the plus side it gives me a bit of time to write on here while I'm curled up in my sleeping bag. On the Monday we had a meeting with several select members of the community to check the possibility of booking the community hall to hold our sessions whie the youth continue to be out of school because of holidays. We successfully booked it on Tuesday 19th June between 2 till 6pm to hold a information event which we're all excited to plan. Our follow up meeting with the community elders on Wednesday possessed a larger reception where we expanded on our plans surrounding the event on Tuesday. Having split up roles between us as the Zozo group, I will be covering CV writing, interview skills plus job searching at my stall. As a team we'll have stalls covering questions on sexual reproductive health, life skills with regard to motivation etc,  together with mini taekwando and soccer lessons to to engage the youth. I'm excited to cover employment issues, as youth unemployment is a prevalent issue in the Eastern Cape where we're based. On a more recent note we've now got the community hall booked every Tuesday and Thursday 12 to 4pm so that we have a permanent timetable in which to give our information sessions to the youth of Zozo. We also recieved the positive news that we will now be granted a budget to buy material in order to hold sewing lessons as the local youth were really excited regarding that prospect. Thanks to my talented Mother I luckily know a little bit here and there with sewing and will be happy to help out, though I'll be keeping my  focus on tackling unemployment. If I carried on meticulously I will end up writing a ridiculously long post haha, so on other issues 2 months left in South Africa now! Plus  I'm still not used to the pit latrine hahaha, Sunaina x

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Where all the Dogs at?

Dogs rule the streets in South Africa, which is bad news if you're not too comfortable with catching rabies. I find myself wishing some sort of etiquette existed which would stop every stray jumping on me, barking at me and thinking we're friends when we never will be. On the positive note things keep moving onwards and upwards! Without much guidance from the office, which is rather unfortunate, us as the Zozo group have taken further steps to getting stuck ino the community. We had a meeting with the teachers at the local school yesterday morning to explain our objectives. We were met with a rather positive and euthusiastic reaction to our proposals which will hopefully be in place on a permanent basis by Monday with times and venues sorted which we require to undertake our workshops.  Even the teachers requested to be given workshops on certain topics such as conflict management, which is wonderful because it passes on skills which can be used once we've left the community. Luckily the school were quite supportive of our sexual reproductive health workshop proposals too, so we will be capable of passing on information regarding STIs, pregnancy and using protection. Further to that we will certainly be holding CV writing and interview skills workshops in order to help the current issue of youth unemployment to a certain extent. Will know more information on Monday hopefully so until then, Sunaina x

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

No longer wearing make-up

Finally not wearing make-up which is quite refreshing, though I can't say its too pretty - sorry fellow volunteers. Settling into Zozo now, becoming more of an expert at the pit latrine though thats nothing to brag of. Been trying to get stuck into the community and currently have been split into groups of three, where we will be each delivering presentations  on important issues. My group is covering careers and will be presenting information on CV writing, interview skills and job searching to the local school staff tomorrow and to the community elders in a meeting on Wednesday. Its quite exciting to be getting stuck into the work we will be completing, particularly due to its relevance to youth unemployment which is an important issue here. Will be keeping everyone updated as much as I can, Sunaina x

Friday, 1 June 2012

2 Weeks Later...

Hello everyone, probably time I composed a blog post since I've been here two weeks now. Just completed training on Wednesday and moved from Cata to a community called Zozo in Kwelhra.  Our training conducted by the Restless Development South Africa office covered relevant material in areas such as sexual reproductive health and life skills, though I have to comment that information on CV writing and interviewing skills remained non existent - even though unemployment poses a massive issue to the Eastern Cape. To that regard I luckily possess some skills concerning employment matters, so that's a positive.
With concern to my living conditions I've been very lucky with two lovely host families. My first host family I only lived two weeks with, and my current host mother called Mama G, or Gladys I'll be staying with till I leave South Africa. To the intriguing business...yes the toilet is a pit latrine, no luxuries at that end. Doubt I'll get used to it but our host home makes it all seem better as it is pretty much one of the best placements!
I'm excited to see what the next couple of weeks will bring as we get stuck into the community and try and tackle important issues such as sexual health, youth unemployment and the prospects of higher education I hope to keep everyone updated on here, until then Sunaina x

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Flights got changed...exploring Birmingham instead: Blakesley Hall

Two nights before my flight, a VISA issue rendered the flight cancelled. I'd worked myself up to going on the Friday and realised I hadn't planned to enough to fill my time over the next 2 two weeks. As a lovely surprise, to help me get over the empty space to fill before my flight on the 17th May, Michael treated me to a lovely visit to Blakesley Hall! It's quite hilarious to think that though I live in Birmingham, I haven't visited all these places in the city that I would love to visit. I'm pathetic when it comes to history and musuems...and I'm known to drag a few friends into visiting Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery when we're in the city centre. Seeing as this blog is just a place to scribble my thoughts and experiences on, I thought that covering my two unseen weeks before my flight would be a nice thing to do. Probably not interesting to 99.9% of people but oh well!

On the BMAG website, there is a brief history of Blakesley Hall (in YARDLEY) which is quite interesting, if you're into history like me. It's free to visit the entire site on the first Sunday in every month during the open season, however, we visited on a Wednesday and forked out £4 each which isn't bad at all. Other charges:
Adults £4
Concessions £3
Children under 16 FREE

Blakesley Hall is lovely on the outside as well as inside and I loved the entire visit, though I've got to say I wish I could have explored it more, the third floor is sealed off which is a shame. Some rooms were also sealed off which prevents visitors from exploring the entirety room and getting to see it all in its glory. Though its understandable to prevent original pieces from getting damaged..I still wish I could have explored it more! The highlights of the visit would have to be the very unusual but fascinating hallway on the first floor (I get excited easily) which has become slanted over the years - it only enhances the building's charm - like the 400 year old wall decorations in the Painted Chamber.
I'd recommend a visit if you live in Birmingham or even if you're visiting! Some pictures from my visit:

Sunaina x

Monday, 16 April 2012

Restless Development Fundraiser: SKYDIVE!

On the 6th of April, me & my other fellow volunteers going to South Africa, (inculding the only male in the group brave enough to jump - Michael) got prepared to complete our skydive! I had scheduled the skydive at 1pm and we'd all got there with plenty of time to spare. Some of us were more nervous than others, with some of us having no nerves at all, - I'm surprised at how relaxed I felt throughout the whole experience.

We all completed the skydive as a fundraiser event, (more information on my JustGiving page: & I would to take this opportunity to thank everyone that sponsored me! To give an indication of where this money will go:
  • £10 provides a young person's platform, where individuals can speak out to their community regarding issues such as HIV/AIDS
  • £50 enables us to provide essential health education to 5 young people on a weekly basis, lasting a whole year
  • £500 trains 10 rural community leaders, health workers, police or teachers to deliver youth friendly services
There is still time to sponsor so please go to my JustGiving page and spare a little change!

We completed the skydive at Hinton Skydiving Centre in Brackley, my tandem instructor being a very lovely man called Glen. After several jokes regarding my height and how small I am, the instructors told me I'd be going last as I'd take the longest to come back to ground - a longer experience wahey! We all jumped out the plane rather rapidly at 15000ft, freefalling, going through cloud, seeing the most perfect view, Glen even let me steer the parachute! Eventually we got to the ground and I landed perfectly with my legs at 90 Degrees sitting on the floor (like we were trained to)...even though Glen landed standing up, slightly embarrassing. I eventually got up though!

However, I loved the experience and I would recommend it to everyone to complete one at one point - it's an experience like no other!

& I'd like to repeat myself once more and send thanks to everyone who sponsored!

Sunaina x