Sunday, September 13, 2009


I have fallen in love with Fatima. She is the sweetest child I've ever met. She is 4 years old and she and her Mom are patients at the TB hospital here. I go there often to drop off patients, pick up results, and for a variety of other reasons. I am there pretty much everyday. One day I was walking along and heard a little voice yell "helllllooooooo." From that day on, she has become my best buddy. I go into her ward everytime I'm there and she runs over to hug me in her little baby blue bathrobe. I brought her some goodies last week and she was so excited. In her sweet, tiny voice she said "Ngiyabonga" or thank you after she picked up each toy/goodie. She calls me Jan and I couldn't care less, hahahha. I just am trying to figure out how to fit her in my suitcase!!

Photo op kind of day!

I literally pulled the car over like 100 times on Friday because the sky, sun, etc was so incredibly crisp and beautiful. It was like photo op heaven in Inchanga. These are some photos of the government housing in Inchanga and the rest of the township area. It's sometimes hard to balance the beauty and the poverty as you can easily see by these pictures...

Sbahle and Uncle Lucky!

This adorable little girl is named Sbahle. She is the niece of one of my ex-patients, Lucky. I was out in Inchanga and decided to pop in for a visit. Every other time I've arrived at the house, Sbahle cries! This time, she must have recognized me...because she smiled. She even let me hold her!

Unfortunately, her Uncle and my friend, Lucky, was very weak and having diarrhea badly. He is faithfully taking his ARV's, but just not feeling well. I brought him back to the respite unit where he'll stay hopefully to get stronger! He needs to get well soon as his wife is expecting his 5th child (and possibly twins) in a week or so!

Girls :)

A special request photo from Nonhlanhla and Nomthandazo at the Respite :)

Hamba Kahle Linda!

Hamba Kahle means Go Well. Last week, we said goodbye to our friend and volunteer, Linda. She was a wonderful presence at the Respite Unit and everyone was sad to see her go. We had a lovely going away party with cake, singing and dancing! One of our favorite patients, Bheki, came out from his room to be a part of the celebration. He forgot his pants, but the ladies wrapped him up quickly! It was a very moving thank you for a great woman!

"They can't just let me die..."

Below are a couple of pictures of my patient/friend Sibusisiwe. When she first arrived at the unit, she was very ill and had not been taken care of by anyone. As the days went by, her condition went up and down. Finally, she was stronger enough to train for ARV's. We had a problem when we realized that she had no one to be her "treatment buddy." The clinic requires each patient to have a treatment buddy to attend the classes with them and hopefully assist them as they begin taking the tablets in the future. I explained to her that we could not take her to the clinic unless she came up with someone that could fill this role. Sometimes, families do not take responsibility for our patients, so I was making sure we were covering all the bases. She looked me square in the face and said "Jenn, I don't have anyone to help me. They can't let me die just because of that." The sad reality in South Africa is that yes, yes they will let you die. They being the government clinics, etc. The system is so very broken and many people slip through the cracks.

I started talking with her a little bit more and I realized there was much more to the story than an uninvolved family. She is actually from neighboring Swaziland. She had no family around. The only person she knows here is her boyfriend who is a truck driver who travels a lot of the time. We arranged for one of our volunteers to go with her to the clinic as her treatment buddy which worked out very well.

After completing the classes and getting their blood taken for extensive tests...they wait...and wait...and wait. Finally, if all goes well, about 3 weeks later, they are back at the clinic and they can be initiated on ARV's. These pictures were taken the day Sibusisiwe got back with her tablets in hand. She could not stop hugging me...

After I showed her the pictures she told me that they didn't come out well because "you're too pale Jenn." I just smiled :)

Fatty Cakes!!!!

Well, here they are...Fatty Cakes. They are basically a huge wad of dough (flour, yeast, sugar and water) fried in hot oil. You are supposed to eat them warm. You (according to Zulu Culture) are supposed to take the inside out, fill them with french fries and consume. You eat the removed dough later. Oh my...

I decided I could not leave here without trying one. I bought a whole bin from a sister of a patient to bring back to the Respite Unit. I ate about 3 bites and was so full and disgusted with myself that I had to give it away. The ladies and men at the unit ate them ALL!!! Weight I come :)

Dirty Durbs...

They said what I've been thinking...

Creche time...

There is nothing more amazing than spending time at the local creches (daycares) here. Luckily, I had a couple of "excuses" to venture down to Molweni and visit these little lovebugs. I had some stuffed animals and found the perfect group to give them out too. What a great day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009



Women are amazing. Zulu women here in South Africa have taught me so many lessons it's hard to even explain. They are strong women who are raising children and grandchildren in the face of extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, and without men in most cases. They are the mothers, grannies, care-takers, bread-winners, and home-makers. They are working to support their families, going without so that their families and friends can survive, and providing stability in a country which doesn't have much.

I am constantly in awe of the Zulu women I have gotten to know here. I feel blessed to know them. All year I've seen women carry babies, huge water jugs, food bags, etc on their backs and heads. I stop and stare. I know it's rude, but honestly, it's incredible. On Friday, I took the picture I had been hoping for all year. These two unbelievable women were carrying huge piles of firewood on their heads. The logs are over six feet long and HEAVY!!! They have to walk with the logs very long distances and as you can see uphill & barefoot. Wow. Please pray for their burdens to get lighter and lighter as time goes on.

Matha, Sma and Misokuhle sleep over!

We had a fun girls night here last Friday night after food parcels. Matha and Sma help each week to deliver the food to the families in KwaNcgolosi. They came with Sma's baby, Misokuhle, to hang out at the house. Matha was excited to go onto Skype with Katie in PA. It was a great night.

Food a plenty!

Captions provided...




Three Musketeers?

Funny Face!

Where our 2 buddy boys live...

Going back parcel in hand!

The View...




Naughty Boys #1

Naughty Boys #2

Andile and the biggest smile everrrrrrrr.

The three cutie pie girls!

Olwethu (2 years) with hair extensions :)

Olwethu and Cecilia doing the wash!

My favorite Zulu home!


We joke that Tholani is my boyfriend. Sometimes, we joke that he is my husband. I love this man. He is the old man I've spoken about many times before in this blog. Each week, he is the highlight of my Friday :) I began bringing him prepared food a few months ago as he is a part of the food parcel route. Each time we arrive, he is as thrilled as the first time we brought the food. It's the sweetest, most gracious reaction filled with genuine gratitude. Last week he thanked me and told us that I am his only friend. Too cute!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amu and BOYYYY!

These are two sweet children at St. Leo's Church in Molweni. Their names are Amu and BOY! They are the children of Lucky and Zama and the grandchildren of GoGo Ndlovu, our Zulu teacher. They are honestly stinking cute. Little did I know at the time, but BOY was the first Zulu I met here in South Africa. He waddled over to me at Church on our first day here. I got some good pictures after Church last week.