Safari Update

By Francois Hernandez

The safari chapter of our South African journey began with a three hour road trip from Durban to Hluhluwe ,the second largest game reserve in South Africa. When we arrived, we were immediately greeted by some giraffes, zebras, and buffaloes. We traveled 30 kilometers through the African grassland until we reached Hilltop camp where we would be staying for the next two days. An hour after our arrival we began our first official sunset safari. We climbed onto the militaristic Nissan truck and were greeted by our knowledgable safari guide, Patrick. On the sunset safari we saw many wild animals such as hyenas, rhinos, and Impalas. As it was getting dark we used flashlights to search for animals through the dense African bushes. Patrick was a terrific guide. He had been working in the game reserve for over 10 years and was vary well informed about the plant and animal species of the safari park. Additionally he informed us of the horrifying topic of poaching that occurs within the game reserve. Since the game reserve is vary large it is easy for poachers to poach without being seen or caught and the game reserve has only so many anti-poaching teams to survey the park. As we finished our three hour safari we returned to our cabins for a goodnight sleep.
The next day we woke up before the break of dawn for our sunrise safari. As we stumbled towards the safari truck we were delighted to have Patrick as our guide again. This safari lasted for 3 hours. We were able to see various savanha animals, but sadly we did not see the sunrise over the lush African hills due to the cloudy weather. After breakfast , we returned to our cabins where we were greeted by some monkeys and a green mamba. We then went on a little excursion with Marcus and Andrea in the van that was not built for African dirt roads, but we survived. When we returned to the camp we had homemade sandwiches and discussed about a new leadership program for Wizzkids United. Marcus wanted our help to brainstorm of what makes a good leader and how he could develop a program to aid older teenagers become good mature leaders for the younger children as well as South Africa. After two helpful hours of brainstorming we decided to go on another of Marcus’ safari excursions where we were able to see some elephants, hyenas, crocodiles. The next day we left Hluhlewe park and ventured into the the St. Lucia estuary that connected to the Indian ocean. There we were able to see some hippopotamus and crocidiles. After our St. Lucia mini cruise we returned to our cozy guesthouse in Durban.



Safari Update

Another South African Adventure

By Ashley Rintoul ’15

Tuesday afternoon we piled into our big white van and ventured off to visit a Sengoma, a traditional Zulu healer. When we reached the healers home, we found a woman dressed in what one might think of as traditional African dress whom we recognized right away as the Sengoma herself. The healer’s concrete home sat behind a small dirt yard with a clothesline off to one side. On the edge of the clothesline were hanging two dead snakes. Of all the things we saw, we had not anticipated that. The Sengoma led us into her healing area, a one-room circular building right next to her main home. We all took a seat on the benches set up in the front of the room. Palms hung from the ceiling and animal skins carpeted the floor. The room was spilt into two areas. There was the area that we sat in and the area that was forbidden to anyone but the Sengoma herself. On the wall that separated the two areas sat many different healing certificates as well as many shelves layered with different bottles and jars of different healing substances. The Sengoma sat herself down on one of the animal skins and the translator whom we had brought along with us began to translate the many questions we began to ask the healer. The Sengoma explained to us that she works hand in hand with the government-run clinic near by and after healing people of their problems in the traditional Zulu way, she would refer her clients to the clinic for further medical care. Within the community of the Zulu people there is very strong belief in the importance and the power of the healers which the government could not ignore regarding medical care which is why they chose to work hand in hand with the healers. Sammy, the member of our group with a serious phobia of snakes asked the healer about the snakes we had seen hanging from the clothesline outside. The healer explained that she used the snakes to heal snake bites using her many different methods of healing. After patiently answering our many questions, the Sengoma concluded by burning herbs in a bowl while simultaneously praying to the ancestors to thank them for allowing her to share her secrets with us.



On Wednesday we traveled up into the mountains of Pietermaritzburg to a primary school that was reception through seventh grade to help in the organization of a soccer tournament to conclude school for the children before they leave for winter holiday at the end of this week. This school was in an area with poverty of even higher severity than the primary school we had visited on Monday. Almost half of the children in the school were orphans living with extended family. The children attending the school love WhizzKids and the support they receive from the program and always look forward to events hosted by them.

Over the course of our time spent with WhizzKids United, we have grown very close to the staff and the children. WhizzKids is currently in a fundraising challenge, the United Fundraising Challenge ( and is currently leading at 2nd place. Any donations would help, we want to secure this place even more to be sure to win the top up donation. Below is a video featuring WhizzKids that lends to further explanation if the challenge.


Another South African Adventure

Updates from South Africa


By Mrs. Hartwell

On Monday our group was invited to a primary (grades5 -7) school for their assembly and to visit classes. Arriving just as the more than 200 children were singing, all in unison, all in straight lines according to grade, we were treated to songs, and a presentation by grade 6 of the eight millennium goals set out by the United Nations. Remarkably unselfconscious, the children presented either in small skits or role playing the topics of rising above poverty, working towards a salaried job and avoiding the “hourly wages of prostitution.” They also tackled the importance of respect,education, and community, among others. Their world is one of AIDS, poverty, but in spite of the almost overwhelming odds, the children conveyed optimism. We visited classes, saw the “feeding” program, which is a kitchen where women were preparing rice and vegetables for lunches,for many children their only real meal of the day. We also saw the garden in which some of the vegetables are grown, and any not used are sold to the local township to raise money for the school.

Nellie is the life skills curriculum coordinator for the school and works closely with Marcus and Whizzkids; she has great heart and is devoted to her students and the school, always thinking of ways to improve the children’s education and quality of life. Next to the school gate are several women selling snacks for the children, and Nellie will only allow these “aunties” to sell snacks if they sell fruit and healthy food since many of the children have tested positive for HIV and need a healthy and nutritious diet.

We walked with Nellie’s class to Whizzkids Health Academy, in the grounds of Edendale Hospital and next to the adult clinic, where the staff of Whizzkids will do life skills training using soccer, and where young people can come for HIV testing, counseling, homework club or to see a doctor two days a week.


When we arrived at the Health Academy, a TV crew from National South African Television was there filming for two days. Apparently it is not uncommon for various national and international TV crews to want to film the work of Whizzkids, one of the most effective organizations working with young people in the fight against AIDS. Later in the day Whizzkids held an inter gender soccer tournament, and we watched a very skillful game, with several players playing in bare feet. Over the few days we have been with Whizzkids, the GFA students were immediately and very happily accepted by all the children and made several friendships.

While the students were working with the Whizzkids staff, the author met Dr. Wilson at Edendale hospital; he talked of the research in which he is engaged around the effectiveness of circumcision as preventative measure against contracting AIDS.
One of the main goals of the day was to run into an acquaintance from the Youth Day Tournament on Saturday. Towards the end of the WhizzKids day, our little friend made an appearance to the delight of the students.


Updates from South Africa

Football with Whizzkids by Sophie Tepler `14


Saturday was national youth day in South Africa, commemorating the Soweto uprising 1976 where many young people were killed by the police for their nonviolent protests against the apartheid. Whizzkids was part of a tournament to commemorate this day. It was held in a large field Pietermaritzburg, right next to the site of the Whizzkids health clinic. As part of the event, Whizzkids held HIV/AIDS testing centers. Our van was even used for counseling. The GFA students spent a lot of time playing football and taking pictures with the kids at the tournament. Following the tournament we went to Marcus’s (the director of Whizzkids) house for a potluck dinner where we met almost all of the Whizzkids staff.
Sunday we attended a Whizzkids football tournament with two Sunday schools from two different townships outside of Durban. Staring out, everybody was broken into four different groups focusing on different areas of football to teach different life skills. Persistence in the face of challenges was taught by an activity where each player had to dribble the ball around a series of cones. Another station conveyed the importance of setting goals in life by a pointless game of football without any place to score. Awareness about gender inequality was taught by a game of football where only girls could score goals, even if the boys had done all of the work. Teamwork and working under pressure was taught by a series of relay races where everyone was trying to win for their team. The day concluded with a series of football and netball tournaments followed by and awards ceremony. It was interesting to see aspects of Whizzkids in action and we are all excited for tomorrow when we will be able to see a full session.


Football with Whizzkids by Sophie Tepler `14

World Perspectives : South Africa

By Samantha Marcus ’13

Only in South Africa does a car break twice in the same night. After a comfortable, yet long flight, we arrived in Johannesburg with just enough time to rush through the airport to our connecting flight to Durban. Durban is one of the largest ports in SA, as well as the home to the organization Whizz Kids.
Arriving in the mid afternoon, we were pick up by our Whizz Kids escorts and brought to the lovely Essenwood House Inn. Upon arrival we were treated to a stunning view of the downtown Durban skyline bordering the coast. The inn is surrounded by lush South African flora and fauna, with a pool and patio breakfast area. The original building was built in 1924, and the proprietors boast of the garden that once stretched down the hillside overlooking the city.
Today we are embarking on a trip to the local Essenwood Market, followed by a visit to the Whizz Kids headquarters where we will participate in South Africa’s National Youth Day. Later this evening we will be joinning our Whizz Kids contacts for a traditional South African “braii” a barbecue and potluck. Much more to come!




World Perspectives : South Africa