13 students and two teachers from the Children's International School in Fredrikstad visited for one week. Read their diary.
We have arrived safely in Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal! The trip went fine, everybody behaved and had a good time, it took 28 hours from we left the central station in Fredrikstad until we arrived at InnZululand Guest Lodge. We stayed in Istanbul for 3 hours, the students walked around in groups and some of them bought ice cream, it was very warm. After another 11 hours on the plane we stopped in Johannesburg, waited in the plane for 1 hour before going to Durban. Turkish Airways had a great onboard entertainment system, everyone had their own TV with lots of movies, so no-one was bored.
Gundy, the Zulufadder driver, met us and took us safely to Eshowe. He will be our driver this week.
The first ones to meet us were Silvia, Nick and two grey monkeys with long tails :) We have spent a relaxing evening here at the lodge, some have been swimming, others have played cards, watched soccer games and gone to KFC for some evening snacks. Silvia and Nick also served us a delicious African dinner buffet.
The second day, which is the first full day in Zululand, South Africa, has been a great day!
After breakfast we went to Pick’n Pay to buy the food and necessities for the 12 families we were going to visit. All the students had their own shopping cart, and we walked in a nice long “train” around the shop. We bought potatoes, rice, soups, sodas, sodas and lots of other things. After 1,5 hours we had paid for everything, and 4000 NOK of the money the students have collected was spend on this.
The pickup car was fully loaded with all the bags, and off we went with our driver for the week, Gundy!
We split the student group into two, and each group visited 3 families each before lunch. One of the families was extra thankful because they had absolutely no food. We met many nice grandmothers with their grandchildren, we got to see their houses and how they live. We played soccer with them, talked to them and made friends.
After lunch we visited six more families, gave out the rest of the food (some of the butter had melted…), we gave out clothes and shoes. We visited the two families that we will build vegetable gardens for at the end of the week.
Today has been another very busy day... We went to Umlalazi where Zulufadder for 12 years has had a kindergarten called Doremi. Popi is the Head of Doremi, and with two assistants she takes care of up to 80 children every day. She has been to Doremi in Norway several times and teaches her children to sing, read, write and do math.
When we arrived at Doremi we were met by children singing and dancing! It was amazing, after a welcoming “concert” we played Zulu games, and they invited us to show them some Norwegian games. We played tag and “stiv heks” and tried to teach them “Slå på ring” and “Bro bro brille”. It was lots of fun! Popi showed us how she does her teaching, the students interviewed her, and we talked about what help she needs and what we could do for her when some of the students will come back there at the end of the week. After three hours in the sun playing and hugging the children, the students were exhausted, and we went to have lunch at a beautiful restaurant nearby were we live. We had homemade lemonade and a delicious buffet.
All the students jumped in the pool when we got back from lunch, but at 15.00 we were ready to go and visit Gratton hostel. The school has 360 students from pre-K to grade 11, and 85 of those live at the school hostel. We played even more games and a soccer match. We got beaten 3-0 but everyone had fun! Some of the students asked for an exchange programme and would like to stay her until summer… What do you think?
Today was a very interesting day, we spent most of it at Gratton, the school that Zulufadder runs and owns. We split into three groups and were assigned guides from grade 11, three very nice students. We then visited different age groups and classes.
In a math class one group helped the young students to build 3D shapes with tooth picks and “chewing gum”, in an English class Jacob participated in a debate where he was opposing the statement that “Spanking children is a good way to raise them”. He made a very reflective and solid argument against this statement, we were proud of him! In a social studies class the same boys got a lot of questions about Norway from the 5th graders, which they answered very well.
Another group visited 1st grade, 9th and 10th grade and a tourism class. The students took part in the classes and helped with different task. In 1st grade they helped with math. The students should construct something with Lego blocks, William and Alexander were very enthusiastic about it, and Sebastian was proud to have helped explain to some the basic skills that the students finally understood. Mattis and Oscar helped one student which was really interested in photography.
Helene, Alexandra and Amanda spend a lot of time at the pre-school and found it interesting. They danced with the 10th graders in their dance classes, it was not Zulu dances, but modern! They also watched 3rd and 4th grade in their English and math classes. They got lots of hugs from the youngest students!
As a group we had the pleasure of watching “Aladdin” a theatre play that the school children presented for us. During the play Christoffer, William and Alexander were invited on to the stage to dance with some of the beautiful African girl actors, all their dancing experience from CIS came in handy!
After a nice lunch in the hostel, we attended the last classes, at 14.30 the day was over, and all the students were gathered on the soccer pitch to say goodbye to us. The principal held a nice speech, a student read a poem, and everyone was very thankful for our visit. We gave the school a Friendship picture we had made. Just before we left the Rugby coach came unto the pitch with his big green tackling bags and all the boys (and girls) that wanted to could try to give him a good tackle!
In the afternoon we have been shopping health packs (100 packs), toothbrushes, toothpaste and a cup.
They will be given to the children at Doremi so that they can brush their teeth at least once a day when they are attending the kindergarten in the morning.
Gundy, our driver, and myself went to the local construction store and bought everything we need to build two vegetable gardens… We have everything we need on the trailer and are excited to do the work on Thursday and Friday, fingers crossed everything will go as planned…
Tomorrow we are going on a Safari! It will be something to remember, we hope to see the Big Five!
Today we went on a safari, believe it or not everyone got up and were in the bus (almost) on their own by 04.15 in the morning. We drove two hours north, and came to the Safari Game Park, which is a state-owned park that covers 96.000 hectares of land. They have over 15.000 Impalas and about 110 lions, and 8 cheetahs among lots of other animals.
Just as we had crossed the fence into the park, the first thing we saw was a pack of hunting wild dogs, which is quite rare. It was a great start!
We met our Ranger; Kyle, a local South African, which did a great job in taking us around and spotting all the different animals. Every time we found something new, he pulled the car over and explained and shared interesting facts about the animal and its life.
We saw water buffalos several times, not in herds but solitary ones that are too old to follow a heard and are left alone. Zebras came all the way up to our car, we saw rhinos with babies and rhinos crossing the road just in front of our vehicle. We saw elephants on the march, and two big males in the river drinking and taking a bath and we saw a lioness resting on the riverbed (they hadn’t seen lions for 1,5 months in this part of the park).
That means that we saw 4 out of 5 of the BIG FIVE, the last one is the leopard which is very difficult to spot. We saw different birds, frog’s nests, Jacob saw a snake, lots of antelope, and warthogs (walked around our lunch place).
We talked a lot to the ranger and the students interviewed him for their documentary. He told us among other things that in this park they are losing one rhino every 30 hours, and in South Africa they lose 1 every 8 hours. There are under 20.000 rhinos left in South Africa and they will be extinct within in 8 years if the poaching continues. They are killed because of their horn (which is only a big nail), it can be sold for up to 100.000 dollar per kg according to the ranger, and it weighs something between 5 and 10 kg depending on the age of the rhino.
It was overall a big success, and the students had a great experience.
Today everyone has been very busy. At 09.00 we went to Pick’n Pay to buy more toothbrushes before we went to the garden farm to buy small vegetable plants. We bought 300 seedlings for about 300 NOK.
At Umlalazi (the kindergarten) half of the group stayed with the small kids, helped them brush their teeth (76 kids stayed in line till everyone was finished), played with them, thought them Norwegian songs and played with soap bubbles! The small kids went crazy at the sight of the bubbles 😊
At 14.30 the helped with serving lunch to about 100 students from the local schools. The whole session started with about 20 minutes of singing, before the lunch was served, it was something to remember! Jacob and Alexandra helped with planting in the vegetable garden at the kindergarten. After lunch there was a soccer match with the older boys from the school.
The other group went out in the countryside to build a vegetable garden for a family of 4; a grandmother, a mother, and two children. They live in a small shed without water. It is made of mud and rocks. They do not have anything and are so happy to receive a vegetable garden (and a wheelbarrow)! The boys on my group worked for 6 hours in one go with digging up between 25 and 30 m2 of land. First, we cut the grass, then we used spades and pickaxes to remove all the grass and its roots (we also use some machetes on the small trees), this took a long time. Then we made nine deep holes for poles to the fence, and we mixed cement and poured into the wholes around the poles to make it strong. As we were working, cows and goats were walking around us eating anything they could find. A vegetable garden really needs a fence to survive out on the countryside!
Before we went home we stopped by a family of six that live in an even smaller shed with only one room. The mother is 35 years old with 4 children and a granddaughter. One of the mum’s children are 2 months old and so is her eldest daughter (19 years old) baby. We gave them three bags of diapers, baby food, biscuits, pacifiers, spoons, and many other things. They were very happy!
Tomorrow the other group will finish the garden off by putting up the fence and plant the seedlings, we are very happy with the progress today and think the result tomorrow will be great!
When we got back at 17.00 it was nice to wash of all the mud from our legs, arms and faces.
Today we finished the vegetable garden, group number two went out on the countryside and finished the fence and planted all the seedlings.
We handed over a wheelbarrow, two small spades and the keys to the vegetable garden to the grandmother, after showing her and her granddaughter how to water the plants. She was so happy and grateful!
We underlined the importance of watering every day, and we hope she will do that. She needs to walk for about 1 km to fetch water, but now when she has a wheelbarrow that will be much easier, we also gave her three plastic containers to keep water in. We had to improvise a gate for the garden as the power outlet she had in her “house” (it’s a mud shed), didn’t have enough electricity to make the drill work, so we could drill holes in the wooden posts and attach the metal gate. She went to the neighbours to ask them to turn off their lights, but it didn’t help…. We got an improvised gate in place, and the plants are safe from wandering herds of goats and cows.
The other group helped offloading food for families at the Umlalazi hall, they lifted hundreds of bags of corn, rice and other food. Good exercise!
We went back to the Lodge at around 13.00, so today was a shorter day, and everyone has just relaxed at the lounge the rest of the day.
One small group of students joined us for a walk in the nearby forest, it was an aerial boardwalk, we walked among the tree tops very high up from the ground. It is an old forest and one of the big attractions here in Eshowe!
Tomorrow we will be travelling back home, and everyone can sleep a bit longer, which I think everyone appreciates, even the teachers!
It’s been an amazing week, everyone has done such a good job and experienced so many things. We have met many wonderful people, both young and old, and we have made life better for many of them.
It’s a great group to travel with, everyone behaves well and listen, and the students get well on with each other. You can all be proud of your children, tonight they made four envelopes and wrote cards, and everyone wanted to contribute with some money in each envelope. Tomorrow they will be given to the Zulufadder staff that has been working for us this week; our driver Gundy, field workers Manzi and Slindile, and the three staff members at the lodge making all our food (and washing all our dirty clothes).
Children’s International School