Waking up to the mountains… now everyday

The Drakensberg is a place that welcomes you, that holds you in the cradle of its mountains and doesn’t want you to leave.  It is a place that teaches you new things, and cleanses you.  It provides you with new experiences, and shows you how you can live, with just a small change.

Waking up to the view of our beautiful mountain range everyday is a never ending wonder, and something I don’t think I will ever tire of as long as I continue to live.  It is an ever-changing picture, solid and constant there in the background of the living room.  The morning mists make the light from the sunrise shine in an ever changing glow of gold, red, yellow, pink, blue and orange.  It is an amazing experience having morning coffee on the verandah in the still chilly air, breathing the first breaths of the new day and relishing in the cool, clear air clean from pollution of the cities.

In the Drakensberg, you remember how people used to be – our neighbours in the Drakensberg are wonderful people, friendly, welcoming and happy.  Everyone is interesting and interested in everything around them.

You learn how to live a mountain lifestyle, how to ride a pony, how to milk a cow by hand, how to fish for trout in the stream, how to put in a fireplace, and make a chimney work more efficiently, how to cook well on an aga, how to negotiate a mountain pass, how to operate a solar power system, a donkey boiler or a gas geyser.

You learn to live again.

If you want to live again, to leave your office behind, just for a while, join us here at Rivercroft Cottage fibre farm. See http://www.mozvolunteers.com for volunteering opportunities, or contact alex@mozvolunteers.com

Long time no see…

What a long time it has been since my last blog post. May 2013. That’s 4 months past.  We have been manic – trying to desperately achieve as much as possible during the very busy northern hemisphere holiday season, when students flock to South Africa for sunshine and to help out where they can.

We have run a sports project, community project and medical placement, with lots of achievements including building a volleyball court at Monzi P, smallholding at the Zwenalisha orphanage, teaching, creche help, painting and heaps more. There are just 2 weeks left until the last volunteers for this period depart, then Bean, Bali, Princess Mitsles and myself depart for the Drakensberg Mountains. The start of a new chapter and a new adventure.

Our experience working with communities in the St Lucia Estuary area has been varied and interesting, we have made many friends and had our eyes opened to a great deal of new ideas.  However, we are now going to be concentrating our efforts for this program on a once-a-year intensive help session, which will help (and test how) the creches run more sustainably, by women from the communities they serve. It will also mean that the two orphanages that we work with receive an intensive burst of help (and financial contributions) once a year, when we assist with painting, building, maintenance and the purchase of necessary items.  It will also mean that we, as an organisation are liberated from the constraints that have been imposed upon us through working day in, day out, with a faith based organisation (more on my perhaps rather controversial views on this topic in a blog post for another day).  

After a year of this, we will run a full evaluation, send the usual culprits on training courses, gain funding and grants to extend the programs sustainably and learn from mistakes made to move into a more successful year.  After a five year plan of working in this way, we will hopefully have achieved our end goal – the production of a sustainable community based and community run organisation that helps many and consists of local people who are there to help and be helped by each other.

So where next?

We are heading up in altitude, into the Southern Drakensberg Mountains, to run our mohair initiative and related programs. Bali and Princess Mitsles will need Ugg boots, and Bean and I will huddle around our newly-purchased aga, looking out into the beauty of mountain winter.  Until summer returns and we will bask in the bright sunshine reflected by the many beautiful rivers and lakes, ride through the majestic mountain range and live each day in the fresh mountain air.  We have started an NPO called sizabantu to work in collaboration with Mozvolunteers so that we can more successfully fund initiatives, monitor and evaluate our progress (both internally and externally) and move onwards and upwards in the place of all our hearts: the Drakensberg.