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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

“We Don’t Need Pictures; Let’s Just Enjoy It” – Community Service Africa

A final farwell from Community Service Africa.

The Westcoast Blogger

Dear Community Service Africa Families,

Our awesome group is on the road again after five days in Livingstone, Zambia, and three days in Botswana. Your kids have become expert border crossers!

When we first arrived in Zambia, we could see a fog in the distance- it was actually Mose-oa-Tunya, or the local nickname for the Victoria Falls, which means “the smoke that thunders.” We explored the trails around the falls and got soaked crossing the bridge overlooking the falls. When it became imperative to hide our cameras, Ryan said: “We don’t need pictures; let’s just enjoy it!” We hiked down the Victoria Falls gorge to see the falls from Zambeizi River. After our expedition, we learned how to negotiate/ bargain for souvenirs made by local craftsmen. That night we celebrated Andrew’s birthday at a restaurant in Livingstone.

Indeed, we had many nature and adventure moments in Livingstone. On a sunset cruise along the Zambeizi, Tyler led the group in an a cappella version of “Lean on Me” as we encountered hippos and crocs with a pink sky in the background. We saw them even closer on our canoe adventure. Alli won the Hawaiian Zulu award of the day for being a stoic canoer despite the hippo who startled our group by crossing right in front of us. Andi, Rochelle, and Emily confronted their fear of heights again when they took the gondola down in the gorge where we went jet boating. We also had a cultural experience watching a film in a movie theatre which was converted from a synagogue in 1931. We were the only ones in the historic theatre!

In Zambia we completed our second community service project. We played with some kids at an orphanage and taught at a school the next day. This was tough work on both days. Unlike the kids at Sihleksi School who waited for us every morning, these kids seemed more sad and shy. Rachel cooked bap for the whole orphanage and Jayme served the kids lunch. At the school, we were confronted with the difficulty of teaching with few supplies. Despite this, your kids’ work was very much appreciated. Tristan, Michael, Jordan, and Andrew taught the kids about life in North America; Allie and Marie taught 7th graders how to do beadwork; and Jackie taught math science like a pro. Tyler and Andrew made us grilled cheese sandwiches on a traditional cooking fire. Meanwhile, Andi, Rochelle, and Emily bravely taught songs and games to the kindergarten kids who barely speak English. The animal actions song was a big hit. Dana was surrounded by the kids at all times- she seems to draw them like a magnet!

Back in Botswana, we had an incredible adventure in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. We rode safari and ATV vehicles through rural villages and pastures until we reached a stretch of land the size of Portugal which is completely covered in salt! We had a blast making a stew in little cast iron cauldrons called ‘poikies’ and ate ravenously around a huge bonfire. We taught our guides how to make s’mores properly as we warmed up with some hot chocolate. The most exciting experience was yet to come, though, as we bundled up in our outdoor mats to sleep under the stars. It almost felt like we were on the moon as there were millions of stars in every direction. The next morning, we took another ATV excursion and attempted to control giant power kites. The kites overpowered everyone except for Albert!

We have just arrived in South Africa for the last stretch of our journey. I hope this update finds you well and that you will greet your kids in a few days to find they have had an unforgettable experience.