I hope you are all doing well in the US or Germany! I miss you all and love you.
As for me, I am really having the time of my life. I was feeling so stagnant and unproductive in SF and needed a drastic change and challenge to push me into motion. I guess a six month trip to Africa by oneself is about as drastic as it can get. Durban has been treating me amazingly. I am staying a Tekwini Backpackers and it has a really fun and friendly environment. It is small and set up so as to force interaction within the people staying there. They also have a bar… In tandem with a beer, there have been great people to meet and I having fun meeting new people. Being alone has really forced me to be more aware of my own personality and ideals when I am in conversation. I do not have the ability of relying on a friend to support my positions or be comfortable in conversation with, so I am constantly more self aware in my attempts to connect with people. It is good for me as I tend to have low self esteem and dont trust myself. I really am taking this trip as a growing experience!
Since being here, I have done so much (which is why this email has been sent pretty late). I got overly enthusiastic about getting a tan and burnt the living hell out of my skin. I am currently peeling all over my body and face. It is outstandingly attractive! Lesson learned.
My best experiences so far have been returning to Umthombo. When I walked into Safespace, their center, I was shocked to see how much had been completed. It is almost finished and has such a great, friendly, child safe environment. Just what it needs to be. I had perhaps one of the greatest moments in my life on the second night I was here. I walked up to a bus which was transporting some of the children. They instantly recognized me and jumped out of the bus and attacked my with hugs and screams. Surrounded by these children yelling my nickname, Sdudla, and showering me with affection, genuinely happy to see me, filled me with such joy. The fact that I had enough of an impact on these children’s lives simply by showing them kindness and affection so that they would remember me and be so happy to see me is truly astounding. One of the kids said to me “You promised to come back and you really came back!” How could you not want to come back and see these amazing, strong children?! I love Umthombo and all the work they do and feel truly blessed that I am able to participate in their efforts.
I came at this specific time to Durban because Umthombo is hosting the Street Child World Championships. Eight teams from around the world: South Africa, Tanzania, UK, Ukraine, Nicaragua, Brazil, Philippines, India, have come to Durban to participate. It is an event to raise awareness about street children through the world and celebrate the lives of the kids. No child should sleep on the streets and there must be unity and solidarity to spread the word. Tell everyone you know!!! It is such a great event to be able to witness. The games are so much fun to watch. A packed stadium with African drums playing, vuvuzelas blowing, people cheering creates such a vibrant and supportive environment. Don’t tell anyone, I know I should be rooting for our boys of South Africa, but I secretly want the Tanzanian team to win! They are so damn good!! At yesterdays game, this man was playing a djembe and a dance party broke out. A bunch of kids, volunteers, Umthombo staff and I just danced and cheered and had an generally amazing time! I am going to more games today and can’t hardly wait!!
I went out with a girl I met at Tekwini and a friend from last year until five in the morning on Saturday night. We went to Cool Runnings, a hilarious reggae bar, and African Paradise, an incredibly scary dance club. I think we were the only white people that have every been in there. We had a guy with us so don’t worry we were safe but I am pretty positive I will not be returning there… We danced to reggae, which I know will surprise many of you, and drank a little too much beer (Black Label of course). It was a truly bacchanalian affair! I love going out it Durban.
I am departing for Mozambique in two days. One of the people who works at Tekwini gave me the number of a girl who live in Tofo, where I am going, so I have someone to hangout with when I am there. The mere fact that I am going to Mozambique in two days really astounds me. I feel so lucky and blessed that I am able to travel to Africa and live these experiences. Who else will I ever know can say that they spent a week lying on the beaches of Eastern Africa? I want thank you all so much for being in my life and supporting me in what I do. I would not be where I am today or who I am without you guys. You cannot know how much I appreciate and love all of you!
I will send you all an email telling you about my trip to Moz and updating you on everything before I go to Kenya!
I love you all!!
Claire aka African Bear