Monday, October 6, 2008

Refilwe is located almost an hour south of Johannesburg. In the four months since we were there last, there have been so many changes and improvements, we barely recognized the place! Along with the improvements was a brand-spanking new computer lab! Painted murals adorned the wall with quotes from Einstein, Mother Theresa and John Lennon! TWELVE! NEW! COMPUTERS!!!! In addition, there were actually windows that opened, so the advantage of having a breeze during this heat-wave gave new life to our wilted selves!

Although the internet connection was incredibly slow, we were able to train the two staff people who will be working with us and the new Net Buddies at Refilwe. Then, after a lunch (eaten off Frisbees), we were able to work with half of the children helping them brush up on their computer skills.

During lunch, Jaco Van Schalkwyk, the Director of Refilwe, filled us in on all the plans that he has for the future and some of the disturbing facts that are a reality in the area. One of the things he shared was that the HIV infection rate is over 50%. Devastating information, especially when you look around at all the children who could be orphaned in the wake of this still-spreading disease.

And speaking about these children we are meeting on a daily basis, we have to say that they are nothing short of amazing. Just the fact that the children remembered both their username and passwords after 4 months of absence from the computers is pretty amazing.

How many of us could do that?

Sure, a lot of people would say that it’s an age thing, but what really makes us happy is that the children really like the computers and think that they are important to them from the first time they hit the keyboard.

We are headed into the last few days of our time here…so we are squeezing in the final site visits, meetings and trainings. We’re trying very hard to get all the right papers signed in all the proper places and leave the headsets here and the posters there, and on and on and on! So, a crazy schedule has gotten even fuller.

We hope to squeeze in one more missive from SA before we leave. Until then, we’ll be enjoying the beauty of the Jacaranda trees and their purple blossoms as we shuttle from place to place.

As they say around here…

Go well!


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