A snapshot of my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer
Peace Corps - Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa
The TFT Editorial Team
The community at Phelandaba
Shortly after graduating from college, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the rural village of Phelandaba, South Africa. This was perhaps the most impactful period of my life—vastly broadening my perspectives and cementing a deep appreciation for our common humanity.
Below is a snapshot of the activities I participated in.
As part of the School and Community Resource Program, I was assigned two schools to provide assistance to. Makabongwe was the first of them.
My primary goal here was to introduce computer literacy to children who, on the most part, had never seen a computer before. With the help of forward-thinking administration, I was able to set up a small computer lab in which I could teach after-school classes.
I also team-taught English and Maths (yup, there's an "s" at the end) when the opportunity arose. Below, the phenomenal Ms. Nsele begins her class with song & dance.
At Sithembinhlanhla Secondary, I focused on extracurricular English and Life-Skills programs.
One such program was a speech and debate team that eventually took second in regionals. Additionally, Zinhle (leftmost) took first in Prepared Speech while Sindiwe (fourth from the right) took first in Traditional Poetry. So proud!!
Outside of the schools, I assisted a local NGO called "Star of Sea" with two of their initiatives. The first, a project that provides basic housing for community members who were especially in need. This largely involved:
The second, an HIV / AIDS "popup" clinic that involved:
Coined by the student team, the Trust Fortune Times was a newspaper program that I introduced in an effort to promote English competency, critical thinking, and self-confidence among Sithembinhlanhla's learners.
Team members interviewed for positions and were granted full creative freedom to produce what they found meaningful. I'd then sit down with them to adjust writing techniques and technicalities, assemble the material, and create layouts before printing and distribution.
Below is the very first issue of TFT. It started things off with a heck of a splash.
In this edition, the TFT team introduces jokes, puzzles, light reporting, and motivational pieces.
Here they engage in more robust reporting (including a full spread on a local election). I was immensely moved by how, as time went on, they felt increasingly empowered to express themselves: on page 3, they offer support to peers who faced the hardships of abandonment and teen pregnancy.
The learners at Sithembinhlanhla were a joy to work with. It's my deepest hope that the Trust Fortune Times made a positive impact on them, however large or small.
I often felt like the community did (far) more for me that I did for them. Here are a few shots of the extraordinary experiences that we shared.
The following are a few shots of Umkhosi Womhlanga, the annual "reed festival," where tens of thousands of young maidens congregate in the hopes of being selected by the Zulu king as his next bride. (Note: there is light nudity in these images.)