Stellenbosch & Phillipi Development Center- Ashton Avent

On Monday, Dr. Turner decided we needed a day to relax, so we went to Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is a historical city in South Africa that is known for the wine estates. To clarify, wine estates grow the grapes and make the wine in one location. A lot of people remarked it reminded them of Charleston, which I don’t think I agree with but it is the closest thing I can think of to describe it. The day started off with a 45 minute drive there, and right away we had tea. Have I mentioned I like how often we eat here? This is our only tea time where we’ve actually had tea. There were three different types of tea, my favorite was roibos. I was very surprised I could drink the tea without any sugar or milk or lemon, most of them were good on their own. It was also then that we had “rusk,” a biscotti type food. That was the beginning to a long day of samples of traditional South African foods and wines. The Dornier wine estate was exactly how you would picture a wine estate- rolling hills covered in grape vines, mosaic fountains, and traditional architecture with the Table Mountain National Park in the background. Everyone took a ton of pictures, especially with their wine glasses (as seen below) trying to be all artsy, because that’s what the wine estate inspired. Or maybe it was just the wine.

The best part of Monday was the restaurant we went to, Moyo. It was a huge, outside area underneath a canopy. And the stars were very visible Monday, you could see different constellations that at home. We went in and they had blankets and fires everywhere. The waiters came around and painted our faces, then there was a buffet with five different things at about 6 different lines. They also did a dance and sang African songs, which had me entranced. Luckily, I hung around the fires long enough to hear a song with a lot of clicking. In case you were wondering, clicking is the “x” sound in Africans. We all went to bed very satisfied and exhausted from the fun. And probably the wine.

Tuesday was an early morning, but for a very good day. We drove out to Phillipa, a rural township. We went to a school that SASDI is converting into a children’s development center. A “CDC” is meant to reach out to the surrounding community, affecting thousands of people within the township rather than hundreds. SASDI is looking to build community, because a strong community yields strong individuals. We did some grunt work- the boys more than us girls. The girls painted. I think more got on my clothes than the wall. I was team leader though (bossiest girl on the trip), and am proud to say we primed EVERYTHING. The boys weren’t as lucky to have an easy job like painting. They managed to move 12 metric tons of concrete to build the floors. In wheelbarrows. They picked up bricks and old tires, then got to build a playground. It was so cool seeing it come together so quickly. I guess that’s what happens when you throw 25 college students into a project, especially when there are little African babies to motivate us. Because when we were done, there were so many children to play with. So. Many. Adorable. Children. Until they started kicking and hanging on me, I thought I was never going to leave. Unfortunately I didn’t bring anything with me to the work site, so all the pictures are on someone else’s camera. I met so many great kids who wanted to learn, but there weren’t quite the resources.

That night, we went to Dr. Ian Corbett’s house. Ian was another founder of SASDI, and talked to us about their plans for the CDCs. The one in Phillipi that we worked on was the third SASDI had built- they plan to build 30 by 2015. It meant a lot to me to hear about their plans for the community in the township as a whole. Children are important, but after talking to the principal at the school earlier in the day I realized all the children needed help, and Ian assured me that help was being given to older students struggling as well. A lot of what inspired SASDI to start CDCs was the rate of unemployment- 4million out of 50million- and being ranked in the bottom ten for human Capitol. They thought, we have the people why aren’t they working? Turns out, many people were increasingly unqualified in a market where a persons’ expected skill set list is growing longer. And most of those people didn’t make it through their primary education, much less middle or high school. Therefore that is where SASDI decided to begin, also since research shows that ages 1-6 are imperative for developing critical development skills. Dinner was cooked by Ian’s wife, Allie, who had background in elementary education and uses so much of her time educating the teachers and workers that go into the township schools and CDCs. We were so appreciative of the time they took out of their busy, very philanthropic schedule to have us at their home and talk to us about what we had taken part in that day. After dinner when we were all socializing, I learned SASDI did a lot more than I thought- I was talking to good ole Stuart about Moyo, and he told me the family that owns that restaurant owns the hotel across the street, which SASDI helped with and was the first sustainable hotel in Africa.

I have travelled all over the US, and to several closer countries. South Africa, especially Cape Town, is the only place I could see myself moving to (other than Florence, SC) so far. It also is making me want to travel more, which is an unusual feeling for me since I am such a homebody. The next part of the trip I’m most looking forward to is the rugby game, and straight after that we go on a safari! The trip is going by faster than expected, so we will be home soon!

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One thought on “Stellenbosch & Phillipi Development Center- Ashton Avent

  1. Love reading about your adventures and seeing pictures!! Great job y’all!! (Love you Ashypooh!)

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