Monday, 18 March 2013

Horseback Riding, Camping, and Service Placements

Come the first weekend in March, the group split up for various weekend activities. About half of us stayed in the village where we live, and enjoyed a relaxing weekend. It was a welcomed break from schedules and structure. Saturday was chill, with people doing their own thing (I read for several wonderful hours), and then in the evening we watched different movies in small groups.

Groenkloof, photo courtesy of Mike Rezin. Check out his facebook  which is regularly updated with photos and blurbs from South Africa: 
Sunday we went to the Groenkloof Nature Reserve for hiking, horseback-riding, and mountain biking.

Setting off on a hike, photo courtesy of Mike Rezin.
We went hiking first, wandering the reserve based on a map that only one of us knew how to read. The first half of the hike we found ourselves mostly in bushed grassland, but the latter half we ascended a rocky hill that gave us a beautiful view of the nature reserve below us, as seen in the first picture of this entry. Along the way we encountered animals including a zebra and her foal a mere handful of feet away, as seen in the picture below of Christine and zebra.
Christine and zebra, photo courtesy of Mike Rezin.
After the hike we mounted horses for a ride through the reserve. Thought part of the time we went the same path, it was a different experience being elevated above the high grasses and able to see more around you, including more animals.
Matt looking regal on his horse, photo by Stephen.

Mike's horse was a bit of a troublemaker, never wanting to follow the crowd. Photo by Stephen.

Jen excited for the ride, photo by Stephen.
Despite some sunburn and minor saddle soreness, the nature reserve was a day outing of perfection, and I hope to go back soon.

As for the rest of the group, a couple people went to a farm with friends, and then a larger group went camping with 12th years from a high school in the community they are serving.

This Fordham group (roughly half of us) teach a life skills class to the students (12th years/seniors), and the camping trip was a great way for the Fordham students to become acquainted with the high-schoolers. It was a bonding experience that formed the basis for relationships that continue to grow as the Fordham students visit and teach at the school one to two days a week.

Other placements for us include agriculture, home based care, the computer labs, and arts and crafts. In agriculture, my own placement, we've been working in the fields with agricultural workers. Recently we cleared a corn field for new crop, planted cabbage seedlings, and created new bedding for future seedlings. Home based care visits the homes of the sick and elderly, helping however is needed. In the computer labs, basic skills are taught such as efficient typing technique. And in arts and crafts, women create hats, mats, and other merchandise from recycled plastic bags.

While the first weeks of service were slow, and much sorting had to happen, we have found our footing in our placements.

Later that first full week of March, Father Egan, our history professor, took us to see a play in Johannesburg called The Island. Featuring gifted actors and a bold script, the play was an intense cultural experience and history lesson. And it was the precursor to the best weekend yet in South Africa, but I'll cover that in my next entry!

Thanks for stopping by,

~The Cloud Catcher


  1. Very nice Julie. This is a blessing for me to read. I hope you're making it known to your school that it's there for them to enjoy and to encourage others to go in the future.
    Love, Mom

  2. I guess Mom was logged into my blogger dashboard. Great hear these reports. Love, Dad :-)