Category Archives: Mapoch

Allotment – Flowers and Fun

We had a shared lunch at the allotment today – lots of courgettes in evidence! My muffins (recipe to come as soon as I can) were joined by Courgette Fritters and more muffins and some delicious Cinnamon rolls.  I took some photos of a couple of flowers around the plot.

Chatting together we talked about travelling and learning languages and I remembered learning some IsiZulu for our volunteering in Mapoch, near Pretoria when we first retired. I made flash cards to learn with and afterwards wrote a diary of our experiences. Here is the opening paragraph of my diary and some of my flash cards.


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Weekly Photo Challenge – Inside

This is one of my favourite “Inside” photos. It shows the contents of the case that I took to South Africa when we went volunteering in a village called Mapoch. The stacking cups and the wooden beads were toys which our own children had played with many years ago.

Inside my case

Inside my case

The subsequent photos show some of the toys we took being played with by the children in the pre-school. We went to help build an extra classroom and to work with the teacher and the children. It remains one of the best things I have ever done. The village and the people will be a part of me forever.

Sadly I lost all my photos from the trip but I did keep a diary so these photos are from the diary and are therefore not the best quality.

Children playing

Children playing

IMG_7553 IMG_7557


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A Death, A Good Life and Inspirational Words.

Opening Fb this morning I found the very sad news that the lovely young woman who organised Voluntours and through whom we did our Volunteering in Mapoch,S.A. died last night after a long illness. The very next thing I saw was Eleanor Roosevelt’s reminder to live our lives the best we can.

“The purpose of life, after all, is to love it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”

This is how Marnie lived her too-short life and what she encouraged everyone else to do. Meeting Marnie and her family and working in the community of Mapoch was one of the richest experiences of my life so far.

Last year we also lost the wonderful Pastor Peter Mbasa from the Mapoch community. Here’s what he said about  Marnie and the Volunteers she organised.

” I personally believe that your continuous involvement in the upliftment of the people has finally come to fruition. It has sparked some sense of self worth in the people. It makes me think of an avocado seedling. It takes from five years to thirteen years to bear fruit. But once it starts to bear fruit, it’s good nutrition for the body. And you will want to plant more because you are proud of the fruit. Some people never live long enough to eat the fruit, but people will always remember who planted the tree. Sometimes it does not even matter who planted the tree, as long as it will feed others. And its shade is the best to rest under in sunny days. Thank you my friends.”

Here, you can see Marnie in the middle, behind is the classroom we helped to build and the fence being erected by another volunteer

Here, you can see the always smiling Marnie in the middle. Sibongile, the teacher, is to the left  and to the left of her, is the classroom we helped to build. The fence, funds raised by the pupils at the school I had just retired from, is here in the process of being erected by another volunteer.

Sisters under the skin, the sisters with whom I worked in the classroom with their babies

‘Sisters under the skin.’   The sisters with whom I worked in the classroom took me to their hearts and called me their sister.


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Playground Sounds, Delicate Daffodil and Birthday Skype

1   Walking into town about lunchtime today, I was delighted to hear the sounds of the nearby primary school children at play – such happy squeals and shrieks and laughter, sounds that we have heard all our working lives and since, in our travels around the world.  All children at play, wherever they are, make the same happy sounds and we heard it in Mapoch, South Africa where we went to build a classroom the year after we retired.

Children on the climbing frame in Mapoch

Children on the climbing frame in Mapoch

2   I love the  yellowness of this time of year but I also find the delicacy of this pale daffodil very beautiful. The specialness of this daffodil is for two very good friends who have each lost a parent in the last couple of weeks. This is just to tell them they are loved.

Pale daffodil

Pale daffodil

3   We Skyped with T for her 2nd birthday today as she opened her presents. How lucky we are with current technology that allows us to share such events from hundreds of miles away.

For those who would like the Nutella Cookies recipe, I’ve put it on my Recipe pages today. Enjoy!


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Pastor Peter Mabasa, One of Life’s Beautiful People

Today I want to tell you about Pastor Peter Mabasa, a wonderful man whom we met in 2007 and whose death, far too young, we heard about yesterday.

In 2007, just as we retired, we went out to Mapoch, South Africa, as volunteers to help build a new classroom for the pre-school in the village. It was there we met Pastor Peter and we became good friends.  Peter had had a very hard life, living under Apartheid  suffering from all the mistreatment that that entailed and even when it was all over, still finding himself in a bad way and, ‘living under the bridges’ as he put it. Then he met another Pastor who helped him back to life and in time, Peter became the Pastor for the village where we found ourselves.

As soon as we met him, we shared laughter and over the days, as the work was done each day, we sat under the tree in the shade and had long, fascinating discussions about religion (Peter was an Apostolic Christian and we are Humanists) philosophy, corruption, crime and impoverishment. We shared ideas, quotations, and had lots of laughs. We discussed language, his and ours, each helping with vocabulary and pronunciation. He spoke five languages –IsiZulu, Ndebele, Tswana and Afrikaans as well as English! It was partly his knowledge of the local language and of English that led to him being appointed as ‘Site manager’,  translator and liaison between us and the local builders with whom we were working.

Pastor Peter and Mr S sharing laughs together

We have some lovely memories of Peter:

  • Mr S gave Peter his sun-hat; he was absolutely delighted and wore it every day we were there! At the end of our stay we also gave him one of the hard hats which we autographed for him.

Peter in Mr S’s hat and delighted with the toilet seat for the new latrines being built

  • Peter’s astonishment that we should share a bottle of coke with him was something we will both remember. Living under Apartheid, he was not used to being treated as an equal, as one human with another and he found it very moving that we should be so open and free with him.
  • We were invited to go to his Church to observe. This turned out to be a fascinating and very moving experience. Joining in the singing was wonderful with one of the older ladies showing me the words in the hymnbook. Because I had been trying to learn some of the language, I was able to read the Tswana and to join in the alto part, much to everyone’s surprise and pleasure, mine especially.
  • His introduction of us by our first names to his whole Congregation when he spoke so powerfully of meeting white people who were not the Boss and Madam of Apartheid times, through which many of the congregation had also lived, and who were not Christians but who were nevertheless good people who were his friends.
  • The children of the pre-school aged from 15 months to six years old adored him and he them.
  • We supported Pastor Peter with his very demanding and new role of Site Manager, for which he was extremely grateful and he kept telling us how happy he was to have us there. He made us feel very special. He made everyone feel very special.

Pastor Peter in his autographed hard hat

Without Peter there, the whole experience would have been very different. His ability to manage and negotiate with the builders was crucial to the success of the project. His open-mindedness and constant good humour were an example to all and the fact that we three got on so well made it a very rewarding time for each of us.

I once read that we do not ‘make’ new friends, rather, we recognise friends when we first meet them. Peter and we ‘recognised’ each other. We are so sorry about his untimely passing and send our love and condolences to his family, to his Congregation and to the whole village who will miss him, his laughter and his love so much.

Kagiso Pre-school, the original part, painted, the new classroom and our friends waving Goodbye

I’m sorry about the poor quality of the photos. I have had to take photographs from the diary I wrote at the time as all our photos of the time were lost when our computer crashed some time ago.


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Elephants, Embroidery and ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!’

1   I love elephants! I’ve loved them since I was very little and today this beautiful story came in to my inbox and reminded me of our encounter with a herd of elephants after our Voluntouring in Mapoch, South Africa. The lovely Mr S spotted them from a long way away, we found them and watched them playing in the water for about 40 minutes. It was absolutely magical.

Elephants enjoying the water

Leaving the water

Teenage elephant, reluctant to leave his playing

Mother and Baby

2   This beautiful embroidery is one of three made for me by Grace, the sister of the teacher at the school in Mapoch, near Pretoria where we, with local builders, built a classroom.

Grace’s beautiful embroidery

Sisters under the skin, Grace, me and Sibongile and their babies

3   We’ve hardly stopped laughing all evening! We’ve been to see ‘Spamalot’ at The Hall for Cornwall. The place was packed and the whole audience loved the show.


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