Stand UP South Africa: Service & Cultural Interactions

Shabbat Shalom!

We have a lot to reflect on from this past week and a lot of which to feel proud. 
On Wednesday, we completed our service project with Eco Children at Kgwaditiba Primary School. We finished the fence we started, laid bricks around the perimeter of the garden, turned the soil in preparation for more flowers, and mixed and laid cement. We also beautified the space by cleaning up, raking and watering flower beds, and touched up the paint. We worked alongside the local community, a group of Australian volunteers, professionals from Eco Children, peers, and friends from the school. At the end of the project, we could all take a step back and feel proud of the great work we did, the space was full of color, potential, and cheer! After we drove to Kruger National Park for a game drive and we went in with high hopes to see a lot of animals, and came out with an amazing experience!
Of course, we saw Impala and antelope all over the park, but we were fortunate enough to also see buffalo, herds of elephants, hippos, a crocodile, giraffes, monkeys, baboons, vultures, and more! We also got lucky and saw a cheetah, one of 120 in the over 7,700 square miles of the park! It was beautiful to see these animals in their natural habitat interacting with each other. The top it off, we drove back to the lodge with the orange and red sunset in front of us. It was an experience none of us will ever forget!

We came back to the lodge for rest, dinner, and a show! The Nyani Cultural Village treated us to several dances representing cultures from South Africa to Mozambique. We got to dance with them and show off our own moves!
We concluded the day with a conversation about social media usage and how we want to use our phones and cameras during the final celebration.
On Thursday, we drove back to the Kgwaditiba Primary School for the grand opening of the garden. We were met by community members, government officials, and the same Nyani Cultural Village dance group! We joined our peers and friends from the school in a celebratory march into the school grounds before the ceremony official began. We heard people give words of thanks, words of wisdom and joined in the celebration of jubilation. We joined the celebratory lunch before saying goodbye and exchange numbers with our new friends. We returned to the hotel for some rest and after dinner played a game!
We are now on our way to Johannesburg for Shabbat with the local Jewish community. We cannot wait for what’s next!
“I feel like I’m living in a dream!” – Adam, Westchester, New York 

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