Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Hate to Ask, But...

Its always been true. I hate asking people for money. I hate fundraising. Weren't we taught that it's better to give than to receive? And it is, isn't it?

So when I found out that the Longtom Marathon that Peace Corps South Africa volunteers participate in every year meant raising a minimum of $100, I was skeptical. I didn't know this KLM Foundation except through what other volunteers had told me. And while the idea of running my first half-marathon was appealing, I wasn't sure if I wanted to put myself through the agony of fundraising for said organization.

But I believe in education and I believe in giving children the opportunity to reach their full potential. That is what KLM is about. I know what the benefits of a good education are. I experience it every time I meet an extremely intelligent adult who is jobless because they lack the educational qualifications. Or see malnourished bellies and threadbare clothing.Or find myself caught in the hopelessness that can be at times all too encompassing.

So the marathon on March 27th is more about a chance for a quality education and a chance for a child to rise above and less about the miles logged. So I'm asking you to consider donating what you can $5, $20, $50 or more to the KLM foundation to sponsor my run and the education of a promising child.

Please go to the KLM website right now to make a donation. Just click on the 'donate' photo and make sure to put my name in the white box where it asks for the Longtom runner you want to sponsor.

The online donation is preferable, but if you need to mail in a check, please make it payable to "Kgwale Le Mollo (US)" and send it to:

KLM Foundation (US)
c/o Bowen Hsu
461 So. Bonita Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91107

Please make sure to include a note that your donation is on my behalf.

I'll be running a 10K in Pretoria this weekend that I'm looking forward to it as a nice warm-up before Longtom. I'll hopefully be able to post pictures of the race and blog about the event soon. Thanks for your support.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mmametlhake Family Care Centre

With the new year came a shift in organizations for me. I've spent the past month and a half working with the Mmametlhake Family Care Centre. The shift was finalized this week when Peace Corps came to have a final meeting with Tirisano Victim Empowerment Centre (my old organization) and officially close that placement.

The Mmametlhake Family Care Centre is a strong and stable organization that I had worked with on occasion throughout the first nine months in the village. They currently run a home-based care in Mmametlhake and the surrounding villages and put on HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns at area schools. In Mmametlhake, they provide much needed computer services, have a small library and often have food and clothing donations available. Established in 2002 by a local pastor who saw a need to care for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, the aim of Family Care is to provide for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in whatever way they can by whatever means they can.

My first project that I am working on is developing a training program and training manual for the home-based care workers. Many of the workers have already been trained through the government, but Family Care would like to have something that is more tailored to the centre. It's a big endeavor and has me back doing what I love--program development. I’m already having fun doing research and just generally being a nerd.

Although it has been hard to leave Tirisano and to feel as though I am disappointing my coworkers there, I am happy about the transition and feel that it is the best move for me. I am now getting the opportunity to work directly with HIV/AIDS work, which is a major reason that I accepted this assignment in the first place. Hopefully, I will still on occasion be able to assist Tirisano, and I intend on maintaining the relationships that I formed there.

The American funders of my new organization have an in-process website at You can go there to find out a little bit more about Family Care. The section on Family Care is on the "Projects" page and is still being updated. You can also find several articles about the centre if you do a Google search.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A New Top Ten

On this day a year ago, myself and 25 other individuals from all over the United States met for the first time in Philadelphia to travel to South Africa as the nineteenth group of Peace Corps volunteers to serve in South Africa. After orientation activities, shots galore, a blizzardy bus ride to JFK and a seventeen hour plane ride, we begin our South African journey two days later in Marapyane, South Africa.

To commemorate the day, I thought it appropriate to update old top ten lists and add a few new ones. Enjoy!

(Note: All lists are in no particular order.)

Top 10 sites I’ve seen in South Africa:
  1. Blyde River Canyon
  2. Indian Ocean
  3. My host brother dancing to Motown in our yard.
  4. Seaview Lion Park (nothing beats playing with lion cubs).
  5. A baby zebra on the road a few feet in front of me.
  6. Lions outside my tent when I woke up at the lion park.
  7. The sunsets in my village.
  8. A giant sea turtle on the beach.
  9. A herd of elephant in Krueger Park.
  10. The look on my coworkers’ faces the first time I made brownies.

Top 10 items received in a care package:
  1. Photos of people I love.
  2. Duct tape—of course it still makes the list. I’m about to be on my third roll.
  3. Sara Groves’ new album.
  4. Fall leaves from both Portland and Lubbock.
  5. Coffee from Jim and Patty’s in Portland.
  6. Drawings from my nephew.
  7. Individual-sized drink mixes. They’ve helped a lot in the heat when I get sick of drinking water.
  8. All the episodes of The Office that I’ve missed up until the package was sent.
  9. My new laptop—actually that was delivered by hand from my friend Anne, but still.
  10. And I’m still loving all the TLC granola bars.

Top 10 items that I just couldn’t do without:
  1. Photos, letters, phone calls, emails, etc. from home.
  2. Books—discovered during my computer’s long absence that these were absolutely invaluable.
  3. Toilet paper—I probably could if I absolutely had to, but I don’t want to go there.
  4. Duct tape—oh the endless uses.
  5. Cell phone—pretty much the only way to stay connected to anything around here.
  6. My Nalgene—hydration is too important in the heat.
  7. Buckets for all sorts of things.
  8. A table-top oven—even if the one I have is on the slow march, baking has become therapy for me.
  9. My Bible.
  10. My running shoes. The rainy season is slowing, and I’m finally able to get back out there. I had no idea how much I had missed it.

Top 10 things I never knew I could do or probably never would have tried without coming to South Africa:
  1. Cook a host of foods from scratch—tortillas, wheat bread, pasta sauce, brownies, to name a few.
  2. Learn to speak Setswana—I still have a long way to go, but I feel that I continue to improve.
  3. Jumping out of a plane.
  4. Be a good long distance communicator—probably still growing in this area too :)
  5. Live without a computer for almost six months.
  6. Live without a music source for a month of that time.
  7. Learn to sit in stillness for lengths of time without going crazy.
  8. Go without regular transportation.
  9. Go to bed at 9pm and rise at 5am or half past.
  10. Live in another country very different from my own for a year.