Some useful Zulu to know when trying to control a class of 40 or more energetic children:

Ninjani? – How are you?
Siyaphila – we are fine
Ubani igama lakho? – what is your name?
Igama lami ngingu … – my name is …

Yebo – yes
Kahle – well done, good
Kuhle – beautiful
Shap? – okay?
Ngithanda … – I like …

 Ngicela – please
Sugumani – stand up
Hlalaphansi – sit down

Hamba – go
Woza – come
Woza la – come here
Buya – come back
La – here
Lo – this

Tulani – Be quiet (to more than one person)
Tula – be quiet (to one person)

Haibo – “hey,” “wow,” or “oh my goodness!”




Our Aged 4-11 Support Groups

Sanibonani bangani! (Hello friends!)

We have almost been in South Africa for 2 months, and we are now used to living the Zulu lifestyle! Our work at Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust is going so well and we’re really excited about what the final few weeks hold.

In our first 2 weeks we observed how the current after school sessions for aged 4-11 Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) ran, met the kids and became more familiar with the curriculums they use. The sessions are run by Home-Based Carers (HBCs); amazing volunteers who live in the community and know each of the 40 children in their group by name, they know their stories, their backgrounds and their current situations at home, meaning they can really effectively help each child to grow and develop to reach their full potential.


The sessions begin with a few ice breaker games which the kids really enjoy after a long day at school, followed by a meal where each child is given a sandwich and a cup of juice funded by HACT, which is, for many of the OVCs, the last meal of their day. After every child has been fed, the HBC facilitates approximately an hour of “life-skills” curriculum, and they then finish up with a final game.

After attending a few sessions, we came to realise that the main issue that the Home-Based Carers face is the lack of a varied, interesting and thought-provoking curriculum to deliver to the children each week. They have been working from a pack of 7 sessions, of which most of the topics are already covered in life-skills lessons during school hours.


Part of our team plan is to develop a curriculum pack of new sessions. We want them to be fun, interactive and engaging, as well as relevant and informative for all the age ranges in the group and delivered appropriately to all ages, ranging from 4 up to 11 years old. We think it is very important to work alongside the Home Based Carers in developing and delivering these new sessions so that even once we leave, they can take ownership of the curriculum and continue to develop new sessions so that the support sessions are sustainable.


As we are not trained experts in developing curriculums that are appropriate and relevant to these OVCs, we are using a variety of different resources that are already available that have been tried and tested by the experts. We will be pulling out different topic ideas, activities and discussion questions, as well as relevant games and demonstrations, in order to build each session. Our team are going to work on a series of sessions entitled on “The World VS You” which will begin with building each other’s trust and learning to respect each other by appreciating our similarities and differences, followed by discussing discrimination and resolving conflicts, and then drawing it all up into understanding human and child rights. The ICS teams that follow us will continue our work by partnering with the Home Based Carers to develop and deliver series of topics based on Identity, Health and Growing Up, which will help to ensure this project is sustainable.


We have now delivered 3 sessions to 2 different primary school groups. We have included lots of fun games and activities as well as discussions and reflections.


Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, specifically the upcoming sessions for the OVCs.

Look out for our next post!

Sala kahle e ube nosuku oluhle!

(Stay well and have a good day!)

Embracing the Zulu life!

Sanibonani! Ninjani? (Hello! How are you?)

Siyaphila! (We are fine!) We have been living in Zulu host homes for almost a month now, and what was once very new and very different is gradually becoming normal! For us UK volunteers, it took a lot of getting used to!

We are living in a beautiful community called KwaNyuswa in the Valley of 1000 hills. The views here are breath-taking and on a clear day you can see for miles and miles into the distance. I wish you could capture the sheer beauty on camera, but a photo doesn’t even come close to showing how amazing it is.

2015_0422_140429002015_0430_08181000 2015_0430_12153500

The first and most noticeable difference between our life in the UK and the Zulu lifestyle is the food. No complaints at all, it is delicious! But very different too; Zulu culture, similar to many African cultures, is to eat in order to fill up so that you can last as long as possible before your next meal. That means that every meal is very VERY carbohydrate heavy, with a minimum of 1, usually 2 large portions of starch: rice, pasta, potatoes and “maize meal” which can be cooked in lots of different ways – porridge for breakfast, pap (sticky) or phutu (grainy) for lunch and dinner. The majority of meals will have some sort of a stew – beef curry, chicken soup, fish stew, mostly fairly spicy and really tasty, with lots of sauce to soak into the rest of your plate. The main vegetables here are pumpkins and butternut squashes, as well as tomatoes, onions and carrots which go nicely in soups. For our packed lunches, peanut butter and apricot jam sandwiches have become a regular favourite, along with avocados, bananas, apples and delicious, juicy, in-season oranges. Yum!


The second difference in our host homes is the lack of running warm water. Bathing is interesting – some of us are lucky enough to have a tap in the house, and others have to fill up a bucket at the tap outside. Then you heat up some water in the kettle and pour it into a wide shallow bucket. “Bucket baths” basically consist of lots of splashing – you pour the water over you, lather up, then splash it over you to clean off all the dirt and dust! It took some practice to get the right technique, but it’s becoming easier now. And a gecho in the bathroom is a common sight!


We wash all our clothes by hand in buckets which, if you’re not used to it, gives you blisters very quickly. But the plus side is that everything dries really quickly on the washing line out in the sun!

Once a day we have “load shedding” which is a 2 hour period where the electricity goes off. It’s not too bad if you know what time it’s happening because you can prepare and make sure everything is charged up and you’ve got a torch nearby if you need it, but it can be a pain when it comes unexpectedly! The absolute worst is when it means that dinner is delayed by 2 hours.

An interesting part of life in KwaNyuswa is the transport. Public transport doesn’t exist, so we get to and from the HACT offices in local taxis, which are minibuses that comfortably seat 13 people but quite often squeeze in around 17 or more. Once everyone is in, you get out your money and amalgamate it as a row, then pass it to the front. The unlucky person who gets the front seat then sorts out everyone’s change and passes it back down. It’s a process that requires honesty and trust from all the passengers, because there are lots of opportunities to quietly pocket someone else’s taxi fare, but no one ever does. It’s something we have grown to admire about South Africans.

Living with a host family is a really special experience that we value a lot – it has allowed us to really connect with the community and live how they live, as well as practicing our Zulu. Here are a few Zulu phrases we have learnt:

Ngicela amanzi? – please may I have water?
Ngiyajabula – I am happy
Ngilambile – I am hungry (an important one to know!!!)
Ngikhathele – I am tired
Ikuphi ithoyilethe? – where is the toilet?
Ngiyabonga – thank you

We’ve also learnt phrases that are useful for playing cards with the kids:

Ithuba lakho – your turn
Thatha – pick up
Unakho… – do you have…?
Sizodlala kusasa – we will play tomorrow
Kuhle – well done

If you have any questions about what it’s like to live in a Zulu community, please leave a comment below! We hope you’re enjoying your luxurious bath tubs, washing machines and ant-free homes!

Hello from the ‘Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (HACT)’ team

Sawubona (Hello)! Thanks for coming to find out what we’ve been up to so far.

We’re a team volunteering through the ICS programme, a 10 week voluntary program for UK and South African young people to partner together and work with local South African NGOs to deliver community projects.

There are 5 of us, and we are working with Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT). Steph is our team leader and then Marubini, Naa, Laureen and Naomi.

From left to right: Marubini, Laureen, Naomi, Steph, Naa.
From left to right: Marubini, Laureen, Naomi, Steph, Naa.

HACT is a non-profit, faith-based organisation that responds to the HIV/AIDS pandemic from several different angles including prevention, care, community outreach and income generation. Their mission is to serve all those impacted by HIV/AIDS by providing unconditional love and hope in a practical, sustainable way.

Our team vision complements that of HACT, as we are striving to be a team who will seek to empower the people we serve to realise their full potential in God, embracing their individuality. We will be positive role models who will strive to seek justice and teach key life skills in an authentic, fun and loving way.

We have been together as a team in South Africa for 2 weeks now. Our first week was an orientation and training week in Durban with the whole ICS team of 46 people, where we received training on working with children, planning and delivering life skills lessons, sexual and reproductive health and HIV and amongst other topics, beginning to learn some Zulu!

whole ics team
Whole ICS South Africa Team

We then split off into our small teams and headed into the Valley of a Thousand Hills, to our host homes where we would be staying for the next 9 weeks. We are living in pairs with local families, which will give us the full experience of living with a Zulu family in a township. We are having to adapt to minimal/no running water, bucket washes and load shedding (the electricity normally goes off for 2 hours per day). For the UK team members our taste buds have also had to adapt to traditional foods, such as pap and samp. So far we have all agreed that the lack of the luxuries we are so used to is more than made up for by the beauty of our surroundings.

The Valley of 1000 Hills
The Valley of 1000 Hills

In our first week at HACT we had the chance to learn about the organisation and all the amazing work they are doing in the surrounding communities. We then went on to develop a plan for the project we will work on during our time with them based on the immediate needs they have identified in their work.

Our project is made up of three parts. The first two involve the after-school support groups that run for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVCs). Firstly we will be editing the current curriculum for the 4-11 year old OVCs to include more relevant life skills topics that are delivered in a more age-appropriate way including interactive activities and games, followed by delivering a few of these sessions. Secondly we are planning to join one of the Gogo Groups (Granny Groups) with a 12-18 year old OVC support group, in order to build inter-generational relationships and help HACT to link up the different community projects they are working on. Part of this will be facilitating the Gogos to teach the young people skills that could potentially be income generating in the future, such as sewing, bead work or gardening. Finally we will be working in the local schools teaching life-skills lessons for ages 10-15, and helping to enhance the curriculum to include more interactive activities to encourage participation and engagement with the topics. We have started observing some of the sessions we will be working on, meeting the children and young people and becoming familiar with the current curriculums.

We are really excited about all of our plans, and although we will be very busy, we can’t wait to really get stuck in to it!

Please keep us in your prayers, specifically for the three projects we will be working on and that they will impact the children’s lives in a positive way and that we will be able to ensure that the programmes will be sustainable, so that even when we leave, they can carry on.

Keep in touch, leave comments and please share this link! Look out for our next update 🙂