Map of South AfricaAdam and Lora Willard were US Peace Corps Volunteers in South Africa from July 2008 until November 2010.  While in South Africa they lived in a rural village known as Dumphries B, located in the northeastern Mpumalanga province and just a few kilometers from the fence of Kruger National Park.  Almost everyone in Dumphries B are members of the Shangaan tribe and spoke the xiTsonga/Shangaan language, which we also learned to communicate competently.  Many residents of Dumphries B were also refugees from political turmoil in Mozambique.

With Peace Corps South Africa, Lora and Adam were part of the School and Community Resources Project and worked for two primary schools in the area.  In Dumphries B was Mahlahluvana Primary School, and just 4-5 kilometers away in Dumphries A was Welani Primary School.  Our job was to assess the needs and resources of the schools and community and participate in developing them and strengthening the teachers and school staff in any way possible.

To that end, Lora engaged primarily in literacy projects.  She organized and created a library at both primary schools, trainedLora with the Book Club at Mahlahluvana children and teachers to run and manage the libraries, and created a curriculum for the library to be used school-wide on a weekly basis for every class.  She also started an after-school reading club at Mahlahluvana and developed a curriculum for teaching literacy to Grades 2 and 3 and trained those teachers in how to use it to improve the literacy rates of the learners (which were dismally low).

One major area of involvement for Adam was Information Technology.  He created a curriculum and did one-on-one training with all the teachers and staff at each school, teaching basic computer skills to most and advanced skills including maintenance and repair to a few.  He also did computer repair work (for free, as Peace Corps is an entirely non-profit job) for everyone who asked for it in about a 20-mile radius.  Near the end of his service, he set up a computer lab (with the help of Ulusaba and Emmaus Road Church) for teaching computer skills to the learners, at each primary school and the replacement Peace Corps Volunteer took up this work.

Adam also began an after-school Art Club at Mahlahluvana Primary School that he co-taught with another teacher.  With the Art Club, the kids did contests, painted murals at the school (including a giant world map and South African map), and eventually took a field trip to the capital city to visit art museums and professional sculptors.

World Cup Mural painting by Mahlahluvana Art ClubFinally, Adam was also heavily involved in helping the schools develop their local resources.  This particularly included helping solidify a partnership between the schools and a local private game lodge, Ulusaba.  Through this partnership, Ulusaba and their guests funded many projects for the schools including both libraries and computer labs, the Art Club murals and field trip, a playground and sports field for Mahlahluvana, and the publishing of a cultural yearbook created by the Grade 7 class with Adam.

We both immensely enjoyed our time in South Africa and even extended our time by 2 months more than our contracted date in order to properly finish up some of our projects.  The opportunity to live among and live as the rural South Africans and build deep and meaningful relationships with them and our co-workers was more rewarding than can ever be explained.  On top of that, we brought a wonderful souvenir back with us from South Africa, our son, Matimu!  His name actually means "History" in the Shangaan language.

All of the posts on this page are e-mail newsletters we sent out during our time in South Africa.  If you're just visiting this page but you'd like to receive similar and regular updates throughout our years in Madagascar, just send us a message with your e-mail address and we'll add you to the list.

If you'd like to see the photo-filled book we created with the 7th graders from Mahlahluvana, please click the cover here to download the .pdf.

It's really a fantastic piece of cross-cultural communication, as the 7th graders did their best to share their lives in the English language.  All of their writing has been preserved just as they wrote it, with pictures drawn by the kids and with photos of the authors in the middle of their daily activities.

Modern Shangaan Life: From a 7th Grade Perspective

Click here for the Modern Shangaan Life: From a 7th Grade Perspective, book in .pdf format

 

And if you'd like to read all of our articles / stories from South Africa in one printable .pdf document, then please click here and enjoy!

Thoughts from South Africa by Adam & Lora Willard

 

 Click here for an album of our best pictures from South Africa:

Click here for an album of our best South Africa photos

Click here for an album of our best South Africa photos!

 

 

A Cloud of Witnesses

…a scene of dust and blood, of body parts strewn haphazardly, some still twitching, disjointed, bleeding out. Not one piece is connected to another and thus the entire body, broken apart and moments from death, lies collapsed in the sand, unable to move, unable even to seek help.

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Merry Christmas!

Each and every one of us were foreigners to God’s Kingdom, to his lands, and with no hope of acceptance. So then God came to us, to our land. As one of us, he tore down the fences and the dividing walls that were built by our sin; and the effort killed him. But death couldn’t keep him and…

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David Immanuel Willard is Here!

David Immanuel Willard has made his grand entrance! Born on Dec 6th at 3:17 am in Pretoria, South Africa (7:17 pm Dec 5th, CST), weighing 7.6 lbs. and 21 in. long, he’s a sight to behold!

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South Africa & Tanzania 2013 Photos

We visited South Africa and Tanzania between April and June 2013, visiting the village where we used to be PCVs, some training in Tanzania, a safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and visiting a missionary team in an Alagwa village in Tanzania. 124 photos

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Back and Forth

We stepped off the taxi, three of us this time, back in our village in South Africa.  We began...

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Transition to Madagascar Photos

Pictures from our move to Madagascar. They’re mostly from South Africa, in Pretoria, Dumphries, and Kruger, where we stopped for a few weeks along the way to visit friends and “family”. But the last 10-15 are from our arrival in Madagascar. 139 photos

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South Africa – Best Of Photos

These are a collection of our best photos from our time in Peace Corps South Africa, living in Dumphries in Mpumalanga province (near the border of Kruger), and working in the School and Community Resources Project. It was a great time, from July 2008 to November 2010. 513 photos.

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Ku Tsundzuka

Our time is up.  We extended a couple of months, but those are finished now too.  After nearly two...

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Video Introduction

Watch this video for an introduction to the Antakarana people and our work among them

Latest News

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Well, were certainly not having anything like a traditional Thanksgiving celebration this year, as we just arrived back home in Ambilobe this evening.  But were very thankful to be here!  A safe and smooth (though slow) 26 hr bus trip to get here (the roads have deteriorated significantly).  And were thankful that instead of trying to figure out food last minute (with no food in our house, the market closed for the evening, and no grocery store in town), but theres a simple restaurant that we can eat at this evening!  

When asking the boys what theyre thankful for, Matimu said hes thankful for a safe trip to Ambilobe and a comfortable bed, and David said hes thankful that Cuddles (our cat) didnt die while we were gone and that his toys arent broken.  Im thankful for the wonderful family that God has blessed me with, always so good natured and few complaints.  Lora said shes thankful for the home that God has blessed us with in Ambilobe and that there was someone to watch it while we were gone.  (Its going to take some time to rearrange and resettle though!  A whole lot of dust and spiderwebs everywhere!  And our neighbors, with whom we share an electricity meter, didnt pay the bill on time, so no high voltage electricity - meaning no fans to beat the heat and humidity - for any of us right now. But thankful our solar panels still seem to be working well for lights and a bit more.  And the electricity for the whole town is cut off right now anyway, including at the restaurant, haha!).   God is good, hes taken care of us well, and were thankful for what hell do here with us to reach the Antakarana people!

Well, we're certainly not having anything like a traditional Thanksgiving celebration this year, as we just arrived back home in Ambilobe this evening. But we're very thankful to be here! A safe and smooth (though slow) 26 hr bus trip to get here (the roads have deteriorated significantly). And we're thankful that instead of trying to figure out food last minute (with no food in our house, the market closed for the evening, and no grocery store in town), but there's a simple restaurant that we can eat at this evening!

When asking the boys what they're thankful for, Matimu said he's thankful for a safe trip to Ambilobe and a comfortable bed, and David said he's thankful that Cuddles (our cat) didn't die while we were gone and that his toys aren't broken. I'm thankful for the wonderful family that God has blessed me with, always so good natured and few complaints. Lora said she's thankful for the home that God has blessed us with in Ambilobe and that there was someone to watch it while we were gone. (It's going to take some time to rearrange and resettle though! A whole lot of dust and spiderwebs everywhere! And our neighbors, with whom we share an electricity meter, didn't pay the bill on time, so no high voltage electricity - meaning no fans to beat the heat and humidity - for any of us right now. But thankful our solar panels still seem to be working well for lights and a bit more. And the electricity for the whole town is cut off right now anyway, including at the restaurant, haha!). God is good, he's taken care of us well, and we're thankful for what he'll do here with us to reach the Antakarana people!
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Thank you for letting us know of the important things in life despite none of the modern comforts that I cannot imagine being without. Just the 26 hour bus trip alone has me exhausted. Thank you for your sacrifices and selfless mission to serve in Madagascar. Happy Thanksgiving, am so glad that you are all well and hanging tough <3

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family even if not a traditional one. Thankful for your family’s work in Madagascar. Blessings!

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Matimu's a TV star here in Madagascar! The English-teaching for children episodes that he was invited to be on for a national Malagasy TV show have finally aired and we finally got a chance to see the first one (while it was broadcast nationally)! If you want to skip to Matimu's portion of the show (about 7 minutes long), it begins at around the 8:55 mark. And if you're interested to see what Malagasy children's TV programming is like, then you should watch the whole episode.

I think this one wasn't bad for a first episode with Matimu. Matimu will also air in 5 more episodes for the next 5 weeks broadcast throughout the entire country, and (from watching the recordings) I think they get better as they go on. It's a fun experience for him, and hopefully some local kids will enjoy learning some English from an American boy like Matimu!

youtu.be/Sk8DoMjuXfA
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