As we disembark from this adventure of a lifetime I reflect back on all of the amazing things we have seen and experienced over the past couple of weeks. There is no doubt in my mind that this experience will be something we all carry with us and cherish the rest of our lives. What a blessing to be able to go and visit such an exotic land with an entirely different culture than we are used to. Also an incredible blessing and honour to be able to use our resources and time give back and do something that will hopefully make an impact for generations to come. To get to meet those orphaned children and to experience and share in the joy that they have for life. I know without a doubt a piece of our hearts will always remain in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Since “a picture is worth a thousand words” I figured I would provide a quick run-down with pictures of what we experienced…
Fishing and site seeing in the Indian Ocean
Providing a computer lab, facilities improvements, and humanitarian relief to Jehova Jireh Haven Orphanage in Alexandria
Safari tour at Addo Elephant Park and Schotia Safaris
Hunting at the GrootDrai ranch with Rufus Luttig and HuntSA
JB and Caitlin take Cape Town!
What an amazing life-changing experience we had!
The last few days have been a whirlwind! It has been hard to find the time to update you all on what we have accomplished, but it’s a beautiful morning and while the guys are out on a morning hunt with HuntSA, I’m sitting outside taking the opportunity to write this post. As there are many things to discuss let’s start with Jehovah Jireh Haven Orphan Care Center.
The computer lap is completed! Ryan and Pete built a table for the children to use while on the computers. As you can see it’s going to get plenty of use. Once the table and computers were set up we spoke with students from Rhodes University who will help establish and continue a computer literacy program for the kids. Many university students said how excited they were for the computers and told us they were going to make a huge impact for these kids. Afterwards we let in many of the kids from Jehovah Jireh to have a chance at the computers before we left. They were already into Paint and creating new backgrounds for the computers. All of us are excited about the opportunity these laptops will bring to the children at Jehovah Jireh.
While Pete and Ryan were busy with the computer lab, JB and I (Caitlin) spent our time with the kiddos and on smaller projects. JB and his headbands were a complete hit. He went through all 200 before you could blink! I was able to do a small project of replacing their broken swings from the jungle gym. The swings had ropes that were broken and frayed so we decided to use chain to attach some tires back onto the jungle gym. Now the children have four tire swings and shouldn’t have to worry about them breaking with that chain! All of the children and Jehovah Jireh were beautiful and happy children who love to sing and joke! JB quickly became known as Big Show everywhere we went.
When it came time to say goodbye the children all stood in a circle and sang us beautiful songs. They even got me to sing a song goodbye! It was beautiful and moved Big Show to tears! I know many of us feel that we will return someday.
While we had to say goodbye to the kids we also had to say goodbye to our hosts in Alexandria at Golf Lodge B&B. Thank you Jennifer and your family for taking care of all of us. We then made our way to Addo Elephant park where we got our first experience at African Wildlife. From there we made our way to Schotia Safaris for an overnight stay. Schotia was amazing and we got some close encounters of rhinos, elephants, giraffes, and hippos! The lodging was fantastic and so was the food! From Schotia we made our way to the HuntSA ranch. JB and I were given the opportunity to stay one night and try our hand at hunting before we head to Cape Town. That chance paid off as I got the first hunt and first animal of the hunt! The meat from the warthog will be donated to the orphanage! I’ve never been hunting before in my life! It was quite an experience!
From here Ryan and Pete will remain for the next four days for their chance to get a kudu, while JB and I head to Cape town! More updates to follow.
Wow. How do I even start with the first day we had at Jehovah Jireh Haven Care Center? It was such an amazing experience. We had a tour of the JJH facilitie, and there were several moments that I was moved to tears. These folks do amazing things with what they have, but after the tour I only wished I could help more. The kids are so fun! They immediately flock to you and start asking questions about you and your family. Most of all, they just want to be held and have some affection.
We had the honor and pleasure of unpacking the donations 2nd Watch brought for JJH. Everyone was so grateful and happy. Many mentioned how “it was like Christmas.” We then began setting up the computers and ensured they were in good shape to provide long service with little maintenence required. We gave several students from Rhodes University enough information to begin providing the JJH kids instruction to begin successfully operating the computers for education.
In the morning we will be shopping for supplies to fix roofs in two buildings that are leaking and causing mold issues on the ceilings as well as building a nice workstation area for the new computers. We topped our day off with our wonderful bed and breakfast hosts, Jennifer and Brent, and our tour hosts, Rufus and Austin. We had an amazing fish dinner from the fish we caught the previous day. I keep asking myself how could this get any better!!
-Pete Irwin, Technical Manager
Most of the group arrived late last night via flights from Spokane to Atlanta to Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. The 4am wake up was a little rough to head out fishing with Big John Charters in Port Elizabeth. What a day!
We saw the sun rise, caught a variety of Indian Ocean fish, saw a pod of dolphins, the colony of penguins that call St. Croix Island home and then topped it off with 2 battles with massive Raggy Sharks on the reef.
After cleaning up, we took the 2 hour ride to our home, The Golf Lodge B&B, for the next few days in Alexandria. We will be helping install the computer lab at J&J Orphanage tomorrow. The home owners, Jennifer and Brent, just prepped us for what to expect with the kids. I think we will make them smile!
What an amazing experience thus far and we look forward to meeting the children tomorrow.
Today four 2nd Watchers (Caitlin Collom, JB McGinnis, Pete Irwin, and myself) set out for South Africa’s Eastern Cape on the adventure and experience of a lifetime! The first milepost of our trip will be the Jehova Jireh Haven orphanage (JJH) in Alexandria. We are going to be setting JJH up with their first computer lab (in fact, their first computers of any kind). We will also be getting them set up with Internet connectivity. We are going to be giving the kids basic computer training, and giving some regular volunteer students from Rhodes University more advanced training so that they will be able to help maintain the technology after we are gone. In addition to the technology projects we will be working on several facilities improvement and general humanitarian aid projects, as well as getting to know the kiddos and spending some quality time with them. Once we finish up at the orphanage we will start on a deluge of uniquely African experiences including: Addo Elephant refuge, Schotia Safaris, deep sea fishing in the Indian Ocean, bungee jumping from the tallest commercial bungee jump in the world, cage diving with great white sharks, hangin’ with South African penguins at Boulder Beach, Summiting Table Mountain near Cape Town, and some African big game hunting… (to name a few). To quote Dick Vitale… “It’s gonna be awesome baby!”
I’ve never heard of a company (much less worked for one!) that has sponsored such an incredible adventure for a very lucky group of employees to go on. This is a true honor to be a part of. I’m extremely excited for the impact we are making for this orphanage and the amazing things we will see and experience along the way! 2ndWatch is a company unlike any other and I’m blessed to be part of such a great organization, team, and family!