Saturday, February 6, 2010

Monday, February 8

10:00 p.m. Greetings all. The last of the group has landed safety in Sioux Falls. We arrived a day late, bu given the circumstances of weather in Washington, DC, it is impressive that we all got of there.

Thanks for watching ouru blog. We hope you have enjoyed learning about South Africa as much as we did.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

After traveling via motor coach and airplane for 40 hours (thanks for figuring that out for us Brenden), nine SDARL Class V members are back in good old, South Dakota. We had a smooth flight with much more room to spead out and relax on the plane than on the trip to South Africa. Our adventure through US Customs also went smoothly with no one having trouble and nothing getting confiscated due to lack of documention. Although it was hard to leave the group that left for Alldays to enjoy a few more days of South African adventures and education, it was great to see family members meeting us at the airport. We eagerly await stories from our classmates still in South Africa and wish them the same smooth trip home we had. With gradution being Feb. 27 and 28, it's hard to comprehend that our official SDARL education is amost complete. We then join the ranks to make SDARL alumni 150 strong and move forward with our challenge to held educate and advocate for agriculture in South Dakota, the United States, and as we know now, around the world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday, Feb. 2

Happy groundhog day! We are not sure if Phil saw his shadow in South Dakota, he sure would have in South Africa. Members extending their stay have arrived at the lodge where we were greeted with a "Beware of crocodiles" sign. Our chalets are situated, ironically, on the Alligator River, which happens to be extremely high now eliminating the chance encounter with a croc.

Host Bertus welcomed the group to Alldays with a typically American lunch of burgers and fries. We look forward to hearing from the rest of the group who have just taken off for their flight back to the US. Bertus gave us a good overview of life around Alldays, which includes farming and game hunting. Several members have visited his farm where they helped disc the fields that he will soon plant to soybeans.

Many educational opportunities still away the group today. We are about to enjoy a brie (BBQ) outside. Temps today were in the mid-80s but the evening is cooling off beautifully. Tonight we will end a beautiful day around the campfire.

Ray Epp

Goodbye (for some) to South Africa

After a final 5:30 am safari, Class V members packed up and are heading back towards Johannesburg, to the airport for 10 members, and for the other 23, further north to the sparce Alldays area. Postings after this may be limited as internet connection may be difficult. We will do our best. Here's to our safe travels home.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Children and Mangos oh my!!!

SDARL Class V awoke to another beautiful morning at the Hannah Lodge. The group prepared for a warm day as the temperature was to rise to 106 degrees. We gathered our luggage and boarded the coach for a short drive to Maepa Private School, a local black primary school. This school serves three local villages in the area.

Upon entering the driveway some members of the group were surprised to see the school surrounded by razor wire to keep the children safe. The building and grounds were quite dilapidated, but the children’s joy and excitement impressed the group. We were greeted with singing and dancing as we arrived. The group was addressed by the principal who explained there were 135 students in grades K-7. The school was government supported; the budget for the year was only $7000. With this small amount the school was run for the entire year. The SDARL team brought with them many gifts, the children especially loved the soccer ball! After some teary goodbyes we were off to the Bavarian mango farm.

The class first observed a slideshow that showed the process of growing the mangos from tree to plate. Harvest on the mango farm begins in late December and finishes in March. This period is called the “100 days of madness.” There are over 1500 people employed to harvest and package the fruit from this 5000 acre fruit farm. An alarming issue effecting this farm is the presence of HIV in over 29 percent of the workforce. Management explained that the process could be more mechanized, but with such high umemployment they felt a social responsibility to employ as many as possible.

We concluded the day at the Kapama Lodge with a game drive and a farewell to South Africa supper.