South Africa

Oprah has been in the news lately so I thought I would give a photo essay of my trip. The letter that you are about to read was sent to me by a man who directs a camp there.
Miracles happen

Oprah Winfrey opens her academy for disadvantage girls in January 2007 and has interviewed many thousands of girls from the Gauteng region. The Blair Athol School on the Refilwe property submitted several girls for consideration. The final selection was made in Mid- August.

This is Johannes’s story: Johannes lives in a shack in a squatter camp near Refilwe. He has a gardening job. He attends the Refilwe clinic every 2 weeks for TB medication and check ups. He has been very worried because his common law wife drinks, then becomes irresponsible. He was also looking for a school, he can afford, to send his daughter to next year. He also suspects that he has more serious health concerns. He arrived at the clinic in Mid-August with life changing news. His daughter has been selected to attend the Oprah Academy next year. On the Saturday, a grand car had picked them up at their shack, while in transit they could drink cold drinks and watch TV. At the selected venue, they had up market accommodation, organised entertainment and excellent food, “as good as Parliament”! The final interviews were conducted by Oprah and joys of joys, his daughter was selected. On Monday they were transported to Refilwe with more rejoicing, when the school heard the news. Johannes has agreed to additional treatment. We were able to counsel his wife and she has agreed to be visited at home by Elizabeth our gospel outreach worker.

Please pray for this family.

Best regards & God bless,

Jaco v Schalkwyk
Project Leader
Refilwe Community Project



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Woke up to this

I woke up to this
” On December 28, 2006, a citizen of Gambia was stabbed to death in the Solomenskiy District of Kyiv. This incident is the latest in a string of murders of foreigners in Kyiv in 2006 in which the victim’s race and/or skin color appears to have been a primary motivation. Although none of these murders has involved United States citizens, there have been several non-lethal assaults in Ukraine in recent years against U.S. citizens which were determined to be racially motivated. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv would like to remind American citizens resident in Ukraine of the following information contained in the Consular Information Sheet for Ukraine (available on-line at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1053.html):

While most travelers do not encounter problems with crime in Ukraine, there has been an increase in the number of racially-motivated attacks conducted by “skinheads” in Kyiv. These incidents, in which non-Caucasian foreigners are specifically targeted for violence, have occurred without provocation in prominent areas of downtown Kyiv that are commonly frequented by tourists. While the majority of people targeted have been of Asian, African or other non-European descent, all travelers should exercise caution. In addition to incidents of assault, persons of African or Asian heritage may be subject to various types of harassment, such as being stopped on the street by both civilians and law enforcement officials.

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” found at http://travel.state.gov.

American citizens are encouraged to report any security incidents or problems to the Embassy. American Citizens Services unit can be reached during working hours by calling at (38-044) 490-4445 or 490-4422. The Embassy’s duty officer can be reached after hours at (38-044) 490-4000 or by contacting (38-050) 311-1796.”

Valarie Hall emailed me this statement this morning. While I had read stuff like this before, I found it sad. Reminded me of how I felt sometimes walking the street. Not like something was going to happen to me. Just the stares. Gets to you. Well that is all I have to share.

New Year

New Year. I’m sitting backstage right now waiting to go on. I’ve been the guy who introduces compassion. I am sure someone can do a better job at it. We ended last night at like 1:30. Yeah new year.