Tag Archives: destination: south africa

February 6, 2013

The Global Fund for Children in South Africa (Part 2)

To learn more about the experiences of children and families in South Africa, we spoke with Emmanuel Otoo, program officer for Africa at The Global Fund for Children (GFC). If you’d like to donate to The Global Fund for Children to support their work in South Africa and beyond, visit their website or add a donation at check-out when making an online purchase from Tea Collection!

If you missed part one of the interview with Emmanuel, you can see it here.

Photo taken at the Sophiatown Community Psychological Services in South Africa.

 

 

What inspires you about the South Africa region?

Despite their painful history, South Africans exhibit strong unity and determination to succeed, and that inspires me a lot. I am also inspired by the South African constitution, and the vision and passion that went into its making. The vision and bravery of Nelson Mandela, his selflessness, and his willingness and ability to sacrifice his freedom for humanity have always been a source of inspiration as well.

Photo taken at the Sophiatown Community Psychological Services in South Africa.

Describe a day in the life of a typical GFC-sponsored child in South Africa.

Chipo is the 14-year-old son of Angela, who fled with him and his two siblings to South Africa following a gruesome attack on their home by rebels in a war-torn country.

Chipo sleeps in a kitchen that his family shares with another family in an overcrowded apartment in a huge slum building. In the morning, Chipo gets up and eats a bowl of porridge. He helps his mother with some household chores and assists in taking care of his younger siblings before leaving for school. After school, Chipo drops off his schoolbag at home and goes to the market in search of leftover food or work to bring some money home to supplement his mother’s income.

When he returns home, Chipo goes with his mother and two siblings to Sophiatown Community Psychological Services, a grassroots organization supported by The Global Fund for Children. There, his family participates in art therapy and counseling, receives food, and plays games. Chipo is one of hundreds of refugee children who are being supported by Sophiatown to help them recover from their traumatic experiences.

Passionate about animals, Chipo loves to hold and care for them, and he hunts for abandoned kittens on the street. His dream is to be a teacher when he grows up—it is our hope that GFC and Sophiatown will help give him that chance.

Photo taken at the Sophiatown Community Psychological Services in South Africa.

What does Ubuntu mean to you?

Ubuntu is an Nguni word that has its origins in the Bantu languages of Southern Africa. While it has no direct translation in English, it is used to describe a particular African worldview that focuses on people’s allegiances to and relations with each other. Ubuntu describes a situation in which people can only find fulfillment through interacting with and supporting other people. It represents a spirit of kinship across both race and creed that unites people for a common purpose.

Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, defined Ubuntu as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a South African activist, said, “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

That said, Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. It means you need to think and act beyond your immediate personal needs—you will benefit from doing so, in addition to benefitting others. The question, therefore, is: Are you going to enrich yourself in order to promote the well-being of your community? If the answer is yes—that is Ubuntu.

 

 

February 4, 2013

The Global Fund for Children in South Africa (part 1)

To learn more about the experiences of children and families in South Africa, we spoke with Emmanuel Otoo, program officer for Africa at The Global Fund for Children (GFC). If you’d like to donate to The Global Fund for Children to support their work in South Africa and beyond, visit their website or add a donation at check-out when making an online purchase from Tea Collection!

A child at the Teboho Trust, a GFC grantee partner in Soweto, South Africa. Teboho Trust makes sure orphans and other vulnerable children get the support they need to succeed in school–sometimes that means going to school on the weekend to stay ahead! But the hard work pays off: last year, 100 percent of the students were promoted to the next grade level. Congratulations, kids!

What is the major need in the South Africa region at the moment?

According to our partners in the field, the major need is to systematically and practically promote social inclusion and improvement in the education system, especially at the early-childhood and elementary stages.

There is also a major skills shortage in South Africa—a significant number of youth have not received relevant education or acquired the appropriate skills to be competitive in South Africa’s job market. To that end, development of small businesses, social enterprises, and community entrepreneurship is another area that needs reengineering and support.

What’s something special about South Africa that most Americans do not know?

Perhaps what many people are not aware of is that migration is an integral part of South African history and its present reality, and that cities like Johannesburg owe their existence to migrant laborers. Also, in spite of the country’s extreme levels of poverty compared to the United States, South Africans come together and make efforts to support one another.

More of the students from the Saturday Academy run by Teboho Trust.

What are some games that the kids like to play in South Africa?

Most boys in Africa are passionate about soccer, which they often play in school or on practically any field they can find. The same is true in South Africa, where boys make their own soccer balls out of rolled, stuffed, and string-tied plastic bags. Kids also make their own toys, such as cars made out of scrap metal and wire, which they often play with on the sidewalk.

Young girls in South Africa play skipping, clapping, and jumping games. One favorite game for girls is jumping through and over elastic bands made from old pantyhose. At school, girls often play netball because equipment for this game is usually available on the playground.

How is playing different in South Africa from playing in America?

The average American kid plays games on computers, tablets, iPods, and video game consoles like Wii and Xbox. There is also a strong culture of play at amusement parks such as Walt Disney World, Six Flags, and Busch Gardens during warm months and in warmer states like Florida and California.

Kids in South Africa, especially those who are part of the populations GFC serves, do not have easy access to technology, are unfamiliar with “gaming” as a form of recreation, and also do not have access to playground equipment or amusement parks. They improvise by creating innovative toys made out of scrap materials and leftover fabric. They often do not have designated play areas and resort to playing on sidewalks and in empty fields.

But kids in the United States and in South Africa are perhaps more similar than they are different—they all love to play, have fun, and make mischief.

Stay tuned for the rest of our interview with Emmanuel later this week—he’ll tell us about Chipo, a South African boy served by one of GFC’s grantees. Emmanuel also shares his own understanding of Ubuntu.

 

January 29, 2013

Black Mambas and the Elephant Whisperer

Discover the inspiration behind one of our favorite boys tops, the Black Mamba Tee.

Black Mamba Tee

Hiss-Hiss make this Black Mamba tee ‘hiss’ own.

African Elephant at Thula Thula.

Elephants at Thula Thula.

On a Thula Thula Safari jeep.

Me on my safari jeep with the Thula Thula staff.

At the end of our South Africa adventures I went to visit Thula Thula – the game reserve owned by Lawrence Anthony, author of the Elephant Whisperer – a book I decided to reread on our trip. The first night I was there – I was literally the only guest. I went to dinner and on the nightly safari drive with the staff and as it turns out, a few of the people from the book I was reading. It was a little scary sleeping in your own little house by yourself with no one else around. I heard a few creatures around my room throughout the night – but just kept telling myself they were only geckos so it was no big deal.

Rhinoceros roaming at Thula Thula.

Rhinos at Thula Thula.

Giraffe at Thula Thula.

Hello, way up there!

The next day in between a morning bush walk and lunch, I went back to my room/cottage to read. I’ve never been especially squeamish around snakes – I watched a lot of crocodile hunter and “knew” how to deal with the poisonous ones. Then I get to the section in the book where one of the staff at Thula Thula gets bit by a black mamba, because he tried to grab it – crocodile hunter style. So then they talk about how you have 30 minutes to get anti venom but they can’t keep it on site because it goes bad too quickly. They have to rush this staff member to the nearest hospital – 45 minutes away. The math is not adding up to me and things aren’t sounding good for this poor guy. It was now time for lunch so I put my book away and glance up at the top of my mosquito net – and what do I see? A smiling black snake looking down at me. Well crap, now I am scared of snakes, or at least this snake. So while still in the safety of my mosquito net I try to get as close as possible to the door of my room. But every move I make the snake follows. I finally get the courage to brave it and leap for the door.

I went and found a ranger. He and the manager came back to my room to identify what kind of snake it was. Obviously, he was no longer in the same spot when they got there. But I wouldn’t let them leave till we found him because logically, I assumed the snake was going to hide in my luggage and wait to make surprise attack back in San Francisco. So we are all looking around my room and finally we spot the snake. But we are all pointing in different directions, because apparently it was a entire family of snakes that was lodging with me.

Well it turned out they were just a friendly black house snakes, so I was safe. But the experience inspired me to design our Black Mamba Tee. Black mambas actually do look quite friendly, so I made him a little scarier so his look better matched his reputation as the “deadliest snake in Africa.”  Like what you see here?  Check out all our new boys outfits.

House snake compared to a Black Mamba.

A common house snake on your left and a deadly Black Mamba on the right.

Who do you think looks more friendly? The house snake is on the left and the Black Mamba is on the right.

image credits: house snake, black mamba

January 23, 2013

Behind the Design: Boys’ Graphic Tees

Leopard, elephant, Kruger National ParkOur design team loved visiting Kruger National Park so much that they just couldn’t help but design a collection of boys tees inspired by Kruger.  Kruger is Africa’s largest game reserve and it spans over 7,500 square miles.  That’s six times the size of Rhode Island!  Kruger was created in 1926 to protect the diminishing number of safari animals.  If you ask anyone in Africa what the ‘Big 5′ is, they will tell you that the ‘Big 5′ are the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot-  the lion, leopard, African elephant, Cape Buffalo, and the rhinoceros.

Did you know:
-despite the African Elephants large size, they can hide in the tall grass
-the leopard is a nocturnal animal, which means it does the majority of its hunting from sunset to sunrise

Check out our boys new arrivals to find the  hottest spring looks!

January 21, 2013

A Call to Serve

Martin Luther King Jr and his daughter.

A softer side of MLK Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr once proclaimed, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?”  So, how are your honoring MLK Jr and his legacy?  Twenty-seven years ago President Reagan signed MLK Jr Day into existence and catapulted a ‘can do’ and ‘will help’ attitude into the American radar.  This willingness to lend a hand has been celebrated in South Africa for many decades, centuries even.  Ubuntu is the idea that we are all interconnected and what happens to you happens to me.  Desmond Tutu defined it as when a human knows “that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated… the essence of being human.” We can’t live without each other and we need to help one another out.

The idea of generosity and the call to serve has struck a special chord in Tadatoshi Akiba’s heart (Mayor of Hiroshima from 1999-2011).  He loved the call to action so much that he declared MLK Jr Day a holiday.  This really is a global celebration.  How will your honor MLK Jr?  Share with us on Facebook.  Remember every day can be a day of service to your community.

Check out Tea School Days- a no brainer to raise money for your child’s school.

*Image courtesy of Family Goes Strong.

January 17, 2013

Behind the Design: Vilakazi Henley

Vilakazi Street sign in Soweto.

Vilakazi Street- where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived.

Here’s a history lesson that not only is short and sweet but fun to say.  We bet you didn’t know that our Vilakazi Henley was named after the only street to once have housed two Nobel Prize winners.  Nelson Mandela, one of  the most famous anti-apartheid activists and President of South Africa, lived at 8115 Vilakazi.  Mandela’s former home is now the Mandela House- a museum that preserves his story as he fought for equality.  Just down the street, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu still lives with his wife.  Desmond as he is fondly known aided to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa.    During his quest to bring the fall of apartheid, he coined the term ‘Rainbow Nation,’ when speaking about his beloved South Africa and its ethnic diversity.  It is said that Desmond can still be seen strolling down Vilakazi.

Our designers were so inspired by their trip to Vilakazi Street that they wanted to share it with you.  Bring a piece of our experience home with you, shop from our boys’ tees.

Boy in Vilakazi inspired henley

Get your little citizen suited up in stripes.

Image courtesy of SouthAfrica.net.

January 11, 2013

DIY Safety Pin Bracelet

diy safety pin bracelet steps

Make your own safety pin bracelet!

Step 1:  Start beading your safety pins.  We put 5 seed beads (size 6/0) onto each small safety pin.   As you are beading start to envision a desirable pattern or make it completely random for a kaleidoscope effect.
*Please note since sharp objects are involved, this craft is for children 8 years and up.
Step 2: Make sure you use needle nose pliers to clamp each safety pin permanently closed.  No booboos here!
Step 3:  Cut two pieces of elastic 5 inches longer than the circumference of your child’s wrist.
Step 4: Tie a knot with the two pieces of elastic.  Start stringing your safety pins in the desirable pattern.  We did all the tops on the top string and all the bottoms on the other.
Step 5:  When you are done beading, tie a knot on each elastic cord (top and bottom separately).  Then knot with the other side to create a full circle.

Two girls in South African inspired clothes.

Wear our Rosebank Mini Dress and Mtititi Floral Tunic Top withyour safety pin bracelet.

Wear your safety pin bracelet with any of our girls dresses or girls tops.  We really liked how the yellow beads complimented the yellow accents in our Rosebank Mini Dress.   Get creative with your bracelet patterns and girls outfits and share with us on our Facebook.