Archive for the ‘dogs’ Category

Link to my article in the Projects Abroad Newsletter

projects abroad news letter

Advertisements

20130820_174218

On August 17th I embarked on the journey of a lifetime to Cape Town, South Africa for two weeks.  I thought the trip would have been all about building a community center.  To be honest, the actual community center was secondary.  It was a ray of hope and provided a sense of community for the locals.  It was about being a positive influence on the young children, who have experienced more hardship in their short lives than most do in their lifetimes.  It was about helping out the stray dogs, and “adopting” them on the site as if they were our own.  Although my time there was short, I know I had a positive influence on the children, dogs, volunteers, and the building site in general.

My time in South Africa was nothing short of life changing.  The bonds I made with the other volunteers, my house family, Deen, and the children are everlasting.  I will never forget the times I had and will ensure I let the moments I shared have a positive influence on my life and others around me.

I could have not asked for a more amazing end to my journey to 30 Deeds over the past year.  However, in reality, it is not the end of the journey….It is  just the beginning of a lifetime dedicated to giving.

wpid-20130823_111922.jpgwpid-20130826_101655.jpg
20130829_122815

Deen and I

I woke up today with mixed emotions.  I was excited to work hard yet sad because it was my last day.  I did not know how I was going to say goodbye to the volunteers and children I formed a close bond with over the last few weeks.  None the less, I ate my breakfast and headed out the door for the final day.

When I arrived on site, the volunteers and I quickly got to work.  We mixed cement and started “prettying” up certain areas as we had done in previous days.  Unfortunately, after about 45 minutes, it started to rain..and then rain..and then rain some more.  If you have read my previous posts, you may realize that this is a very common occurrence during the month of August in Cape Town.  Undeterred, I ran inside to spend time with the children.  They were watching a movie and I joined them to try and get a few more smiles out of them before leaving.

20130830_094504

Deen telling his infamous stories

Before leaving the site, Deen gathered all the volunteers to speak about myself and Jomo, who was also leaving that day.  Deen started off with stories and fatherly advice for both of us, before allowing each volunteer to say something to each of us.  It is a tradition for Deen that all volunteers have the pleasure of experiencing before leaving.  I also got to say a few words and thanked everyone for accepting me as if I were family.  I headed back home for my final dinner with my amazing house family before starting my long journey home tomorrow morning.

wpid-20130829_094115.jpg

As I have mentioned before dogs in Cape Town are treated a lot different than what I am used to in the US.  Deen has shared multiple stories about kids in the area that brought puppies/stray dogs into the bush for their fighting pitbulls to kill.  When we arrived on site, this poor little guy (pictured above) was shivering in the rain by himself.

Most of the volunteers are dog lovers like myself so we decided we had to do something.  Jomo(the Englishman) gave him his lunch and Steffi and Svena(the Germans) gave the dog extra food and attention.  They have become part time vets of sorts, taking care of a few dogs that hang around the site..including the dog pictured below.  We went to Deen and asked if we could do something.  He was a bit crossed as he has brought close to 40 dogs to the SPCA over the last 3 years, most of which had to be put down.  Either  way, they brought the dog to the SPCA and hopefully they can rehab him and find a good home!

wpid-20130829_121832.jpg

Other than that, we spent time mixing cement and then fixing the steps that lead to the playground.  The project is at the point where it is time to start making things “pretty”.  Luckily for the building, I am leaving tomorrow as that is not my strength.  I much rather prefer to “pick things up and put them down” such as filling wheelbarrows with sand and mixing cement.  One more day of work and time with the kids before it is time to go home 😦

20130829_112040

Why half day Friday?  It is not because the volunteers want to leave early or because Deen wants to give us a break.  It is because the residents in the township tend to start partying a little early on Friday and it starts to become unsafe.  Even though the day was cut short, it was still a good productive day.

wpid-20130823_092350.jpg

Playtime!

20130826_100556

An everyday activity with most of the children. Love her smile in this picture!

The volunteers and I spent time plastering the wall we worked on yesterday.  In what is becoming a recurring theme, I also spent a lot of time with the children.  We played in the playground and I ran around like a big kid, playing games and making them laugh.

While we were at the site, a woman in her early 30’s  had a heart attack/stroke in her home next to the building site. (I later found out that she was the mother of one of the children at the site)  Deen, being the amazing man he is, jumped into action and rushed her to the hospital.  By the time he got her to the hospital she was unconscious and remains in critical condition. Unfortunately crazy things like this are more common than uncommon here.

After the day of work, all the building volunteers went to Deen’s house for dinner. His wife made an amazing meal and we laughed and had a great time.  His talented sons (Vash and Nash) provided the entertainment by singing, playing piano and the drums.  Also providing entertainment were 9 puppies.  Deen rescued a female dog from the building site and brought it home.  The dog met his Siberian Husky and one thing led to another…yadad yada yada… 9 puppies!

After being stuffed with food, we all sat around listening to Deen tell stories about former volunteers.  The love and joy in his face when talking about other volunteers can light up even the darkest streets.  He has been a mentor to the younger volunteers throughout the last 3 years, and even though it has been a week, he has taught me a lot and I feel like I have known him my whole life.

20130823_232325

Puppies!

20130823_183448

With my favorite puppy!

post race

After the Race with Hollis, Kali and Reeni

The Hair of the Dog 5k at the Silver Decoy Winery in Robbinsville, NJ is a great event for runners/walkers and their four legged friends.  It is an annual 5k for people and dogs that has been running for the past 6 years.  All proceeds go towards supporting animal rescue.  I have participated in the last 3 events with my Aunts dog, Kali.  We won the event the previous two years, so I was really looking forward to winning for the third year in a row (OK…so we didn’t win but that is what I always tell Kali, so don’t tell her!).

photo (4)I arrived at the event with Kali, my girlfriend Hollis, my parents, and their dog Reeni.  Reeni happens to be a new addition to the family after she was abandoned on the streets of

Celebrating with the Winner!

Celebrating with the Winner!

Philadelphia.  We picked up our registration, t-shirt and goodie bag, and headed over to the starting line along with almost 1,000 other runners.  We completed the race in record time and Kali was able to defend her championship(I may or may not be joking 🙂 ).  After the race there was a small festival with local vendors and free wine tasting at the Silver Decoy Winery.  It was a great event for a great cause, and I can’t wait to do it again for the fourth time next year!

I was lucky enough to have a photographer from the Star Ledger cover me at the event and more photographs can be found here: NJ.com Photo Essay of Deed 19 the Hair of the Dog 5K

Can’t we all just get along??

Posted: April 10, 2013 in animals, dogs
I stumbled across this photo on Facebook and thought  it was appropriate after my last deed

I stumbled across this photo on the Facebook page for http://www.dosomething.org.  I thought it was appropriate after my last deed.  Who says pit bulls aren’t friendly!?