Joel in South Africa – Mission Update

Joel updates us on his Mission Trip to South Africa with TearFund
2nd Mar 2017

I have arrived safely and started acclimatising to the heat. We landed in Durban (after stopping in Dubai) at 5pm on Saturday and we were picked up by Zoë-Life (partner organisation). The bus ride was great, but I had to balance sight-seeing for sleep recovery due to me watching five films instead of sleeping on my flight…no regrets.

We stayed in a Christian based lodge where we met our South Africa (SA) counterparts. After a night of intense sleep we travelled a couple hours south west of Durban airport. This is a short five day pit stop to train us in South African and UK culture (for the SA volunteers) and in basic IsiZulu. Isizulu is an incredible language and is one of the 11 official languages of SA! I have had difficulties with producing clicks whilst talking. The biggest challenge is not spitting on the SA volunteers who are tutoring us whilst learning the language.

I have met my team of seven and have got to know them. We have learnt that our project will be based around development in lifeskills in the education system. This could involve us so teaching students how to make CV’s, how hygiene is important and how HIV can be overcome in daily life. I will be living with Zamani and a host family in Imbeleko. I can’t wait to get started and I will update you with what’s happening when I get to my host home.

Unfortunately the enjoyment of training had to end. We parted ways to go to our host homes, some went to Limpopo, and the rest of us went to KwaZulu-Natal. The team I’m in (dream team) are based in a town just outside Durban. Although beautiful and challenging to pronounce, Kwanyuswa is predicted to have the the highest percentage population with HIV in South Africa.

I am staying with an incredible host family who have accepted both Zamani and I as if we are family and have asked us to call them accordingly. So our host mother has asked us to call her Ma/mum. The food is very nice but it may take a while to get used to removing bones from my food. We are fortunate enough to have tap water and electricity. As a standard for most of South Africa we have bucket baths and wash our clothes by hand. But we can do this while looking at the ‘valley of a thousand hills’.

We have met the Imbeleko partners and this week we have been brainstorming and planning projects we will be able to implement with the allotted time and money that we have. This has been incredibly challenging and is putting a strain on the team. Also the difference in the roles of men and women has been particularly challenging as my roommate has multiple girlfriends and (according to his culture) this makes him a ‘real’ man.

As you may expect, South African worship is energetic, enthusiastic and contains dance. I loved this and that almost everybody (even those who are shy) weren’t afraid to express themselves in praise for God. I have found this massively ecouraging. A fellow volunteer, wrote a love letter to us (God’s children) from God using scripture. This was so incredible I was almost reduced to tears.

Things to pray for:

God will guide our plans

The team will remain effective and solid

The poverty and HIV in Kwanyuswa

Teamates who are struggling to adapt to the new environment (including SA volunteers)


Thanks for your continued thoughts and I will update you with how our projects are going.


God bless,