Kunjani (hello in Africaan-from Jenny S.)! My (Sal) first experience on South Africa came during 7th-8th grade back in Battle Creek Middle School. We had an assignment to write our concerns (freeing Nelson Mandela)on the South African Apartheid to Rev. Jessie Jackson. I got a letter back, which contained an "print" autograph picture of Jessie Jackson. Being a young teen at the time, I thought this was cool to get a autograph picture by a distinguished political figure at that time.
I would later learn about the ongoing developments and political changes after writing a letter as a homework assignment. Being able to write a letter dealing with the political situation of South Africa gave me an interest to follow closely on the current changes.
My first South African I met was a Taiwanese born and raised in this country. I though it was very odd, which I never though of Asians living in this African continent. I would then later meet a British college student born and raised in this country. He would rather be called "South African" instead of British as he corrected me one time.
Just chatted with a good friend today (Saturday, August 11th of 2007)...
Jenny lives in Orange Grove (Region 3 of Johannesburg)
"We’re all missionaries’
Morris Sun Tribune Published Wednesday, December 27, 2006
" In June, Dave Taffe was serving as a delegate for Faith Lutheran Church at the Southwestern Minnesota Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Synod Assembly in St. Peter. During the two-day assembly, Bishop John Anderson would pop into meetings and run through a tight five-minute PowerPoint presentation about South Africa, HIV/AIDS and the work that needed to be done in the Synod's "Sister Synod" in South Africa.
"He was pushing the bigger picture," Taffe said. "It definitely helped me draw the bigger picture. We're all missionaries."
Another subject that arose at the assembly was planning for an upcoming trip to South Africa. The trip weighed on Taffe's mind. He started thinking about it almost constantly, and a week after returning from the assembly he approached his wife Cindy about his reoccupation.
Dave Taffe, of Morris, was among a 17-person Minnesota Evangelical Church in America delegation to visit South Africa in November to learn more about what can be done about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country. Taffe reviews a photo of beds donated to a proposed care center in Eschowe, near South Africa’s eastern coast.
"I told her, 'I think I've experienced a calling,' " Taffe said. " 'I've been sitting on this for a week and I can't get it out of my mind. I'm thinking I'm going to do it.' "
Taffe became one of 17 people for about a half-dozen synod churches who embarked on the South Africa trip in early November. Even now, Taffe said the impact it’s had on his frame of mind, on his life, aren't easy to talk about.
At a time when HIV/AIDS are almost an afterthought in the United States -- for example, the University of Minnesota is expected to close its AIDS research program because funding has dried up -- South Africa has seen entire generations of people wiped out by the disease. Fighting it requires changing political, cultural and economic forces that are so deeply ingrained Taffe and others can see almost no solution.
Most Americans remain blissfully ignorant of the scourge that rages through populations in South Africa, and Taffe and his trip cohorts are aiming to change that, at least in this region of Minnesota.
"This is out there, if you don't turn your back on it," Taffe said. "And I think I was turning my back to it -- you know, the Sally Struthers ads ... I'm not going to pay 40 cents a day. I wasn't looking for a life-changing experience -- I'm not going to sell all my clothes and toys and donate everything I have. But I found you can do something."
Off the edge of the earth
Taffe and the group left in early November and landed in Cape Town, South Africa. They spent a couple days in the cosmopolitan capital, adjusting to the time and culture changes.
Cape Town had everything for a comfortable and stimulating lifestyle, and the group did some sightseeing, including a trip to the cell where the iconic Nelson Mandela spent years in confinement.
As sobering as that singular event was, Taffe spent the time wondering what the group was doing there. Was this really the way to make a difference as a missionary in the fight against HIV/AIDS?
The group then flew to Durban, a port city on the Indian Ocean on South Africa's eastern coast. Suddenly, the real trip had begun.
"There are big cultural differences between Cape Town and Durban," Taffe said. "Once I left the (Durban) airport, I didn't have control over anything and I could feel it."
Members of the group fanned out with host families in the South African countryside, some of them on their own. Given the culture, Taffe said he sometimes didn't know if he would be picked up two hours before an appointed time or two hours after it.
He was put up in a home that housed 17 people. The countryside was enveloped in fog much of the time. Taffe has journal entries of the three days spend in that environment and he still hasn't been able to reread them.
"It took two weeks before I could talk about those three days and some of the negative experiences," Taffe said. "I felt like I stepped off the edge of the earth. They were beautiful people, it was a beautiful place if you could have seen it. But I was out of my element and it was hard."
Taffe didn't recognize it at first, but the itinerary was a calculated move by Harvey Nelson, a Litchfield pastor who has spent considerable time working in Africa.
"At one of my low points during the trip, I was thinking, 'Harvey, you should have told us more about this and what we could expect,' " Taffe said. "And then it kind of hit me -- 'Harvey, you fox, you knew how to do this.' "
The goal was to get the group thinking about what all were up against in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Taffe recalled visiting an area called District 6, from which more than 60,000 people were displaced prior to the fall of apartheid in the mid-1990s. The land had been part of the city and declared a slum, but now still remains vacant because the people don’t feel right about redeveloping it.
In the rural areas, poverty forces many men to leave for extended times to work in the cities. Prostitution is rampant, Taffe said, and the men then return to their homes and spead HIV/AIDS to wives, who in the male-dominated society, have no realistic way to avoid engaging in unprotected sex. Taffe said women laugh when asked if they use condoms. Many men believe HIV/AIDS is witchcraft, and HIV/AIDS testing is often a taboo; knowledge that a person had been tested could get them fired from a job or -- worse -- physical abuse, Taffe said.
"You could feel the hierarchy, from top to bottom, even in the church," Taffe said. "There's one whole generation that's gone because of AIDS. You've got grandparents taking care of six-year-olds, and you have six-year-olds taking care of babies. Future doctors and lawyers are being buried. You can't change the culture of the grandparents but you can save the kids. They need a safe haven and that might be the church."
The ‘ABCs’ of AIDS fight
Taffe gritted his teeth when he talked about supressing the urge to get "politically mad" about the situation. From a Western perspective, it's difficult to comprehend a population that seemingly cannot grasp the "ABC" concept -- abstinence, behavioral change, condomization -- that is being pursued in South Africa. Even the church isn't pushing hard on the use of condoms, Taffe said.
"It's not just about getting money over here, it's not just getting drugs over here," Taffe said. "A cure ain't coming. The church needs to do it. The church needs to set the policies."
After their solitary visits in the countryside, the group reconvened in the compound of the bishop of the diocese, which is the equivalent of a U.S. synod. They heard about Taffe’s visit to a site where people were trying to develop a care center, which would serve the terminally ill and provide a place for orphaned children and a senior center. Taffe developed a rudimentary business plan for a six-person council attempting to get the care center operating.
All members of the six-person care center council had been hit by HIV/AIDS, losing brothers, sisters, cousins and others.
Taffe was the lone American in the delegation to visit the proposed care center, and he promised the council he would mention the project to the bishop. That would be just another item on the bishop’s busy schedule, which was constantly full with weddings and funerals. Taffe said the church cemetery was covered in fresh graves.
"That told it all right there -- all those fresh graves," Taffe said.
There's no exact way to gauge how many people are infected in South Africa, but Taffe said his closest estimate is 35 percent. Poverty and illiteracy compound the difficulty of fighting HIV/AIDS, if they aren't the root cause of the problem. Lagging women's rights, a lack of economic stability and myriad cultural obstacles remain ahead, but there are positive signs, Taffe said.
After visiting the dilapidated building that is the hoped-for home of the care center, the local group had a dinner and a service of singing and prayers. Men, women, children, all joining together and at least temporarily breaking down the hierarchy that impedes so much progress.
Taffe said he went from one of his low points to a high point in that day.
Now home, the group will gather again in Litchfield in early January to talk about their experiences, and Taffe said he is preparing to speak to groups in the area about what he's witnessed.
"I got educated and overwhelmed," Taffe said. "When we left, people said, 'It would be nice if you could come back, but if you can't come back it would be nice if you leave your heart in South Africa.' I thought, 'I can't leave my heart in South Africa, it'll destroy me.' But I think we all did."
Taffe’s photo of the care center’s board of directors visiting the building in which they want to establish the care center for terminally ill AIDS patients, orphaned children and senior citizens.
Thousands of children, many the ages of these kids that Taffe photographed in Emeni, South Africa, are growing up without parents who have died from AIDS.
Hospitals, like the South African facility shown here, are fighting to combat a disease to which people have been slow to react because of cultural, religious and economic factors.
South Africa Documentary
"Promo for full-length documentary on post-apartheid South Africa, by Layla Halfhill "
Money Gram South Africa-Consumer Protection in South Africa
"Make sure the person or company you are sending money to (or who you are sending money on behalf of) is someone you know and trust. Please also keep the information relating to your transaction confidential. Once the money has been paid out to the person you name as the receiver, cancellation or refund is no longer possible. If you need to cancel or change a transaction, please call MoneyGram or contact the MoneyGram agent that sent the transaction for you."
Hoax e-mail man sentenced 18/08/2007 11:45 - (SA) news24
"Johannesburg - An information technology specialist has been given a suspended prison sentence for his role in the ANC's hoax e-mail saga, the Saturday Star reported.
Funi Madlala co-operated with the Inspector General of Intelligence in the matter and was given three months behind bars, suspended for three years. "
South African Fraud Service
Epedimics in South Africa
"This video clip shows how Newsong Church sent physicians to investigate and document the AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics that are plaguing the people of South Africa."
"Christians around the world have experienced persecution from the very beginning. This song is nkosi its from an old tape called Freedom is Comming released by Fjedur. The song originated in south africa during apartied"
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