Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jed's face



Do you remember Jed's face? Maybe you didn't realize, but I haven't seen Jed's face under all that hair in about 5 months. It's such a nice face! I didn't even realize how much I missed it.

Apparently, there's something about Africa that makes guys averse to the idea of shaving. You can see evidence of this from our friends Dan, a Hands at Work volunteer, and Joey, a Peace Corps volunteer.

Dan and Joey

(By the way, both Dan and Joey have shaven since I took the photo above at Africones.)

Yesterday George told Jed that if he didn't shave, George was going to pluck out his beard with a tweezers. Ha! I think he was joking, but hey, whatever gets the job done.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Several of you questioned my Facebook status on Monday of "Jed is happy the fires didn't burn down his house this weekend." So to clarify I am posting this blog. Last Saturday we were teaching two of our neighbors (Marc and Kristal) how to play 500 (a card game enjoyed by the all in the Krumwiede family). While we were playing our dog (Buhle) started barking. I went out to see what was happening and I saw the fire. It was still fairly far from our house, but it was making quite a bit of noise. None of us were really concerned, but the wind was starting to pick up. We watched the fire for a while then realized we hadn't finished our game of 500.

Clueless as to what lies ahead

Maybe that last part was just me the score was 470 to 490; we were so close to finishing our game who needs to watch a fire as it approaches our house!
After we got back inside and started playing our game again we soon heard a knock on our door. One of our other neighbors was starting to get concerned about how close the fire was getting. We again decided to finish the hand (again maybe that was just me). After finishing the hand (Marc and I got set and lost) we thought we should check out the fire. When we opened the door it was extremely smoky outside, but the fire wasn't really close...yet.

The fire getting closer

As the night went on we started to get a little bit more concerned. There is a tree in our yard that has been dead for probably 25 years or more. Our neighbor Marc has said several times that it is a fire hazard and should be cut down. But our organization is leasing the land we live on from a farmer who lives near us. He is an extremely nice man who loves history. Apparently this tree was an outpost for the first non-African settlers to the region. Anyway he has said do not cut down the tree because of the history.

June, July and August have been the driest months of the year for us. It is the dry season, so we have had maybe a handful of days that it has rained a measurable amount. So this dead tree in our yard is probably about as dry as it can possibly get. Many of you can already tell where this story is going. I decided to start cooking dinner, and maybe it was the fire all around us, but we decided it would be nice to have a braai (barbecue). After getting dinner started Marc came running around the corner shouting; "THE TREE IS ON FIRE!" I don't have pictures of the tree on fire. I think by this point the mood had gone from general amusement to. "holy crap the fire is inside the fence!"

It looks like there is a "demon" in the fire with his arms reaching up

Marc started running buckets of water, well a bucket of water anyway to the tree. I started filling a bucket and by the time I got over there Marc was lying on the ground. He had stepped in a whole, dropped his bucket and sprained his ankle. There is a rumor that his pants fell down as well, but I don't know if that has been confirmed. Afterwards Darryl, Callan and Jon (a few more of our neighbors) came to help as well. The flames slowly started to subside, but the fire was deep into the trunk of the tree. Jon had the great idea of wetting a towel and stuffing it into the tree. This helped to get the water to the spots of the tree that were still burning (the hose wasn't long enough to reach the tree). Finally Kevin and Tracey suggested we use Samuel's squirt gun and it finished the job.

Callan with the "squirt gun"

About an hour later the flames in the tree were fully extinguished and the tree was saved.

Callan and Jon searching for the parts of the tree that were still burning

Side note, we called our supervisor Marc Myburgh when we realized the tree was on fire and his first reaction was, "Oh, no, Kobus (the landlord) is going to be soooo mad." Second reaction was, "Is everyone ok?" Don't worry Marc, the tree is saved!

This photo was taken from the corner of the farm house. How close is this fire going to get? To see more photos of the Fire check out our photo website.
Or click on the link below.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Remember when I was a statistician? (I can hardly remember how to spell statistician.)

Woah. I just got news from a former coworker from Medtronic that my old study has been published! I'm a published author! (The poor statistician whose been doing all the follow-up work since I left a year ago gets no credit at all, poor guy.) If you're interested, you can read the abstract.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hands e-newsletter

Did we ever ask if you wanted to get Hands at Work e-newsletters? They come out about four times a year, and I think they're great! If you're interested, send an email to

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Life skills

The good news is, this is the best training we've had yet from Peace Corps, and the Crocodile Inn (where we're doing training) is beautiful! We are being spoiled this week. The bad news is, the training would have been more interesting if we would have had it a year ago. Jed went to the mall tonight with a group of volunteers. He's catching up with our friend Joey, who moved sites a couple of months ago and is now so far away from Masoyi. It's great to catch up with others, too, like Abby, Craig and Rose. What a great bunch of people!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Building capacity, but mostly in ourselves

I had a bit of a realization turns out Jed and I have learned something in the last year. We led a workshop and discussion on capacity building for new (and not-so-new) Hands at Work volunteers. I think we were chosen to lead it because Peace Corps calls us capacity builders. (You might think that means we learned about what it means to build capacity during our 8 weeks of Peace Corps training. Turns out, not so much. However, they did provide us with some awesome resources and toolkits, which is probably even better!)

Anyway, capacity building is something we talk about almost every day around here, so I thought it might be nice to share a bit about it with some of you at home. In the most basic terms, capacity building means coming alongside someone to help them. It's what Hands at Work does every day. (All of our projects are community-owned.) If I had to summarize the three most important things we talked about today, they are...
  • Of all the roles we play as volunteers, the most important (and the most time-consuming) is the role of learner.
  • "Thinking out loud" is a great way to build capacity.
  • It's all about relationships. Ten years after we leave, people won't remember the projects we started, but if we do it right, they will remember how much we love them.
Things here are good. There was a second major transportation strike in South Africa on Wednesday. (When public transport shuts down, everything except our office shuts down.) It's good to see people taking a stand to peacefully protest rising food prices. I'm not so sure the message is getting through to the right people, but I hope it is.

Jed and I have a week of "life skills" training for Peace Corps next week. Fortunately, the training is being held close by, so we don't have to deal with a seven hour journey by taxi like we did for the last training. They've also invited us to bring a couple of people from our organization, which is great, because the guys leading the youth program and the young moms program in Masoyi have much more use for a training on life skills than I do.

I got a text message from Kim yesterday. They had just had dinner near the beach. And they learned a new card game called Piquet. Thought I'd pass on that tidbit. They're doing well.

More good news...Jed and I are planning a trip to Kabwe, Zambia in a couple of months. We will be visiting the Hands at Work service center there, to learn about what they're doing and see if we can build some capacity! Ha! We'll be there for at least a month, and we're terribly excited.

Have I reminded you lately to check out the Hands website? If it wasn't already clear, we love this organization, these people, and they way God is using them.

We're missing you all. Lately, we're missing Amanda especially. Who knew you could miss someone you hadn't even met so darn much?! This is our favorite photo, although it's over a month old now. (We get lots from Pam in the mail and from Jake and Sandy over email.) Isn't she beautiful?

As Auntie Debbie and Uncle Greg always say, take care of each other. We love you!

Brooke and Jed