Our blogger from Multiplex takes a weekend break from his charity building project in South Africa and explores the scenery and wildlife of the Drakensburg mountains.

Friday, 31 March

This morning we are pouring the foundation slab for a cesspit. It's a real team effort. Mehul, Coco and David look after feeding the concrete mixer. Darren, Robin, and I take the mix by wheel-barrow down hill to the cesspit. Owen helps to discharge the concrete down a roofing sheet that we are using as a slide. Nick Jnr is down there receiving and levelling the concrete as it is delivered.

In the afternoon we prepare for our weekend trip to the Drakensburg Mountains.

Saturday, 1 - Sunday 2, April 2006

In the mountains the weather is fine, clear, sunny and warm. Keen eyes spot the wildlife including vultures, eagles, gorillas, rabbits, wild goats, Angola sheep, and various other birds and animals that are explained by the enthusiastic guides. The scenery is magnificent with high mountains and a variety of vegetation.

We travel into Lesotho and stop at a small village where we are invited into Christine's rhondavel to share her home-made bread and beer that she sells to pay for her children's education. The village people here are very distinct in their costumes, but it appears to be a very poor community.

Other activities for the weekend include horse riding and swimming in a river near by.

Monday, 3 April 2006

This morning Owen, Nick Jnr and I commenced building the blockwork walls in the cesspit. It's quite educational to get experience on the tools first hand to understand the simple difficulties that are associated with the trades that we take for granted.

Meanwhile Mehul and Nick Snr make up the formwork for the planks that will form the lids to the cesspit.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

We work on the accommodation block again today. We are not able to go down to the valley to commence the foundations for the ‘House of Hope' because there is feuding between the tribal leaders in the region. GGA's building supervisor and project manager need to make sure that we have the right permissions in place before we attempt any construction work on the intended site.

The cesspit is completed and Mehul and Nick Snr have installed toilets.

Wednesday, 5 April

A change of routine today. We visit four families in the valley that receive food parcels from GGA. The first family that we visit consists of an uncle, auntie and four children. When we arrive one child is at home and being looked after by her cousin. The uncle has been in hospital for some time and the auntie has been admitted as well in the last few days. We see their homes and the simplicity of their minimal possessions.

The other families live in similar circumstances; children are cared for by members of the extended family, grandparents or the community. This is the reality of the AIDS pandemic.