The Kids of Kayamandi

I walked up to the house and was welcomed with open arms. Mama Zulu is extremely gracious and pleasant. Her four-year old grandson, Buscha (sp?), lives with her along with her nineteen year old daughter Lelethu. Buscha is an adorable little kid that loves candy and music! I didn’t meet Papa Zulu. He’s been sick and has been on bed rest for a while, but I would meet him eventually. Mama Zulu showed me to my room. My room is in a shack (for lack of better words) disconnected from the main house. I have my own bathroom, a sitting area with a refrigerator and a couple of couches, and my room which has two beds. All to myself! She said to make myself at home and I certainly did.

This is Mama Zulu’s grandson, Buscha.

The next day, I started at Ikaya Primary School. It’s about ten minutes or so, walking distance from my house. I met the principle and she asked me what age of learners I would like to teach. After being with younger kids for so long, I asked if I could teach any grade from four to six. She thought grade six would be a good fit because they were currently practicing English grammar. The grade six teacher, Pam, came and got me and showed me around the school. For the first half of the school day, we chatted a lot and she was glad to have me here. Chris O’Sullivan, if you’re reading this, thank you for making my first day at the school go so well. All I had to do was mention your name and everyone fell into smiles. Pam then took me to her classroom. The subject of the day? Mountains, specifically Mount Kilimanjaro. I knew all about my old frenemy all too well and so I mentioned to Pam that I just climbed Kili a few weeks ago. She was happy to hear that, as she let me tell the class about my experience and write facts about the mountain on the chalk board. If things couldn’t go my way anymore, Pam had the class write a diary entry in English as if they were going on a mountain hike. I have something sort of like a diary, through the use of my blogs. I then mentioned to Pam that I wrote an entry documenting my experience on a mountain through my blogs. She was thrilled to hear this and asked if I could print a blog post about my mountain experience and bring it to her to tomorrow. She would make an assignment out of it. Yes, my first day at primary went very smooth. I was already liking it a lot and was pumped about the experience I would have here.

The center of Ikaya Primary.

The next day, I had a goal at Ikaya. My mission was to find Chris’ group of kids he bonded with when he was here, because I had a couple videos he wanted me to show them. Pam told me that his kids were in grade seven now. So during break I went to class 7D and saw a handful of kids there in a group talking. I went up to them and asked for their help. They were happy to. I took out my iPad and pulled up a picture of Chris and his kids. “Do you guys recognize anybody in this picture?” I asked. Not only did they recognize everyone in the picture, but one of them was a kid in the picture. His name is Avele. I told Avele I had something to show them but I needed everyone else in this picture too. With ease, one by one, Avele gathered the rest of his crew and came to me. I introduced myself to them and talked to them for a bit. I told them I have something Chris wants me to show and asked if they could come to Mama Zulu’s later.

After school some time, all the kids came over to my shack and I showed them the two videos that their idol has made with them in it. They got a kick out of it and even watched them a few times each. They stayed over afterwards and hung out at my place. They were addicted to my iPad, phone, iPod, and camera and took so many pictures! I ran out of room on my memory card but thankfully I have extras. Their names are Mawande, Aphiwe, Avele, RiRi, Ski, Chester, Toy Toy, and Atha. It’s going to take me a minute to remember their names. I had to write them down on a piece of paper haha!

Toy Toy and Aphiwe wearing my football jerseys and wrestling belt.
Mawande! The youngest of the crew.
Aphiwe and Avele, the champion!
This one is RiRi.

Mawande and Aphiwe mentioned to me that their birthdays are on Thursday. I asked them what they were doing for their birthdays and they both shrugged. So I told them that I would do something special for them on Friday. Thursday is a holiday, Women’s Day, which means school is closed. I made plans that day to go to my old turf in Muizenberg but I would have Friday free. The kids stayed over for the remainder of the night. I walked them back home, or at least to the end of the block and told them I’d see em’ tomorrow. Earlier, Pam suggested to me that I befriend a new crop of kids because Chris spoiled these ones already. But they told me that I have been claimed and not to go to anyone else. I guess I have to listen to them :).

My iPad held their attention forever.

The next day at school, Pam was absent. So I thought I would help out in the computer lab. The teacher there is Zuki (I think?). She teaches math. I fixed a couple of their broken computers and helped the kids out with their word problems. During the whole day, every hour a new cycle of kids would come in that I could help with their work. It was a great way to get the school to become familiar with me. I also brought new pencils to Pam’s grade six class because after seeing them yesterday, they were in dire need of them. Like yesterday, the day went pretty smooth. I have no complaints! At school, Mawande asked if they could come over later. “Sure thing!” I told him. I had to do something first (McDonald’s 🙂 ) but when I returned home, I saw Mawande, Toy Toy, Chester, Avele, Aphiwe, and Aphiwe’s little sister waiting by my shack. Toy Toy wanted to play football (soccer). I didn’t know where there was a field but told him if he could guide me to one, then we can play. Had I known how far they were going to take me, then I would of saved it for another day! I had to carry Aphiwe’s sister the whole way because she’s just a toddler. They led me to a field in the middle of Stellenbosch that took awhile to get to. We played a few football games with some locals who were there and tossed the rugby ball around.

I worked up quite the craving for ice cream! I always do. After we were done playing, I asked them where the best place around for ice cream is. They guided me to Steers, a fast food joint which I have seen all over the place in Africa. I bought them all ice cream, including myself. I swear ice cream can easily make my day. We took the mini-bus back home and when we arrived, there were three more volunteers from Spain who had just gotten there. Two of them will stay in the room next to mine. Hopefully they won’t mind the boys over all the time. I will have to talk to these Spanish girls to see where their heads are regarding that.

It’s only day two with these kids and they are starting to become comfortable with me and would stay at my place for hours, which is pretty cool. During that time, they always spoke highly of their role model Chris a lot, as expected. Hopefully overtime, I would make an impact on them as well. I had to tell them not to come over tomorrow because I will be gone all day, but to come over anytime Friday and we would do something sweet. Tomorrow I would be returning to the Recreation House in Muizenberg. Lucy texted me saying “the house has changed a lot since I left”. Is that a good or bad thing? I don’t know if she meant the actual physical house, the volunteers, or what?

I would soon find out what she meant…


I am planning on buying as much school supplies for these kids as possible before I leave. Friends have messaged me offering to help. So I set up a PayPal account if anyone is interested in donating. Every little bit helps.

You can send through PayPal to my email,

Thank you!

8 thoughts on “The Kids of Kayamandi”

  1. Please let me know if there is anything you need for the kids, I would be glad to send a care package. I was there while Chris was there though I was working on a different project in Kayamandi. But I did get to know a lot of the kids and would love to help support any way I can. You are staying in the apartment I stayed in while I was there. Good luck with your adventures there, and watch out for Chester, he is a sly one. patrickwatx at gmail


    1. That’s nice of you Patrick. I’ll see what I can find out. I don’t even know what address you can send things to. Let me figure all that out and I will get back to you. I’m running out of time here though!l


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