Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me

Well I'm back from Africa.  Words cannot describe how much I love that place.   I am glad that I get to help in some small way, but the reality is I am the one that is most blessed by my trip to Africa.   I am reminded of what really matters in this life, and what joy and love look like in their purest forms.   Being in Africa lets me unwind, de-stress, and truly rediscover myself.

Our team leader Greg showed us this video one night, and it became my mantra for this trip.

I need Africa more than Africa needs me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Not All Play

My trip to Africa wasn't all playing with kids and safari.  This year, as an Advisor, I was given the task of creating a performance evaluation system for the employees of Care For Life's Family Preservation Program. First I researched all about performance evaluations systems, and talked to friends and family who were managers to learn all about their systems.  I read a lot about my own evaluation tool, the one for CCSD teachers, and ended up using it as a model for the CFL evaluation.  I then combed through the CFL business plan and conducted field observations to learn about the responsibilities of each person in the program.   Finally, after creating a rough draft of the document, I sat with each level of employee (field officers, supervisors, coordinators) to get their input and ideas on the evaluation. One thing I'm really excited about is the personal professional goal.  I added a space on the evaluation for the employee to come up with a personal professional goal, and to discuss that with their manager.  This is something I wish my evaluation had.  I believe this evaluation system will be very helpful to Care For Life moving forward, and will make the incredible work they do even more incredible.

Also, while conducting the observations in the communities, I noticed that there wasn't a lot of modeling.   In a epiphany, I realized that I needed to share the gradual release model of teaching with the staff: I Do, We Do, You Do.   In one sentence, this is an effective lesson structure that begins with the teacher modeling, includes guided practice with teacher feedback, and finally independent practice.   So I prepared an I Do, We Do, You Do training for the last staff meeting I was in Mozambique, and it went over smashingly.   The staff really internalized the idea and saw immediately how it would be applicable--it's not enough to just explain to the zone leaders how to visit families, you have to model how to do so in an actual visit.  Again, this is a small thing to make their incredible work even better.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Kedesh might be my favorite place in the world.

Kedesh is an all boys orphanage here in Beira (Read about my visit last year here).   They are the lost boys from Peter Pan, and I love every minute there.    Tonight I hung out in the kitchen, and Joao Bude, 10, taught me how to make popcorn while my good friend David, 15, fried up the Mozambican cake/doughnut holes. Joao was an excellent teacher, modeling what to do then putting me in charge so I could get guided practice and independent practice.  I was very impressed.  I played games with Lucas and Vovo. I remembered Joao's and Alberto's and Sergio's names, a year later.  We all joked and chatted and danced.

I can't describe why I love Kedesh so much, but I truly do.  I just love being there.  The boys are so incredible, so happy, and so much fun.

Kedesh might be my favorite place in the world.

This is my favorite picture ever.  Props to the photographer, Natalie Stevens.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rio Savane

After a pretty intense week of working in villages (and living without power!), we were all pretty excited for our beach day.  Work hard, play hard!

Our boat to cross Rio Savanne and get to the beach

Me chatting with the boat drivers

The whole area feels like a little resort paradise: palm trees, sandy
volleyball courts, little hotel cabins.

I don't know why jumping into, over, and through ocean
waves is so fun, but we sure did a lot of that!

Of course, as part of our day's festivities
 I organized the building of a sand castle...

..complete with a drawbridge, moat,
and the beautifully landscaped North Gardens.  
Our castle, however, often came under attack...

Secure the hatches!  Attack on the southern border!

Lunch was a delicious affair--the flies thought so too!