October 1, 2016 Partnership Dinner to Celebrate the
56th Anniversary of the Independence of Nigeria
Join us for a dinner/fundraiser when we select a Peace Corps Partnership Program project to benefit from the funds raised at this dinner plus individual contributions that come on on the Donation menu button to the left. The suggestion donation at dinner is $10, the same as the suggested donation for those who cannot join, but would like to contribute. RPCVSF matches all donations up to a total of $1000. If you want to join, but did not budget for the meal, let us know at email@example.com as we may have a contribution for several dinners. For more information on the event, click on the October 1 event in the calendar just below.
October 22, 2016 - 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM RPCVSF Annual General Meeting (AGM)
AGM features Our Annual Awards to K - 12 Teachers and Higher Education Professors
teaching Curriculum-based service-learning that allows students to learn and develop through participation in the community that is integrated into and enhances academic curriculum. For more information about the event, please click on the Annual General Meeting event in the calendar just below. For more information and the Nomination Forms, please click Programs and Spirit of Service to the left or the following quick link: Spirit of Service Learning Award
For more Information about the next 8 RPCVSF events, please see the Calendar Just below. For complete RPCVF event information, please click on Events, Calendar & Registration in the menu to the left.
By Greg Zell (Nigeria 62-64)
Travel Coordinator, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida, Inc.
The group met up in Johannesburg and went straight to Tribes restaurant in the Emperor’s Palace casino complex for drinks and a bit of ceremony to initiate the 3 newbies to Africa. Now that they were going to be Africa hands, they would no longer say, “Johannesburg.” From now on it would be, “Jo’burg.” At dinner, most tried the ostrich steak fillet (farm-raised, of course) with berry sauce, washed down with a splash of South African bubbly. Both were proclaimed “delicious.”
Next morning was early, the first of many, for an hour and half flight to Windhoek (vind hook), the pretty capital of Namibia. We were met at the airport by Stewart, our fantastic guide. A 34 year old native of Zimbabwe, he said he was on his way to becoming a hooligan when he decided to pull himself together, started studying wild life and went to guide school. All his younger siblings have African names. For him, his mother just liked “Stewart.” He started by setting us straight: Some of you have heard of Africa time. Namibia was a German colony. We do everything on German time. And so it was. We boarded our “safari Ferrari”, as he called it, actually an enclosed air conditioned Toyota Land Cruiser for 7 of us and Stewart. Off we went on a short tour of the charming capital. Before heading to the coastal dunes, largest in the world, we stopped at a grocery store for Stewart to fill our coolers with lunch goodies and drinks. Our lunchtime routine: Stewart would pull up under a nice tree. We all pitched in to set up the folding table and chairs, unpack the coolers, chow down, and repack.
The dunes are national monuments. Climbing on them damages them and so is prohibited. The government has set aside one dune for turistas to climb. The wind was blowing the sand around this day. We decide climbing was not a good idea for people with glasses or contacts. We head for our lodge to begin another routine. All our lodges, except this one, were beauties, but all had a view. We would find a cozy part of the lodge facing west, order a drink or two from the bar and have a Sundowner followed by buffet dinner and a bottle of South African red and one of white, all included in the price of travel. This lodge was a “soft camp”, units built of wood frames sheathed in canvas with a permanent bathroom + toilet. When the canvas is made to look like a tent, this is called a tent camp. Ours was a soft camp. Overall, the set-up was satisfactory BUT the wind was blowing. The canvas flapped all night making sleep very difficult for still tired people.
We head up the Skeleton Coast stopping to see a fishing vessel caught on the reefs since 2007 being slowly disintegrated by the Benguela Current and wave action 24/7. Outside the scenic oceanside town of Walvis (vall fish, the Afrikaans pronunciation of the English corruption of whale fish) Bay we have lunch at The Raft, a restaurant on pilings over the water. The icy Benguela makes for fine oysters on the half shell. Heading north, we visit a seal rookery with more seals on shore and in the water than our imaginations could conjure. A lot of seals produces a lot of waste which makes for lots of odor which lives in turista memory.
In Damaraland (home to the Damara tribe), we see elephants, not ordinary elephants, desert-adapted elephants, not a sub-species, just adapted. They require far less water than ordinary elephants and get some from succulent plants. The countryside is very dry. Central Africa has been suffering from a drought for the last 5 years or so. We are at the end of winter in the southern hemisphere in desert and semi-desert. From sundown to sunrise, we are quite cool. In the sun, we get to the high 80s. A road sign marks crossing the Tropic of Capricorn into northern Namibia.
Next stop, Swakopmund, the resort city of Namibia, home to descendants of the original German settlers and winter destination for many German tourists. (Every street sign says “strasse”). We stay at the Hansa hotel built in 1905 but beautifully restored. (Hansa means Germany in Old German.) In the lobby, a voice calls out to us. “Are you Americans? My name is Jahana Hayes, I am America’s teacher of the year doing a State Department tour.” Her beauty fits the hotel. We have another great meal washed with a South African red and a white at The Tug, a boat in the harbor. A highlight of the trip is a side excursion in a dune buggy-like vehicle into the desert with a crusty Scot via Australia. He would spot a rise or mark in the sand, tell us there is an animal under there. We would get out of the vehicle. He would line us up to form a sun block. Animals living under the sand have no natural protection from the sun. He and his crew would dig a few inches until they found a critter which they showed us before returning it into the ground. They even found a deadly sidewinder snake. To give us a stir, he would hot-dog on the dunes. This was special. In town, I felt if I hollered, “achtung” I would bring the entire city to a halt. Nicely, one of our group spoke German which was a good icebreaker with the locals.
Off to Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s oldest and largest where we have 3 game drives. We see 14 lions, with one noshing on a kudu (large antelope); 2 black rhinos; 2 leopards; jackals; baboons; warthogs; guinea fowl; impalas, elands, kudus, springboks, steenboks, dik-diks, and oryx; giraffes; elephants; zebras (ordinary and mountain); several species of mongoose, more birds than we knew existed, skinks, geckos, and wildebeests (gnus). On our last game drive, we go to Namutoni, a park entrance in the far northeast corner. Here is a restored former German fort, used originally to subdue the Africans, then to house WWI enemy nationals who might stray into German territory, finally by South Africa for any troublemakers demanding independence. Our lodge, just outside the park, was straight from Architectural Digest.
Last stop is Africat Conservation Game Reserve, This is a huge electric fenced reserve where the animals roam free. 6 cheetahs greet us. We are lead into a blind which they call a hide. A leopard on the other side never sees people but hears the arrival of a vehicle and so knows it is going to eat. We peek at a sandy hill topped by what looks like a stubby dead tree, From an underground tunnel, a hunk of mule appears in a tree hole. The leopard retrieves it, lounges on a limb, and dines. These animals cannot be bred or released back into the wild. Their mothers were killed before they were taught by mom to hunt. They will never learn, cannot teach any young and so cannot go for bush. Lions and wild dogs are kept in holding pens out of public view.
Back in Windhoek, we stay in a very new Hilton. Our farewell dinner is at Joe’s Beer House, one of the city’s most popular restaurants. Most opt for roast oryx, the national symbol of Namibia. I pass. Game is too tough for me unless ground in a burger. The game we have been served at every meal is from older animals sent to hunting reserves as a form of culling. A few awards were given out: Best Dressed Male: Ted; Best Dressed Female: Lisa; Best Shopper: Maria; Earth Mother of Africa: Marge for her years of service; The Order of Women of the Bush was awarded to Corina and Natalie who met the bush and loved it.
The safari was a great success.. No one got sick because everyone followed Peace Corps/CDC protocols for eating and drinking in Africa. My formula: an unusual county, a good group of travelers, and a fabulous guide. (Stewart was the best of all my excellent guides.) Even our Africa hands had never seen anything like Namibia. “Amazing” was the word most often heard.
Over 70 RPCVS, families and kids enjoyed the weekend in The Keys
House of Pizza - Key Largo - Friday Night - September 9th, 2016
Amoray Dive Resort - Host Hotel for the 2016 RPCVSF Retreat
Educate Tomorrow's First Olympic Athlete to Run in Rio
For the Story, please click on the following Link: Virginia Emmons-McNaught
June 24, 2016 - RPCVSF held a fundraiser for HELP, Haitian Education & Leadership Program, at the home of Barbara Junge and hosted by Linda Whitmyre. For more information about HELP, click here: HELP PPT for RPCVSF 2016.06.08v4 BFA.pdf
Hi Linda – We received your checks this week. Thanks so much for all your work on our behalf. Bernard had a great time meeting you all and we’re delighted that you were able to raise so much for HELP.Thanks also for all your good ideas for raising further funds and awareness. I’m asking our development team, Nikl and Farida (cc’d) to set up a call with you to discuss all these options and what kinds of materials we can send you.We are coming off another good year at HELP. Over 40% of our students made the Dean’s List at their university and we had our first Fulbright scholar among our alumni. Students were very active in leadership service projects, including tutoring grade school students in underserved areas and creating volunteer opportunities for other university students, and our graduates continue to have very high rates of graduation, employment and income. So the support of RPCVSF is really instrumental in creating lasting change in Haiti.
Thanks again to all of you, Conor Bohan------------------------------------------------------
Dear Conor and all at HELP,
Thank you for introducing us to Bernard Fils-Aime. We had a very informative and enjoyable get together in late June ... and we raised $802.78. In addition, the Spring profits from our Fair Trade Market designated for HELP were $687.00. These two checks are enclosed. Signed Linda Whitmyre for RPCVSF
To Locate and Donate to a Peace Corps Partnership Project,
Please click the following link: Peace Corps Partnership Program
or Attend an RPCVSF Partnership Dinner
April 7, 2016 - RPCVSF held its' first Partnership Dinner on a weeknight, and the dinner was a sellout. The event raised $554 for a Multipurpose Health Building in Zambia. The dinner was held at Taste Buds of India, organized by Doris Vincent and Subrata Basu spoke on his recent experience as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Belize. Picture Above shows attendees in the process of selecting a Partnership Project.
July 29th, 2016 - RPCVSF received the following e-mail:
This will be my last update as the library has officially opened!!! It went off without a hitch. In attendence were 15 Peace Corps Volunteers, 5 village Headmen, 600 community members, The Chief, and the Provincial Officer for the Ministry of Education. We finished with about 3000 books of varying reading levels. There were acrobatics, traditional dances, rings of fire, poems, songs and many speeches. We danced, we cried and we read books! This week we had our first classes in the library and the students were thrilled! Next week we will be training a temporary librarian as the district has promised to send us a full time librarian next term!
I would like to thank you all again for your kindness and generosity. In the celebratory speeches you were thanked time an time again and asked to come and visit any time.
Please enjoy the pictures attached below. Thanks again!
All the best,
Sydney and the Nazilongo Community, Nazilonga, Zambia
May 19, 2016 - RPCVSF received the following e-mail:
I would like to send a warm thank you to the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida for supporting my PCPP grant in Zambia! Your contribution will go a long way in helping my community complete a brand new mother's shelter and youth education center in this rural community, and we truly appreciate it.
Community Health Improvement Project
Peace Corps Zambia
2017 Group Travel
Under consideration in 2017: a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg arranged
with assistance from former RPCVSF President Tuey Murdock (Colombia);
A safari to Tanzania including Zanzibar to see the Great Migration of the
wildebeest possibly with a side trip to the Zimbabwe (best) side of
Go-Today.com is offering 3 nights in Santiago, Chile, and 3 nights on Easter Island for $2000 per person. Your life will be incomplete until you have seen the moai on Easter Island. Travel@RPCVSF.org has done this trip and has used this vendor 7 or 8 times. Both are highly recommended. For information, please click here: Easter Island
Travel Coordinator: Gregory Zell (Nigeria 62-64) firstname.lastname@example.org
This is not a fund raiser. No organization funds are involved. The Travel Coordinator is not compensated.
A program of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida, Inc.