I am writing to you tonight from Cape Town in South Africa. It is winter here, but a relatively mild coastal winter season... it was a partly cloudy/rainy 57 degrees fahrenheit here today.
It is a week since I left Colorado. I spent 2 days getting to S. Africa, and we hit the ground running in Johannesburg. I am traveling with Women of Color Quilters Network, and the reason for the trip in the first place was because of a quilt exhibit about Nelson Mandela, with quilts by African American and South African quilters. There is a companion book (hot off the press here in Cape Town) and we will carry the books at eQuilter as soon as we can get them in stock.
Yesterday we went on a big photo safari at the Pilanesburg Game Reserve, and it was SO exciting to see all the animals in the wild. The problem of rhino poaching is just heartbreaking, made more bittersweet because we saw 4 pairs of mother-and-baby rhinos in the park. The poaching of tigers, elephants, rhinos, etc. is caused by the unimaginable poverty here. When 30-40% of the population live in tin shacks with dirt floors, and no running water or electricity, it is a daunting task.
Thursday I visited an after-care center for kids who live in one of these shanty-towns. The kids who attend this program are the poorest of the poor.... orphans being raised by older siblings, or living in extreme poverty with little or no food. I made a donation to the center on behalf of eQuilter, but it is a drop in the bucket. The program is funded by Clover - a local dairy company. It is called Clover Mama Afrika, and they set up local "Mamas" to run these centers all over S. Africa. If the older sibling is not old enough to raise the kids, then they place them in foster homes. It is a very common problem here, with so many parents dying of AIDS.
Thursday morning I spent at the quilt convention, and I'll have some wonderful quilt photos for you in the next week when I get back. My internet connection in Johannesburg was just awful, and I am having a respiratory issue because of the intense smoke/pollution in Joburg, so I am going to take it easy and post the photos when I get back.
Many thanks to those of you who donated quilts for the children. They were just blown away that we were actually *giving* the quilts. They went to 2 daycares in shanty towns, and the children and caregivers just went nuts over the colorful quilts.
We have 2 days of touring in the Cape Town area, and then I'll start the long journey home on Tuesday, arriving Wednesday.