1. South Africa Literacy Begins At Home

    My wife, Lora Willard, began gathering book donations to work on a literacy project at our schools.  But before she got a chance to begin the project at school, she pulled out a few books at our home.  Once the kids saw we had books they called all their friends and gathered around in our yard for an impromptu story time!  Literacy really does begin at home (our home in South Africa, in this instance)!

  2. South Africa Cat Crazy!

    We started with two kittens that we received from the Pakistani store-owners in our village.  The kittens grew up to be cats who attracted the attention of male cats elsewhere in the village and we've been flooded with kittens ever since!  At least these two mother cats always help each other out with their massive litter of kittens!  How many cats/kittens can you count in this picture?

  3. South Africa Don't Worry, Be Happy!

    The bridge spanning the river between our village and the neighboring village was never well-constructed.  Oftentimes it cracks or pieces of it collapse and the repairs are always temporary and poor in quality.  One morning a taxi driver's van fell right through the middle of the bridge as it collapsed beneath him.  But, why worry?  I think this picture of the taxi driver and his van greatly demonstrates South Africans' ability to look past adversity with a smile, and not worry about circumst...

  4. Madagascar Fetching Water

    We saved our vacation days to spend a month in Madagascar during the second half of our Peace Corps service.  It was fun seeing how many things about Madagascar are different than South Africa and how many things are the same.  Here's one thing that's the same: kids trekking through the fields to gather water of questionable quality and haul it the distance back to their homes, with a good attitude about it all the while.  Here's one thing that's different: the fields the kids pass through in...

  5. South Africa South African Summers

    There was a small river between our village and the neighboring village and summer rains would help fill it up enough for swimming.  It was also about the only way to cool off during the horriffic heat of South African summers and the local kids weren't shy to take advantage of it.  Here's a late afternoon picture of our brother in our host family following his friend with a large leap into the cool waters, while his sister in the background looks on.

  6. South Africa Dance Your Heart Out!

    In our village they often have traditional Mchongolo dancing parties for various occasions.  This one was after the completion of a one-year "wearing the black" grieving process for a prominent family in our village who lost a member of their family.  You can see that the boys are really dancing for all they're worth and the expressions on their faces tells the whole story!

  7. South Africa The Pied Pipers

      Soon after Woody and I first arrived to our permanent site, one day after school we had a gaggle of children follow us home like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.  Each one carrying a brick in their hands. When we stopped and asked why they were carrying bricks, they answered in unison “I don't know.”  Well, it turned out that our principal arranged to have a shower drain and “septic” tank (really a French drain) installed at our house and he asked literally every child from the school to bring...

  8. South Africa Today's Reader is Tomorrow's Leader

    At one of our primary schools, the library has been up and running for a while thanks to the previous PCV. Therefore, I thought that it would be a good idea to start a Reading Rewards program there in order to rejuvenate the kids' interest in reading. At our schools at least, the kids all seem to love competitions. So, this new Reading Rewards program seems to be just the thing to get them excited about reading. I called the competition the “Big Five Readers” and made a chart for each grad...

  9. South Africa After-School Snack!

    At school one day after classes I saw some girls throwing rocks at a tree and picking things up off the ground.  When I walked up, they were proud to show me the Mopani Worms (caterpillars) that they had caught for dinner that night!

  10. Brazil Alegria! Alegria! (Happiness! Happiness!)

              After my Peace Corps service ended in 1969, I wrote to residents of Glória for a while, but many Brazilians took months to respond or didn’t respond at all. Eventually my teaching job, graduate studies, volunteer work, new husband, and hectic lifestyle took over. I lost touch with the wonderful people of Glória.           Once I had access to internet service in the 90’s, I searched for the town of Glória, with no luck. I knew it might take a while for information technology to reac...

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.