Saturday, April 3, 2010

Here at last. Here at last. Thank God Almighty I'm here at last!

Okay so it has been a really long journey (and I mean that both literally and figuratively) but I finally made it to South Africa.

Tuesday afternoon Mom and I drove up to Chicago and we spent the night at a hotel right next to O'Hare, which is the way to travel. That evening I hung out with Mom, Dad, and Amy. My last American meal was at the White Eagle, which is one of the best Polish restaurants in the world. The next morning we woke up, grabbed some breakfast, and the hotel shuttle dropped us off in five minutes.

My first flight left O'Hare at 11 am. It was a short little ride to Washington DC. The lay over was just long enough to grab lunch at the Fudruckers and then hang out at the gate. My second flight was from Dulles to Dakar, Senegal to Johannesburg, South Africa. The good news is that I can cross Dakar off my list of tarmacs to visit. The bad news is that we had to stay on the plane for the hour it took to refuel. So after 18 hours of sitting in the same seat, in an increasingly stuffy plane I made it to Joburg.

That was Thursday night and I pretty much crashed the minute I was shown my room. Friday I got up for breakfast but an hour later I fell asleep reading. I did manage to wake up in time for mass on Good Friday which was nice. After a mere three hours of sleep last night (all those naps catch up to you eventually) Sr. Biddy Rose drove me to Kroonstad this morning. It was a two hour ride and I got to see a little bit of the country.

I must say I was shocked when we arrived at the house. Sr. Biddy was telling me the story of the building on the way but I didn't realize that was where Kelly, Sarah, and I would be living. In 1907(?) the Sisters of Notre Dame were invited by the bishop to South Africa to build a girl's academy. Although they were originally told not to, the SNDs took it upon them selves to build a second school for the children of poor black railway workers in Kroonstad. Unfortunately the two schools were stretching the SND's resources too thing and they decided to put everything into just one of the schools. The SNDs being who they are, decided to give up the well respected and prosperous girls' boarding school. It has handed over to the government and eventually was used for military purposes during the war with Angola. When the war was over the school was closed and left to vandals. Eventually the government decide it would cost as much to repair the building as it would to demolish it, so it was turned back over to the SNDs through an umbrella company of several religious orders. Slowly but surely they have been seeing to repairs and have started providing job skills training.

What was once a wing of the school (music classrooms to be exact) is now our house. Kelly, Sarah, and I share two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice kitchen, a dining room, and a living room. It is a really nice place. We have running water (although we have to boil it before drinking), electricity, heating, and even a tv. We also have a car at our disposal. Eventually I will need it to drive to work but first I need to learn how to drive a stick and adjust to life on the left side of the road. The whole set up in Kroonstad is so much more than I hoped for.

Wow, I just realized how ridiculously long this posting is. Thanks to anyone who actually read it all. Happy Easter.

Love from Africa,


  1. Katie, Thank you for your adventurous spirit and your willingness to go to South Africa. One of my SND friends was principal at St. Peter Claver quite a few years ago, so I feel a special connection with that school. May you be blessed in this new period of service and learning. You are held in prayer. Sincerely, Barbara-Jean Kubik, SND NDMVA Site Director, Hartford

  2. Sue Casey-LeiningerApril 6, 2010 at 1:26 AM

    Oh man Katie...learning to drive on the left side of the road s a piece of Kate...its relearning to drive on the right side of the road is hard. I'm so glad you made it ok!