A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about living abroad


before reading our next blog entry consider this:

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We don’t want you to subsidise our adventure. We are simply asking you to give generously to one or both of the charities that are changing lives in the area that we have been living in over the past 2 yrs

So far we have raised about 2400 pounds for our 2 charities.. but we need more!!

Maybe you could give a lump sum of £10 or £20 or sponsor us per km – how about 1p/km? If you don’t think we’ll make it all the way home we dare you to sponsor us 10p/km!
(We will peddle an estimated 13,000km)

We have 2 nominated charities that we'll be raising money for.. it has been a struggle to set up donation accounts as both are South African and not British.

However we have now managed it.

Now a little bit about both:


Two widespread problems we have encountered while working here are fatal gastroenteritis amongst children and chronic neck and back pain in women.

Over 90% of Africans still do not have access to running water and survive by carrying relatively small volumes (usually 25litres) on their heads. This directly causes 2 huge problems:–

• Soaring rates of fatal childhood gastroenteritis: With water as such a scarce commodity, washing the childrens’ bottles is rarely a priority. The HIV epidemic is fueling this problem: HIV is transmitted by breast milk so bottle feeding is increasing.

• Chronic pain in females: 25 litres does not last a family long but it does do untold damage to posture, necks, shoulders and backs.

We will be raising awareness and funds for a local project - HippoRoller.org, a charity that aims to improve access to water for needy households by making it possible to collect 90 litres of water (4 times the amount possible using traditional methods) in less time, with greater ease resulting in better health and more time for other activities – like school!


Women and children bear the brunt of responsibility for collecting water, spending 4-7 hours per day walking, waiting in lines to fill containers, and carrying them home. This prevents many children (especially girls) from attending school and completing even a basic education.

Hippo Rollers are barrel-shaped containers that roll like wheelbarrows with little effort making it easier for villagers on foot to transport life-giving fresh water to their homes.

A Hippo Water Roller typically lasts between 5 and 7 years yet some of the originals distributed over 10 yrs ago are still functional. A roller currently costs £55 to manufacture.

The Hippo Roller improves lives instantly. An African solution to an African problem.


For UK Taxpayers who want to use Gift Aid:
It’s a little more complicated, because HippoRollers is a South African Charity.
We have a UK registered charity who will be collecting donations on our behalf for HippoRollers.

If you want to use Snail Mail:
email Beth Sutton at haveahug@hotmail.com and she will forward you the giftaid form to complete.
Please write a cheque payable to Winchester Vineyard
Write on the back and include a slip stating, Ref: HippoRollers Longwayhome
The Winchester Vineyard will then collect the cheques and transfer the money to HippoRollers. The Winchester Vineyard is a church that has agreed to do this on our behalf, as there have been some difficulties with making donations to this charity as it is South African.

Please send the gift aid form and cheque to:
Beth Sutton
Gardeners Lane
SO51 6AD

For an online money transfer Please email Beth Sutton for the bank details of the Winchester Vineyard, and she will forward them to you, along with a gift aid form.
email: haveahug@hotmail.com
please reference email: longwayhome

For Non UK Taxpayers (or those who don't want the hassle of claiming Gift Aid)
This is DEAD EASY!
Scroll down the home page of the blog
Look down to the right hand side column until you reach Favourite Links
Click on Hippo Rollers,
On their webpage click on Donate, in the top right hand corner
You have to convert the amount you want to donate into US dollars
In the box: 'Please leave a note to us with your Donation' www.longwayhome.travellerspoint.com

Thanks for all you interest and support, it is very much appreciated.


This means 'reach out to the children' and is a brilliant organisation that supports over 4000 vulnerable children in the local community that Pol and Rob lived in South Africa.


The catchment area for Lulisandla holds a population of 190 000 - 4000 of which are orphans or vulnerable children - such is the devistating impact of HIV/AIDs and family breakdown. Lulisandla supports the these children in the community. When mum dies they will usually end up with Granny or Aunt or family friend. This carer is elegable for a government grant for looking after an orphan. However the chances are the carer is illiterate and needs help to jump through the legal hoops. Lulisandla supplies this technical help along with helping with emotional and material needs through the 400 church volunteers that it coordinates.

We would dearly love to buy a 4x4 for the charity to help workers access vulnberable children - most are far from any paved road and the the current 2x4 is forever getting stuck in the deep sand or breaking down.


Scroll down the front page of the blog, and look to the right hand side column, under favourite links and click on the link to DONATE TO Lulisandla Kwmtwana (foster care project).
This takes you to SIM’s website: Serving in Missions, a Christian Missions Organisation, under the wings of which Lulisandla Kwmtwana sits.
Click on the link: Donate to SIM-UK, on the left hand side
Fill in your details, and amount to be donated.
Fill your donation amount in the box for Projects
In the box stating, If you are donating to specific missionaries or projects please provides names, write Lulisandla Kwmtwana, South Africa.
For the box stating Any other information you would want us to know about this donation please write: Reference – longwayhome

Posted by robandpol 09:42 Archived in South Africa Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)


Do it.. you know you want to!

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As said before we are raising money for 2 charities that we have seen doing incredible work in the area around the Hospital. To learn more about the charities check out ‘SPONSOR US’.


If you want to donate to Lulisandla Kwmtwana (foster care programme. Caring for orphaned children in the community – they currently need a 4x4 to access children in remote areas) (UK taxpayers can claim Gift Aid)

Follow these simple steps:
Click: DONATE to Lulisandla Kwmtwana (on favourite links)
Type in amount you want to donate
Tick: SIM project
Write in 'Details of Donation': Long way Home


If you want to donate to Hipporollers.org (a simple solution to water access) follow The Link: DONATE to Hipporoller.org. Write longwayhome in the extra info section. (Gift Aid doesn’t apply as the charity isn’t registered in the UK)

Posted by robandpol 23:06 Archived in South Africa Tagged living_abroad Comments (10)

Mseleni Dawn

Helping keep things in perspective

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Dawn at Mseleni.. winter mornings give a mist that covers the ground and reflects the dawn rays – just the trees poke through. I’ll never forget the first time I saw it.. running up the hill to labour ward having had 2 hrs sleep, terrified by the emergency that I was being summoned to...But that incredible sight reminded me that God was in control and I could trust Him.

Hopefully we’ll remember that in tough times on our travels.

Posted by robandpol 22:56 Archived in South Africa Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Farewell Zululand

Mseleni Life

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So our time in Mseleni is drawing to a close. A chance to reflect and think about some of the things we’ll miss and some we won’t!

Things we won’t miss:

This is truly the most horrific disease known to mankind and has the potential to destroy all hope in Africa.

I have seen a pretty young lady loose her whole cheek – exposing her teeth and her oral cavity to the outside world just because a spot wouldn’t heal.

I witnessed a young man – a hero among in the community because he competed in ultra marathons all around South Africa slowly slowly waste away with diarrhea and MDR TB until he was a skeleton unable to move or speak in more than a whisper.

Vaginal warts the size and consistency (but not the smell) of cauliflowers.

Orphans with HIV and no support structures than can ensure the children take their treatment and eat decent food. 20% of the young mothers admitted to my ward left via the morgue.

The list goes on and on but there is hope. It’s not all doom and gloom (see things we’ll miss)

Bugs and Snakes


Have so far managed not to get bitten by any nasties. Have once been inches away from stepping on a snake and 3x very nearly bitten by highly venomous snakes. Have once run straight into the web of a spider with the legspan the size of my hand.



Dongas – a very descriptive name coming from the sound your car makes as it falls into one! They seem to be designed to catch the Parks Board Rangers when they are in hot pursuit of poachers!

Things we will miss

The Gogos (‘granny’-term of endearment and respect. 55yrs onward plus a few wrinkles and you’re a Gogo)

They are cute. Always smiling and will always be happy if they walk out of consutlation with a pack of paracetamol and a de-worm tablet.

The Children


‘Jabu’ her name directly translated means Joy.

I come into children with them when they’re sick or injured.. in general they are either terrified or incredibly stoical. The main reason for this difference seems to be that some mums tell their children that if they are naughty they will be taken to the white Dr for an injection… or worse… these are the terrified kids. The remainder though are incredible. Last Tuesday I saw a 7 yr old who had cut off the end of 3 of her fingers with a machete. As I arrived in OPD I saw her sitting, her mangled hand held over a plastic bag full of blood, calm as a cucumber. She then let me inject anaesthetic into her hand and stitch the wound together without flinching.


Polly comes across them when they are well. The children’s home has 40 kids in and it is incredible how they interact with each other. They are all form broken homes, many have been abused and many are orphans that have been abandoned by their families. And yet they are (mostly) well behaved, polite, considerate and care for the other children smaller than themselves.


Children in the community do mostly all go to school but they are also expected to help with the household chores – especially collecting water.

The Patients
Seeing a young mother malnourished and ravaged by HIV/TB/fungal meningitis. She battled death for weeks, tolerating dozens of drips, tablets, blood tests and Lumbar punctures but survived and returned to the ward 3 months later to thank everyone for saving her life. Nobody recognized her as she arrived. She had put on 20kg and was beautiful in body and spirit. She thought she was never going to be beautiful again. I have never seen the ward staff so happy and excited. (and that’s quite something – happy Zulu people are VERY animated)

The patience
“Sorry – I can see you probably have broken your leg but we only do X-Rays between 8am & 4pm. You’ll have to wait ‘til morning.” The patient shrugs his shoulders and goes and makes himself comfortable on the floor of the waiting room with the other 50 patients.

Plodding up the hill to labour ward with a sick feeling in my stomach as I’ve only had 40 minutes sleep and I know that whatever this emergency is on maternity, it will be something I have never seen before and will be way out of my comfort zone. Then seeing the sun rise and remembering the Glory of God who created this beautiful earth and has promised to sustain us in all things. Rembering that I needn't draw strength from my own inadequate reserves but from Him. That sick feeling melts away.

The Names
Most zulu names are descriptive, some are zulu words others are not. Some of my favourate examples:

‘King’ is an 80yr old Gogo. As I shouted "King Gumede" into the waiting room a very proud and beautiful old lady rose – she wasn’t royalty – her mum and dad just thought it would be a nice name. She had one of the highest Blood Pressures I have ever seen. Looking back in her notes it was clear that she had this problem for a long time but seldom came for her treatment. I asked to examine her.. "Oh no my child, you will have to pay first for I am King Gumede...(in Zulu)" she then burst into fits of laughter. I then explained to her she would have to be admitted to control this blood pressure or she would have a stroke. "oh no my child, I cannot be admitted, I cannot afford it, I have too much to do at home and strokes occur when the ancestors send a bird and it kicks you in the head. Just give me the tablets and I'll be on my way"

‘Wonderboy’ – 5 yr old kid – not wearing a cape but with a very proud father.

‘Aeroplane’ – 75 yr old Gogo. A plane flew over the house when she was born – the first plane the community had ever seen. The same plane then flew over the hospital. It had a lady in obstructed labour inside. The pilot shouted out of the window ‘ceasar!’ to warn theatre staff to prepare. Everyone panicked thinking the plane was about to crash land. 'Siza' in Zulu means Help!

‘Nurse’ – The other day I asked the theatre sister “what’s your name?” “Nurse Nxumalo” “No sister what’s you’re first name?” “My first name is Nurse Dr Summerhayes!”

‘Lucky/Happiness/Fortunate’ - Of course by the nature of my work I only see these people whan their luck has run out.

Peoples uncomplicated and relaxed approach to life:


We asked the owners of the store miles from any settlement or tar road; "God knows what?" “Well, some days we are very busy, others we see no-one. When we wake up God Knows which day it will be!"

The Beaches


A busy day at Bhanga Nek


The sea is full of fish, turtles and sharks. Seems to be near impossible to catch anything on a rod and line.


So I invested in a spear-gun… much more successful.

‘Baby Goat’

We found Baby Goat at night barely rousable, hypothermic, hypoglycaemic, and dehydrated. She had been abandoned by her flock. Too small and weak to keep up.

We force fed her sweet warm milk with a syringe and she came back to life. She quickly identified Polly as Mum and followed her everywhere.


Unfortunately the hospital management disaprove of farm animals within hospital grounds so she had to go and live with a flock of goats in the local community. Baby Goat didn’t like the other goats and they didn’t like her much. At night she bleated outside Gogo’s rondaval until she was let in. during the day she spent her time with the family’s dog and in the end she suddenly got very ill with an infection and died before we had a chance to say goodbye. Poor old Baby Goat.

The incredible wildlife


Yep. Really did get this close (plus a pretty good zoom lens)


Nyala male


God is an incredible artist


A welcome visitor to the wards at night.

‘Sundowners’ at the local lake after work


As it gets dark the sound of hundreds of frogs ribbiting contently, thousands of crickets chirping, hippos snorting and grunting as they get out of the water, fireflies lighting up the water’s edge and the brilliance of the milky way glittering overhead.

Things we’ve learned

It's good to be out of your comfort zone

For it is when we realise that we are unable to control a situation by our own means that we see our need for God. And it is when we trust in and rely on Him that life fits back into perspective.

Elephants aren’t as friendly as you’d think.


This Bull elephant was very grumpy.. or maybe just horny!


He seriously wanted a piece of us…. Fortunately he couldn’t outrun a V8!

Posted by robandpol 01:08 Archived in South Africa Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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