Hello Everyone,

I am so glad that I have been able to get back on-line to send you an update.  We have been without water and electricity for quite some time.  The weather has been hot and rainy for the past few day – but today the skies opened up an we saw a beautiful night sky.  The milky was was in full view and the stars feel so close here that you can practically reach out and touch them.  We saw so many interesting constellations – from the Southern hemisphere – of course – which are totally different than what we see in the U.S.

We have had 3 more clinics and they were very successful.  Our first clinic was mostly adults – grandmothers and their grandchildren.  The next day the kids came and we were absolutely slammed with patients – I worked nonstop without a break all day except for the time that I drove the vans into the rural areas where we picked up the children.  They were so incredibly excited to get to see the doctors and receive the medicine.  The children sang songs for the entire ride – it was thrilling even though I only understand about 30 Zulu words.  We then had another clinic in a different region where we saw more adults and the again on Monday we saw more children.  I am always amazed at how the word gets around.  I spent most of Monday’s clinic driving kids back and forth into some really interesting rural areas in the middle of the pouring rain.  The roads are really just dirt paths and there are HUGE holes in the ground where the water has worn them away.  The landscape is just beautiful but the driving is treacherous. 

It is 10pm here in Africa right now and we are planning on leaving at 5 am for an extremely rural area to hold a clinic – it is up a mountain and deep into the heart of Africa.  These folks will have some of the greatest needs.  We are really looking forward to serving these folks even though the travel there is challenging.

Today was a really great opportunity as we were able to go into the the government hospital and visit with patients who rarely have visitors.  The hospital official indicated that 70% of the patients were estimated to have HIV.  The eyes and faces of these folks really tell a story.  It was such a privilege to visit with these folks and bring them some hope that there are people who care.

Ms. Nadeau


I am so excited to tell you that the trip has been going well and the work we set out to do is happening.  You wouldn’t believe how many ziploc bags we have used.  You should see the smiles our our patients’ faces when they receive their medication.  It can’t be described with words – it’s so wonderful.

We have been managing without a lot of our luggage.  We initially were missing 36/55 bags we packed.  They have been trickling in now and we have had just the right amount of medicine for each our clinics.  We spent the first few days just sorting and packing the medicine that we brought over.  It was a big undertaking but many hands make light work. 

The first clinic we saw 175 patients; young and old.  There were a lot of people were were really quite sick and in great need of medicine.  The next day we treated 225 children; just about every one was infected with parasitic worms.  I can’t even imagine what that feels like. 

Our first two clinics were held in a rural area.  I drove my van deep into the countryside and picked up children scheduled for the clinic.  They were so glad to see us.  They loved the air conditioning in the van.  I don’t blame the kids because it is REALLY hot and humid here – it is definitely tropical.  I fit 36 kids into the van at a time – it was really amazing. 

Today we spent time with the local people in eSikhawini and we ate all sorts of interesting beans, potatoes, and curried chickens.  It was quite delicious!

We were without water for several days as well – the local government just cut of the supply to the people – it is amazing to me how many times throughout a day we use water.  It is something that I just take for granted until it isn’t there.  Can you imagine how many times you use water a day?

I hope to write soon again – depending on our electricity situation.  It is come and go!

Sawubona ensuku (goodnight),


Berkley High School really put it in the bag – collecting 17,000 Ziploc bags in 3 days for the 2009 South Africa Medical Mission.    We are SOOOOOO grateful for their help – these donations WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!!

We will transport all of the medication in the larger bags to keep each bottle separated and protected.  Then, when we arrive, the pharmacists will prepare the prescriptions and package and label each one of them in an individual ziploc bag. 

Student Leadership sponsored the event and they did an AWESOME job.  There were posters, announcements, videos, and even the windows were painted with reminders.  The chairperson for the event did a great job organizing, collecting, and motivating.  Thank you so much.

In all 17,000 bags were collected.
1st Place:  Ms. Church’s Class
2nd Place:  Ms. Lafferty’s Class
3rd Place:  Ms. Warren’s Class

Way to Go Berkley High School – You Make a Difference In This World!!!!

A rondavel is the most traditional form of housing in rural South Africa.  It is a round hut made of stone, mortar, and a thatched roof.   The outside of the rondavel is treated with a dung mixture and sometime painted beautiful vibrant colors.


Another type of housing that is typical in the area that I will be staying represents more modern housing:  cinder blocks and mortar with a wavy tin roof.   I will be staying building like the one shown below.  We are also in the process of building a large cinder block building in a remote area where a family will live most of the year and we will use as a medical clinic each year.


One of the most common questions that I have been asked is, “Are you able to communicate/talk with the people in the clinics.”  The answer is Yes!  Thanks to our interpreters (most of them are teenagers) and our rudimentary understanding of the local language and the Zulu’s rudimentary understanding (the teenagers know it best) of English.  We definitely are able to communicate and when we aren’t able a smile goes a long way. 

The Languages of South Africa:

South Afrca has 11 official languages as recognized by the South African Constitution, although much more languages are spoken.

English is a common language that is widely spoken and used in organizations as a communication language between people who speak other languages. Its one of the official languages and also an official language of all of the 9 provinces of South Africa.

Afrikaans is a language that originated from the Dutch who settled in South Africa in the 17 th Century. It is spoken by whites, coloured people (people of mixed race) and some black people.

isiXhosa (commonly known as Xhosa) is an african language (sub group Nguni language) spoken by some 8 million South Africans mainly in the Eastern and Southern parts of South Africa use it as their home language.

isiZulu (commonly known as Zulu) is an african language (sub group Nguni language) spoken by some 9 million South Africans mainly in the North Eastern parts of South Africa use it as their home language. Similar to Xhosa.

Other official african languages are isiNdebele, Sesotho, Northern Sotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.

Most black South Africans can speak a few of these official languages. White and coloured South Africans can mainly speak only English and Afrikaans. (courtesy of wiki answers)

Since I am in the Northeastern region called the Kwa-Zulu Natal, I will be using the isiZulu or Zulu language.  The Zulu langugage is a beautiful language that has a lot of sounds that we are not used to making in English.  There are over 40 click combinations that are used.  To say hello you would say “Sawubona”.    Follow this link to find out more.

Now, for my favorite part – practicing!  I have found a good online resources – it’s not perfect and it could never replace the real experience of talking with my Zulu friends – it gives me an idea.  If you follow this link to isiZulu.net and click on the red icons next to the words, you will get to hear some authentic Zulu words.  Defintely check out these words that have clicks in them:  isigcobo, ukuxhasa, xoxa, incwancwa, and ingqondo.

In the past few weeks I’ve been getting a lot of questions at school from students and staff asking, “Can you tell me exactly where you are going in Africa?”

That is a really good question because, well, Africa is certainly a big place isn’t it?

Look at this convincing evidence.


 So where will you (Ms. Nadeau) be exactly in Africa?

In the Kwa-Zulu Natal Region of South Africa.
Here’s a map of the area.


See Empangeni?  That’s near where I’ll stay.  If I need to pick up supplies we’ll drive our vans into Richard’s Bay.  It is a pretty modern city.  Most people don’t have cars so it is hard to get to.  We’ll spend most of our time in eSikhawini (not shown on the map) and Empanbeni.  We’ll then travel through Hluhluwe Game Reserve up a mountain to Inguvuma which over looks Swaziland.  Swaziland is a small country that is completely surrounded by South Africa.  We’ll be fairly close to Mozambique at that time.  It will take us all day to make that trek since the roads are less than desirable.  The trek up the mountain is especially treacherous with holes in the ground that formed by water erosion during the rainy season.  Are you getting a better picture?

What’s it look like? 

That’s a good question.  I’ll be posting some real pictures but here is some good information about the many different biomes found in South Africa.  There certainly are a lot.   I will primarily be in the Savanna and Grassland areas which most people recall in their mind when they think of Africa.  There will be a large variety of hoofed animals and the iconic acacia tree. 

To find out more about these biomes click here.



Coming soon . . . What do they speak in Zululand?