Archive Page 2


Pumping water.

This hand pump is also a social gathering spot.

Pumping Water.


toys by kids

10/10 for these kids who make their own toys.

Can you make out what the wheels are made of?

If you are not careful it will make you fit!


cow on roof

Thanks Ty Ty for this pic!


Food Gardens, Food Gardens, Food Gardens, Food Gardens

As a homeopath/acupuncturist I feel I could not make a dent in the ‘dis-ease’ in the community.  I decided to close down my community clinic and link up with a Sekuyasa, a Home Based Care organization that operates in KwaMbila.   My intention was to become involved with food gardens for vulnerable households. Two weeks after  I expressed this intention,  the ZCSD offered me the opportunity to organize 300 people from the government’s Community Works Project to do work that would better the community.

The first thing to do when something involves the community is to meet with my Induna (the community leader that is the mediator between the community and the chief ) I  met with my Induna  straight away and he was very happy about the opportunity that has been offered to the people. The work opportunity involves 8 days work per month at R50 per day.He took me to meet Councilor Jerry Zikhali who has been involved in community work in this area. Councilor Zikhali was happy to hear about the way we intend to use these work opportunities and has helped me to arrange meetings with Indunas of the neigbouring areas that will be involved in the program. The respective Indunas have called tribal meetings under trees and in community halls and we have enrolled most of the people that we need.

On the 15th of April 2010 the first group met to start making compost. I visited some homesteads  and was so excited that people were enthusiastically helping in their group member’s gardens.

The breakdown of the project:

  1. Home Based Food Gardens  (220 people)

Food gardens  to be established at about 400 homesteads. Community members are divided into groups of 4. During the first month the group members take turns to have the other 3 group members help them get their food gardens going (composting, preparing beds and seedling making once seed arrives).  The second month the team members will select vulnerable households and start establishing food gardens for them.  The months will then alternate one month in the group member’s gardens, one month in the vulnerable household gardens. Some time (+- 1/6th of the time) will also be spent cleaning up public spaces like schools or clinics.

2.     School Assistance and Community Cleanup:

Two teams i.e. 48 people have been allocated as school assistants.  I had a meeting with the principles of the schools where we are hoping to place the school assistants.  We explored the possibility of doing ‘how to make cuttings’ classes with the children with some of the branches that are going to be cut down at the cashew nut farm in the surrounding area.  Some of the principals seemed keen to do food gardens. I explained that I am over my quota for tool packs and seeds but if the principals could provide seed and tools we could work together towards establishing food gardens at the schools.  Assistants would also be required to do cleanups and tasks e.g. fire breaks round schools.

  1. Home Based Care:

Two teams (48 people) have been placed under Sekuyaza – the local home based care project. This will incorporate the 21 Home Based Care (HBC)  workers that are currently working in their project.  The idea is to train the new  people to become  HBC workers. We are exploring training opportunities for them.   In the mean time the workers will help the trained home base care workers in general tasks like cooking and cleaning for people who cannot do it themselves and introduce food gardens where people are receiving food parcels. The food parcels include maize meal, sugar, salt, cooking oil, candles, soap and other basics. Vegetables would significantly improve the nutritional status of these people.

Tools and seed are to be provided by the ZCSD, but are not to be expected before mid June.  So far community members have organized their own tools and I think we are going to get quite a good starter batch of veggy and herb seeds posted in by my Facebook friends and Sodwana locals.  I am keenly awaiting 10 packets of unusual food seed from an organization called ECHO.

I hope that the gardens can be inspired by permaculture principles. It is my understanding that 24  people from the project will have the opportunity to do a permaculture design course through the Zululand Center for Sustainable Development.   I am interested to see how the people involved with the project interpret and incorporate these principles into their own style of self sufficiency.


Who has had a Sac Spider bite?

Abby was bitten by what we suspect was a sac spider mid December in Ponta do Oura. She had about 20 bites which at first were not sore and looked like flea bites. The day after she was bitten the bites became sore and small little white heads appeared. Within 2 days the bites went to black with red rings around them, almost like a nasty tick bite. The bites became hot, red,  swollen and very painful to touch and the  flesh just rotted. On day 4 she went to a Dr  with her leg swollen to double its normal size and fever. She was prescribed 1000mg augmentin and fucidin cream. On day 7 she was admitted to have bites surgically cleaned out under general anaesthetic.  She was not given any more antibiotics. She was told to use betadine, keep them dry and change the dressings regularly.

From what I have now read, the antibiotic is to treat secondary infection and nothing can be done about the cytotoxic poison.

The picture below was taken today, about 3 weeks after the bites occurred.  By now the wound looks a lot better and her leg is not swollen any more. The surgeon said she should go back in 3 months time to see if she requires plastic surgery or not.

I have often wondered what these sac spiders look like.   This is what came up on my search:

Note the pale colour and the way the legs are arranged.


Sac Spiders  can be recognised by their pale yellow green, yellow or fawn colour.   Apparently the way their legs are arranged give an important clue to the identity of this spider. Two pairs of legs are directed forward and two pairs backwards, and the first pair is much longer than the other legs.  Apparently the tips of the legs and mouthparts are usually dark in colour. ( )

Cheiracanthium furculatum is a species of sac spider that likes to stay in curtains, clothes and bedding.  These spiders make silk like sacs.  Is that why they are named sac spiders?  ( )
The following is a detailed descritption I found of the bite:
“More specifically, the bite of Cheiracanthium presents as two spots, 4-8mm apart, where the fangs penetrated the skin and are yellow-green, the colour of the venom. After 4-8 hours, mild inflammation, swelling and pain develop. A blister may form over the necrotic lesion after a few days. After this sloughs, an irregular round, ulcerated wound of about 10mm remains. The wound is inflamed, swollen and painful. The wound could start to heal after 10 days but occasionally takes months. In some extreme cases, skin grafts have been necessary. The use of antibiotics is usually required should secondary infections set in but this could be prevented by the use of an antibacterial cream such as Betadine. There is no antivenom and an anti-tetanus injection is usually necessary. Some patients develop a mild fever and headaches after about 3 days and the condition is sometimes misdiagnosed as tick bite fever. However, tick bite fever symptoms develop after about a 10 day incubation period after being bitten, by which stage the bite will have turned black and the surrounding area swollen and red.”                                                                         (  )

Ezinqeni Community Center/ My Community Clinic

I fell in love with the community centre as soon as I saw it. The simple functional building with a view over the Northern end of the St Lucia World Heritage Site.  Sitting on the verandah you can see lake Sibaya to the North and the worlds second highest vegetated dunes lining the coast.  Huts built of rock and lats scatter the scenery. This is a far corner tucked away in deep rural Zululand.

Ezinqeni center as viewed from where my land is.

Set in rural Zululand.

The building itself has a charm that gives me a taste of the tatty Mozambique Portuguese influence.  Simple, white, dilapidating.

This is a hub for the Ezinqeni. Groups gather here for adult basic education, stokvels (money saving clubs), pension day payouts and various other activities.

In June this year I was called here to a community meeting by Induna Themba Zikhali. This meeting would determine whether I was accepted as part of the community, and be allocated land in the area.  I arrived dressed in a skirt (women should definitely not wear trousers to important meetings). I was allocated a seat, the only chair on the left hand section of the room.  All the other ladies were on mats on the floor on the left of the room. The men were on the right on benches. In the front of the room was the Induna with the elders of the community flanking him in order of seniority. After much discussion in Zulu (which i d0nt yet understand), I was asked a couple of questions. When they heard that I am single and live by myself, the room resounded with clucks of sympathy. When the Induna explained to them that I am an Inyanga (herbalist) the sounds were of utter surprise.  I was made part of the community and I am so thankful for their grace.  I even had a marriage proposal.  A young muscly zulu man (of about 25) came over and said his mother said he should ask me to marry him.  I now know that it was very inappropriate for me to ask him ” how many cows?”.  It would be up to my father to negotiate that.

Since August 2009 I go to the community centre on Monday mornings to do a clinic.The matriarchs of  the community decided that I should be here on the same day as they meet to make mats on the verandah. Probably to keep an eye on this strange woman.  We are slowly building a repal.

I have a few brave patients coming in to be poked full of needles. I explain that it is Chinese traditional medicine, and they trustingly let me work with them.  Together with the acupuncture I usually give a homeopathic remedy and some calcium or vitamin C or other supplements, depending on what I can afford.

In time I would like to use the network of the gogos (old ladies/matriarchs)  to distribute old clothes or donated goods and start some community development projects.  I feel my contribution to this community could be to bring attention to this special community centre and help by fixing the water supply, leaking roof, breaking floor and possibly even wind or solar power. (Imagine screening documentaries in the hall while I am consulting. Imagine  linking with acupuncture training centres abroad via Skype to give them a feel of rural conditions and us the benefit of their knowledge.  Imagine vegetable gardens and avocado and mango trees that feed the needy.)

One step at a time. At the moment that step is my Monday mornings clinic.


Nursing a Hangover?

“I will never do that again”

Even so, here is some good information on the dreaded T.B.  (Terrible Babbalaas)

Apart from the obvious toxic effects of alcohol, you should realise you’re suffering the effects of a mild overdose of a depressant drug and your nerves are reacting accordingly.  You have also flushed a significant quantity of vitamins and nutrients from your system causing a degree of metabolic shock that your body is struggling to compensate for.

A hangover is caused by:

1             The  toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism notably acetaldehyde.

2             Dehydration.

3             Vitamin depletion caused by the chemical action of alcohol on your system.  The vitamins that are the quickest to deplete the water soluble vitamins B (particularly B6) and C.

4             Electrolyte depletion. Alcohol inhibits antiduretic hormone which allows your kidneys to excrete too much fluids.  This flushes away electrolytes too.


Some drinks give you worse hangovers than others due to the actions of impurities called congeners. While it’s the ethyl alcohol (ethanol) that gets you drunk, amyl alcohol, butyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, propyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol is also found in most drinks to varying degrees, and the concentration of these congeners influences the severity of the hangover.

Red wine and dark liquors such as brandy, whiskey and tequila contain the largest amounts of these toxins. White wine and clear liquors have less congeners, causing less frequent and less severe hangovers.


While painkillers will provide immediate relief, they can cause problems for the kidneys and liver with long-term use.  Aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Ibuprin, Motrin IB, Nuprin) are hard on your stomach, while acetaminophen (Excedrin, Panadol, Tylenol) is hard on your kidneys and liver, too, which will already be working overtime processing the alcohol.

Helpful natural remedies

Vitamin C

One of Nature’s most powerful detoxifyers. Acetaldehyde is formed during the breakdown process of alcohol and is further metabolised in the liver. Acetaldehyde is the nasty substance that causes organ and brain damage, so the quicker it is out of your system the better. Vitamin C hastens this breakdown significantly.

Take 2-10 gm per day in divided doses. Start at 1,000 mg an hour and built up to bowel tolerance. An excess of vitamin C can cause diarrhoea and since you probably have stomach distress already too much C may cause a problem.

B-vitamins Take the vitamins before you go to bed and let them work their magic while you sleep. If you forget, take them immediately upon arising. You will need to take a high-potency B-complex supplement for this remedy to work (50-75 mg of B-complex twice a day, hopefully once before bed after indulging). Reduce the amount of sugar you consume with your alcohol. The forced metabolism of sugar AND alcohol by your body will accelerate the depletion of B vitamins and make the hangover worse.

The most important B vitamins for your hangover are:

Vitamin B1: supports the natural metabolism of alcohol.

Vitamin B2: studies have shown that riboflavin reduces headaches and inflammation of the brain.

Vitamin B3: converts carbohydrates into glucose to produce energy, as do all the B vitamins, and rids the body of toxic and harmful chemicals.

Vitamin B6: maintains blood glucose within a normal range after being depleted by alcohol consumption.

Magnesium helps relax those pounding blood vessels causing that hangover headache

Banana Milkshake

One of the quickest ways to cure a hangover is to make a banana milkshake sweetened with honey. The banana helps calm the stomach, and with the honey, builds up the depleted blood sugar levels. The milk soothes the stomach and rehydrates your system. Bananas are also rich in the important electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, which are severely depleted during heavy drinking. Bananas are also a natural antacid to help with the nausea. Add some honey.
Eggs contain large amounts of cysteine, the substance that breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde in the liver. Mix a raw one into your banana milkshake if you are brave enough.

.Peppermint The herb peppermint, either in tea form or chewing the leaves, will relax the intestines. Peppermint is a carminative, which is a substance that removes accumulated gas from the stomach and intestines. Make a tea by pouring one cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb; cover; steep for fifteen minutes; strain. Drink 1-2 cups as soon as you can.

Scalp stimulation Pull your hair in clumps so that your full scalp is stimulated. This  brings blood to the scalp and relieves the headache.  Have and Indian head massage.




Twitter Updates

  • Having lots of fun with structure going up over the caravan.(thanks Mikael and Andgie the two architecture volunteers) 6 years ago
  • Andgie and Mikael made rice milk. I had home made rice milk chocolate. Yum. 6 years ago
  • Experimenting with blanket cooking and bottling beans. 7 years ago
  • Erin is making ripples into the community with her circle garden concept. 7 years ago
  • John has changed the soil scape of the garden with loads of 'the shit' 7 years ago


July 2018
« Nov