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Josh's blog: Settling in to South Africa

  • Story Highlights
  • Josh Macabuag is in Jozini, South Africa, with Engineers Without Borders
  • Together with EWB he will help to build a new sports and leisure center
  • In the days before work begins Josh took the time to acclimatize
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By Josh Macabuag for CNN
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JOZINI, South Africa (CNN) -- Josh Macabuag is in Jozini, South Africa, where he will be working with the charity Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

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"The wildlife and landscape is something amazing. It's also something I very much doubt I'll tire of."

EWB is an international organization that is committed to engineering for international development. It takes on building projects across the world to benefit areas in need of structural rejuvenation or renovation.

Over the course of the next twelve months he will be helping to build a new sports and leisure facility for the local community. Follow his experiences over the coming year in his blogs and video diaries.

September 6, 2007
Ok, I've been here just over a week now, so it's about time I wrote something (i.e. I'm being strongly encouraged to write something!).

The last week has been a pretty gentle introduction to South Africa, which is good by me. Our (I'm with one other UK volunteer) arrival was expected, but there were still a few things that needed ironing out before we could get stuck into our new jobs. So, from the Tuesday of our arrival to the following Sunday our only task was to sightsee, relax and get acclimatized.

Basically, the condensed story goes like this: Jozini is a fairly impoverished municipality in the north east of South Africa, near the Indian Ocean and the borders of Swaziland and Mozambique.

A few years ago, the Jozini municipal manager visited England to speak to several organizations and influential persons regarding the situation in this part of South Africa. One of these organizations, contacted through links with a local NGO: Esibayeni Development Projects, was an engineering consultancy firm named Buro Happold, who agreed to try and do something.

That something involved convincing a UK charity, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), to provide volunteers who would be willing to work at the Jozini municipality offices and be of technical assistance where they can.

So last year two volunteers came to Jozini and this year there are two more: myself and Lindsay.

My 22-hour journey from London to Durban was mostly lost to sleep (my pre-departure organization was pretty last-minute so I had plenty of sleep to catch up on) and I arrived early Tuesday evening to meet Kobas, the Jozini town planner who would be looking out for us our first few days.

The next day, we made the four-hour journey into Jozini (again lost to sleep), briefly met the municipality manager and then went on to Kobas' house in nearby Pongola, where we'd be spending the next week. Our accommodation wasn't quite ready so we had to make do with a massive house, grounds and a swimming pool.

The next couple of days were spent by picking a direction and driving in it until we hit a likely-looking game park, town or beach to spend the remainder of the day.

The wildlife and landscape is something amazing. It's also something I very much doubt I'll tire of. The photos and video don't come close to doing justice to what I've seen in just the few days that I've been here.

The more I see the more I realize how much there is to learn, but that's essentially why I'm here and after a few mild (mis)adventures whilst traveling, sightseeing and running a few errands -- sorting a mobile phone is tougher than I expected -- I feel pretty excited and keen to get stuck into whatever comes my way next. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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