People We Love In Africa

Back to Los Angeles After a South African Safari

After a butt-numbing 36-hour travel day (which, technically makes it “days”), we are home from our African adventure.

If you want to read about our romantic, intrepid, grabbing-life-by-the-cajones safari with lots of photos you can start HERE.

We certainly miss living among the beasts of the natural world; swimming in pools filled with river water; the fattening, extravagant buffets; the shops selling indigenous arts and crafts and dresses (I love dresses because they don’t have buttons).

But I think what we miss most are the people we love in Africa. In particular, these people:

Gorgeous shot kids at Henna
These are the children of Henna pre-school in the small village of Huntington, right next to Lion Sands Private Game Reserve where we stayed on the final leg of our safari.
Clare meets kids 2
Clare fell in love with these little people. Don’t tell her I said this, but she’s a Child Whisperer. There’s going to be some big bucks in babysitting for this one.
Bridget shakes hands
Bridget shaking hands. She’s my baby. I couldn’t believe how big she was amongst these pre-schoolers.
Henna Ambassador
One of Henna’s ambassadors.
Kids say hello 1
I loved their faces. Curious, gleeful, proud. Just like the pre-schoolers in Los Angeles. They just need a bit more support.

The purpose of our visit to Henna Pre-School was to give back to the indigenous Lion Sands community who took such good care of us during our stay there.

And as a mom, it was also an opportunity for me to show my daughters how other families and children live, so my kids can understand that not everyone has the same privileges, even as, in every other way, we’re so much alike.

I also wanted my kids to see the world is a much bigger place than just their elementary school and circle of friends.

Thembi, with fellow blogger Jamie Grumet, is one of those rare individuals who takes advantage of her success to bring it back to her community.
Thembi is one of those rare individuals who took advantage of her personal success and gave it back to her community.

That they are citizens of the world who can contribute meaningfully simply by being kind and putting themselves in another person’s shoes, or by volunteering, or donating time, effort and income when they can.

A lovely, resourceful woman named Thembi Mdluli was our host at Henna. 

Thembi is the Community Development Manager at Lion Sands.

She was born and raised in Huntington and has almost single-handedly built this school, by securing donations from companies like Nokia, Toyota Australia, Lion World and, believe it or not, The Bachelor, during the Brad Womack season.

In contrast to the local village, the pre-school is very much of the Developed World.

It is one of the only facilities in the community to have its own water source (a well that was dug and donated by Nokia).

It offers two nutritious meals to the children a day.

It has a state-of-the-art-shade structure and jungle gym. It has its own garden, planted by the children, and wonderful classrooms.

Bridget in Class room 3

Clare and Bridget in class 3
This may have reminded my girls that they had a lot of homework to do back at the lodge.

Based on the poverty we saw in the greater Huntington village, we were blown away by how clean, organized and modern Henna pre-school was.

My daughters thought it was better than their former pre-school back in L.A.

The only big difference, I found, between these children and my own, were their names shown in the photo below.

You will notice there is a Relate, a Unaty (Unity?) and an Urgent.  

Other names we saw on the wall were, Bliss, Polite and Avoid. I’m not sure how Avoid will allow his name to influence his life. Perhaps he will simply avoid lions and not his girlfriend who wants to get married.

Kids Names 3

I think one of the most difficult things about poverty, is that most of us want to look away from it.

I speak for myself when I say, sometimes I feel like the problem is so big that I have no idea where to begin to help.

Visiting Henna showed me that the only place I can start is one child at a time. One community at a time. One charity at a time.

Visiting Henna and shaking hands with each one of these fierce, proud, joyous individuals reminded me that these aren’t the faces of poverty.

They are the faces of Urgent, Polite and Bliss. Each child will have experiences and live a life just like my children will. 

So, I’m starting with Henna pre-school today and if you are searching for a good place to start, I hope you’ll consider doing the same.

Jamie at Henna
Jamie Grumet of I Am Not The Babysitter at Henna Pre-school, glamorous as always.
Saying goodbye.
Saying goodbye.


Legal Status

The Bhubezi Community Projects is a registered independent trust and is sanctioned by the South African Revenue Service as a Public Benefit Organization in terms of section 30 of the Income Tax Act, P.B.O. Ref. No. 18/11/13/765. The registration number is 2001/008367/08

The Trust continues to undertake and become involved in exciting projects focusing on education in a holistic sense; and working in conjunction with the community is both rewarding and worthwhile.

We believe that the Bhubezi Trust, by working with the community and establishing relationships with government and donors, facilitates the community’s plans for a better future by helping to turn dreams into realities.

Get involved (any amount contributed to a specific need will help)

Sponsor a child for a year’s tuition.

US $175

Sponsor a teacher for further tuition

US $500

Monthly food aid

US $1,500

Lamination of Floor at New Beginnings day care, feeding chairs and cot beds

US $9,000

Outdoor toys

US $2,000

Jungle gyms

US $8,000

Building of toilets at New Beginnings

US $9,000

Landscaping and tree planting

US $10,000

Huntington Home Based Care vehicle

US $12,000

Building of a kitchen at New Beginnings

US $18,000
General donations

General donations include stationery, used or new clothes, cutlery or crockery, office stationery and equipments, used soccer kit including soccer balls, toys, e.t.c these are always welcome

For further information please contact:

Thembi Mdluli (Community Development Manager for both Lion Sands and Tinga)


Tel: +27 13 735 5000

Fax: +27 13 735 5330

Postal Address:  FEDEX Shipping address:

Bhubezi Community Projects   Bhubezi Community Projects

Thembi Mdluli Thembi Mdluli

PO BOX 8090 Nr. 15, 3rd Avenue

Whiteriver Parktown North, Johannesburg

1240 2193

The banking details are as follows:

Name of bank: First National Bank of South Africa

Branch: Whiteriver

Address: 37 Chief Mgiyeni Drive, Whiteriver, 1240

Type of account: Current account

Account number: 62049047956

Code: 270552



Our trip was organized through Destinations South Africa and all lodgings were through More Hotels.

17 thoughts on “People We Love In Africa”

  1. What a wonderful story. Thanks so much, Shannon! ANd thank you for sharing the wonderful photos. What a great idea and life lesson to instill in your children – that the world is a much bigger place than our small sphere of life wherever we live – and we have to help take care of that world. Thanks again!

  2. Amazing trip Shannon! Such an amazing opportunity to share with your girls. A life changing trip for all of you filled with many lessons. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. I’m kicking myself for not having a better camera. God and finances willing maybe I’ll get to go back again in a few years with a better camera.

  3. Wow what a great experience this must have been for your family. And my bet is you have taught your kids lessons that will always stick with them. Love the pictures!

    1. Trina — what was great about this trip was I didn’t really have to teach them anything. They just soaked in their environment. I soaked it in too. Somehow going to Africa is always a humbling experience for me.

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