JULY 30 - AUGUST 13, 2017


Paul McGrath

Traveled June 2016

 What an amazing opportunity it was to spend two weeks in South Africa. My first impression of Johannesburg was that of a very modern and metropolitan city. Going to some historic sites and the Nelson Mandela shopping area and seeing a group of young people performing was a treat. One of the last things we did was a trip to Starbucks for a taste of home.

Traveling to George and meeting the business and community leaders was a very good experience. One of the high points of the trip for me was the we time spent at The George Youth Cafe. The program that Elrico and Shawn are running was very impressive. Their goal is to support the young adults of George who are dealing with the high unemployment rate and other social issues. Their work was very inspiring.

As an aside I was equally excited when Elrico and Shawn came to Tacoma to see what we are doing in support of our young people and also to have an exchange of ideas. Showing them around Tacoma in October was a great experience.

Now back to S. A. The scenic drive from George to Cape Town is stunning; it even included a game reserve full of lions, elephants, giraffes and water buffalo. Cape Town is a beautiful city. Going to Robben Island on the 4th of July was a very powerful experience. Seeing where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 28 year was an emotional experience. The fact that our tour guide is a former inmate made the experience even more personal. 

There are so many wonderful and powerful memories, among them: going to Soweto and seeing where so many young people were killed in the fight against apartheid, visiting the Apartheid Museum, seeing other townships to learn how people live, meeting medical professionals in George and spending time in a TB hospital, as well as making a home visit with a doctor and case manager in a Black Township.

The culture and history of South Africa is amazing. I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to travel there, It was a life changing experience and I hope there will be opportunities for future travels for the youth of Tacoma.