I’m typing these words from the front patio of our “family cottage” here at Mongena Game Lodge near Pretoria, South Africa. The thatch roof effectively shielding me from the blazing African sun, the gentle breeze keeping me cool. Charlotte is inside napping while the big kids watch a movie, all four snuggled together on our fluffy king-sized bed. Dave is beside me, quietly reading. Every so often, I glance up from the screen to watch a momma and baby zebra slowly trot past or a herd of Nyala leap through the brush. If I close my eyes, I can hear only the rhythm of my own breath, coupled with the whistles and peaceful melodies of dozens of bird species nestled in the trees surrounding our cottage.
The contrast of this moment with the ones I have experienced over the past week is not lost on me. This serene, surreal setting feels other-worldly, not unlike a Hollywood movie set. All the while, the hardships, suffering, and extreme poverty I’ve witnessed still loom closely at the forefront of my consciousness.