Friends are Fabulous

The 30th of June is International Day of Friendship.

I’m reminding you nice and early in case you need to make a plan to make a plan to get together and have a lunch date or something, or even just to remind yourself to call somebody.

Friends are good for a person’s heart and soul. Literally!  But friendship is very much a two-way thing.

One has to give as much as one gets – and I don’t mean “stuff” here either. I’m talking about time spent together, laughing, sharing experiences, chatting and more importantly, listening to the other person. Really listening to hear – and not listening to talk when they’ve finished speaking. Often friends just need to talk to somebody that they know really cares about them – they don’t want to hear how the same thing happened to you.

If a friend tells you a juicy secret, don’t go blab it out to the world in general afterwards. That’s not what real friends do.

Research has shown that people who have lots of friends are much more likely to survive a major illness than somebody who has no friends. This is because the loving support (both physically and mentally) of friends helps a person get better

Companionship is also known to reduce stress. People, who are married to a person that they both love and are friends with, are more likely to stay married. (Yes – it’s very possible to love somebody and not like them very much!)

In your life time, you’ll probably make around 396 friends, but according to research, only 1 in 12 friendships last and of those, only about 4 will be really close friends.

These days, with social media – it’s easy to think you have loads of friends, but this is not always the case. Next time you meet up with your friends, put your cell phones away and talk properly to each other, instead of chatting via text messages.

Amazingly enough, scientists have also discovered that there are animals – like dolphins, bats, chimps, baboons, elephants, horses and… wait for it… hyenas that have been known to form friendships for life with individuals that are not the same species. (I was quite surprised to see that they did not mention dogs and cats – specially seeing as how they have bonds with their humans.)

Remember people… in order to have a friend, you have to be a friend!


To sea or not to see

The 8th of June is World Oceans Day.

Thought to celebrate this day I’d share some cool facts.

Did you know that around 70% of the world’s surface is covered by oceans?

There are 5 different oceans – namely the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean , the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean.

The largest is the Pacific ocean and it covers around 30% of the Earth. The name “Pacific” come from the Latin word ‘pacificus’ – meaning peaceful.

Incredibly, around 70% of the oxygen that we breathe is produced by the oceans.

Only 5% of the oceans have been explored. Not surprising really when the deepest known area of the Earth’s oceans is in the Pacific, near Guam in the Philippine Sea at the end of the Mariana Trench, and its deepest point measures nearly 11km.

The Great Barrier Reef (the largest coral reef near Australia) measures about 2,600km and it can be seen from the moon!

We all know that oil spills in the sea are terrible and kill lots of sea life, but waste matter from sewerage and agriculture gets dumped into the sea too. This sometimes had all sorts of toxins in it that can cause dangerous types of algae (sea plants) to bloom in water near the coast. When these blooms die and rot they use up all the oxygen in the water and then there’s none left for the fish. These are called “creeping dead zones”

Some people just think of the sea as a huge dumping ground. Lots of other stuff (like chemicals) are chucked into the sea – and get eaten by the fish that you and I eat, which causes illness in humans (never mind what it does to the sea life).  It’s very scary how polluted the seas have become.

312 million kilograms of sea food is consumed each year! Our ocean resources are being depleted daily. People often imagine that the sea is full of a never-ending supply of fish but this is simply not so.

Please remember you can consult the SASSI website   and find out which fish are endangered or not.

To celebrate World Ocean Day we are going to make Sibo and the Sea available on the website  for you to freely read if you want to read more about the oceans.

Please only eat from the “green list” people!


Families are precious

The 15th of May is International Day of Families.

Sometimes, if one comes from a big household, it is easy to think that families can be a bit of a pain and actually lose sight of how incredibly lucky we are to have them. Many people are very sad because they either don’t have family or they have moved far away and they never get to see them.

If you have not spoken to a  family member whom you love dearly for a while…  why not pick up your cell phone and send them a WhatsApp or sms to tell them that you are thinking of them (or even better – call them) or write a letter. You could even make plans to go and visit them.

Don’t take people for granted. You never know when something might happen and you’ll never see them again.

Talking about families, the 14th of May is Mother’s Day.  Yup – that’s this Sunday. Still time to do something if you have forgotten about it.

Our Mothers really are special people. They do loads of stuff that we just expect and half the time never even bother to thank them for it. They are always there for us and sacrifice plenty for their kids and families that we never even think about.

If you are a tad financially challenged and don’t have money to buy your mum something special, you could make her a card and give her some special vouchers. Things that say you’ll “wash the dishes” or “make her a cup of tea or coffee” or “sweep or vacuum” or do something else that helps her out… then she can hand you a voucher at a later stage and you will do the chore with a smile on your face and no whinging!

Seriously – mums very much appreciate things like this.

It’s the little things that have to be done day in and day out that get really tiresome. And while you are about it – you could keep your room neat for a change, pick up any stuff that you leave lying around the house without her having to ask and nag.

Give her a fat hug too and tell her that you love her and appreciate her. You don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day to do this either!

To all the mums out there – we love and salute you. Thank you for everything.


Don’t be bullied!

The 3rd of May is World Press Freedom Day. You might think this is a weird day to have and is not very important – but it is. Hugely so. It is critical that newspapers and electronic media are allowed to freely report what is going on in the country or the world, for that matter. Often journalists risk their lives in order to bring news of what is happening to the people. Just imagine if were not able to read your weekly edition of the African Reporter?  You’d have no idea of what is going on in the area.

Which brings me to my next topic – bullying.

There is way too much bullying going on these days. Not only kids are bullied – adults also get bullied.

Verbal bullying is just as wrong as being bullied physically. These days, with social media, you get cyberbullying too.

Sometimes people only properly recognise bullying when it’s physical. For example, when somebody pushes or hits you or hurts you in some other way.

The sad thing is that bullies are typically people who are being bullied themselves – usually at home. They then take it out on other people – normally smaller or weaker than themselves.  It makes them feel better about their own situation – but it is completely wrong.

There are a number of ways of dealing with a bully.

You can try and deal with it yourself.   Walk away whenever the bully approaches you. Pretend you are just walking away from a friend – that way your body language does not look like you are afraid. Bullies like it when you are afraid.

If the bully is verbally abusing you – think of something else – like what you are going to do that weekend or count in your head to 100.  Anything that blocks out what the bully is saying. If you don’t hear it – it can’t hurt you.

If possible, try to hang around friends all the time so the bully cannot get you alone.

Never forget that you are a valuable person and it’s the bully that has the problem. Not you.

Of course you DO NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT ALONE. You can happily go and speak to somebody that you trust – a prefect, parent, teacher or other adult. If they don’t believe you, speak to somebody else that does. If you are being bullied at work you can speak to your HR department.

Know your rights – being bullied is wrong.

Take care,


Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been reading things about kindness lately and I was thinking that we sure could use a little more of that stuff in our world to make it a better place.  It usually only takes one person to start a domino effect.

It’s not hard to be kind – but it does take a certain mind-set. You can start small. By smiling – and we all know that it takes only 26 to smile and 62 to frown!

Smile at random people for no reason at all.  Usually 9 times out of 10 (unless that person is having a really bad day) they will smile back at you. And then you both feel good.

It’s contagious. You walk along thinking about the person who smiled at you and usually you are still smiling. So you end up smiling at somebody else too … and so it goes.

Of course, remember – it’s okay to smile at random people but kids should not stop and chat. And if anybody ever gets too friendly and makes you feel uncomfortable – feel free to tell your parental agent.

If you are at home, or in a shop and somebody drops something. You can bend down and pick it up for them. It takes just a little bit of effort.

You can offer to help your mum or dad without being asked. They might fall over and faint – but try it sometime – I bet they would really appreciate it.

Or maybe if you see somebody at school sitting by themselves looking all sad and lonely you could go and sit with them – even offer them a snack out of your lunch box if you have enough to share.

This is going to sound a little crazy but engaging in acts of kindness actually acts a bit like a medicine chest in your body…

Did you know, it is said that kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This is a chemical that not only makes you feel-good but it makes you happy and calms you down.

Even better – doing acts of kindness produces endorphins—the brain’s natural painkiller!

They say that people who are always kind have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and don’t get as old as quickly as the average population.

Research has even found that being kind lowers blood pressure.

Go out people and commit random acts of kindness!

Lots of love,


Beautiful beasties – big and small.

Remember at the beginning of the year we posted a calendar – one that had all sorts of interesting days on it?

Well  on Friday the 3rd of March we celebrate World Wildlife Day.

Living in South Africa we are rather lucky because we have a wide range of furry creatures that are available for us to see – if we can get to a game park that is. Otherwise there is always the zoo. Of course, it’s not the same to see animals in cages – even if our zoos have nice big cages. Not like some of those horrendous places I have read about overseas.

We are also fortunate in the way that there are lots of bushy areas that contain smaller beasties like snakes, mongoose, dassies and other little critters that you would not see if you lived in a concrete jungle of a city. Not sure I would really appreciate seeing a snake too much though.

My friend Ginny lives near the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve in Pretoria and they have things like Zebra and other types of large buck roaming freely around – right in the middle of suburbia.  She gets to go hiking around the reserve most Sundays and says it keeps her sane.

In the East Rand area there is the Marievale Bird Sanctuary. I know that birds are perhaps not as exciting as big animals but they are still very pretty to look at. Many kids are not so fond of bird watching because we’re supposed to be quiet otherwise the birds get scared and fly away. What’s nice about Marievale is that it does not cost anything to visit, and apart from the picnic area, there is also a nice walk around the wetlands to bird hides. They say there are 267 different types of birds there. Sjoe! That’s a lot! I have also heard that there are otters in the rivers – but sadly I’ve never seen one. In the summer it is open from 05h30 in the morning and only closes at 19h30.

Then there is the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in Heidelberg which is a bit further away. You can spot the following critters in there… zebra, black wildebeest, red hartebeest mountain reedbuck, common duiker, steenbok, grey duiker, baboon, oribi, blesbok, springbok and kudu. It’s not that expensive either – R22 per person and R11 per car.

Have a fabulous week!


Pledge a Book Please!

We all know that South Africa has terrible road safety stats. 

The Minister of Transport Mrs Diplou Peters is always saying that children need to learn about road safety.  It’s true. They do. The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga is always saying that children must read more. That’s true too – they should.

Here we are… pleasing two ministers with one book!

Sibo Looks Right is a book that contains all the rules of the road, including cycling – in a fun, easy to read manner.

Best of all – you don’t have to take our word for it – you can click on the link and read the book for yourself. Free!

Our plan is to get as many companies and people to pledge books – once we have reached our target of 3000 books (we’d love to get more than this too) we will ask people to honour their pledges and deposit the corresponding amount so that Lets Look Publishers can print these books and we can distribute them to the children.

Science Centres in South Africa have kindly agreed to help with distributing the books.

Here’s the crunch – we’d really like to do this BEFORE Easter!

So we need you to dash off and pledge a book – or two – or as many as you want to.

Challenge other people to pledge books too.

Of course, if you pledge more than 50 books  we can put your name/logo in the back of the book. If you pledge 1000 books – we can put your logo in the front of the book. There are great advertising and marketing aspects to sponsoring books.

If you read Sibo Looks Right you will see that Nash Nissan sponsored a large quantity of money towards our initial crowdfunding campaign and so their logo was featured in the front of the book. If you look on the back cover – there are more logos and names – these are all the lovely people who helped make this book happen in the first place.

Now we need to print more books and get them out to schools and children – FREE.

Let’s make this happen. Please! Pledge now.

A million thanks


PS – The Sibo Series is already being read in schools and libraries around the country. In fact, The North West Province Education Department has just ordered more than 500 each of 10 Sibo titles and they are being delivered as we speak!

Start saving… NOW!

Hands up who saves?

I can hear you all saying – don’t be silly you usually have lots of month left over after your money and that there is none left to save. Or that you don’t have enough to live on, let alone save.

It might not be as hard as you think.

Here are some tips on how to start saving.

Write down everything that you spend. Record how much you spend – yes – every single last thing that you spend money on. Use credit card statements, bank statements etc to help you figure out what you do with your money. Once you have all your information – organise it into categories such as: rent, medical, food, clothing, car payments/petrol, entertainment etc.

Make a budget.  Now you know what you are spending, it is much easier to make a budget for all your monthly expenses. Do remember to budget in for things that don’t happen all the time – like getting your car fixed. If you are spending way more than you earn – then it’s time to figure out which are the non-essentials and start to trim them down a bit.

Plan on saving. The aim is to spend less than you earn.  You should try and plan on saving between 10 – 15% of what you earn each month.

Choose something to save for.  This is the fun part – you could be saving for short-term stuff – like having a holiday or a new car. Or things like a computer, cell phone, new handbag or a fancy matric dance dress. Then there is long-term saving – like for your education, your retirement or a deposit for your own home.

Decide on your priorities. No point saving for a holiday if you know you are going to need a new car soon. Of course, you can always save for more than one thing at once – you just have to be even more careful and clever with your money.

Pick the right tools to save.  Do some research and find out which place is going to safely look after your savings and make them grow. Most banks offer automated transfers – this way your money can zoot straight into your savings account at the beginning of each month and you won’t be tempted to skip a month.

Then sit back and watch those savings grow!


A lucky girl

Mum and I got home the other day and our little neighbour dashed up to chat to me. She’s such a cute kid and always has funny things to say.

That particular day I noticed that her toe was all smooshed.

“Khanyi” I exclaimed, “Whatever did you do to your toe?”

She shrugged and answered that she had fallen and hurt it. I told her that she should be more careful with her little toes in future – they were not big enough to mess with.

“But I’m always unlucky!” she sighed. “I am forever falling and hurting myself.”

Mum and I looked at each other.

“Noooo…. You can’t say things like that! You have to think of yourself as being a lucky girl. If you think about being unlucky then that just attracts bad luck. Tomorrow you are going to have a good luck day. No more bad luck!”

But she just shrugged and said… “I’ll try – but I’ll probably have another bad luck day.”

We went inside and I felt sad that she is so little and yet she already has such a negative attitude.

Dad is always telling us about the law of attraction. Our minds are the most powerful things that we have. If we decide that we are going to have a good day – then we probably will.

But you, yourself, really have to believe this one hundred percent.

You can’t think in wishy-washy terms. You have to tell yourself that you are going to have a good day. Then you have to envision having a good day. The power of thought!

Of course, in my case it’s pretty simple. I envision eating a nice cold ice-cream at school. Then I take some of my pocket money to school and buy one. It’s a simple as that. The ice-cream man is there, the weather is good for eating ice-cream and I don’t lose my money. Everything works.

Or I see my maths paper in my mind’s eye with a nice big A+ on it. Or course I know that I’d put in a lot of work beforehand and could reasonably expect an A+.

Nothing worth having ever comes free or easy. We probably would not appreciate it if it did.

And on the odd occasions when you do fail, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and try again.

Hope you all have a simply fabulous day! (Go on – imagine yourself having a fabulous day.)