Updates from IBD: South Africa – Team loveLife

A Korean, a Chilean, a Greek, and an American walk into a bar in South Africa– true story. Team loveLife safely made the trek from Berkeley to Johannesburg and spent our first week getting settled in Sandton, the financial center of Johannesburg, where we will work and play.


At 37 years young, Ji-Hong Boo is the wise sage of the group.  Ji-Hong provides guidance and advice on everything from fatherhood to proper conduct at a Korean karaoke bar.  As an MBA/MPH’er, Ji-Hong plans to leverage his healthcare knowledge in the field.  Unfortunately, Ji-Hong drew the short stick and has agreed to be the fall guy for any lion attacks.  

Kostas “big Papa”dakis is the wild card of the group. Equipped with designer jeans, a leather jacket, and rock star sunglasses, Kostas, the only unmarried teammate, is always ready for a night out on the town. With several years of pharmaceuticals work under his belt, Kostas is another healthcare specialist on our team.

Jaime is our life-coinsure with strong opinions on the right kind of wine and rum to purchase. Jaime’s dislikes include jumping in pictures and group clapping.  Jaime brings consulting expertise to the project and has led us through many diverging/converging activities.

And me, I am the token “ugly American”. I find myself in a magical and mystical world where tea is an acceptable substitute for coffee, cookies are deceptively called biscuits, and soccer is not only referred to as “football”, but is frequently and genuinely enjoyed as a spectator sport.  Oh the adventures we will have.

We will be working with loveLife, an NGO that focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention among the South African youth population. South Africa is the epicenter of the war on HIV/AIDS

and loveLife has been a key player in that battle for the last 13 years. We are partnering with loveLife to develop revenue-generating business models to help the NGO along the path to self-sustainability. Our first week was filled with tours, interviews, and white-board filled brainstorming sessions.  Kostas and I had the opportunity to travel out to several of loveLife’s suburban and rural hubs and meet some of the program staff called “groundBREAKERS”. GroundBREAKERS often work 6 days a week in their respective communities implementing loveLife programs, educating youth on HIV/AIDS prevention, and teaching vital employment skills. Very inspiring.This weekend we’ll be traveling out to Pilanesberg National Park to go on safari. If I don’t post again, please send help.

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