South Africa Days 1 – 4

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while I’ve been busy and tired!

Day 1 (Sunday): After we landed and made it through customs two men from the team house which we would be staying at later in the trip picked us up and took us to the bed and breakfast we would be staying at for the first week. We checked in and relaxed. They family who owns the bed and breakfast then made us a delicious barbecue dinner, afterwards we hung around and played with their children. When it got dark we all went for a walk to see the surrounding neighborhood. It was beautiful, there were amazing houses and mountain views everywhere, we all took lots and lots of photos. After the walk the adults went to bed and all of us kids hung out together and talked about how cool it was to be in South Africa till the early hours of the morning.

Day 2 (Monday):  We had a somewhat early morning but delicious breakfast and went off to Sun Valley School who is graciously hosting us and helping us on our trip. We met with Gavin Keller who is the “CEO” of the school and a hilariously entertaining guy. He told us all about the school and what they are trying to do by approaching education in a completely different way, focusing on how the brain functions. For example, they have all their students walk around barefoot until grade 9 because “you learn through your feet”. It was all very interesting and made us eager to get started with our tours. The tours were led by sixth graders who were incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic towards us.  After school we went to the water front and took a boat out to see the cape from the water. It was breathtaking!! When the boat ride was over we walked around and looked at all the different shops they had, and walked around the mall a little bit. When we finished touring the shops we went to a somewhat American dinner at a popular restaurant called Spur and had burgers. Then we returned home, and again the adults went to bed and the kids stayed up to talk about everything we had seen and done.

Day 3(Tuesday): Another early morning with a delicious breakfast. After eating, we all got in our van and headed over to Living Hope where we would have orientation for our service, we were all very excited about this because we felt this was the true reason we had come on the trip. This experience was incredible and the only way to give it justice would be to do it yourself, but I’ll try to give you a taste of our experience.

The orientation started with an explanation of what Living Hope is and why it started. Living hope is a foundation that helps those who live in the Townships (the equivalent of slums or projects, created by the government during the apartheid) of Cape Town. It was started when AIDS broke out and there was lots of stigma around the disease. Their goals are to provide education on a range of different things like AIDS and teenage pregnancy, as well as provide support to families who need counseling, struggle with addiction, or are teenage parents. They also have a hospice service for those who are dying of AIDS.

When the introduction was over we took a tour of three different townships they work in and met and talked with some of the people who live and work in these townships. For me and most people who went on this trip, it was out first experience with this kind of poverty and it was challenging to walk through and look at, but it was very powerful and taught us all a lot. After this we went back to Sun Valley and had lunch. When we finished lunch we got to go around to their different sports practices and help coach their primary school teams in sports like swimming and volleyball. We also helped with cricket and netball, but no one knew what they were doing so we mostly watched and talked about the culture of America and South Africa with the coaches. When the primary school practice was over the girls’ high school was having gym class and we played soccer with them. Then we went to the ocean front for a delicious seaside dinner and a taste of authentic South African cuisine, which is delicious! When dinner finished we went to a presentation on the teenage brain back at Sun Valley given by the one and only Gavin Keller. It was very interesting, and explained a lot about teenagers. Once we arrived at the bed and breakfast for the evening, we debriefed about the day and talked about what it was like to go from the Townships to the privileged side of South Africa. We had all had a very full day both in activity and emotionally, making our discussion very thoughtful and enlightening.

Day 4(Wednesday): After such a full day the day before we were able to sleep in. This was also a somewhat easy day because we went shopping at s local market where we bought souvenirs and made attempts at haggling with the vendors (some of us were much better at this than others). When the shopping was finished  we had a quick lunch at a buffet and walked to another market. This one was more aimed at locals so we left after a few minutes and went to a museum. When we finished at the second market we took a walk to a museum, after the museum we took a quick stop at the beach and then it was back to the bed and breakfast for dinner and an early night.    Caroline

South Africa in Pictures

Wow. So much to process here. I’m trying to wrap my head around the inhumanity of Aparthied. It’s just mind boggling to me that at one point in history, a mere 20 years ago (!), 9% of the population had control over 80% of the land. (Don’t quote me on those numbers).  It’s just unreal.

We visited some poor communities yesterday. It took me back to my high school summers visiting Squatters camps on the US/Mexican border–cardboard shacks, lack of running water, electrical lines tapped into city lines, overcrowded dwellings with tin roofs held down by rocks, children running barefoot. And then there’s the other side of the coin, beautiful homes, gated front yards, sprinklers watering the grass,  and ironically privileged white kids (and some black kids) attending a top-of-the-line public school barefoot because the philosophy is that children learn better when barefoot.  Then every shoeless child across the globe must be super smart!  But seriously, the constant shift between the Haves and the Have Nots is just that… constant.  I can’t possibly do any of what we’re seeing justice through my writing. At least not yet.

Tomorrow we’re heading out to see more of the city from an open top red tour bus. Our tour guides will be 5th graders from The Sun Valley School. Then we’ll spend the afternoon at the beach. Friday we’ll head to Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned.

Here are a few pics from the past couple of days.

Table Mountain

Kids  playing on the beach at ground after dinner last night.

The balcony at City Hall from where Mandela spoke upon his release from 27 years in prison.

And lastly, you can take the kids out of Work Program, but you can’t take the Work Program out of the kids. Dinner wash after take out pizza for dinner.


T. Melissa