Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cape Town

The past week or so here in Cape Town we have been working with an organization called Olive Leaf in the nearby township of Khayelitsha. I cannot put into words what has come from the experiences we have encountered in these past few days, but I sincerely hope that I have done something for at least one person.

Before we spent time working with OLF we toured both Langa and Khayelitsha. Langa, the oldest formal township in Cape Town is the first of the two we visited. Langa is where a hostel system was created by the government to house migrant workers who came to the city to work, but were not allowed to live within the city. As we also read in one of the novels, men who lived in areas like this would only be able to see their families once, or maybe twice a year.

The first thing we did was visit an arts center where people can come to learn crafts or arts to help sustain themselves and their families. Once they complete classes they can come back to use materials tools. For every item they sell they then get 70% of the profits and 30% goes back to keep the program running. There are also theater and other art programs associated with the center.

After we visited the arts center we were taken on a tour of Langa. We got to walk around on the streets, past the police training center and learn about all the changes that this area has encountered. It is sometimes difficult to see all of the positive changes behind the still present problems lingering from the past.

The hostels that once housed men now house several families each. The hostel we visited shares one bathroom and one kitchen to six rooms that each house three families. We were warmly welcomed with smiles into the home with pride. There is something we take for granted about a warm place to sleep every night.

When we stepped out we walked toward a preschool where were were ever so warmly welcomed! The children sang and danced for us and were more than adorable! Shakea Shakea Shakea!

In Khayelitsha we visited the smallest hotel in S. Africa, Vicky's B&B! We got to visit with Vicky herself as she told us her story of starting her own business as a woman in a male dominated society. She had to persuade her in-laws to even let her attempt what seemed like an impossible idea. Her B&B is in the center of her township, the only two story in sight. She wants to give forigners a chance to experience what south africa is really like. At first the community was afraid something was wrong, white people in the township usually meant trouble. Now with the help of community outreach Vicky has gotten the acceptance and even appreciation from the community.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Still trying to catch up!

I am days behind in my blogging but I am doing my best to catch up!

After we left Denilton we traveled on to Krugar National Park. We stayed in yet another adorable lodge and the first bit of advice was, "if you get hot, don't open your doors or windows, cause we have some monkeys that will come in and unpack for you!" We soon saw the monkeys jumping around in the trees and frogs jumping at our feet. The electric fence surrounding our stay was a bit intimidating, but as soon as we went on our night drive and came face to face with lions I saw the necessity in the 6 foot wires.

On our first night in our thatch roof suite, Karli and I were minding our own business when an 8in, black lizard darted against the wall. Luckily, we had created a knock system for animal attacks with our friend Willy who was staying next door!

We woke up in the morning and went on our first all day Safari! We managed to see all of the big five within one day! My favorite was definitely the elephants!

The second day several of our classmates were sick and we had a different guide on our safari and it was not nearly as exciting.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Youth With A Vision

My absolute favorite part of this trip so far has been our stay in Denilton. Our very first stop, and the place where we spent two days was with a absolutely wonderful strong and influential woman Cynthia at her organization, Youth With A Vision. Some children live here as orphans, and others are are part of the organization to become strong independent adults. The organization started with all young girls, teaching them that they have a voice to say no. She told us many girls don't even know what abuse is because they are so used to it as an everyday occurrence. The first day we were there we were invited to worship with them and they filled the open room with beautiful music. They then cooked lunch for us and the children all gave us performances and we were told more details about the organization. We learned about the 300 children they feed each day and the other programs the have for young mothers, peer educators and some other programs for boys. I felt bad that they were so accommodating of us when we wanted to help them. On the second day we were given long flat metal sticks to chop down grass, when we cleared the area we ate lunch and played a match of soccer with some of the balls a few people bought for the kids. As we left a few of the older girls wrote me letters in my journal, and I realized that many of them think my name is "Happy" which i really enjoy. Many of their names have meanings like happiness, good opportunity (Thubelinie, in picture) and praise. As we traveled to other places people continue to call me Happy, even once they learn that it is actually Abby, I plan on writing some of the girls when I get back and I might ask them how they say Happy in Zulu. I am very excited to start our work with olive leaf tomorrow I am sure I will have an equally rewarding experience to the one I had at youth with a vision... but that seems nearly impossible at this point.

I think I might finally understand this whole blog thing...

Hello everyone! We are finally in Capetown where we are staying with three other girls and finally have internet! We have traveled all over the country starting in Jo-burg. While we were there we toured the city, visited the apartheid museum and visited the township of Soweto. I am constantly amazed at the warm hearts of everyone here. Everywhere you turn there are beautiful children and people waving and smiling. The picture to the side is of children outside playing school, they were yelling "hey whities" at us in Zulu and writng what they saw up on the wall in chalk. They all loved posing for picutres and doing anything to get our attention.
In this township we visited a two room house where we talked with a woman who lived there. She kindly let us into her home where she told us she lived with her seven sisters.
The rest of the day we traveled around visiting the home of Nelson Mandelas wife and other historical spots as well as eating yet another delicious meal.
We stayed at a hotel called The Africa Center and it was absolutly beautiful! The building was brightly painted and there were plenty of cool places to sit outside.
There is so much more to say about our few days in Soweto and Jo-burg but maybe I will get back to you on that! : )