Survival In Diepsloot by: Emmanuel Ortiz

I currently attend Capital Prep Harbor in Bridgeport, CT and I am in the 10th grade. My favorite memory was my first time traveling out of the United States. It was the day that I traveled to Brazil and experienced a new way of life and culture. From this trip to South Africa, I expect to have another experience of how people from a different country and continent live on a day to day basis. I am so grateful for the opportunity to give back to people in need.

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Emmanuel Ortiz

7/15/17

Today, my group and I went to two grannies homes to interview them and see how they live on a daily basis. The first home that we went to was a kind, joyful hearted women by the name of Nompumelelo. She took care of 3 of her grandchildren after her son had passed. She struggled with transporting her kids to school and back, for she has to pay R30 for a public taxi round trip. That is only $2.30 cents but when you live in abject poverty it is cost prohibitive. Luckily unlike the previous grannies, she had electricity and a refrigerator.  This helps us a lot because now we will be able to purchase a variety of nutritious food for her and her family. But unlike the other previous families, she has to pay a monthly rent of R500 ($38.34), which can be difficult sometimes because she doesn’t have a stable income. Though she had her struggles, she seems to always have a smile on her face. She was optimistic and did not really mind what she got as long as it helped her. Also, she loved to make and sell traditional bead necklaces, bracelet, and outfits for dancers and special occasions to earn more income.

The next house that we went to was a granny that goes by the name Ester. She was not there for our visit for her son recently had passed away. Although we did interview her daughter who was at the residence at the time.The granny only took care of only her grandchild (the daughter’s son) and her daughter.  She also, like the previous family that we visited that day, has to pay R500 every month for rent. Also, she does not get the old grant money from the government yet because she does not have her ID yet and has to wait until next year for it. She also struggles with her roof of her shack. The daughter told us that without a beam that is in the middle of the house, the whole roof will collapse down on the home. Therefore, we will need to repair the roof and cover any holes that may bring water into the house when it rains. Luckily this family has electricity and a refrigerator which will give us the ability to purchase a variety of food for them too. The people without electricity eat a very basic diet of pap and beans everyday and the children are smaller and stunted because they do not get the micronutrients that they need. Similar to the other granny, this granny likes to sew and knit for income too. She wants to build a business/Stand to sell her product but doesn’t have the proper material to do so (such as a table, a tarp, wood to build the stand,etc.)

From these past 5 families, I have learned a lot. Though they struggle with these life changing challenges, they still are optimistic and happy. They don’t allow these obstacles to obstruct their happiness and bring sadness and stress into their life. They always find a way to smile, which is a beautiful thing, especially in this world.

Emmanuel Ortiz

 7/16/2017

Today was an educational day for me. I have learned a lot throughout the whole day. In the morning we went ALA (African Leadership Academy) and learned some valuable life lessons.The activity that we played taught us the difference between good competition and bad competition. After we have completed the activity we started to chant that we won and that we came in first place. When we got into groups to discuss the outcome of the game and our thoughts of it, she told us how at the beginning, when she was giving instructions, that she never said that it was a competition. She told us to work as a team to complete the objective. She then carried on by explaining how when we have the mentality of a bad competitor (thinking like it’s a race when it was not) you usually find yourself cheating and getting frustrated about the situation that you placed yourself in. You begin getting mad at your teammates when they mess up because it’s slowing you down from succeeding. But in all reality, it wasn’t even a competition in the first place. We just inferred that since we were split off into multiple groups then it was competition/race to see who was the best. Now, good competition is pretty much the opposite of bad competition or having a bad competitor mind set. Good competition is not regretting going  back to the beginning if you have messed up, instead of cheating. It is to admit when you mess up and to learn from your mistakes. Yup do not get frustrated with your teammates, but are patient with them and also teach them about their mistakes. Once we truly understood what we were doing and experienced, it was a great life lesson.

After we left ALA we went to the Hector Pieterson Museum. During my visit to the museum, we got to have Hector Pieterson’s older sister, Antoinette Sithole, tell us about her experience and of participating in the student uprising in Soweto with her brother during apartheid in 1976. She told us the whole story of why and how her brother got shot by the police and her whole reaction to it and how she felt.  After her horrific story of her brother’s death, we went to the museum and discover more on why that march took place and the reasons that help lead up to decisions about language instruction that are still in place today. While looking around the museum I saw a board that talked about the introduction of the Bantu Educational system in 1953. It seems that at first, it helped more children to attend school. But the downside was that since there was segregation during that time so black students had an inferior education because the Afrikaner people though they could not be more than farm workers and serval the and they had to pay for their books and supplies which many could not do. While students didn’t have to pay for their books or learning supplies and were taught in all subjects to ensure that they could receive good jobs.

Another bad outcome of Bantu education was by 1960, the attendance rate skyrocketed, whereas around 100 students were in one classroom. Often students had to take turns sharing the classroom during the day. So for some children, they only got around 2 to 3 hours of sufficient learning. In 1961, there were insufficient teachers and many were not qualified. Less than 10 percent of teacher held a matriculation certificate. Also during 1962 to 1971, they didn’t even build more school to hold all these students.

Lastly the major point that bothered me was while the government spent R644 on every white student, R42 was spent on a black student. That’s over R602 difference. That’s around only 6.52% of what a white student would get, which is absurd.

Emmanuel Ortiz

7/16/2017

Education is literally the key to success, especially in today’s world. During the Apartheid, education was an unstable topic in Soweto, South Africa. When the Bantu Educational system was introduced in 1953, it helped a lot of children attend school in Soweto. But, during 1960 the attendance rate skyrocketed, whereas 100 students were placed in one classroom. This brought distress to the some of the students because they would only get around 2 to 3 hours of sufficient learning because of having to split classes. No schools were built in Soweto between 1963 to 1971 to hold all of these children. There was also insufficient teachers where most were under qualified. In 1961 less than 10%of teachers held a matriculation certificate. Then for ever R644 the government spent on a white student, R42 was spent on a black student.

From just hearing I would definitely understand why they took the precautions they did. It is important for all children to have access to quality education. It is actually a human right that should be realized for all. If all kids were granted the access to equitable education than a lot of the issues that are presented today would be solved. It has been estimated that global poverty could drop by 12 % if all children in low-income countries could read. Education also contributes to the sustainable economic growth and to more stable and accountability societies and governments. Education cannot only solve a lot of the issues that we face but also could grow the economy and government greatly. It’s literally an investment that is guaranteed to come back positively on the economy and the structure of the nation’s growth in society.

It was also important for Hector Pieterson and his peers to be taught in any of their traditional language other than Afrikaans. They believed that the least the government could do was teach them through their own traditional language. It’s like telling you to write with your non-dominant hand. It not right nor humane.  You would think that previous events, such as Adolf Hitler and his tyranny that he oppressed on people especially a “certain group” would have taught us not to go down a similar route.

Now, even though the apartheid has ended, it still lingers the scars that it has placed on this country. I don’t actually believe that equal education has been met. To this day, school’s classrooms still range to having around 40-70 kids. Also, I believe that the government hasn’t met or fixed all the errors that the apartheid created. Especially in education equality and equitability among Black learners. White kids on average still get a large gap of money for their schools in White neighborhoods compared  to black township government meant schools which is unacceptable.

Emmanuel Ortiz

7/17/2017

Gender Inequality is an issue that needs to be addressed which is Sustainable Development Goal 5.  So today I learned a lot of surprising facts on the topic of gender inequality throughout the world. When we were having a conversation about gender inequality with Ms. Compton Rock, she told us how it is shameful to call or introduce your mother by her name in some Muslim countries, specifically Egpyt. Basically, once a woman gives birth to a male child, they are no longer able to be called by their name. With the video that she presented to us, it showed how children and men would not dare to say their mother’s name to their friends or guests because it was looked upon as wrong and shameful. One kid even said one how if he said his mother’s name he would seem ‘“gay” or “weak.” They were addressed only by the mother of the oldest son and completely lost their identity.

Then we went on to speak about how some womenin the Middle-East, such as in Saudi Arabia, can not think and make decisions for themselves. That they need a man at all time to walk out in the street. That they have to wear a full hijab when they are outside. All these laws and rules are in place and enforce to belittle women and keep them from advancing in life. To literally keep them from going anywhere and or having a say in what happens in their life is so unfair and unbelievable. I truly believe it’s a way of having power and ruling over women to keep them from excelling in life than a religious standard that needs to be abided.

But we learned of some uplifting stories as well like places like Kenya who will be placing 50% in their government legislative branch as a sign of equality among genders. If the more countries in the world had the same mind-set as Kenya about gender equality, other countries and then world could be free of a lot of issues regarding girls and women that we face that do not promote peace or prosperity.

Emmanuel Ortiz

7/17/2017

 

Gender Inequality is an issue that needs to be addressed which is Sustainable Development Goal 5.  So today I learned a lot of surprising facts on the topic of gender inequality throughout the world. When we were having a conversation about gender inequality with Ms. Compton Rock, she told us how it is shameful to call or introduce your mother by her name in some Muslim countries, specifically Egpyt. Basically, once a woman gives birth to a male child, they are no longer able to be called by their name. With the video that she presented to us, it showed how children and men would not dare to say their mother’s name to their friends or guests because it was looked upon as wrong and shameful. One kid even said one how if he said his mother’s name he would seem ‘“gay” or “weak.” They were addressed only by the mother of the oldest son and completely lost their identity.

Then we went on to speak about how some womenin the Middle-East, such as in Saudi Arabia, can not think and make decisions for themselves. That they need a man at all time to walk out in the street. That they have to wear a full hijab when they are outside. All these laws and rules are in place and enforce to belittle women and keep them from advancing in life. To literally keep them from going anywhere and or having a say in what happens in their life is so unfair and unbelievable. I truly believe it’s a way of having power and ruling over women to keep them from excelling in life than a religious standard that needs to be abided.

But we learned of some uplifting stories as well like places like Kenya who will be placing 50% in their government legislative branch as a sign of equality among genders. If the more countries in the world had the same mind-set as Kenya about gender equality, other countries and then world could be free of a lot of issues regarding girls and women that we face that do not promote peace or prosperity.

Emmanuel Ortiz

7/18/2017

Mandela was a man who was highly respected in the world, especially in South Africa. His day is not only for the remembrance of a great man, but the remembrance of what he stood for and the change and inspiration that he gave to people during a time of desperation and need. To serve on this day is a great thing and should be done everywhere and is something that I believe Mandela would be proud of.  To be able to give back as a part of Journey for Change on this day is an incredible feeling. Not only to see a small community be able to have fun through our community soccer match for 500 kid, but to see them be able to enjoy a meal and be able to take something home to commemorate the occasion. To see their smiles and know that we are making a change in their life is wonderful. This day was not only a day of remembrance but a day to plan for the future.

Emmanuel Ortiz

7/20/2017

During our devotional, Ms. Compton-Rock touch on SDG 7. SDG 7 is affordable and clean energy. The goal is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. She informed us how more than 3 billion people in the world still rely on gas and other unstable forms of a heat source to cook and stay warm at night. Unstable forms of gas and heat source can cause explosions, poisonous gas if inhaled, and other deadly health problem that can arise if intake of the gas. An example would be paraffin. Paraffin is an unregulated product, which makes it highly dangerous. From reading the safety labels on a bottle of paraffin, it states how paraffin is a highly dangerous product that is only used for a heat and lighting fuel. It is not used for any sort of cooking at all. It is to be used with eyewear, respirator, and safety gloves. Also, to be in a controlled environment (in an area where the temperature is appropriate and controlled). The fumes can damage the lungs and brain if inhaled. if inhaled for too long it could be fatal.  On the bottle, it states that if someone is exposed to the fumes to immediately get fresh air and to seek medical attention. If you are to get burned to immediately wash that part with cold water for 20 minutes and seek medical attention. If come into contact with the liquid to wash your hand immediately with soapy water for 5 minutes.

That’s just one example of what poverty does to people who have no choice. To either be able to eat today for survival but understand that they may not live tomorrow because of the effect of paraffin and other risks they may take while trying to survive. Then how risky it is while trying to survive. Paraffin is highly flammable and can not be extinguished easily with just water. Actually, water will help spread the fire because paraffin is a sort of oil. Thus leading people who are ignorant, to hurt themselves more. But, when people are desperate they will do anything to survive even though they know it is risky and will hurt them in the end. It is horrible that the poor must use an unsafe source for heating and cooking just so that they can obtain their human right to food and nutrition and to stay warm at night.

 

 

Author: journeyforchangesite

Journey for Change 4 is collaborating with Steve Perry's Capital Prep school in an exciting global service program. Students from 6th grade to 11th have traveled from New York to South Africa for the experience of a lifetime. While the kids get to take leadership courses and enjoy the country sites, they also are doing volunteer work within the impoverished area of Diepsloot.

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