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.

 

 

I Have Changed For the Better by: Joshua Payne

I am a freshman at Capital Prep Harbor. I’ve always loved traveling since I was younger. My favorite place is Antigua because my adda is from there and I have the change to meet many family members for the first time. I also loved going to the beach and spending time with family and friends. My favorite memory is from middle school where I was a part of leadership program where we raised $25,000 to build water wells in South Sudan.

Joshua Payne

July 15, 2017

My name is Joshua Payne. Today was an amazing day. Today was a day full of joy, happiness, and also sadness. The people I met today were just amazing people not only because of the fact that they were so nice and easy going, but also because of the fact that they were living in poverty and were still able to be full of life and so happy and very much appreciative of what they have now. When I first arrived to Diepsloot I was so sad to see that people were living like this but happy because in the back of my mind I knew that I was going to be able to change people’s lives.


When I arrived to the first household, I met a lovely GoGo (Grandmother) named Dorothy.  This was by far one of the most energetic ladies who is pushing 70 years old I have ever seen.  The way that she greeted us as we first walked into her home just made me so happy inside. When she invited us into her little shack, she kept apologizing for the small amount of space and I just told her don’t worry about it as its fine.  When we were asked questions a lot that were based around what she needed, the only answer she really said was food. She said she thought about what she is was going to eat in the morning and then realized that there is no food for her to cook. That really made me want to get her so much food right away. When we were in the house she sang us a song that translated to Jesus is my saviour, Jesus is my protector. Listening to her say really warmed my heart. So when we were done talking we went outside to take a picture and after that we were lead us to the next house.

The next house we went to which was right down the street where we met another GoGo named Thandiwen Cube. When we first got into the house she started to show us pictures of her grandchildren and she just made us feel at home. This lady has two grandchildren living with her and she said the one was sick and she couldn’t even afford to get medication for her to feel better. When we asked her what she needed she said food, paraffin which is used for heating and cooking, a stove, a lamp, soap to bathe with, washing powder, and a way for transportation for her grandchildren to get to school. For her grandchildren she said that they needed a school bag and shoes and I really want to get all of the things that Thandiwen listed.


The last house we went to, we met another GoGo named Georgina. When you first go through the gates of her property there was just dirt, 2 chairs and a mop bucket that her daughter was using. When we got into the house and started asking questions, we realized that this lady had a very negative view on Diepsloot she said that there is nothing better in Diepsloot then where she lived before.  The only reason she stays here is because she has nowhere else to go. This was the first lady that really talked like that about Diepsloot and vocalized the hardships and poverty that everyone feels.  She said that her biggest need is food and it made me feel bad because no one should have to go hungry.

This trip to Diepsloot was very effective in terms of it being a very life-changing experience for me and can change the way that I act as a person all around for the better.

Joshua Payne

July 16, 2017

My name is Joshua Payne. Today was a very interesting day. First we went to the African Leadership Academy. When we got there we played an ultimate Frisbee game. Then we played a team building game. After that we went to a nclassroom and learned about the danger of a single story. This is as it pertains to Africa. The media may make it seem that this continent of many countries has one single story, but we know that this is not true.  After we said our goodbyes, we were off to the next location of the Hector Pieterson museum. Which brings me to our Sustinable Development Goal for today which is education. Our tour guide was Hector Pieteron’s sister who witnessed him getting shot because he protested along with many other students against being taught in the white man’s language of Afrikaans at school. It is important that they did this because they should be able to speak their own language and native tongue. They sacrificed to make it better for future generations.

Joshua Payne

July 17, 2017

My name is Joshua Payne. Today was a great day. Our Sustainable Development goal for today was Gender Equality. When we went to visit the GoGo today we made sure to ask her how she viewed gender equality in South Africa. We only went to one GoGo today. When we asked her about the difference of treatment between males and females, she said that there was no difference. We also asked her about the ability to find work in South Africa and she said she is not working because it is hard to find work around where she lives. When we asked all of the grandmothers about gender equality though they mentioned violence against girls, staying in school and access to good jobs as barriers to gender equality. I enjoyed my experience at Diepsloot today because I feel like gender equality is an important thing and that it should be enforced to today’s society everywhere.

Joshua Payne

July 18, 2017  

My name is Joshua Payne. Today was another great day. Today was Mandela Day in South Africa and to start the day we went back to the daycare that we went to two days ago. We went to play with the kids and we started to paint a mural there. I enjoyed doing this because it is Mandela Day and I think we should make it very special for them and for us in terms of living a life of service. Today we celebrate Mandela because this is the day he was born and his huge role in abolishing apartheid. We also went to a soccer event in Diepsloot. Seeing all of the kids having fun and being able to see the excitement on their faces made me so happy because I feel like it such a great thing to bring joy to people on a holiday.. Service to me is being willing to help others and doing it in your best way possible.

Joshua Payne

July 20, 2017

My name is Joshua Payne. Today was more of a relaxed day. When we were done with our daily morning routine we went off to the Apartheid Museum. We learned about what went on during the time of apartheid that made life for the Black majority horrible.  It was awful to see all of the things that happened to the black race in South Africa during that time, but it is important to have a museum that helps us to remember this history. In the end, it was a great experience because we learned a lot of new things about apartheid that you cannot know from the media. After we left the museum we went to a African craft market and we got to show off our bargaining skills. I purchased many things for my family. That was a great experience and I would love to do it again. The last thing we did today was take part in a discussion with HBCU alumnus who now work and live in South Africa.  Not only did we learn about the importance of HBCU’s, but we also were able to understand how much they can add to your life. One quote from that talk that I thought was great was “You succeeding means in a sense that your community is succeeding.” This quote is important to me because it shows that where you are and where you come from play a big role in who you turn out to be and how you can bring along others.

The People of Diepsloot by: Jarreth Bidonne

I am seventeen and a junior at Capital Prep Harbor. My favorite memory is when I was awarded with the clarinet for my car work during a summer music camp. I love to play jazz music on my clarinet, the trumpet, and the piano. I find music relaxing and fun. My goal is to become a world-renown musician.

Jarreth Bidonne 

July 14, 2017
Today I visited three families in Diepsloot and all of them were in need of some kind of help.  Whether they needed food parcels or a stove for their kitchen.  In Diepsloot,  there were some roads and sidewalks, however there was a lot more of dirt and debris within the township. There was one family that we visited today and she lived with her sister and grandchildren.  When we toured her house she did have some nice things that would be typically seen in an American household yet, she was still struggling.  It took her years to save up the money to expand the house to how it is today. Also, her kitchen did not have any tiles or wood, it was just cement. The sink for the kitchen was just a bowl and there was not any counters within the kitchen.  Therefore, she is still in need of home supplies.  All of the grannies that we visited today came to Joberg from other places to search for a job because Joberg is filled with opportunities. Yet, since Johannesburg is very populated, new settlers found it difficult to find places to leave so they were forced to rent out small shafts for their families and so they can still work in Joberg.  One of the grannies had to retire from being a domestic worker because once you reach sixty,  you have to retire from that job.  Due to this, the granny stays at home for most of the time because there is not a significant source of money to allow her to travel to places. From my visit to Diepsloot I meet with the families, got to know their stories of how they got to Johannesburg, and as well as what they need to make their lives better.

Jarreth Bidonne 

July 15, 2017

Our SDGs for today were: zero hunger, good health and well being. At the first family that I visited, the gogo and her husband were struggling to get food.  They would receive food parcels from the government every two weeks however, they were struggling to manage the food because it was not enough food. This connects with SDG #2: zero hunger because it is the opposite of the goal.  If we are able to give food to the gogo and her husband it will significantly help them get through until the next food parcel from the government.  The husband’s name was Michael and he had surgery on his hip.  He uses crutches and uses medication to relieve the pain, yet he complains that the medication does not work all the time.  This situation relates to SDG #3: good health and well being, if we can get Michael better and stronger medication it can help him with his hip.

Jarreth Bidonne 

July 17, 2017

Today, our SDG was gender inequality.  During our visit to Diepsloot we talked to the gogos about gender inequality, specifically towards females.  We discussed about how females do not have the same educational opportunities as males and how gender inequality can lead to poverty.  All of the Gogo’s wanted the the girls in their families to stay in school and to be able to obtain better jobs than they had when there were young.  They talked about the violence that is perpetrated against girls in Deipsloot too. Lastly, we also talked about the apartheid a bit, in terms of how the laws were harsh against Black people back then and how it is more fair and lenient today.  
Jarreth Bidonne

July 18, 2017

Today is Mandela Day.  Nelson Mandela served Africa for 67 years and on Mandela Day, we celebrate him by taking 67 minutes of our day to serve the community.  Today, I helped paint a mural at the daycare as well as taking care of the children at the daycare.  Today, we also took part in a soccer event based on Nelson Mandela.  At the event we saw former and current soccer players.  They discussed about how important education is if a kid want to have a successful future.  They also talked about pushing yourself to be the best version you can be.

 

 

The Ten Days That Changed My Life by: Rayonna Grey

Im in the 7th grade at Capital Prep in Harlem. My favorite subject is science and I want to become a psychologist when I grow up because I enjoy listening to people. I believe I will be very good at helping get people through tough times in their lives. I am really excited to be going to South Africa and I expect to come back more mature than I already am and I expect to have a wonderful experience there.

Rayonna Grey

July 14, 2017

Being a part of Journey for Change these past two days have been a wonderful time for me. Yesterday was out first full day and we did many wonderful things. When we first arrived, we ate lunch and went back to our dorms.  We then had a great ceremony where we learned about H.I.V/AIDS and how so many children have been orphaned because of the disease.  We then met the kids from Diepsloot who are going to be apart of the Journey for Change program and we got to know them better by asking questions and also answering questions that they had about us.

Then today we woke up and got ready and headed out to Diepsloot, an area that is very poor with people living in shacks.  We talked to them and found out their basic needs and the struggles in their lives living without food, electricity, and water. We went to about 3 different houses and met many family members, took pictures and really saw how they lived.  It was pretty sad to see grandmothers and small children struggling this badly and with very little people trying to help them.

In conclusion, the experience so far with Journey for Change has definitely been something to remember. ‘Ive only been here for two days and for me this has been tremendous. We learned a lot of life lessons here and there are many more to come.

Rayonna Grey

July 15, 2016

Today was an amazing day for  me because i got to go and visit the gogos again today and get more information. It was easier for me today than it was yesterday because we have been there before so we actually knew what to say and write down.The first family that we met was an elderly woman who helps raise her daughter’s 2 children.The kids parents passed away. She has been living in Diepsloot for 20 years and raising her daughter’s children for 8 years. She actually has 7 kids but they all died except for one.  Her biggest fear is that one day someone will break into her house and steal things and rape her and her granddaughter because violence against women is such an issue .Simple things that she needs are food, clothes, and school supplies. Water is sometimes an issue.

The next Gogo’s  home that we visited was Tsholofelo Maake and she has lived in Diepsloot since 2009. She moved there when her granddaughter’s mother passed away. She likes to sew  for fun and use to work as a domestic maid. Tw of her three children died. She does not have running water and really needs a lot of food. She has no money to support her family because her brother died of cancer and her sisters are not working. It is very sad because she does not feel safe in her home.

Rayonna Grey

July 16, 2017

Today was a very educational experience as we went to African Leadership Academy (ALA) for about two and a half hours. We worked in groups to learn how to be team members and leaders.  Then after that we went to the Hector Pieterson museum to learn about the time in Soweto where teenagers had to fight for their right to an equal education and the right to be taught in their home language. I gained a lot of knowledge about June 16, 1976, especially from Hector’s sister who was with him the day he died in the Soweto uprising and gave us the tour of the museum.

After that we traveled to the Mandela Mouse and got to take a look inside where he had lived when he was a young man married to Winnie Mandela. There were lots of pictures and we saw replicated furniture in the house and a nice statue. There were also many of his famous quotes.

After that we made our way to have dinner at a restaurant called Sakumzi. The food there was delicious and I like the fact that it was a buffet and I was able to try many new things. My favorite was their salad because it tasted really good. The dessert was especially delicious because I love ice-cream and I tried a new things called Malva pudding.  All in all the experience today was amazing had tons and tons of fun with these activities.

Rayonna Grey

July 17, 2017

Today was a very interesting day because we were able to go back to Diepsloot and talk to one last Gogo and then find out how we can help her make her life better. After that we sat down and had a meeting with all of the Gogo’s, which were about 30 grandmothers, to talk about their feelings about gender equality have and the fact that South Africa is very violent against girls and women.  We also wanted to know what their hopes and dreams were for their female grandchildren and their experiences with gender inequality.

Rayonna Grey

July 18, 2017

Ok…so when I think of the word service I think of helping others without them paying you back for the deed. Today is Nelson Mandela Day! To me Mandela Day is definitely a day to celebrate because in my opinion he is a hero.  He has impacted me in a good way because he is an amazing leader by standing up for what he believed in.  He is also amazing because he stood up against apartheid and advocated forthe rights of his people. Today for Mandela day we hosted a soccer game in Diepsloot for 500 hundred learners and it was very fun to play against different teams from South Africa and I enjoyed it. To see everyone having fun today really warmed my heart. Today was really fun and memorable.

Rayonna Grey

July 19, 2016

Today was definitely an experience to remember.We went  to an orphanage for abandoned children from birth to about 4 years.  Seeing these children abandoned made me just appreciate everything about my mother because my mother cares about me enough not to send me away to an orphanage. My experience today was great because we were really able to share a lot of love with the babies and toddlers.Next we went to a magazine company and got a tour of the building and some of the people who worked there spoke to us about the media industry and we  got to ask questions and it was very fun.

We Still Have a Long Way to Go by: Jayda Gonzalez

I attend the Capital Prep School in Harlem and I am in the 6th grade. My favorite subject is English. I want to be a pediatrician because I want to help other people, especially children. Since I am still a child, I can relate to them and I feel I will be a compassionate doctor because of this. On this trip to South Africa, I expect to discover new things and learn about a different culture and come back home with new perspective.

Jayda Gonzalez

July 14, 2017

Today we went to Diepsloot and visited Granny’s homes to see their problems to try to help them solve their situation as best we can. The first granny we saw was Martha and she was 56 years old, with 2 kids ages and 25 and 26. Martha’s lived in a shack and had many problems, including a leaking roof, no electricity, no access to water near her, and her kitchen was outside. One of my ideas for a solution was to build a shed for her stove that connects to her house so she won’t be able to inhale the gas and can still cook when it rains.  Also we were all thinking to buy some aluminum or a tarp to cover her roof so when it rains the water doesn’t get in her house. I felt a connection with Martha because I saw her yesterday at the meet-n-greet and when we saw her again I recognized her and I actually remembered hugging her when the gogo’s arrive. So when we came back she remembered me and we took a picture together and shared a very special moment together. When we took the picture together I felt loved a lot when she told me me.  Of course Itold her that I loved her too because I really do love her.  I respect her so much for how much she has to fo for herself, her kids, her grandkids and basically her whole family without any income at all and in extreme poverty.

I also made a friend named Precious Mphahlele who is 12 years old in 6th grade and she goes to Musengavhadzimu primary school.  She likes to sing and I honestly think she is really cool because she is funny and she likes going on her phone taking selfies, looking at memes, playing games, and screenshotting messages. There are a lot of ways that we are alike. The difference between us is that her clothes are different brands and worn and the shoes are not brands we wear and are old.  I know this is because they are poor. Of course, I don’t know their language and there are 11 official languages that you hear. I realized life for everyone is hard but there is still a lot of love and laughter and a lot that we have in common.

Jayda Gonzalez

July 15, 2017

The first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) we discussed today was No Poverty and the second SDG we talked about was No Hunger.  We thought about these goals on our journey through extension 9 in Diepsloot.  All of the families were very poor and most did not have electricity.  The first granny went to meet was Nompumelo and she was 63 years old and worked 10 years as a domestic worker. I was thinking that we should get her a refrigerator so that she can get more types or fresh and nutritious food but she has no electricity.  It is so sad because they deserve to eat meat and fresh vegetables to get the nutrients they need to have healthy and strong bodies and skin to keep out illnesses.

Jada Gonzalez 

July 16, 2017

Today the Sustainable Development Goal we discussed was Quality Education which is number four. It was a good goal to have because we went to the Hector Pieterson Museum and this SDG really relates to where we went today. It is important for all children to access the human right to an EQUAL education because we all have the right to knowledge that will make us smart and to know things that will help us to gain jobs and live a life out of poverty.  It is also important for girls to stay in school and not be forced to quite when boys stay in school.  The only way we can end poverty is if just as many girls as boys go to school.

Jayda Gonzalez

July 17, 2017

Today we focused on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of GENDER EQUALITY. All of the Gogo’s sat outside in a circle and we sat around them and Malaak asked them questions about gender equality and their hopes and dreams for their girls.  If the gogo’s did work when they were younger, the all did domestic work such as washing dishes and making the beds.  This was because they did not get the education in the rural areas that would allow them to have better work and because they lived when there was apartheid.One of the gogo’s said that they thought the boys had a better education than the girls and that the girls were allowed to fall behind. It’s really not fair that boys around the world still get a better education than girls who are forced to clean the house and wash the clothes. I learned that in Egypt boys and men will not even say their mothers name because it is an embarrassment.  She is called the “Mother of Eldest son.” She is no longer called her birth name and has no identity.  Girls are also forced to marry early and they get bossed around by their husband that they are supposed to love even though they just want to be a kid.  Gender Equality is still a work in progress in the U.S too because President Donald Trump talks about women in a disgusting way.  It’s sick to know that our president talks about women who are literally are mothers and independent strong women who are trying to live their as they are getting disrespected by the leader of the United States.

Jayda Gonzalez

July 18, 2017

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela. All South Africans and other people around the world appreciate your Presidency in South Africa and influence to make people better and encourage them to do volunteer work. Today we went to two different daycare’s to paint murals so the outside of their school will be decent,cute, and nice. It was hard to be honest because half of the time I got paint of myself or I would have to do the whole section again and that is just too much work for me, especially because I am very little and the wall was very tall.  We then went to a soccer match for hundreds of kids in the community which was fun and made me feel good that so many children had a nice day. Service work can be hard but at the end it’s all worth it to see a smile, give a hug so people feel loved and help them with their troubles.

Poverty Is a Form of Inequality by: Alishia Cole

I am a freshman at Capital Prep in Bridgeport, CT. I love science and I want to become a General Surgeon because I want to help save lives. I believe that life is given to man for a reason and it is what you do with your life that determines your future. I believe that in life we fall but the key point is to dust yourself off and rise above. My motto is: “Live life to the fullest, because your life could be worse”.

Alishia Cole

7/16/17

How can we live in a world that is divided instead of united where the rich gets richer and the poor stays poor and suffer? How can we live in a world where hunger occurs and children and adults go to bedon empty stomachs? Today our focus was on hunger, well being, and health and majority of the people in who live in the informal settlement of Diepsloot in South Africa do not enjoy good health and are often without food ad hungry. My J.F.C group and I traveled to extension 4 in Diepsloot where the air smelled like sewage and the ground was filled with a tremendous amount of garbage. You could see kids running around bare foot, really hungry and skinny dogs, and people on the side of the road side looking very desperate.  Many of the kid in Diepsloot don’t have good health and are sick due to the lack of essential nutrients found in food so their growth is stunted.  Some kids look as if they are a 14 year old person trapped in an 8 year old body. I saw a lot of this and I thought to myself how can I help them because if their growth is stunted then there could be a possibility that their brains were stunted too which would affect the way they learn. And, of course, if they cannot properly learn, they will be unable to graduate from secondary school and live a flourishing like instead of one of poverty.  One factor that contributes to good health and the prevention of stunted growth and any other sicknesses is the no hunger policy. Our minds are like cars as it takes gasoline to get the car moving but it takes food to get humans working and keeping them bright, energetic and effective. On average about 26% or more kids go to bed hungry and end up going to school hungry.  Let us make the difference and turn it around because no one should have to experience hunger and bad health.

Alishia Cole

7/14/17

For the past two days I have seen things in Diepsloot and in other places in South Africa that have been sickening to me. I’ve also observed situations in South Africa that have changed me and shaped me into the person I am today or at least right now in very little time atall. Driving around South Africa, I saw poverty on a whole other level.  I feel like people are crying out in desperation but their voices aren’t being heard. It’s like the government is taking all of the money and investing it incorrectly because the poorest households in South Africa live on (US) $1.90 a day.  Sometimes children go to bed hungry and I have been told is that all the parents and/or grandparents can do is cry and pray for a miracle. The question is: Is this fair? Should innocent children pay for the damage that was caused by the people before them? Should poor children pay because the world is unfair and there is extreme inequalities in income? There are children in Diepsloot and other parts of Africa who are so poor that they are hungry, run around without clothing and shoes, it is not sanitary for them go out, and it is unsafe due to violence. Innocent children who are poor are denied the basic rights to an equal education which is the key to ending poverty.  Due to this, some of them, especially girls in the townships turn to illegal activities or older men to keep them occupied and bring in a source of income.  So ask yourself is this fair? Is it fair that by the age of twelve your life is basically over and by the age of fifteen you are bearing a child? Is it fair that we take life for granted in the United States while the children in South Africa are praying every night to see another meal and make it to school safely? Driving around South Africa has made me think a lot and contemplate how we the youth can do something about these situations by putting action behind our words.  HIV/AIDS is also devastating this country and people are dying and children are being orphaned. We live in a world that is uniquely unfair, but no man, woman or child should suffer the way the people in Diepsloot suffer. God created us equal so why is there so much inequality?

Alishia Cole

7/18/17

Across South Africa people today are celebrating Mandela day. This is not the typical celebration that the United States would have because the people here in South Africa do community service work as their  celebration on this day. In  South Africa they take out 67 minutes of their time to help someone other than themselves and this became a tradition because Mandela served 67 years of his life serving South Africa and the world. Mandela Day is important because he sacrificed so much to help make the country what it is today. It’s because of him that apartheid ended and it’s also because of him why South Africa is on the breakthrough of becoming equal. This is why people today celebrate Mandela Day. To the people in South Africa, Mandela meant everything to them but not only to them but around the world. He was loved so much because he paved the way so that a new generation wouldn’t have to face what he went through. As a result and because of his hard work people strive to help others to honor what he’s done.

Everyone Has the Right to an Equal and Fair Life by: Jada Joyner

I am in the 9th grade at Capital Prep Harbor. I enjoy helping people who need support. I volunteer at a local nursing home and help pass out the mail and visit with people and keep them company. My favorite class at school is social studies and english because I enjoy writing and being creative. I traveled to Canada with People to People, a program that talks inner-city students and gives them the opportunity to travel to another country and be a representative of the United States . I was named an ambassador.

Jada Joyner

July 16, 2017

Today’s focus was “Quality education” and coming from a household that strictly believes in education, with parents who are constantly encouraging me and pushing me to do my best in school; it surprises me that many kids all over the continent of Africa do not have a fair and equal education system. When visiting the Hector Pieterson Museum I learned a lot about the South African Education before the end of apartheid and how the resistance of the past still affects the education system now. Even in the 1970’s there were funds that were given out to schools based on the race of their students. In 1974, schools that educated black students were deprived of funds; R644 was spent on white students while R45 was spent on the average black student. This helped ignite the fire that would later become the resistance, leading to the death of Hector Pieterson along with many other innocent people. The reason why these students resisted against the rules of the oppressor was because they knew that they had to preserve their culture and language and because without knowledge you are nothing. Poor children should be able to get the education that they need and deserve as this a basic human right. Without because knowledge and access to information they can do nothing.  Without knowledge you cannot escape the hands of poverty. It was important for Hector Pieterson and his peers to fight and stand up for their right to be educated and taught in their native languages instead of being taught in only Afrikaans. It was their way of showing that they had a voice   And to resist the language of the oppressor. Even though in the process people who didn’t deserve to die, were killed during the struggle, they achieved their goals when the laws were changed.  Students in Soweto knew that their education was their key to success their way out of poverty, and the only way they could change their world for the better. I know that my education is the only way that I can change my community and have a say in society and this world. Yes I am a BLACK female, being raised in a middle class household, I am not poor and I am not rich, but I know that if I want anything in this life I have to get an equal and fair education. I do not deserve a lower education than those of my white counterparts. Nelson Mandela said it best: “ Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

Jada Joyner

July 20, 2017

Today we went to an orphanage for abandoned babies.  It was very overwhelming as we saw children who bore the battle scars that told a tale they could never say in words themselves. It is sad to think that there are children in this world who will never know their parents because of illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS and other diseases that take a toll on the very poor. As an American, it is now embarrassing when I consider how much I take having parents for granted, knowing that they will always be there for me. Today really made me think, “what would happen if they suddenly were not in my life?” “What if that was my life and I was like an orphan without the guidance of parents?” Coming across so many AIDS orphans, small babies and toddlers, who were living in such poverty and all alone really left me heartbroken by the end of the visit.  My eyes filled with tears because I knew that although it would be beautiful to see every last one of those babies being adopted and living in a household with loving, kind, and caring parents, the reality is that not all of them will be that fortunate. Some of these children’s birthdays couldn’t even be identified as they were found in the street and the workers in the orphanage couldn’t tell us where some of the children were from.  Seeing my teachers and peers get so attached to children they’ve never met, calling them their own, made me realize that I have a lot to be grateful for such as m parents and family. While at the orphanage I held this baby and got so attached to him that I almost cried when it was time to leave. He was so small and frail that I felt if I held him the wrong way he would break. He was 4 months old but looked as if he was 2 weeks old. Looking into his eyes I thought of the future he could have in America and the opportunities that he could take advantage of an ocean away. I started to relate this to my own life and how I should take advantage of all of the things that uplift my life and are basically handed to me.  This made me take into account every time I didn’t thank my parents for doing their best or didn’t say “I love you” as often as I should. I began to feel guilty and knew that change starts with me. Yes, these babies and toddlers cannot change the situation they have been born into but I can make a change that starts with myself.  While at the end of the day, I can’t change everything and everyone’s life I can start with my own. So my lesson of the day was change really does start at home with yourself so that you are one day able to help and change the lives of those who need it most.

Jada Joyner

July 18, 2017

Today is Mandela Day, a holiday that is celebrated by South Africans and other nationalities around the world. This day emcompasses service work and what you do for those living in your community and beyond. In those 67 minutes (representing the 67 years dedicated to service by Nelson Mandela) of service you should be thinking about the sacrifices that Mandela made and his heart for reconciliation and forgiveness. That’s what makes this day so vital, especially in the lives of South Africans no matter what their age. The fact of the matter is that without the guidance and help of Nelson Mandela, millions of Black South Africans would still be experiencing racial segregation. When celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela and appreciating his influence in South Africa and on the rest of the world, I felt a sense of love and community that I have never felt before anywhere else. Mandela was South Africa’s messiah as he rescued them from years and generations of oppression. I am appreciative of this day because it is my opportunity to help as many people as I can and I am thankful for the gift of service that has been given to me and people all over the world because of the legacy left behind by Nelson Mandela. He said it best when he said “ It always seems impossible until it’s done.”