I Love South African Candy- A Blog by: Mason Perry

I am a freshman at Capital Prep Harbor. I wasn’t to open schools around the U.S. because I want to end the stereotype of only having bad schools in urban areas. I want to make sure that all educational experiences are equal, especially in English and math, which happen to be my favorite subjects. My motto is: “Tomorrow isn’t a given, so live everyday as if it were you’re last”.

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Mason Perry

July 14, 2017

Yesterday was Thursday the 13th of July and it was a special day because the middle school cohort had arrived.  After their arrival, we told them about the experience in South Africa that we have had here while they were not present. Some students were amazed and were envious of our opportunities.  But some people also slept, as they were mighty tired and eager to sleep. Fast forward to the welcoming and opening ceremony where we learned about the rise and outbreak of HIV/AIDS.  Given that children are the future it was hard to hear about how many still die each year.  We then warmly welcomed the children from the community of Diepsloot and Grannies from Diepsloot as well.  Grannies are older women who take care of their grandchildren because their children have died of HIV/AIDS.  We partnered up with children from Diepsloot and I immediately met a new friend named Given. Given was not his real name but is the name he chose for himself when people found it difficult to pronounce his real name Mafoumba. This was the case for many of the Diepsloot kids with name such as Cleopatra or Antoinette. After the introductions, we had a traditional dance performance which included Gumboot and Zulu dancing.  We then had a traditional Braii dinner which is a South African barbecue.  Finishing the day, we ended with a bonfire with the granny’s singing and dancing. The feeling was warm and not just from the fire but from the togetherness of the people.  

Today, we traveled to Diepsloot. Upon our arrival on the bus we were looking in amazement at how poorly these people were living. After getting off the bus, we knew that today was a day for our home visits and for us to find out what we were going to do to help the community. We were accompanied by our community social workers who brought us around Diepsloot and to our home visits. When we were walking to our first home visit, I smelled many different smells. Some of wretched stench and some of meat being cooked that reminded me of bacon. The streets were barren of cars and one would only pass by every five minutes. Well the streets were barren of cars, they were full of goats. The roads were badly torn up, with streaming dirty water, a lot of trash and some areas with large humps of rock, altering the way you walked. This was Diepsloot. When we arrived to our first home, a barbed wire fence was the only thing protecting this woman from the forces and factors that put her there. She came and opened the gate to let us into her small dirt yard, which included her kitchen which was only a wood on top of two bricks holding up a metal sheet holding up two cans with a fire under it. She brought us into her small shack which only had a few dishes in the corner, a small table and two chairs and a bed in the back. We got to know the woman, finding out that her name was Martha.  She has two grandchildren ages 25 and 22 who have moved out. She has one son and one daughter and they come to visit her, but Martha has not been living in Diepsloot her whole life. Martha moved to the community to find work. Sadly Martha is now too old to work and nobody will hire her. We asked Martha some of her daily struggles in life and she responded that her roof leaks so she gets wet when it rains.  Also, she has no direct water source so when she goes to get water it is hard and when it rains she cannot cook because it extinguishes her outside fire.  From this information, we knew that there was something we must do to help Martha. For Martha’s leakage, we plan to get wood, silicone, nails and corrugated iron to help her. For Martha’s water situation, we will talk to the person next-door on how Martha can receive water lines to the house. Lastly for Martha’s food issue, we plan to get gas lines to the house to get a working stove or for her to have things like canned foods in hand. My thoughts then turned to pure joy about our arrival in Diepsloot and our plans to help her out. We ended with taking a picture with her and then were led to our next home. While we were walking there, we were stopped by a child who wanted to play soccer with us. He kicked the ball to us and we kicked it back. This continued for about five more minutes. It was a great way to connect to the community and I am happy that we are going back soon.

Mason Perry

July 15, 2017

 

Today we hit the beaten battered and torn streets of Diepsloot again in hopes to focus our work on the Sustainable Development Goals of Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-Being. Following the three granny’s or gogo’s who we met yesterday, we were introduced to two more which helped us to understand the struggles of the people of Diepsloot. While walking to the first house, we learned a few things about the section. This included the fact that the shacks in extension 9 were given to the people by the government. During this conversation, I slipped which caused me to fall in a black sludge puddle. At our arrival to the first house, many kids were playing joyfully while some stopped and stared. Bunches of hair laid on the ground which we came to find out was coming from makeshift hair salon going on in the back, where a woman was getting a new weave. Approaching the house, it was a nice door with lattice around it, almost making it look American. As we entered, to our left was a big bed and to our right was a kitchen with a fridge, stove, microwave and other kitchen like appliances. The granny welcomed us in so nicely, causing me to feel like I was at home. Joining us were her two grandchildren, ages 1, 5 and 11. Her name was Nompumelelg, and who unlike the other grannies, receives old age grants and child support grants. Though she is still poor, this makes her have a slightly better life. However, some things that Nompumelelg struggles with is paying her monthly rent of R500 which equals about $38.59. Another thing she struggles with is getting her children to school, because it costs R30 ($2.32) a day for them to take a taxi. Nompumelelg makes bead necklaces that are extremely high fashion which she sells to help pay her rent. She needs more string, additional beads and like everyone else a little bit of love. Following the community visit, we went to a local daycare where we sang, danced, read and played games with the toddlers from the community.  I loved playing with the kids It got me to the point where I wanted a child of my own, but of course then realized how old I am. In conclusion I have to end by saying how grateful I am for my life and for this experience.

Mason Perry

July 16, 2017

Today was a very eventful day.  We focused on the Sustainable Development Goal of a Quality Education. Ensuring a quality education is key to achieving many things, such as ending poverty.  There is also a correlation to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, preventing child pregnancy and many other things. Education is important to all holders because obtaining an education is a basic human right and ensures access to information and to be informed. Education is especially important to people of lower socioeconomic status because it is their key to being able to use the information as a pathway out of poverty. However, what is even more important than all poor kids getting an education is for girls in poor countries to have access to an equal and equitable education. It is a known fact that if girls have at least a secondary education, 170 million people would  be out of poverty and more women would be safe from teenage pregnancy. All of this is but a dream for some people but we must work to make it a reality. For example, in South Africa during apartheid, black children were forced to be taught in Afrikaans which was a language that most black people did not speak and it was the language of the oppressor. Youth and parents tried to advocate to the government asking to be taught in their native African tongue but the Afrikaaner government would not listen. The kids became outraged, so they started arranging meetings to discuss a peaceful protest that they would create. The meetings were so secret that some even took place in the swimming pools. On June 16, 1976, students from the South African schools of Soweto walked out into the streets to peacefully protest against Bantu education laws and not being taught in their home language. The police were outraged and decided to suspect this peaceful protest with violence by letting out dogs, shoot rubber bullets and even real ones. From this violence, a young boy by the name of Hector Pieterson was murdered.  He is now used as the sign of the violence that took place on June 16, 1976 and is now a national holiday. In the end, Afrikaans was eradicated from school curriculum and your native tongue could be spoken. The problem nowadays is that there are not enough teachers speaking all of the languages in poor government schools.  For instance a student who only speaks Zulu can be placed in a Cosí speaking math class which makes it hard to learn. In conclusion, all people no matter where they live have the dream of getting a good education to have a good life.

Mason Perry

July 18, 2017

Today, we went back to Diepsloot with a mission to show how the sustainable development goal (SDG) of gender equality affects the people living there. In order to end poverty, it is important for us to live in a world that all genders are equal and girls have a good chance at life. Some ways that girls are unequal is in some Sub-Saharan African countries by the age of 12, a lot of girls stop going to school.  Teen pregnancy and getting married off early are also issues that happen when a girl is not in school.  In South Africa, gender inequalities affect people around work as men are expected to do the more handy work like fixing roofs or other handy-man stuff and women are expected to stay in the house and only work in the house. However, for the gogo we visited today in Diepsloot, when she was younger she lived on a farm. Living on the farm and being the eldest of four siblings, had granny Juliet doing all of the handy work. This shows more of a difference in age than gender. Later on, when she moved to Diepsloot this forced granny Juliett to live a life hurt by domestic violence.  Unfortunately, gender-based violence is a cultural norm for women in South Africa. Moreover, granny Juliet’s only employment choice was  domestic labor, and in fact, most of the granny’s we met had done domestic labor.  This is again a female gender norm.  Another way that gender inequalities affect women in Diepsloot is the matter of rape and abuse. South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world with high levels of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and even murders against women.  So one way that this can be prevented is through ensuring that girls get quality education which happens to be a sustainable development goals to end poverty by 2030. This can lead us down the path of good health and well being and with the right education also leading us to havin zero hunger.

Change in Perspective by: Shynice Richardson

I attend the Capital Prep school in Harlem. I am in the 6th grade. My favorite subject is English and I want to be a pediatrician when I grow up. After this trip, I expected to have a better understanding of South Africa. When people hear about Africa in general, they think Africa is very poor and have a negative stereotype like everyone has Ebola. I am going to prove that South Africa and the continent of Africa has more to offer to the world than what most people usually hear.

Shynice Richardson

July 14, 2017

Today was my first day and I had lots of fun. I had to wake up for breakfast at 7:00 and I was very tired. Then when breakfast time was up, everybody got on the bus to go to Diepsloot.  The reason why we went to Diepsloot is so that we could visit grannies and their home and help them with their daily life issues and daily life problems. For example, one of the grannie’s home had a issue with a leak coming into her shack whenever it rains and she also did not have electricity. I felt really bad and sad for the grannie because she has water coming through her house and it is winter and very cold.  I did not like the fact that she has to live like that.  My group and I are trying to figure out how to help and I think in order to fix the problem we would have to get some wood and cover up the parts of where the leaks are. We talked about covering the roof in plastic and filling cracks with silicone too.  I did not like the fact that the grannie was very poor and couldn’t eat every day, which is another big issue.  Not only did the granny not have  any food, but she does not have a stove and has to cook outside on an open fire. When it rains she can’t cook a hot meal.  It made me feel very sad because when you don’t eat for a couple of days your body starts to go weak and you can even die.  In order to fix this problem my group and I would like to buy her a stove so that she can cook inside. After we learned about the needs of each granny and got to know each other, we left Deipsloot and headed to the African Leadership Academy (ALA).  At ALA we played games to teach us about leadership with all of the kids from the United States group and 25 students from Diepsloot.   We also ate dinner at ALA and headed back to the our accommodations.  Overall my day went great and I had fun and really enjoyed seeing the grannies and going to Deipsloot. And that is how my day went.

 

Shynice Richardson

July 15, 2017

Today I had an amazing experience. I woke up in morning and got dressed and went down to breakfast. After everybody finished eating we had a devotional to know what we are doing for the day.  We then went to two grannies houses in Diepsloot. The first grannie’s name was Nompenello and she takes care of 3 children. After she had to stop working as a domestic worker, she became very poor.  She tries to earn some money by making beautiful necklaces, skirts and bracelets out of beads. Her designs are so creative. Nompenello had five children but four of them died and her surviving child also lives in Diepsloot. The second house we visited was a grannie whose name was Ester. Ester’s brother passed away today so she was at his funeral, but Ester’s daughter was telling us information about her.  She told us that Ester has one grandson who is five years old and that she works one day a week. Ester is almost sixty years old and she is going to get a grant soon.  This will really help her because the grannie’s who get this money have more food to eat than those who don’t.  After we finished our home visits, we headed back to the bus and went to a daycare center and played with little kids. I was reading books to the children, laughing with them and playing. I had lots of fun playing with the kids.  We also made lunch for the kids, which included sandwiches, fruit, chips and a drink. I was very excited to go back to Diepsloot, meet new people and play with the kids at the daycare center.

The Journey For Change Experience by: Benjamin McCullough

I am a junior at Capital Prep Harbor in Bridgeport, CT. I would describe myself as an innovative leader who wants to leave a lifelong impressions for change, specifically in minority cities. My favorite subject is math and I will pursue a career as a Financial Manager because I love dealing with finances and numbers. I believe the recurring theme of systematic racism, I and many others, have endured growing up needs and must be changed. While my future career is important to me, I also owe it to myself and my community to help try to change it. In order for this to happen I must start with my own community of Bridgeport first.

Benjamin Mccullough

July 14, 2017

Today we started with SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 1 which is “No Poverty.” Upon our arrival to Diepsloot, an informal settlement in South Africa, you could immediately observe that this community was impoverished. Residents were living on top of one another and children were walking around without shoes. What the three households we visited had in common was that they did not have electricity, running water, and there was no food. This was an eye opener for me because so many people lived in a one room shack and live on less income in a month than the cost of utilities back home. I thought to myself how ethically and morally wrong it is that these people do not have access to basic human necessities that sustains life.  I also reflected about the fact that I can at times take electricity, food, and water for granted. But the most inspirational and uplifting thing I noticed today is that these families and the community as a whole do not let their situation define who they are. We can learn a lot from the glory that these people experience despite their everyday struggles. Today was a humbling experience and I look forward to going back.

 

Benjamin McCullough

July 15, 2017

Today was an inspirational and love-filled day. Our focus today was on SDG #2 and #3, which is “No Hunger” and “Good Health and Well-Being.”  We visited a local day care in Diepsloot that has gone about a week without electricity. Our group purchased food to prepare lunch as they could not cook a hot meal.  We bought cold cuts, cheese and bread for sandwiches me as well as fruit, juice boxes, and chips.  We prepared the lunch for the children we served them the food,  We also played with them and read books to the children during the rest of our time there. When it came time to leave, the kids were crying and did not want us to go because we simply took time out of our day to show that we actually cared about them.

 

A Whole New Experience: The First Two Days by: Jose Lopez

I am currently in the 10th grade at Capital Prep Harbor in Bridgeport, CT. My parents are from Mexico and I am the first generation of my family to be an American citizen. Science is my favorite subject and I love to deal with technology. Computer science seems to be the most interesting career choice for me because it brings my love for technology and science together. To have a career that incorporates my two favorite topics and allows me to make a living is something that I look forwards to in the future. Though it might be hard because of my background and the environment outside of my school, I totally believe that I will get there.

Jose Lopez

Friday July 15

Going to Diepsloot was a whole new experience.  I was full of emotion and also full of gratitude for the kindness I received in a place that was unexpected.  In Diepsloot we visited three families.  In each family we saw something amazing, as we saw a light in the darkness of poverty.  And even though the families knew that they were struggling with enough food to eat, the lack of water and electricity, they kept smiling, dancing , playing and even singing with all of us making me realize that we aren’t that different.  It also makes you respect and admire how humble a person with almost nothing really is, while many with plenty take things for granted.  It makes you mad and sad to think about their situation.  I am sad because deep down you know it’s wrong that they live with wanting even the simplest of things that are their human rights.  It makes me mad when I contemplate how many people want the new iPhone, fashion, or new video game and they do now appreciate the paper that they are wasting.  Others are desperate to get food, water and electricity and it made me realize that we have a chance of really making a change for these families.

Jose Lopez

Sunday July 15

It’s still astonishing to me to even consider that I am in a whole different part of the world.  To me it’s crazy that I come from the United States, flew overseas, and now I’m literally thousands of miles away from home.  Of course, the best part of about this trip is the main reason we are here, and that is to do service work. We received two new families to visit today and we heard their needs.  It was so confusing and hard to process that their fundamental human rights are so broken because everyone has a right to them, which is why they are called human rights. They needed simple things like food, which we all need to stay alive.  The first family badly longed for food especially meat, as they said it was something special for them. That hit hard because here I am eating meat almost everyday when I am at home.  It is also astonishing to see kids malnourished, stunted and actually facing hunger.  The second family we visited was also living without their basic human rights.  They were also unsafe as their windows were broken, there were dents in fences and concerns about where they lived.  But like I said, the best part of the trip has been the service work.  It does not feel like service because it feels like something we should all do anyway.  So I can say that the best part of today is that we gave through our home visits and the time we spent at a daycare to donate food and make lunches.  It was amazing to just do good, feed the kids, and it is what we all are supposed to do.

 

The First Two Days in SA by Alana Haley

I am in school at the Capital Prep School in Bridgeport, CT and I’m an in the 8th grade. I am proud to be the William’s House Captain. I love to focus on my work and I am goal oriented. Once I set a goal, I am someone who can be counted on and I will not let anyone down. Math is my favorite subject because it helps me learn about money. When I get older, I want to be a computer engineer because I want to make a product that everyone around the wold will want to have. Although I do not know what it will be yet, I do know that technology has a huge impact on today’s society.

Alana Haley

July 14, 2017

On the first day in Joburg, South Africa we met Gogo’s (or grannys) and learners from Diepsloot.  Before meeting the families we were told that they all had been living in poverty for most of their life.  After meeting them it was hard to believe that they had lived in such conditions because they were so happy and so polite.  They sang songs and danced around the fire with us. When we went to visit Diepsloot and spoke with the Gogos, we learned that many of the families were in need of food.  Most of them were in desperate need of food because the amount of children/people living in one home.  One way that we can end this basic need problem is to go food shopping and provide them with long lasting foods such as rice and beans & tin fish.  

July 15, 2017

Today we stopped by two more family homes in Diepsloot.  We also went by a creche or daycare.  It was fun to see the babies laugh and share their toys and even to read to them.  It kind of reminded me of when I spend time with my little cousin.  I met this little boy who didn’t know how to pronounce his name yet.  He seemed shy but once I played with him I learned that he was very ticklish.  The other children were very joyful and introduced us to some new song games to get to know one another.  So today I had a really good day!