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.
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.
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.
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.