Friday, May 31, 2013

Enjoying a delicious lunch surrounded by the beauty of Kirstenbosch Gardens.

 Learning about South African history and politics from Vincent Williams.

Everyone has been working hard at their internships this week! On Thursday evening we had an intensive Khosa class, and on Friday morning, Vincent Williams offered a class on South African history and politics. We spent Friday afternoon at Kirstenbosch Gardens and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Kirstenbosch Tea Room. Today it's raining, but we are still going on our wine tour to Beyerskloof and Thandi.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Images from TAC's Condom Distribution in Khayelitsha.

Student Reflection on Condom Distribution for Treatment Action Campaign - Andi Davis

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to participate in the Treatment Action Campaign's condom distribution program in the Khayelitsha township.  TAC is an organization that advocates for increased access to treatment, care, and support services for individuals living with HIV.  It has been said that Khayelitsha has one of the highest incidence rates of HIV, with around 28% of their population having tested positive.  During this distribution, I was tasked with the job of interviewing community members in order to gauge their perceptions on the effectiveness of the program, their thoughts regarding condom usage, and any issues or concerns they wanted to raise.

The aim of the program is, of course, to get condoms into the community.  At times this is easier than at others, because the stock diminishes quickly and TAC is not always able to restock.  I asked one member if the organization tried to target certain high-need areas for distribution, and was told that they do have certain locations they try to help stock more often when their supply allows.  That morning in particular we were distributing mostly to the local shebeens, or informal drinking establishments.  In addition, we were able to distribute condoms to barber shops and hair salons, public restrooms, and individual community members.  As we drove through Khayelitsha, a number of individuals flagged down our bus to request that we stock their particular establishment with condoms.

While there has been some resistance in the past surrounding the use of condoms, I was glad to hear from the people I interviewed that perceptions appear to be changing.  People understand the need to protect themselves, and are eager to take the condoms whenever they're available.  There still appears to be some sense of shame or embarrassment surrounding their use for some people, but the shebeen owners I spoke to discussed how they attempt to combat this by placing the condoms in more private locations, such as restrooms, so that people can take them without fear of being seen.  It seems that the real problem for the people in Khayelitsha is not with knowing that condom usage is important, but rather with having those resources available to them.

I was expecting that people might be resistant to my presence in the community, but was surprised and relieved to find that they weren't at all.  Even though I was the only white person in the area, almost everyone seemed happily willing to greet me warmly, invite me into their establishments, and answer my questions.  Still, it was an eye-opening experience for me to be openly stared at by large groups of people everywhere I went.  At one of our stops, a group of small children shouted over to me, "Hey umlungu!" which I immediately recognized as the term for a white person.  I turned around and gave the group awave, which made them all break out into giggles and disperse immediately.

Being given the opportunity to aid in the condom distribution and to gather the personal stories of people living in Khayelitsha was an incredibly powerful experience.  It really helped bring some of the concepts that I've been learning about in abstract into reality.  They were given a face and a voice through the individuals living in the township, and I was able to see firsthand the important work that the Treatment Action Campaign is doing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Student Reflection on the District 6 Museum and the Townships - Lauren Kells

Today was a very busy day. We got up at 8, ate breakfast, and were off by 9 am to the District Six Museum.  The District Six Museum was created to serve as a tribute and in memory of the families displaced by the movement of non-whites out of the area.  In the late 1800s Cape Town was divided into districts and District Six was one of the most densely populated.  The district was emptied of non-whites in the early 60s I believe as part of apartheid legislation to separate the races.  Our tour guide Joe lived in the district as a child and was displaced to the townships when he was older.  He gave us great insight into the lives of those affected by apartheid era legislation meant to displace and separate certain races.  The museum had pictures, street signs, maps, personal items, and items from shops to show how the community looked before everyone was displaced.  One of the other tragedies of the District is that after the citizens were displaced their homes and businesses were destroyed. After the museum we walked two blocks to Charley’s Bakery.  This bakery is a very famous in South Africa and popular destination in Cape Town.  It is very similar in popularity to Carlos’ Bakery in the US; it even has its own TV show.  For lunch I ordered the steak and mushroom pie and the wicked chocolate cupcake. Both were excellent and were promptly devoured. 

After lunch Vernon took us on a township tour.  The actual city of Cape Town is located on one side of Table Mountain and was the site of wealth and white South Africans during apartheid.  The townships were and still are a very poor area where nonwhites were placed after being displaced from the city.  Our first stop was actually the remains of District Six.  It was very sad to see pictures of a bustling neighborhood and then to see the empty garbage filled fields that are now there.  Vernon told us that there were housing plans and people would soon return to the neighborhood.  After our stop we headed out to the Cape Flats, named so because it is flat, windy, and the soil sucks and blows everywhere.  Our first township we visited was one of the oldest, Langa.  At this township we went to a community center called Guga S’Thebe.  Here there were many opportunities for members of the community to learn skills in art and to profit from these skills.  They had a program for community members to learn how to make pottery and eventually sell it. They also had a great artist who painted with sand and gave us an awesome demonstration.  A great surprise for us was having an African drum lesson.  It was one of the best cultural experiences I’ve ever had.  After Langa we went to Guguletu.  Guguletu is one of the biggest townships and was designated as a black township during apartheid.  While there we saw the memorial for the Guguletu 7 and Amy Beihl.  Then we went to Khayelitsha and visited the clinic that hands out the most retroviral drugs in the nation, and the TAC (the Treatment Action Campaign). an AIDs advocacy group where two of our students will be working. Our next township was Mitchell’s Plain where we visited where Priya will be working at Tafelsig Clinic.  The next stop, Mannenburg, has the reputation for the being the most dangerous township because of the gang problems they had.  Getting out of the car, there was definitely more tension and a slightly different atmosphere.  We visited a community center that helped community members to get an education in order to obtain jobs in areas like beauty care and computer technology.  Finally we visited an Indian township where we got giant sandwiches called Gatsbys.  Ours had spiced chicken, egg, cheese, lettuce and even though we split between three people we still didn’t finish.
A couple of things of note about the townships; poverty was evident everywhere.  In the city there were pockets if wealth and pockets of poverty, but in the townships everyone is poor.  Each township varied in the houses and the neighborhood but in general the houses were close together and either government built or informal. Businesses were either built out of houses or converted shipping crates.  Some families lived in concrete houses but many more lived in shacks built out of scraps of wood and corrugated steel or shipping crates.  On the edges of the shacks were spigots for water and porta-potties or outhouses.  Outside of the shacks women did laundry by the road and hung it to dry on lines hung between houses.  Also next to the road men cooked meat on big grills for people to buy.  We even saw a slaughtered pig hanging on a fence.  Everywhere livestock and dogs roamed around and children played with soccer balls and old tires.  Even though we were a bunch of white kids most were friendly and we open to our questions.  Most in the townships don’t have jobs and if they do they have to travel into Cape Town to work in the service industry, as manual labor, or as nannies.  Schools and official buildings are surrounded by large fences and barbed wire to keep vandalism at bay.  There is little to no recreation in the townships, mostly people stood around in groups or hung out at businesses which creates issues with gangs and vandalism.  The townships are miles and miles of extreme poverty and terrible living conditions created by the apartheid system and exacerbated by the white and black elite.  Never in any city or during any mission trip have I seen such a large distinction between classes and races. After visiting the townships everything we have been studying for the last couple months came to life in a terrifying and humanizing way.  It has to be seen to be believed.    

Sunday, May 26, 2013

We had a great tour guide at the maximum security prison - he was sent to Robben Island as a teenager, following the 1976 Soweto uprising. He spent 5 years there, and learned a lot about South African history and politics from the older prisoners arrested in the 1960s, like Nelson Mandela. He helped us better understand what it was like to be a political prisoner under apartheid.

Waiting for the ferry to Robben Island on Saturday, May 25 - a rainy, winter morning.

Friday, May 24, 2013

There's nothing more adorable than a colony of African penguins!

Making friends with the penguins at Boulders Beach!

The waves were fierce at the Cape of Good Hope.

Andi capturing nature up close at Cape Point
Climbing up Chapman's Peak.
Choosing our fish dinners at Mariners' Wharf.

Ready for the day's adventures on the Cape Peninsula!

A wonderful day on the Cape Peninsula! We started out climbing the rocks and exploring the tidal pools at Maidens' Beach, south of Camps' Bay, then visited Hout Bay, a traditional fishing village, where we ate fresh fish, calamari, and prawns at Mariners' Wharf. We continued south on Chapman's Peak Drive, stopping at several scenic overlooks, where we encountered some clouds and mist. Then on the way to Cape Point, we saw a whole troop of baboons! Cape Point was lovely, but misty and cloudy. We also stopped briefly at the Cape of Good Hope, the farthest southwest point in Africa. Our final stop was everyone's favorite - Boulders Beach and the African Penguin colony! We arrived home tired but happy, and were greeted with a delicious curry dinner, prepared by Gerda and Gerhard, the owners of the guest house.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Internship visit to the State Attorney's Office in Cape Town.

Internship visit - learning about the human rights advocacy

work at Africa Unite.
Internship visit to Christel House - enjoying the children in one of the Grade R classrooms.
On Day 5, the transportation exercise was a great success! Students learned how to get around Cape Town on minibus taxis and the train. On Day 6, we visited 8 of the internship sites and met many of the internship supervisors. And on Day 7, students started their internships - they are no longer tourists but working residents of Cape Town!

Monday, May 20, 2013

On Day 3, we experienced the history of slavery in South Africa and the significant contributions of slavery to the character of Cape Town and its people. Our guide was Lucy Campbell, a historian and activist, who took us on a tour of the Company Gardens and the Slave Lodge. Then we took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, where the beautiful, clear weather made it possible to see the entire Cape Peninsula. On Day 4, we enjoyed a lively and energizing township worship experience at Sivuyile National Baptist Church, followed by a delicious lunch at Vernon's mother's house, prepared by his mother, sister, and sister-in-law.  In the afternoon, one group of students headed to the beach at Camp's Bay, and another group went shopping at the Waterfront. Rev. Rose joined us in the evening and set out instructions for the Public Transportation Exercise on Monday - students are divided into 5 teams with different places to visit in Cape Town - a bit like the Amazing Race, Cape Town!
After church, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Vernon's mother's home in Bridgetown, another township in the Cape Flats.

After a lively worship service, full of dynamic singing, dancing, and praying, at Sivuyile National Baptist church in the Guguletu township.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A beautiful day on the top of Table Mountain - behind us
you can see our neighborhood on the slopes of Signal Hill.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ordering dinner at the Golden Dish Take-Away.

The memorial for the Guguletu Seven.

Learning to play drums and marimba.

An artist who paints with sand...

The pottery project at the Langa township
Community Center.
In the area that was never rebuilt after District 6 was razed.

Enjoying lunch at Charly's Bakery!

At the District 6 Museum with Vernon Rose and Joe Schaeffers, former District 6 residents,
learning about the forced removals.
Day 1 was spent exploring our neighborhood of Tamboerskloof and the area around the Grand Parade and Greenmarket Square downtown. Day 2 brought lots of new experiences, as we explored the District 6 Museum and saw first-hand the impact of the Group Areas Act and the forced removals under apartheid. Lunch was at Charly's Bakery, and the afternoon took us to many of the townships in the Cape Flats where Africans, coloreds, and Indians had to move. A special treat was an opportunity at the Langa Community Center to learn how to drum and play the marimba! Dinner was from the Golden Dish Take-Outs - we tried Gatsbys, curries, and salomes!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First day - breakfast!
We have arrived in Cape Town!
All of the students and all of the luggage arrived safely in Cape Town after a 7 hour flight from Chicago to Amsterdam and a 12 hour flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town. Vernon Rose met us at the airport and we headed straight to the Guest House for a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

We all made it to Amsterdam and we're doing fine - only about an hour until we board our flight to Cape Town!

In Chicago O'Hare Airport, waiting for our flight to Amsterdam.