As I mentioned in a previous post, I am enrolled in a Health and Community Development class through my study abroad program. Unlike my other classes, this one is small and very interactive based, one in which we have taken field trips to townships and hospitals, focusing on health care but learning about the community in the process. One of our projects is to collectively, the six of us, make some sort of impact on this community. We were given no financial resources however so it certainly isn’t as easy as it seems. We visited Egoli, a township in unimaginable condition, a few weeks ago where we faced standing water throughout the township, no sanitation practices what-so-ever, and trash everywhere. All six of us just questioned where to start. We have three Saturdays set aside to carry out on the project, today being the first. We began with a tour that got us a bit more acquainted with the township as a whole. More than five hundred families live in Egoli and just to give you a sense of the conditions (which put bluntly are terrible—about the worst here in Cape Town that I have seen), they have all of six central water spigots for the entire community. The people however were so welcoming and glad to have us in their community, something that was really neat to see! I was a little worried in that we’re Americans coming into a township to make a difference and I wasn’t all too sure how exactly they would take that, but the response seemed wonderful and very welcoming. The conditions hadn’t improved what-so-ever from the first time—which left us with lots of work to do. We started by picking up some trash around the area… but as trash literally lined the streets it didn’t make much of a dent… but fortunately the weather was wonderful! After picking up trash for a bit, our focus switched to the children—we brought along some stickers, which were definitely a hit! It’s crazy to think how little things, such as a sticker, can make a child’s entire day. We played and interacted with the children for most of the remainder of the time. We provided a snack, played soccer, sang and danced, played games in the field across the street (in which horses randomly graze without fences), had our hair done (which they love playing with), and offered our friendship to the sixty or so kids that just wanted some attention… it was a fabulous morning/afternoon in Egoli and although the trash pick-up did little in the overall scheme of things, it was a start… but I feel like the most impactful, for both my fellow students, myself, and the children, was just the interaction and the time that we spent together. We return to the township in two weeks and we will work on cleaning up and repairing their small community center which will help the entire Egoli community.
In the past few days, I also got to visit Kalk Bay, which is pretty similar to Haut Bay but once again gorgeous… and another thing to check off the to-do list while here in Cape Town! It was fun walking around and experiencing the ocean-like environment as it one I don’t experience often in Nebraska. Once again there was a seal just a few feet away, hanging out on the pier—something that still excites me! Luckily with this being our first week back in school, it was a bit slower of a week which was nice and allowed for some more fun and exploring around Cape Town! This has included hangout nights, hiking, visiting the beach, and with the weather being nicer, it has just made it that much better!
I also figured out where I am going to live when I return back to Nebraska which is a fabulous feeling! I was guaranteed a spot on campus so there wasn’t really an issue but my roommate and I found a really nice unit that is practically on campus and got a great deal—so I’ve spent lots of time communicating between a number of people but the entire process has been very exciting! I can tell you though, making such a commitment when you’re half way around the world is not always the simplest thing to do!
Well, I am off to watch the game—Go Big Red!
Gorgeous Cape Town on our hike