Ground zero – Week 1

The first week has gone by and we’ve all had a chance to see glimpses of South Africa, both good and bad. There’s a crazy amount of energy due to the World Cup (went to 2 games!) and a real sense of pride from South Africans (black & white) to come up to all of us and explain/show us that South Africa is not what people read on the news, but that people can still be happy and look forward despite the challenges.

I guess that’s one thing that really struck me. We all have a tendency to focus on the negative, what we are entitled to, and what we think is right. People have to get away from that way of thinking, I think the 1st step is really looking at how disadvantaged people live and behave here. They have ALL the reasons to give up, to just stop and complain, and they do the opposite, they keep fighting/persevering.

So far, I’ve seen small communities of at least 20 families share 1 public toilet, as well as access to only 1 water pipe for miles at a time, people grabbing food from the garbage as their “lunch break”, and vast poverty. I’ve also seen people openly invite us to their homes and cook us traditional (delicious!) meals, chocolate chocolate ice cream, pure enjoyment of just having foreigners visit their home and explaining their history and background and some freaky dancin’. And enjoying some Black label beer, it stings the nostrils… in a good way!

Ok I’ll stop now and leave you with a quote I liked from the Apartheid Museum…

“As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” — Nelson Mandela.

by Phil M


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