South Africa Emzingo Internship
From my Emzingo Fellow Anabel Lopez in Kliptown Youth Project.
“After being in South Africa for 3 weeks I have many things in my mind and heart that I don’t even know where to start. This country has made a deep impression in me, I´ve found some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. The project where I’m working is amazing. Kliptown is located in one of the poorest areas of Soweto, with no electricity, running water, paved roads, or sanitation whatsoever; nevertheless, there is a group of angels who do incredible things for the community.
Being used to “perceived as given” luxuries like bathrooms, AC, dining rooms, or even variety in food selection, makes every moment a challenge, a transforming experience. The saddest thing being that we take many of these things for granted, and we don’t usually stop to realize that the majority of the people in the world do not have access to the most basic things. We are the rare ones, the privileges, and definitely the world is upside down… These people live in conditions that for us are unacceptable but they are able to get up every day with a smile in their face wanting to make things different…it’s just amazing!
Working in Kliptown has made me realize that if we could transfer some of the management and corporate knowledge to the poor communities and their leaders many things could be done, they have the best intentions and ideas but they lack some important knowledge…so if we, the ones who were lucky enough to get an education could share some of the things we know with them the world will definitely change.
Bittersweet anecdote, a few days ago we went into the kindergarten next to where we work and all the kids came to hug and play with us, they are so cute!!! I am in love with them… so at a given moment I was surrounded by 10 kids who were all grabbing my arms and literally squeezing my skin… only because we are white, for them we are like outsiders, it’s appalling… we’re in 2011 and this is a country that has at least 5 million whites….then the teacher comes reprimanding the kids. Her reasoning, they have to understand that even though you are white we’re all the same. I ponder when there will be a time when that explanation isn’t needed and being equals is a given.
These three weeks have been some of the most interesting, challenging and amazing days of my life…I am sure I will remember them forever and always keep a very special place in my heart for the people I have met in Soweto, they are a great inspiration…and I am their greatest admirer!”