Week 1


I arrived in Cape Town, South Africa two days ago. I met my new friends Kelsey and Lyla on the flight and we were greeted by our driver, Kimmie, in the airport. Kimmie took us to our new home in Rosebank which is a beautiful 150 year old yellow house that Doris Lessing used to occupy. The house is surrounded by high walls and a front gate with a guard. We sign in and out before leaving the house when we come and go. South Africa is a nation growing out of extreme political instability, so there's no wonder why it's an extremely violent place.

When I was first asked where I was going to be volunteering Africa, people were expecting me to name Ghana, Nimibia, or even the Congo. When I told them Cape Town, they would say, "That's not the real Africa." I actually had this thought when I signed up. I felt as though I was cheating by going to a beautiful section of Africa, where tourism is prosperous and I can go into the city to order a pizza.

Yesterday, my friend Risa addressed the question, "What is the real Africa?" I feel as though I can now answer that. Who's to say what is real and what is not? Every country in Africa is unique and South Africa is one of THE most unique countries, as far as history and progress are concerned.

South Africa has the biggest gap between rich & poor of any other country in the world. Yesterday we saw the well-off sections of Cape Town and today Mama Ivy showed us a completely different side. We began our journey at district 6 and moved on to several Townships. In Langa, several young boys (not over the age of 5) came up and held my hand and asked me for money. We're not allowed to give to any begging children because they learn to expect it and grow up to pick-pocket. We got to walk inside of a a shack in the township where 3 families would share 1 bedroom with 3 beds. They dress, sleep & cook all inside of this one room that's 1/3 of the size of my bedroom at home. Next we saw Nyanga, where we learned about "taxis" called cockroaches. The drivers of these cars don't necessarily have a license or a safe vehicle, but they can bring you anywhere for 5 rand. They're calle cockroaches because if you miss one, there's always one right behind it. The last township we saw was Khaylitsha. In Khaylitsha I played with a little girl on the dirt road who tried to climb my leg immediately after getting out of the van. Our group got to go see "Africa's smallest hotel" which was started by a woman named Miss Vicky. The house that we saw had 6 rooms. She has 18 homes in total.

I had an orientaion on South African history today, hosted by Luann and learned so much. I'm trying to immerse myself in the country as best I can. The only South African food I've tried is Pap, which is boiled cornmeal. It didn't have much flavor. haha

I begin my placement at the Sara Fox convalescent home tomorrow and I've learned that it is not actually a hospital, it's like a halfway house for children after they leave the Red Cross Children's Hospital. The kids go there if the still need care, or if their homes are too unstable to return to. They are victims of HIV/AIDS, TB and burn victims. It now makes sense to my why so many children are victims of fires after seeing how close stove tops are to beds. I'm so excited to begin placement. My housemates, Annah and Josette will be working with me. I'm so eager to begin!

Have I mentioned that I feel completely at home?

I'll update once I get into my weekly routine.

xox, Kerri