Quick Recap: Today we toured the townships that we will be working in the rest of the week. Historically townships arose from Apartheid when the South African government forced all of the non-whites to live in segregated areas. The organization we are working with, African Impact, facillitates volunteers throughout Africa. We began our tour in Masiphumele which is a township that is predominantly Xhosa; Masiphumele means "We will succeed" in Xhosa. Masi originally was built to house 5,000 people, but today is home to about 72,000 people. Each township has different organizations that help to develop the community, and currently there are 40 programs in the works in Masi. The next community we toured was Ocean View where we will be building a jungle gym and doing some painting for a preschool. On the way to our last stop we took a detour by the beach. From where we were standing we could see mountains that reached down into the ocean and surfers swimming in the freezing cold. Our final stop was at another township called Red Hill that is a much smaller community than Masi and is home to 2,000 people. In this township we will be doing some construction work on school buildings.
After our tour we had lunch together and then set out for different adventures. Some of us enjoyed shopping at the farmers market while others went for a hike with our fearless leader Dr. Gustke. We gathered back together for dinner and class. During the class period we really talked about "Questions that Matter." Some questions we asked of ourselves were, "Can we make a positive impact in our short amount of time here?" "Even though apartheid has fallen, how are the effects of that regime still evident today?" "How has being in South Africa highlighted social problems in the US?" Throughout this class period we were able to not only make connections to our experience in Botswana last week, but also to each of our own personal experiences. In this discussion we realized that you have to approach service projects with the intentions of helping a community help itself rather than doing it for them: by bettering the townships' facilities we are progressing the projects they have already put in place. After our tour of Robben Island we were shocked to realize that the prisoners of apartheid were only freed in 1994. Knowing this helped us to better understand South Africa and made its history more relatable. We were able to recognize many parallels between the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for South African independence, democracy and freedom.