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Pack Light Walk Slow Calvin: "It's a magical world out there Hobbes, ol' buddy.

Hobbes: "Let's go exploring."


SOUTH AFRICA | Monday, 11 November 2002 | Views [467]

I promptly passed out on my bed before even taking a shower after that hike, and I wish I could say I got to sleep hard all night, but I had to get up for an “faculty directed program” to a township.  Though I contemplated skipping it to sleep, I’m glad I went.  First we drove out to the townships to look around, and it really is a sad place.  The townships are where, during Apartheid, all the blacks and mixed-race were forced to live, and now they still have no money so they have to stay there.  It’s a dangerous place; they’re crowded and have poor sanitation.  The homes are all packed in right side by side with absolutely no space between.  They are mostly made of scrap wood or tin thrown haphazardly together, and I don’t know how they could stay warm in the winter months.  It may be Africa, but Cape Town is at the tip on the coast, so they have weather more like Virginia or New York City. 

As we drove through the townships, kids started coming out and running after the bus and they all gathered around us when we eventually stopped at the township bar (where we were supposed to spend our money).  Instead of going in the bar, I got to talking with two little girls who really touched my heart.  One was named Natalie, and I can never remember the other’s name, but it begins with T, and Tavia is always the first name that comes to mind, so we’ll call her Tavia.  Tavia was the sweetest girl I’ve met on this whole voyage.  She told us she was going to travel someday – such an ambitious dream for a girl from the poor South African townships.  That week she had been voted for by her class to be in the school art show, so she is a talented girl.

But the sweetest thing of all was when she talked about Natalie – her cousin.  Tavia’s parents allowed Natalie to come over after school and Tavia told her mom that since Natalie was poorer than them, she wanted to buy clothes for Natalie too whenever they went shopping.  It broke my heart.  When we were about to leave, I had such an urge to tell her something encouraging.  I got down on her level and said I had a project for her.  I asked if she would go home and write down all those dreams she told us about and hang them someplace where she would always see them and remember.  She said she would, so I really hope she did.  I don’t have a lofty assumption that I changed this girl’s life by simply talking her that one time, but I really feel like she has the compassion to make a difference in the world, whether in her little township or in the world at-large.  I truly hope she finds the strength to follow those dreams. 

Tags: culture, south africa

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