Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Khayelitsha township and classes

Today we met at TSiBA for the morning for a lecture by our professor from NU. The lecture was so great and very interactive. The main question to start the day was, “Who was more of an entrepreneur: Nelson Mandela or Bill Gates?” A very long and in depth controversy arose from that. Some of the topics even included race, gender, and politics… three things you would never think of bringing up in a class at home.
At lunch, when talking with some TSiBA students, they told us how shocked they were to learn that we never bring up race or politics in class. They are extremely open about everything in class and brought up in discussion. I tried to explain how race is a very sensitive subject and some people get really offended. Another NU students said that if you bring up race in a class, you could possibly be labeled as racist or people could get the wrong impression. During our class time it was unbelievable the things we were talking about… that I would never think to talk about in a class setting. Everything from the lack of women entrepreneurs and why to Obama representing blacks in the upcoming election. The TSiBA students are VERY knowledgable. Not that I expected them not to be, but I was very shocked at their level of education.
All of the students from TSiBA are there on a full scholarship (the school brings in donors) and most if not all of them live in a township themselves. I can tell they all really want to be there and just soak up the knowledge. I can sense they try harder than most of the students from home.
Our project got changed from the dance school to the M Njozela Attornies right in the middle of the Kheylitsha township- the third largest township in South Africa with over 2 million people squished into too small of an area. I was taken back when I arrived in the Langa township, but Kheylitsha was even more of a shock. It was double if not more poverty struck than Langa. I drove about 30 minutes into the township and the whole time there were shacks on both sides as far as I could see. These shacks reminded me of bird nests. It looks like that has just gathered any sort of scrap metal, wood, or cardboard they could find and nailed them together. Each of them were no larger than 2 persons wide and one across. They were somehow each for a whole family.
The Law Office we met with comprised of 3 people, 1 computer, and no filing cabinet. We are going back tomorrow to meet with them about the plan more, so I’ll write more about it tomorrow.
**Turn your head to the side to see the pic: it's a pic I took from the bus of the Khayelitsha township. Trying not to take pics outside in respect to the people that live there.

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