These last few days have been hectic. With less than 2 weeks left in South Africa I have very, very little time to blog and record my adventures besides the long journal entries that I keep and give to my professor--I am even behind on those but will try to post some.
Egoli has turned out to be a very rewarding experience, so much more than I ever thought it would be. The people are very receptive to hearing what we have to say and are extremely welcoming. While they live in shacks, see photos below for better detail, they are still happy and willing to work with us which is a great feeling.
Yesterday we spoke with a group of adults on issues such as healthy lifestyles and chronic illness. The language barrier was definitely there but with the english they knew we were able to emphasize to them that they should take care of themselves for their children, friends and family.
Today when we returned we were greeted by so many children. I swear the kids here are amazing and I never thought I would love working with kids so much. The worst thing is when we get out of our minibus and find the children playing in the dirty still water mud puddles, dropping food and toys into them and them continually putting them in their mouths along with their lack of shoes. I wish I could take them all to a shower and clean them up sometimes.
When it was time for our presentation none of the adults were present. We spoke with one of the women who work in the community center and she showed us the line of people towards the outside of the settlement where people were getting soup. She explained to us that the majority of individuals and families have no income and therefore get their meals from donations such as this couple that brings soup every second wednesday of the month. Other donations are made on weekly bases but I was still shocked. The children came with their coffee mugs or tupperware containers and they were in a huge line behind a truck waiting to be served both soup and 4-5 slices of thin white bread.
What hit me the most was that this may be the biggest meal they see for a few days until the next donation comes. A young boy, maybe 2-3 years old, had gotten his soup and tripped so that it spilled over the dirt road and he burst into tears. All I could think of was that he was probably crying because he thought that he would have to go hungry. Luckily one of the girls on our trip carried him back for more soup and they willinging gave him another portion.
This was the first time I realized how many people go hungry and how much I take for granted the food that I have available to me. Sitting down to our potluck tonight I almost felt guilty having salad, enchiladas and spaghetti with meatballs while these children are trying to find their next meal and their parents are often going without any meals so that the children and the sick can have something to eat.
We had so many leftovers we decided as a group to bring the noodles and the rest of our dinners to Egoli tomorrow to add to the soup they will be making for the community. I'm sure it won't go very far but it will provide enough for some of them.
Next week we are bringing clothing, medicine and sanitary products that we are not planning to bring home with us from our trip.