This was a difficult day. I took a tour that brought us into the Townships- basically our version of a project. It’s the part of the city that is government provided. However it is the majority of the city, we drove through miles and miles of Townships, and it was very difficult to see. These houses that are provided by the government, are literally made from scraps of metal. They are given to those who make less than 3000 Ran a month, which is the equivalent to about 200 dollars. The first township in Port Elizabeth to have running water was in 1976… and yet still there are dozens of Townships without running water or electricity. As we drove through you could see the young boys climbing cell towers in order to siphon electricity into the village. Women carrying jugs of water from the nearest source, and children running around, playing with their toys that look like something you would find in a museum. I watched the two boys blow on their hand made scooter/bike contraption, that looks like a toy from the early 1900s, not exactly our battery powered scooters the kids I nannied zipped down the street on. Every 5 seconds the wheel would pop off, and they would run down the dirt road to retrieve it and then pop it back on, and ride down another 10 feet. There is a movement in the schools to get computers because most students are graduating high school with no computer skills. If they attempt to go to college in a nearby city, they almost all drop out because they do not know how to use a computer, and can’t complete the assignments.
There is trash everywhere- and I mean everywhere. Women are purchased with cows to be brides. The rite of passage to become a man is circumcision, which happens to the boys at age 18- no pain killers are allowed as the pain is part of the ritual. The boys are left in tents out in the wild for 4 weeks to heal. Their only access to the outside world for that month are the village boys who bring them food and water twice a day. Even Nelson Mandela went through this rite of passage.
There is just a whole other world out there. It’s unbelievable. Be thankful for running water- it’s not just remote villages that don’t have it, it’s full cities of people. Cities that are just a short distance from urban life like Cape Town. Unreal.