Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cape Town, South Africa

January 18th
View from our hotel room....

Our hotel is located on the pedestrian walkway called St. George's Mall.

Street level view from the front of our hotel

Today we visited Imizamo Yethu a “township” in South Africa where 15000 poor black South Africans survive. Anyone from America would consider it an epic slum from looking at it as we did when we arrived. The township strongly promotes people coming to visit for a guided tour to learn about the history, the people, their culture, their way of living, their achievements and goals.

At first our group of 6 people from US, Germany, and Scotland was quite uneasy at what we were doing and what we would see. It seemed like we were peeping Toms or touristic voyeurs (which we were); but on the other hand we really wanted to understand how these people lived this way and why. We wanted to understand this.

It was also a little frightening stepping into a place where a significant percentage of people (mostly women and children) were living with HIV/AIDS and incredible poverty.

Our guide first introduced us to “Mama” who is an older woman supporting 10 children. She takes recycled cartons and makes beautiful jewelry. She had necklaces and bracelets for sale for 3 to 5 dollars each. If you saw them in Macy’s at the counter you would not believe where they came from. There we learned that ‘Mo Lo” (phonetically) means Hello.

The township is really a hoard of shacks made of corrugated metal, wood from disgarded pallets, and whatever the residents can find for free. Though open sewers were not evident in the areas we went, the stench of garbage was quite strong

They have a very strong community organization that takes the money from donations and these tours to help build permanent – though very very modest housing for the residents...
Please visit this site for more information:


Our guide...

Named the "New York Shop" after their relatives who are now living in NY.

A new nursery school.  There is an elementary school which is only a 5 minute walk so there is no excuse for the children not to attend school.  They realize that education is very important to improving their community.  We were there around 1pm on a school day and we didn't see any children wandering around the township.

One of the new houses.  A large majority of these residents work and many of them are taught new job skills.

The corrugated metal church.  The are also taught mosaic tile skills and their work is on the column and the stairs of the church.  My eyeglass frame is unfortunately right in the middle of the picture.

Next, we took a boat out to Duiker Island.  A seal colony of about 6,000 live on this tiny, rocky island.

Although we would like to think that the seals are waving at us, they're not.  They raise their fin out of the water which in order to warm the blood that is in their fin.  This, in turn, warms their body as the blood circulates throughout their body.

The Mouille Point Lighthouse that was built in 1824 and is still a functioning lighthouse.

A closer look at the stadium in downtown Cape Town that is being built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  You can see the cranes on the left side of the stadium still working on it.

We bought 2 wooden maps (one of Africa and one of Europe).  This man makes the maps and cuts them out himself.


Leesa said...

Were you a rock star with your blond hair and GORGEOUS smile? They must LOVE you there!!!
I am sooo glad you are uploading pictures as you go! It's soo much fun to check out your blog and see what you're up to!!

Have a blast and enjoy SUN, SHINE, AND SURF!!!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Great pictures. It's a place I'm going to visit very soon!