January 23rd, 2014 | Uncategorized
Visiting Cape Town, South Africa was a life-changing trip. I definitely didn’t see myself going to Africa anytime soon, but I was grateful it was built into my program as a graduation requirement. On our trip we got a chance to work with iShack, a non-government organization that builds eco-friendly and energy efficient homes for low-income residents in Enkanini. We were able to help them develop a plan to transform into a business by 2016 by highlighting some of areas for improvement and their strengths too.
I have to admit, it wasn’t all work and no play, but our days were packed with activities and meetings. We had 3 short seminars at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, visited The Sustainability Institute, and enjoyed our evenings walking the waterfront. We also went to the Fairy Glen Game Reserve, which I have officially nicknamed Scary Safari because I was super close to an un-caged lion who probably wanted to eat us. We also went to the beautiful new official 7 wonder of nature, Table Mountain, and climbed to the lighthouse at the top of Cape Point. I even saw real live African Penguins at one of our tour stops. If they came any closer I would have been able to touch one.
The most eye-opening experience was visiting the townships. These are places where the low-income residents live. Learning the history of how they were moved out of the city to the outskirts really touched me. My class gave donations and purchased toys and coloring books for the local daycares and purchased hand-made items from the market right in their neighborhood. We had the chance to go inside and witness how the families live. There can be up to four families in a small shack and all sharing one bathroom. When I saw the living conditions, it made me think about how hard it must be; yet these individuals find a way to survive. They take pride in what they have and work hard for what they earn. I think everyone learned something different from that trip that they will keep with them forever, I know I did.