Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Things we know about but do not see

Poverty is horrible. It's world wide and there's no end in sight. Theres always going to be rich people and poor people. Most of us are fortunate enough to sit in the middle. We went to the Soweto township where Nelson Mandela grew up today. We didn't see poor people, we saw an impoverished community. I've made it pretty well known that I'm not well traveled or any type of citizen of the World but even Professor Hamakawa who has been to over 50 contries said he had never seen anything like this.

Picture a feed the children commercial. Except now it's in 3D and you have all the smells and flies you would rather pretend don't exist. It was appauling to see the conditions these people lived in. We exited the van to meet our informal tour guide to talk a walk through the village. Nick Starr brought some soccer balls and goalie gloves for the kids and he was stormed immediately by 7 or 8 kindergarden aged children. I mean intense storming like he couldn't move. They quickly took the soccer balls and began to play with them.

Eventually, we began our tour. The little kids are like little diplomats. They have a list of 5 questions to ask when they begin their begging scheme hatchery. They ask your name, where your from, favorite sport, and profession. They may also give you some background information on themselves in order to achieve sympathy. As if we didn't have enough already for just being there. We were instructed not to give money because you would instantly be charged by the children in a fashion that would make what happened to Starr look like Americans running to the voting booths on election day (I mean how are you gonna tell me only half of us vote).

We were then taken into one of the slum houses. Pride was swallowed by the owners of the house to grant us entry into their shack. The tour guide picked the complex appart listing all the problems with it. It was very very uncomforatble and there was really nothing to say. Professor Hamakawa asked if the wife cooked all the meals each day and they all laughed a faint laugh. They only eat one meal a day. It was eye opening. The professors gave a 100 rand to the people who owned the shack and we were on our way back to the bus.

Today was a tough day for sure. As interesting as it was, it was also very morbid. Some light notes came later with the climb to the top of the mountain where the South African national anthem was written. When we got back from Soweto, we played alot of cards at the Bar/Cafateria/Campus center complex. It was a fun night and I'll have more tommorow.

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