Thursday, August 20, 2009
sdfSome streets are starting to feel more familiar. Yesterday, I met the donut lady on Van der Valt Street. Pauline kindly gave me two deliciously crispy fried treats to tide me over until lunch. The ladies are on each corner selling freshly dipped dough for everyone on their way to work.
Now that you know about yesterday's breakfast, let me back up a few days and re-cap how the Feast of the Clowns went. The whole experience is a bit difficult to describe but I'll give it a try. Photos may do it more justice. Picture 4000 people marching down Paul Kruger Street (main street), some dressed as clowns, some dressed in traditional costumes. There were bands and busses, banners and dancers. It was a spectacle of a parade. We, the clowns, handed out flyers along the sidewalks informing any and everyone about the Festival that would be in Burgerspark later that day. At the festival there were performers, bouncy castles, pony rides, face painting, all sorts of yummy food, and the famous band, Rythmic Elements. Throughout the day, they estimated 20,000 people were in attendance. For a few hours, I was in charge of taking tickets for the pony and camel rides! I had to make sure that an excited crowd of children didn't try to sneak onto the ponies or get too close to the camel. Camels really do spit you know. Later that night, after the last band finished and the crowd cleared out, we did a final sweep of the street picking up litter (trying to leave the neighborhood cleaner that it was when we started) and hopped in the back of a truck for a ride home. Overall, the Feast of the Clowns was a huge success that made headline news the next day. The theme for the Feast was, "...And the blind will see." It's goal was to raise awareness in the community about human trafficking, abuse, discrimination, and xenophobia. All of these are very prevalent in this city and they are trying to be proactive in prevention as 2010 approaches. South Africa is so excited for the World Cup in 2010, there is even a brand name of shoes called 2010's. Siri and my friend Sandile has a pair and showed them to me the other day. Apparently they're very in style!
We also got to see the Soweto Gospel choir perform at the State Theatre. It was a mind blowing show! The energy and color and power of their voices was overwhelmingly beautiful. On Thursday there was a play that the School of Creative Arts wrote, directed, and acted in called Blinding Sight. It had a good message of acceptance and reconciliation between family and between races. The night shows were a good chance to hang out with our new friends here and see some faces over and over again. It's not safe to walk around the city after dark so unless there is a specific event to go to and you have arranged transportation...home is home. :)
Monday was a necessary day to recover from all the events from the previous week. I also started working at the Lerato House, the safe house/empowerment center for teenage girls coming off the street or out of prison. It will be a good fit I think. Monday we did a day outreach into Matabastardt, an unofficial settlement outside of the city. Here, we found some women sitting outside of an old abandoned bar (now used basically as a brothel), we gave them information about the drop in center, handed out condoms, and just got to know them a bit better. The pimp, another woman, was there as well but wasn't very happy that we were talking to her "employees." It's tragic that anyone, especially a woman, can enter into this type of work. Please pray that as our conversations continue with these women and the other's we meet, God would stir their hearts and feet to take steps away from this lifestyle. Tonight, is the night outreach that Lerato House does in city center. It should prove to be an interesting experience. Volunteering full time will take some adjusting too. I am already getting a feeling that things are done very differently here (duh!) And I need to be humble in learning how to fit into them. My American nature is coming out in the desire to be "productive" and "efficient." It will take time to settle into the projects and find out where I can serve specifically. There are some ideas brewing but I will need to be patient too. For now, there is lots of time to get to know the girls at the house who are not in school. Everyone has the greatest names here....there's the Zulu or Tswana, or Sutu version and then there's the English. People's names in English are: Patience, Miracle, Gift, Elephant, and Momma Crocodile. We could take some lessons on naming eh?
This is going to be a good place for the year! An ice cream cone costs 2 Rand (approx. 20c), there's always always music somewhere in the background, people eat Pap (corn meal mush) and stew with their hands, there are fruit stands lining the streets, and people greet you always with hello and how are you!? Siri and I are having a great time here...there will be so many places to explore and we've only just started to get to know this little city! Its 2 weeks in, and I miss home at times but am so happy for the chance to be here.
to the streets