Tuesday, February 28, 2012

South Africa 2012 - Day Fifteen

Day 15 - Township and Tea Bags

Imizamo Yehtu or Mandela Park is a township on the outskirts of Hout Bay. About 10 years ago the government of South Africa established this township and it started with about 1,000 families. Now this has grown to between 10,000 and 15,000 families. As the growth has continued the wooden or corrugated iron huts have been slowly converted to proper brick buildings but still the predominance is the ramshackle huts. We split into two groups and Patric took us on a tour of the township. It kind of felt weird walking around a township while everyone who lived there was doing their own thing, however, they are now used to people visiting and see it as a sore of income.

As we walked around we handed out candy to the kids. Alex had also brought a few bottles of the bubbles. When she blew these bubbles the belly laughs from the kids could only make you laugh as well. One of the most memorable things about the people in South Africa is their smiles. They all seem to have bright white teeth and never seem to lack for a smile on their face. We visited a church, a kindergarten, a couple of shops and went in a couple of houses. Wherever we went we met people who despite their bad conditions seemed to be happy. It is hard not to be thankful and recognize how blessed we are.

At the church we got a rendition of Happy Birthday in South African and English for Pop Pop. When we went to the Kindergarten there were about 60 kids and we started to hand out the candy to the half that were inside. Then Alex started a mini riot when she started blowing bubbles. About 30 seconds later Hunter came running in saying they desperately needed candy. A couple of our teens had gone outside and given a couple of kids candy. Immediately they were mobbed by all of the kids with their arms held out wanting candy. Hunter had managed to break free and I rushed out with the remainder of the candy. All I could see was the headlines from the next day’s newspaper - “English family causes riot at Mandela Park kindergarten”.

After about an hour’s tour we headed about 500 yards down the road to Tea Bag Designs. This is an amazing story of a lady who had visited a township and been moved so much that she went back to run a training session on how the ladies of the township could use their creativity to make things to sell. One of the ideas that came up was to take used tea bags and paint designs on them and then make things from these tea bags. Several years later the business employs 13 people and makes a wide variety of truly unique products. These employees now can support their families and have been able to buy houses in the townships and send their children to school. One of my goals from this experience is start a tea bag collection project in the States to send over to this company.

Again we had had a unique experience and this was going to lead to another first for a few of our party. After a very tasty, albeit smelly, lunch at the wharf in Hout Bay we all headed to Muizenberg to go surfing. For Max, Matt, Hunter, Savannah and Rory it was their first times to go surfing. Max, Matt and Hunter all managed to get up for short rides but the most elegant surf of the day had to come from Rory. As he tried to catch a wave it became apparent he wasn’t going to be able to stand and so he just relaxed, lay on his side with his head in his hand and coasted in.

For dinner that night we headed back to Hout Bay to the Lookout restaurant. The food at the restaurant was very good and they had a cover band playing live music. This also served as the preliminary birthday for both Alex and Hunter. The music seemed to appeal more the older crowd and at the end of the meal there were even a few people dancing. Even Pop Pop got up to dance, well more it was a shake of the arms as I am not sure his hip replacement has healed enough for him to really boogie. The only downside to the meal was the occasional dead fish smell that the wind would bring through the restaurant from the fishing boats and wharf. Mark had told us that if you continued driving down the water front the smell got extremely strong. Julian decided to test this theory out and drove that way after dinner. This resulted in someone actually losing their dinner a short while after. I won’t say who but it was one of the two birthday people and it wasn’t Hunter.

Philippians 4:11-13 - Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

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