Meet Jimmy. He is our 15-year-old bakkie which cost the price of a small new car at home. We may speak the same language and drive on the same side of the road but that is probably where the similarities end. New and used cars are very expensive here, traffic lights go from green to red then red to green with no amber warning, stopping at the red light can sometimes be optional, undertaking on the inside on all roads (even if there is not an inside lane) seems entirely acceptable. Not wearing seat belts, using a mobile phone and drink driving are all part of the social norm.
Vehicles do not have an annual MOT, a road worthiness test is done only if the car is sold, therefore, there are lots of vehicles on the road which look very unsafe.
Don has enjoyed making sure Jimmy is safe by fitting new tyres, ensuring all the lights are working and generally tinkering. It is not quite the same for Lorna who was used to driving a small nippy Mini and is now driving a slow tank with no bells or whistles. However, Jimmy makes it easy to travel into the informal settlements which tend to have dirt track roads.
It has been a very exciting month for NewDay United. A computer learning centre has started in an area called Khanyisa with 28 learners and another 30 signed up. This is for unemployed adults and once completed they will have a recognised qualification. A sewing initiative is in the initial stages with the idea that once the ladies are trained they will be able to sell the products. One lady is doing both courses and was excited to share that once her business is running she will also be able to do her own accounts on the computer.
Lorna has been attending regularly to spend time in Khanyisa community to try to understand the health needs as there is currently no adult clinic in the area. The first morning involved looking at a gunshot wound dressing!!! Khanyisa church is based in an area of Cape Town which has mostly inadequate quality housing and shacks. The church kitchen provides a daily meal to on average 100 people who have very little income to buy food. Unemployment is above the national average of 30%, drug and alcohol abuse is high, gun crime is almost daily and many children do not attend school. It is remarkable how resilient many of the community are despite their circumstances, however, it can be completely overwhelming at times knowing how much others have in the city. Lorna continues to visit primary health clinics and public hospitals and is beginning to get an understanding of the various & complex levels of health care delivery.
Don, on the other hand, had the excitement of a Mayoral visit to Sweet Home Farm. This promised the opportunity for her (Patricia De Lille) to understand better the huge potential of an incremental, community led, building technology to transform housing provision in the informal settlements. Rather, it became a bit of a Public Relations circus! The complete entourage arrived like a whirlwind, including a pre-visit clean-up team, and left, leaving everyone feeling slightly dazed. However some good has come of it already, with secondary meetings being set up with decision-makers in the Mayor’s office, including the Shadow Mayor.
In a quiet moment after the visit, Barry Lewis and Don, chatting over what had just occurred, witnessed a couple of young children from the community on the stairs in the Process House. They spent at least half hour having loads of fun very carefully climbing up and down the stairs and only then did it occur to Don that they simply had never encountered stairs before.
We still can’t see the horizon, but are fixing our eyes on the road!
‘Keep your eyes straight ahead, ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you’
Proverbs 4: 25 & 26 (The Message)