This is a phrase we’ve heard again and again from locals as we’ve commenced life in Cape Town. We’ve struggled to understand aspects of life here, not least the pace of things and our need to slow down and resist the frustration of not getting started, whatever that meant, right away. We were dealing with administrative processes well outwith our usual experience and also hearing different perspectives on the complexity of the social issues that exist here in this beautiful but troubled country. This is Africa!
The last week has been busy, with meetings for prayer at Sweet Home Farm that we both attended, a Professional Team Meeting in the centre of Cape Town, and a community Project Steering Committee meeting. The climax was a full Community Meeting which took place on Thursday night!
The object of this Community Meeting was to fully advise people that infrastructure and house building works on the Emergency Housing Site immediately adjacent to Sweet Home Farm would commence in a few weeks. This also heralded the commencement of initial infrastructure works in amongst the 17,000 tightly packed residents of Sweet Home Farm itself. The newly built emergency housing will temporarily house members of the community while these works take place, ultimately leading to new and permanent housing for them hopefully within 2-3 years.
At this meeting I was very much aware of the intense anticipation of the community as I stood, pressed by the sheer numbers of people against the rear wall of the small community hall. The air was very still and the heat stifling as City officials, aided by Barry and Siya, the community leader, went through the presentation, which had to be regularly translated. The community were hungry for news of progress and had to shout down intervention from a political faction who were intent on having the meeting cancelled. Difficult issues will remain to be addressed as the community seek to ensure that the right people benefit from the temporary, and eventually, the permanent housing. A busy time ahead!
I had actually been concerned at the beginning of the meeting which was intended to start at 6.00pm though! By 6.30pm there were only about 25 people there and some were even leaving. However as the meeting finally got started at 6.45pm there were all of a sudden about 180-200 people crushed into the room! This is Africa!
Lorna had her first proper meeting with Lynn Swart and Annemarie Barnard of Newday United along with other interested health contacts on Saturday at Jubilee Health Clinic, an amazing facility pioneered through Jubilee Church. Everyone was introduced and given space to share what the journey had been that had brought them to the table, and I was even included. It was great to meet and pray with these inspired and passionate individuals and to hear their stories.The next step will be for Lorna to spend a few weeks at the Health Clinic and for her to observe the outworking of their ethos of wholeness physically and spiritually in the lives of people in need.
During this meeting we were actually between temporary homes! Our packed cases were in the car ready for our move to Kirstenhof in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town that afternoon. We are really looking forward to moving into our more permanent accommodation on 1st March after six months of living as nomads firstly in Scotland and now here! It has been a revelation to discover how easily you can get by with less stuff, but it will be great to finally settle in Diep River and establish a base. God knows and will provide all that we need, not necessarily what we want.
‘The people of Israel went to work and started gathering, some more, some less, but when they measured out what they had gathered, those who gathered more had no extra and those who gathered less weren’t short – each person had gathered as much as was needed.’
Exodus 16: 17-18 (The Message)