From the Township to the Aquarium

Posted March 4th, 2008 in Outreach programs by Frerieke

By Frerieke van Bree 

Cape Town attracts lots of tourists with its beautiful nature, welcoming climate and its famous Table Mountain overlooking the ocean. Tourists love to hang out in the fancy restaurants, luxury shopping malls, along the Garden or Wine route or simply on the beach. 

Money makes the world a very small place: people fly and enjoy the sun for a few weeks on a beach at the other end of the planet. But in the same time does money create separated worlds right next to each other. How can you travel miles and miles from Europe or America and not taking the time to get to know the country you are enjoying that luxury holiday in? How can you lie down on a beach for days, while you know that there are hundreds of people trying to find a safe place to stay, just 15 minutes away?

We LOVE people who do take the time to discover all the separated worlds a place embraces. We DO NOT like tourists who go to the township to take a picture of a cute black child waving at your fancy rented car.
We want to see more people who come, explore and act! We want to see more changemakers in the world!

This is what we told our Dutch friends Matthijs and Naomi when they told us they wanted to join us to visit a township: Great, but only if the people in the township get something out of it!

Naomi and Matthijs were brave enough to take the challenge…

Outreach Cosat

The 9 students that we selected from high school COSAT (center of science and technology) in township Khayelitsha were very excited when we told them they could join us on their free Saturday to make new friends, to explain about their home, their culture, and their dreams.

The first introduction to their Xhosa culture was during the lunch at school. A name introduction resulted in a funny  –kliks- and -klaks- , trying to get this wonderful Xhosa pronunciation right.

We let the students choose which museum they want to go to. You should have seen their faces when we told them they could also choose the aquarium! Wow! Only 1 of the 9 students had ever been there.

After we told the students that it was allowed to ask all the questions they wanted, they didn’t stop! Those children have a huge hunger to learn. They know that education will be their path out of poverty.

The stories in the car were impressive. Lwazi who lives in so-called ‘murder capital’ Nyanga explained his fear to go out on the street. It was great to see driver Matthijs’ face in the mirror, looking around because he didn’t want to miss a word.

The aquarium was a great gift to the students. Exploring everything, reading all the information they could gather. And meanwhile: mouth wide open, smiles on their face. During our milkshakes afterwards we analyzed the experiences together. Sharks, penguins and Sea horses were definitely the favorite ‘fishes’ of the day! Lots of appreciations and a big thank you towards Matthijs and Naomi who sponsored the whole day!

A walk through the Waterfront and some traditional dance moves on music of the Xhosa Street musicians made this day complete. Before we realized it, the sun was setting and we had to go back to the car to return the children all home safe before dark.
This might have been the most interesting part of the day: dropping the children of at their homes. The realization that although these kids are very intellectual, well dressed, full of questions and joy in life….they live in the poorest places, the loudest environments, the biggest dirt, surrounded by violence, drugs and lots of people who do not have the learning skills to create this path of hope out of the circle of poverty.

Matthijs and Naomi got such a great inside idea of life in a township, thanks to the communication with the students, seeing the places they live. For the students it was very enlightening to be out of the township, to interact with people outside their everyday township world.
Wandile told me that it was such an honor to walk around at the Waterfront and to go to the Aquarium. He told me that lots of people in his neighbor hood never leave the township. Public transport is expensive. So unless your job forces you to go and take that 15 min bus ride, you don’t get to town.
We received a message from Peter (founder of Cosat) who had received a message from Qiqa, saying: “Yesterdays trip was nice and fun. Those people were very kind to us, I really appreciate it”

For Anasuya and me it was lovely to realize that the activity we organized had a great impact on the children here in this underprivileged community in Africa, as well as on our friends from the Netherlands. A great success! Check out this video and you’ll see…

See also our gallery for some more Photos of this day..


2 Responses so far.

  1. Matthijs says:

    He Fre, Nice website this is! Great picture of… me! 🙂 and the kids of course. You really start to get very savvy! Say hi to Anasuya Haleluja!

  2. Fre says:

    haha…jep I’m getting there! Have you seen the Love to The World shop yet???? check: “love for sale”
    Great to have had you here in South Africa! see you soon!