South Africa Bound; Backyard Dwellings

South Africa's Backyard DwellingsOnly 12 days away in till I depart for Cape Town South Africa. I must admit I am a little terrified to be away from my family for so long (over 2 weeks). While preparing for this adventure I have spent some time reading material and watching video’s that are directly related to South Africa. While watching the videos supplied by the Global Learning class, I find myself deeply taken back by many of the barriers that individuals and families face in Cape Town and surrounding areas.
Interestingly, one of the articles that I read described the crisis of the housing shortage and the causes and consequences of literally not having enough housing available to residents. This resulted in overcrowding in townships. Now people are living in “backyard dwellings” or shacks that are located most literally in the backyard of a landlord’s house. Previously, living this way came out of relatives wanting to help family members out by allowing them to take shelter in their back yard shacks. Now, it has turned into a common residence, with running water located outside with a spigot and (sometimes) electricity running into the dwelling from the main home. These dwellings are fully functional, they can cook, sleep, eat, drink and wash items; just like any other home. These “shacks” are built out of metal, iron and wood. Approximately 1/3 of all households live in these informal dwellings and many do not want to leave. These dwellings tend to be in close proximity or resources, the rent is low and there tends to be less conflict with landlords.
I’m hoping there will be time to explore Cape Town and really be able to travel through the city. Two weeks isn’t long in terms of exploring another country. I am however very happy to be given the opportunity to gain firsthand involvement in experiencing another country that face many different obstacles in ever day life. Much different than I face in the United States, for me I’m sure this will be life altering.

One thought on “South Africa Bound; Backyard Dwellings

  1. jstmary

    I believe you are correct, two weeks is a drop in the bucket, an opportunity to plant a seed. We will have ample time to experience the lives of marginalized South Africans living within the impoverished townships. In my experiences, nothing in the States can prepare one for the reality you are about to immerse yourself into…

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