Since the trip has ended, I have had a lot of time to think. It’s hard for me to process things because I tend to over think and want to come up with an ideal answer or post. Thus, the reason why I was taking forever to write. I just felt like nothing will ever be able to sum up the trip I made to Cape Town, South Africa. I was changing as a person there and has forever changed me in a sense that has inspired me and reminded me of why I started looking into this field for my dream job. It’s always been a dream of mine to work in the helping field or fight for human rights. During this trip I was reminded of the obstacles I face as a social worker in America. It was enlightening to see the differences and similarities among social workers role here at home and in South Africa. Over the past few days I’ve had time to reflect on my experience and come up with the most important things that surprised and inspired me.
On the day I was packing, I had no idea what was in store for me going on this trip. Every time someone asks me to explain how my trip went I always tell them three things. The topics related to colonization; how that has impacted their culture/community/life, gentrification; the similarities between the U.S./South Africa and undervaluing the poor by moving them, the issues with wine industry and the payment they use to pay their workers (Paying them with wine)and the issues regarding alcohol and substance use that has led to many children entering the foster care system.
When people hear this, they are amazed to hear about things that they never thought occurred today. I always end the conversation with, “I felt like I was going back in time and experienced a bit of what the U.S. experienced several years ago with desegregation and life beyond those times.” Sometimes I don’t know how to explain it and just say “You have to visit there, it’s a beautiful country, rich in culture and community, and there so much to learn.”
When I read the articles about the housing situation in South Africa and how the government had failed them in providing them with homes to the poor and only the people with connections had the chance to claim the homes it left me unsettled. Leaving many families with nowhere to live in the townships which later led to families going to live in partially built home and claiming it before it was even finished. Leading to several families doing the same. The government eventually stopped building housing which led to several townships remaining the same and families living in carton homes. When I had the opportunity to see this in person and see the homes they were living left me speechless. Because I saw how strong the community was there. Despite of the difficulties they have faced through generations and are facing today, they are still strong in community. There was a strong sense of family with everyone in the Langa township and amazed at how they protect each other within the township.
Overall, this opportunity I was given to go to South Africa changed me in a positive way while changing my perspective and realizing that there is so much change that needs to happen not just in the U.S. but everywhere as well. South Africa has won my heart and I will definitely return one day and possibly volunteer my time there. I was inspired and fortunate to experience this and hope to come back and give back to their community and learn much more about the issues they are facing today in South Africa. Till next time South Africa. I will miss you. Thank you for everything you offered me and thank you for being amazing and loving.
Once again, Thank you South Africa for this amazing journey.