The conditions at Rotary Hall continue to worsen. Trash is piling up on the fringes, people and their belongings are covered in dust, and disease and body lice are spreading like wild-fire. We are still doing all we can to stay on top on the municipality to get housing for the 200 some-odd people living there. In the meantime, we are still taking bread every day and doing a weekly shop to keep people’s nutrition up. I try to spend some time there with the kids every couple days to play games and offer some kind of entertainment for them, but it is still difficult with the language barrier, even after 11 months’ time, to do any kind of organized activities. People are beginning to get restless and, worse, seem to be losing hope. Looking back at pictures that were taken just over a month ago, it is hard to believe that this is the same lot of people. They look so downtrodden and discouraged when each day brings only empty promises of housing and no results. Going there is like re-opening a wound every day and I get so angry when I think about all of the events that have led to this. These actions – the bulldozing, the displacement, the complete disregard for the dignity of these people – are like events straight out of the Apartheid era when demolishing settlements and forcing people to move was common ground. Only now they are done by the people’s government; brother opposing brother. It saddens me that in this country where there have been many great strides made towards reconciling and righting the past, this kind of stuff is still happening. Though Apartheid is over and has been for 18 years, I think there is still another step; there will still yet be another reawakening in South Africa. The racial tensions and the massive gap between rich and poor are still so tangible and so thick. I was reading today and came across something that Nelson Mandela said that I think sums this up:
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
Though South Africa is free of the bondage of Apartheid, it is still a long way from freedom.
Thanks for tuning in-