Am in the middle of the long flight home. Still having trouble knowing how to express what I have seen and heard on a week visit to South Africa.
On one hand, while in the Durban area I have met people with a deep desire to reach out to all segments of this complex society.
On the other hand, I have also had a chance to see what the locals call “informal communities”. It’s a polite word for the poverty of millions of people who are living as squatters under conditions that we wouldn’t wish on an animal.
Ironically, we also got a chance to spend an early morning on a “mini safari” in a game preserve where we saw some of the most amazing animals. We snapped way too many pictures of giraffe’s, rhino’s, zebras, and a lot more that I can’t spell or remember right now.
The caretakers of these wildebeests, jackals, ostriches etc knew so much about them, and were so proud of the care given to these animals that were being allowed to roam freely in a large protected reserve.
Yet, these animals are honored in ways that so many millions of children are not.
The upside is that the government is trying to provide an education. Many of these children are getting a chance– even though we were also repeatedly told that the girls often start having babies at a very early age, and then end up having to raise them, in ever deepening poverty, on small government allowances.
I have no idea where these people get enough food to feed all who live in these densely populated shacktowns.
Yet I saw smiling faces and felt no hostility, even though we were told repeatedly of the high crime rate in the city of Durban.