We had our induction with Projects Abroad last Wednesday. The staff explained the history of South Africa, and gave us an overview of the work we are doing. South Africa has been deeply impacted by apartheid. Even our host family was uprooted from their home in a nice area and moved to a different part of town. It has been only twenty years since apartheid ended, and many issues remain. We'll write more in future blog posts about South African culture, race relations and politics.
We also covered a lot of safety precautions because of the areas where we are working and living. For example, we are strongly discouraged from taking the train after 6:30 PM and we cannot leave our work area. There is a lot of drug use and gang violence in the townships. As we left work last Friday, the gangs were walking down the street looking for trouble. For safety, we are transported to and from our work site daily in the Projects Abroad van. But the gang members know we are doing work to benefit their community, so we are not a target as long as we mind our own business.
|John standing near our building site|
|Lavender Hill/Village Heights near our work site|
After we finished the formal induction, the staff took us to get local cell phones, which are safer to use than smart phones. The cell phones cost about $15 each. We also went to a shopping center to get a few necessary items such as beach towels, sun screen, etc.