Monday, January 14, 2008


Still in Pretoria for medical, so here is another post!

One of my friends suggested that I interview South Africans and share their stories with people back home (thanks Sean!) so here is my first instalment.

On my way back from a medical procedure, I asked one of the men who drives the volunteers to appointments what he thought was the most important/best aspect of South Africa that I should share with others. Here is an excerpt (please keep in mind that I tried my best to accurately reflect our conversation but I had been sedated for the appointment and I had not eaten for 30+ hours :)):

What is one of the best aspects of South Africa?

"I would have to say that the best thing about South Africa (you know that we speak 11 languages here?), well the best things is that we all work hard to come together. It is important to learn the languages of each other. Where I grew up, if you wanted to play with the other kids and understand each other you had to learn their language.
The other thing that is good about South Africa is that we fought against an unfair government. We won. All of the Afrikaners thought that there would be a civil war, but that did not happen. Its like if you did something wrong against me yesterday, I should just say 'Jennie, yesterday when you did X, this happened to me' and then we move on. Together. That is the other wonderful thing about South Africa. We are not holding grudges, we are moving forward."

I asked a 15 year old youth in our village what was one thing that Americans should know about South Africa and she said that Americans should know that if you live in a rural area, you have to make your own outside light if you want to see at night. I was thinking about this after our conversation and I don't think either of us realized at the time how profound her statement was. There is a perception of South Africa as the land of shopping malls, cities and crime. But the villages are very different. The villages have a beauty about them, but they are also lacking greatly in resources. It is truly 1st world, 3rd world in South Africa (and it is very clear who is given the opportunities to live in each world). In the villages, if you want to see through the night, you better start constructing your own light.

Lots of love,

1 comment:

Lisa B said...

Jennie and Ben -
i hope both of you are feeling ok and you are both learning a lot and playing a lot!!
I am really enjoying the blog and seeing (as much as I can from the internet) how your lives are changing!
I'll be in Uganda in less than a month...I am thinking about so many things right now. I cant wait to see you both!! World Cup action - are you guys interested in going?