Monday, May 22, 2006

No Wetlands in the Bible

It is a new day after much rain storming in from the Atlantic into Cape Town. I can just imagine the damage done to the informal shacks down the road, and the bitter cold - again. There are those who had to build in the wetlands (the only space!) and now live in mud and then there are those who live on mountain sides in seven-room mansions with breathtaking views. And I think about the Biblical story of building your house not on sand, but on rock - for wind and storms will come and tear it down. But it said nothing of 'title deeds', homeownership. money, access to morgage or space allocation according to your income and traditional tribal clan. Those were the days, I guess...
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Saturday, May 20, 2006

We are what we Stand for...

I saw yesterday. I will take one line from the movie script with me: "You are what you protect, what you stand for". I have found some courage through the words to continue with the development we started in Masiphumelele, amidst the politics and power games that we face daily.
I have also wondered a lot lately about the value of our programmes. "Is this (the work I do) something I would die for?" I think about the life of Rachel Corrie who died for what she believed in her twenties. Her life has inspired me and I think about her (and her family) whenever I feel discouraged.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When my House costs less than My Leather Jacket...

I was walking in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town with a co-worker today, and made a comment about how great he would look in a designer suit. "Well,..." he said with a smile, "I cannot wear something that costs the same as my home". It took me a moment to take in the words, and understand that the informal corrugated iron home he sleeps in (inherited with pride from nhis uncle!), actually cost less to build than the price tag of the suit hanging on the plastic doll in the window. When one lives in poverty, one has a different reality...
... and a leather jacket often costs the same as a home.
Note to Self: Know the world is different for all of us.
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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Kinds of Cold

The thing is: There are different kinds of cold. I never really thought about it, until I took my two guys out this morning for their business on the grass. And it struck me that this cold reminds me of the winter blizzard in Chicago in 1996. I can barely believe it is ten years ago that I was in the USA and landed between walls of snow to visit with friends. I still have the image clearly. But it was the cold that struck me deep inside and left me breathless. Like this morning.

And then, there is the cold in the township where my clients live with candle light and oil burners and cherish a blanket like a bucket of water. The cold that rips your skin from your body and lets you feel that you live outside of yourself as an observer of your own slow death. I have seen children turn blue from this cold, where the homeless cuddle together under a bridge and some shared carton and body heat. I have watched the destruction of tin homes from fire intended to keep the cold out. And nothing remain...

My friend took her little nephew to Ice Age and the the theater was filled with young laughter. The cold was inviting and slippery with animated creatures having fun and adventure becauce of frozen surfaces. It is almost the same cold of my cildhood, when we would drive into the mountains and closest farm and make a snow man stuck to the car window - just to watch them melt and slide suicidally onto the road. I would watch the muddy snow man with scattered carrot nose and beady eyes until the next car killed it off finally. It was always a sad, predictable end to an unbelievable day of white snow in our sunny country.

But the cold I feel for some people surpasses all... There is no match to the cold that is born from my anger and frustration with ignorance of self-absorbed people. The ones that live a small world with their furnances and wool and scarfs and feathers without even acknowledging the cold that exist for others. Some times, I also forget. And it chills me.

I can only describe it all as