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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tales from a Township - Life


Life In A Township


The country of South Africa is filled with informal settlements, frequently called  townships or squatter camps.


During the Apartheid Era Government, races were forced to live in different areas.  Typically white people occupied the town proper, and the other two races, “black” and “colored”, lived in settlements at the outskirts of the town.  Although these laws are no longer in effect, racial segregation is still a reality of life for most South Africans.
While township life has evolved in the last 80 years, it has historically been characterized by poverty, crime, poor education, poor health and a general absence of hope for anything better.  The onset and spread of HIV/AIDS has only served to compound these problems, especially for children.
Restoring Hope International is working to meet the needs of these children, to provide the love and care they deserve, and to give them hope for this life and for eternity.  You are our partners in this work, and it is our desire to keep you informed and updated on our progress.
Alcoholism is a serious problem
Most of the children who come to Restoring Hope Village have been orphaned.  Their life before arrival at The Village is often very difficult.  Many are sick and malnourished.  A few are infected by HIV, but all have been affected by the disease.
Finding daily food can be a challenge


In winter it is difficult to keep warm

Life in the townships lacks many of the modern conveniences that those living in the towns enjoy.  Many homes have no sewer, water, or electric service.  Those who do have such luxuries often cannot use them because of poor infrastructure, lack of maintenance, or inability to pay.  The “good” houses are built out brick, but most are just pieces of scrap wood and tin held together with used nails and wire.  Roofs are kept from blowing away by piling old tires, rocks, or firewood on top.  The wind is kept out by stuffing old newspaper in the cracks.
Most people use small stoves like camp stoves or open fires for cooking and heating.  This, coupled with their newspaper insulation, creates a dangerous fire hazard. Firewood is a very valuable commodity and is guarded closely.  In fact, due to the crime rate, all possessions must be watched carefully, with doors locked and windows barred.
Household chores can be difficult.  Laundry is done by hand.  Keeping perishable food can be complicated.  Food preparation is tedious and can be easily contaminated.  
The typical diet is not healthy.  When food is available it is usually rich in carbohydrates and lacks good protein or vitamins.  The main staple is called pap.  It is basically boiled corn meal.  This is eaten at every meal, with whatever vegetable is available.  Meat of any sort is a delicacy and no part of an animal wasted.
Families are rare, but neighborhoods are very tightly knit.  This is both for protection, and because many people live their whole life within a radius of a couple city blocks.  Most neighborhoods have street gangs and this is a major temptation to young boys.  Assault, theft, carjackings, murder, and rape are common in the townships. 
A garden covered by sticks to keep out birds
Under Apartheid there were separate educational systems for each race.  Education in the townships was limited to basic life skills that would teach the people only for service jobs.  It has improved in the last 16 years, but is still lacking.  Many of the teachers were trained themselves in that era and therefore lack the ability to teach the subjects they are now teaching.  Because so many children have no real caregiver, school attendance is inconsistent, and assistance at home is non-existent.

A pot of delicious sheep intestine
Hopefully, this helps you understand the challenges before these boys and girls.  You need to know that you are a vital part of changing the outlook for your child and potentially others for generations to come.  It is the goal of Restoring Hope International to raise up a generation who knows God and is equipped to reach others for Him.  We appreciate your partnership as we establish this crucial ministry.


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