One Down and Cape Town

I still can’t believe I pulled it off.  One country.  9 days.  5 key informant interviews.  4 focus groups.  10 expert reviews collected (so far).  It’s certainly been a very full 2 weeks, and I feel like I’ve got more than enough for a dissertation already with two countries still to go.  I honestly didn’t know if it was at all reasonable to get everything done in two weeks, despite my concerted efforts to convince my advisors that it was absolutely possible.  Whadya know…it is possible!  Of course, I don’t want to get ahead of myself since I still have a ways to go, but I have a meeting at the Swaziland Ministry of Health at 7:45am on Monday morning, so I’m (cautiously) optimistic.

I’m writing now from the airport in Cape Town.  It’s my first time to Cape Town and the extent of what I saw of the place (before and after a really great interview) is in the picture below: Table Mountain towering over the Cape Flats.  It’s amazing, though, how much can be crammed into one photo.  The shuttle driver shared quite openly with me about her own experiences as a colored woman growing up and then raising children during apartheid.  She showed me the shanties where the blacks were placed and the run-down homes where the coloreds, including herself, were placed.  So many years later, and so many people are still living in these conditions…waiting for their number to be drawn to grant them a better existence.  She talked about her present-day experiences with the whites who, of course, had no knowledge of what was going on around them or who conveniently claim to have been away during the worst of it.  I could have talked to her all day.  In all the times that I’ve traveled through South Africa, it’s the first time that anyone has told me their own story of struggle, survival, victory, and forgiveness.  It really hit me today that such atrocities occurred in this place during my lifetime.  And then it hit me that such atrocities are still happening elsewhere.

Table Mountain towers over the Flats.

Table Mountain towers over the Flats.

It feels a bit odd to be writing this while I’m sitting in the Cape Town airport with vuvuzelas blowing all around me celebrating the opening of the World Cup.  The unified celebration with ALL people decked out in green and gold (Bafana Bafana!) distracts from my own glimpse into a segregated South Africa.  Rather than leaving me feel somber, my brief peak at South Africa’s history has given me a whole new appreciation for the significance of the World Cup celebrations and gives me hope for other countries that are still on the other side of freedom from racial and ethnic persecution.  So when you see the green and gold of Bafana Bafana, be sure to ululate loud and clear! (When you’re not ro0ting for the US, of course.)


Jim Burgess posted on June 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Hi Lauren!!! I’ve been a bit lazy about actually looking at the report, but loved getting caught up on your adventures (even the climbing on a trash can part) today.

I still think you need more data 😉 but it is gratifying that the Lesotho part of the adventure has turned out so well. I was thinking of you listening to all the World Cup activities this morning, and am glad you got at least some exposure to the excitement.

Swaziland, get ready for the Babich whirlwind, they won’t know what hit them!

Paije posted on June 13, 2010 at 9:57 am

Hi Lauren! Of course you had success… You’re LAUREN!!! I’m happy that you’re happy about all of your hard work. As always, you amaze me with all that you do.

I miss you and can’t wait until I get to hear about all of this in person!!

Keep writing! I love reading about your adventures.

Love always,
P.S. Josh and Emily say HIIII!!!!

carolyn posted on June 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm

whadya know… it is possible!! love it 🙂

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