Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Khayelitsha is one of the townships, or slums, surrounding CapeTown. Its population is estimated at between 600,000 and 1 million — they don’t know how many live there, but it’s said to be one quarter the population of Cape Town. There are some areas in Khayelitsha with “buildings,” but most of it is “informal”, meaning the shacks you see here. Two of the biggest issues they face are water and toilets — think about that for a second. That’s the most basic of basic necessities. Cape Town’s commitment is to provide one toilet for every 5 families, but they haven’t even installed the port-a-johns correctly.
I asked one of the young people from the Social Justice Coalition, Shawa, what would happen to us if they weren’t there. He said, “You’d probably be mugged. Did that scare you?” I said no, I expected that, just wanted to know if it would have been more than that.
Some children followed us, waving shyly — except for one little boy, who wasn’t shy at all.
What I can’t include here is the smell, the dust, the debris, the patchwork walls, the people walking, the children poking each other as we passed, the couple dogs. I can’t convey in this what it felt like to be in there. You need to see it for yourself. Because places like this shouldn’t exist. But they do — here and everywhere. So what are we going to do about it?