South Africa – Khayelistsha the 2nd time around

Posted on January 22nd, 2013 by

This morning we boarded our two vans guided by Eugene like we have many other times. But, today there was more excitement in the vans because we actually knew who we were going to see and what we were going to do. Going back to Khayelitsha after our experience at camp was sure to be so much different than our original trip there on our first day in South Africa. The first time in Khayelitsha was a culture shock and really threw us into the lives of South Africans living in townships. Since that first day, each and every one of us has grown in so many ways and camp is a big reason for this. During our original trip to Khayelitsha we were accepted by the members, yet it was almost uncomfortable for us to be there as an outsider. We knew they had accepted us into their community and lives, but it was hard to get over the unfamiliar territory we were in since so many of us have never witnessed this kind of lifestyle. Today when we pulled up to the Community Center in Khayelitsha we again felt the acceptance by the members, and this time we accepted them as well with no reservation.


Visiting Khayelitsha today made it clear the impact the South Africans have made on our life in the short week at Africa Jam camp. It was so comforting being reunited with our camp friends again. Looking around I could name so many familiar faces. These people are not strangers to me anymore, they are my friends. We all felt comfortable around the younger kids as well and some these were children we have never met. Within minutes I looked at Joe and he had five or six kids vying for his attention and of course, he was fulfilling this by picking the kids up and twirling them around. After a few games with the group everyone broke out into different activities; soccer, dancing, arts and crafts, or music. There was no hesitation by us this time. The amount of mutual acceptance between the South Africans and Americans was immediate and natural. If you looked around it was hard to find anyone that was not having a good time. Laughter roared through the streets during the soccer game and you could hear the drums being played beautifully by elementary aged children. The amount of talents these children have are endless. In America there is a pressure to make whatever talent you have and turn it into a profession and make millions because of it, but here these kids are talented and perform for fun and entertainment. They are not looking for acceptance from society. The smile on their faces after performing really exemplifies how happy they are performing. It is pure joy.


Leaving Khayelitsha today was like leaving home and saying good-bye to family and friends. For me, I was uncertain what the rest of our trip was going to bring because being at camp with these people was the highlight of the trip. Now that camp is over and our visit to their home in Khayelitsha is over, what was left to do? Leaving today meant we might never see these friends again and knowing this was hard to accept. We had formed such strong bonds and friendships with this group of amazing people the past week and now we were saying good-bye. Good-byes are never easy, but saying good-bye to a friend that you will never see again is a whole new experience. I am blessed for the opportunity to have met these great people and remind myself of that whenever I get sad about never seeing them again. These friends have made a lasting impact on my, and my classmate’s life.


Janelle Derbique


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