South Africa – Braden Schmid

Posted on January 9th, 2015 by

2013-01-07 02.55.48

The view from Rocklands, where Africa Jam Camp is held

Sitting at camp looking out over an endless body of water on one side being overlooked by a towering mountain, words cannot explain the experiences I have had during the past three days.

Upon arrival in South Africa (finally most of us would say!) we headed straight for the townships. To us in the U.S., these would be the worst living conditions we have ever seen. Running water is scarce in some areas, sturdy structures are minimal, and sewage systems rarely work. To myself this experience was something I could not grasp as I walked through the homes, because I could not relate the lives of South Africans living in the townships to myself. As it seemed on my first encounter in South Africa, maybe everyone lived like this. Just maybe people didn’t make enough money, or by some other mean they didn’t know another way of life.

The next day on our drive to camp, I found these questions to be true, some people didn’t make enough money, some people got trapped in a cycle, but not all. As we drove to camp on our second day in Cape Town, I witnessed some of the wealthiest areas I have ever seen. On our drive to camp as we passed through Simon’s Town and Camps Bay, I could not stop thinking, how do these children we met the day before feel when they drive through these pristine areas? Some of these children have never left their townships, they have never witnessed such wealth, and what was really getting to me is that I will never know the answer to this question because I have never experienced what these children have gone through in their lives. Furthermore, as I witnessed this large gap between poverty and wealth all I could think to myself is how can these people living in such wealth just sit over on one side of Cape Town as all these other humans are living with a lack of basic necessities?

But really how much different is that situation than my life in America, how can I be comfortable living in a middle class house in Fargo, ND, and never go to learn the lives of those living in poverty in America. How can I drive past a trailer park in my city and not feel a desire to want to make change. In these similarities I find myself connecting with the wealthy man in Cape Town and I wonder. What can I do? Do I feel bad I am living with all of these necessities others are missing? But my family has worked so hard for these necessities; these are the things most humans are working towards. I have the life campers at Africa Jam are working towards achieving day in and day out. With this understanding, I now ask myself how do I make a difference, how do I use what I have seen to do better, and that is an answer for us all to search for.

As I engage with kids at camp and learn more about the lives of these children, as every moment passes, I come to a deeper appreciation that I will never be able to know the answers to these questions, but maybe the answer isn’t what I need to be looking for.



  1. Sue Nilson says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey Braden ~ have FUN, be safe !

  2. grandma Isabel Liska says:

    Hope you are having a good time, & learning how others live day to day. Be SAFE.

  3. Howard & Helen Schmid says:

    What a wonderful experience that you are having Braden. The contrasts there sound very disturbing, but can be found, to some degree, in many places in the world including ND.

    Grandma & Grandpa Schmid