Posts tagged UBA
Posts tagged UBA
All of these photos were taken by Shay Spaniola, a photographer who was shadowing the CIEE program students. CIEE is a study abroad program that runs in numerous countries, including South Africa. UBA had about 11 or so kids from the program volunteering at the center once a week. These photos are absolutely beautiful—to check out more, visit Shay’s website/blog, shay.ciee.org!
Today is my last day at Ubuntu Africa. As excited as I am to see my family, leaving this place, the staff, and these kids, is difficult. I spent part of the morning reading my first blog posts—my beginning days at the center, impressions of Khayelitsha—and thought about how much I had learned and how much I had experienced.
One thing I’ve realized is that two months just isn’t enough. Only in the last few weeks have the kids really started to recognize who I am, expected me to be there every afternoon, started teaching me Xhosa (in exchange, I teach them “Indian” or Malayalam, the language my family speaks). Only now have I started to learn big-picture things about the organization and where it wants to go in the next few months and years. I’m jealous of Jessica and Mallory who get to spend a year, two years, embedding themselves in this place.
But who am I to complain? I got to spend two (fully funded) months working at a place where I wasn’t just a nameless face but the member of a family; where I could work with smart, committed people who were motivating and inspiring in ways I hadn’t expected or encountered before. I could suggest my own ideas, pursue my own projects, and I truly felt as if my work was valued and that my presence in the office was appreciated. All-together, not a bad way to spend a summer.
Leaving Cape Town is a whole different story—a whole different heartbreak—which I can deal with later. But for now, as you say in Xhosa, hamba kakuhle, sala kakuhle, or ‘Go well, stay well.’
Photos: Above, me and Constancia after meeting our first day; Middle, me and Pelokazi, one of my favorite kids; Below, interns and kids.
On Friday, Whitney went to a presentation in Stellenbosch given by a man named Frederick von Heyer. From February until June, Frederick has been traveling down the Western coast of Africa…on his motorbike.
Check out that route! And he made this trip completely on his own. From reading his blog and talking to Whitney, I’ve heard some pretty insane stories—Frederick found himself face-to-face with AK-47’s in the Congo, was dragged down the road by a distracted mini-bus taxi driver in Mali, camped in the bush near Al Qaeda territory in Timbuktu, and carried his bike across rugged terrains, rivers, and more.
Best of all, Frederick also used his trip to raise money for Ubuntu Africa. People were able to pledge by kilometer or just give a donation.
As I prepare to leave Cape Town tonight, I’ve been thinking a lot about traveling—why we do it, what we hope to take away, and what we leave behind. For Frederick, his trip was about much more than the physical route. He says: “This is a trip through Africa on a bike, it’s not about the bike or riding a bike…It’s really about life, about going out there and letting it happen, anywhere, in what ever way and learning from it, it’s about doing it differently, and about leaving the security of what i’m accustomed to behind and voyaging through the uncertainties of this unpredictable continent. It’s about having faith in my self and others.”
Constancia Movadza and I have been interning together at UBA for six weeks now—our arrival and departure days are almost identical. She grew up in Zimbabwe and will be a junior at Amherst College in Massachusetts this fall. She’s also one of the best and most interesting people I have met in this city. In our interview, Consta talks about going to school during her country’s economic downturn, the culture shocks of an American university, and why she knows she’ll return to Zim.
“Culture shock—the individualism in the United States was unbelievable. I come from a place where…we’re very together. I call my friends mom, mom. I come from a place where friends are family, neighbors are family. And in the States…Amherst is a very small school, I may not know you but I know your face. I sit across from you in the dining and I say hi. But people are very standoffish. It’s almost taboo to say hi to someone who you’re not friends with. I think that was the biggest culture shock—learning to not greet people when they cross you on the path even though they sit right next to you in math. I think I’m still not used to it—I don’t know if I will ever be.”
Click below to read the full interview!
New lunchtime buddies (from left): my sister Anita, who is visiting Cape Town for the week, Constancia, and Jess Annis, UBA’s new Princeton In Africa fellow who will be working at the organization for the year!
Saz and PK just left Ubuntu Africa after 6 weeks of interning here! I am going to miss their hilarious commentary and general awesomeness.
Intern Crew 2011: The End of an Era.
Meet Sylvester, UBA’s ever-mischievous Youth Educator.
“I want to change the lives of these kids, I want to make sure that they get what they want and that they fulfill these dreams, to bring back that hope and that self esteem. When they come in here they have very low self esteem—people don’t identify between AIDS and HIV positive—so [it is about] giving them that hope again. The very important thing is love and support, more than the curriculum you have—when you know that there is someone that loves you and someone that can speak to your life.”
To read the full interview, click below!
Photos of Khayelitsha on our drive home yesterday
This morning, Constancia presented the project she has been working on for the past six weeks to the staff: The UBA Big Brother/Big Sister Program. Through this program, young adults who graduate from UBA’s program at 18 will have the opportunity to serve as mentors for the younger children.
I think the idea is great. For one, it seems like our younger kids have a dearth of older figures they can look up to as role models—these mentors can help fill that gap. Furthermore, the program can keep the older kids involved with UBA. I know our program aims to graduate young adults who are educated, empowered, and confident enough to face the world as HIV-positive adults—and I’m sure it will. But I don’t think you ever stop needing a support system. Being a mentor not only allows a graduate to use their own experiences in a positive way, but it also keeps them close to the UBA family, and reminds them of how far they have come.
The idea is in its very first stages—basically, a proposal and a presentation. Who knows if and when it will take off? But as Ntutu mentioned at the end of the presentation, the Big Brother/Big Sister program suggests a long term goal of an “HIV-free generation.” With this initiative, UBA starts a ripple effect—we educate our kids, they educate more kids, and soon, youth start to understand how to protect the next generation from becoming infected. It’s an inspiring vision, based on the knowledge that with the right skills and support, our kids have the power to change the course of this epidemic.