Postcards from Around the Globe
Day 3: Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Jonathan Moore - This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to wake up in South Africa, and it already feels like this is where I am suppose to be. Before today I had only heard, read and seen on television what I thought South Africa was like. But I can see now that at that time I was merely standing at the intersection where worlds collide (words of Dr. Fluker). The first thing that we did at Wilberforce Community College was have breakfast on the campus. It was around 8 or 9 a.m. and some of the students that we met last night were there to have breakfast with us.
I thought I would be meeting people who were impoverished and would also not be so up to date with the way that they dressed. I soon found out that I was wrong. The students had the brightest smiles and were just like myself and the other students. The only differences were our cultural differences. But with our culture being different, there was something they had that I envied, and that was their connected history. As an African American whose ancestors were brought over to America due to slavery, so much of my family history and traditions were lost during that course of time. Because of that, as African Americans we find ourselves filling in the blanks or even sometimes starting our history at slavery. And if as a people, if that is all that you know, you start yourself at a disadvantage. I wish very dearly that I knew my history from an intact stand point, but nevertheless I must admit that I did feel like I was at home.
Maurice Wilkins - We started the day by going to the U.S. Embassy where we met Chris and Grace. They both gave presentation about their roles within the State Department. Chris discussed the importance of serving communities and your country. Before meeting him, I hadn’t considered a career in the State Department. However his presentation really made me think further about the idea. Throughout my life, I have always known that I wanted to work on cultural, educational and political issues within the community, but never really thought about how to execute how to do this. So upon listening to Chris’ job and really understanding why I was on this trip, I began to understand ways in which I could do this.
We also met Grace, who was in charge of the programming and funding within South Africa for PEPFAR…She gave us daunting statistics about HIV/AIDS: about 1,000 people are affected with HIV daily. This is very difficult to take in considering the huge effect the disease has already had on the world. There are many initiatives sponsored by PEPFAR, so of course we began examining how we could fit into the context. Dr. Fluker suggested we find ways to measure the effects of HIV in the AUC community. This is very important considering the level of sexual activity and carelessness within our community.
Adam McFarland - To finish the day so fittingly, we visited the Mohau children’s orphanage. Here I think it’s only fitting to take a shift in the essence of this particular writing away from the actual events, and towards the subjective elements of the day if nothing else for intrinsic purposes. The children in this particular orphanage were the happiest children I have seen in a very long time. Their jovial nature and smiling faces invoked only one response from any person with any reminisce of a soul: an undoubted sense of happiness. You would never know existence matters, that their life has worth and purpose, and that they are part of a larger plan, knowing that they are going to die due to no fault of their own? As we played with the children I saw the happiness in their eyes as if the every breath they took was an attack against injustice and immoral actions everywhere. Their contagious smiles like the very evidence that God is real, and the high and vibrant cry of their small and underdeveloped voices a testament to the oppression of the truly innocence in the convoluted and contorted beast we have come to call society. That almost 90 percent of them were HIV positive and most would not live past the age of 18. Personally I was surprised at the amount of fun I had playing with them. I felt as if the hands of time had been turned back and I was nine playing with my childhood friends at a play ground. They attacked me as if we were enemies, embraced me as though were family, argued with me as though we were the same age, and we intimately conversed even though we didn’t speak the same language.