It’s been awhile since I have updated any of you on my life or the world of music. Part of that is just life getting the best of me and the other part is the fact that I just had the journey of a lifetime.
I had the chance to travel through South Africa and experience life in a way that only a small percentage of the world can say they’ve done. There is so much that I want to say and no matter how much I try none of it will come out perfectly so i’m just going to spew all of my thoughts and feelings in this post, I hope you’ll keep reading.
A few days into our trip we embarked to the Transkei. We got the opportunity to stay in the hills and valleys of Bulungula. To say that I was in culture shock was an understatement. I was stripped of all comfort and feeling vulnerable to the world around me. Looking back this is the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I was in the first group to participate in the home stay.
Walking through this traditional Xhosa village was like a dream. The pastel mud huts were so easy to look at for hours and they were painted all over the hills. As we made our way to our home for the next two days I was overcome with this humble feeling. I had truly done a reality check. In other words we weren’t in Kansas anymore Toto. I was deep in cultural immersion and there was no way out. Once we arrived we were greeted by the children in the area. This is where my trip began to change into a new world view I would take home with me.
It all started when I met Nonie. Our guides two year old daughter. She was so small but her eyes were so wide with amazement at the group of white girls in front of her, for probably the first time in her life. She was wearing blue tattered pants and a rainbow striped shirt. Her feet were bare and calloused from walking on the gravel path. Once we got our surroundings we decided to take a walk with the kids and have them show us around. They walked around without fear, taking every chance to wave to the other kids as if to say, “look how cool this is!”.
In a village that didn’t give much back to them they had each other. They were each others emotional, academic, and physical support when they needed it. This world of the Transkei is all that they had ever known, it was their home and refuge. For me it was hard to let go of the feeling that they needed more. I live in a world of excess, in a world where I can be middle class and still be considered poor.
These people have built their lives on what was given to them and they land that they harvested. Who am I to come in with privilege and feel pity for them. It will never matter how much you have because at the end of the day you can have the whole world and be haunted by demons. These people were surviving.
These kids taught me to have an imagination is to have everything. Leaving them all, especially Nonie was like leaving a part of my soul. But, I felt like I accomplished something, I gave them joy and made them laugh.
Later in our journey we traveled to Cape Town, a very American city in my eyes. On the way in along the highways you can see these shanty towns. They’re called districts and it’s essentially where the impoverished live because they can’t afford to be in Cape Town. I saw kids roaming the grass by the highways, playing soccer. I saw scrap metal homes and livestock roaming around. Then I looked forward and I saw the skyline. I saw these tall apartment buildings and those who inhabited them. I couldn’t help but feel wrong. To see the poverty but still pass by and stay in the city, because I could afford it.
We had the chance to go to one of these districts and see first hand just how these people survive. It was breathtaking. They use shipping crates as make shift stores because they can lock them up easily. The kids in their uniforms filled the street as they had just gotten out of school for the day. We had the chance to visit the Women’s Center for Peace. Which an after school program for kids. It’s all on volunteer basis and seeing all the lovely ladies that day by day make these kids lives brighter was so heartwarming.
They do it because they know the negative effects of what getting into drugs and alcohol can do to a child. So once school is over the kids come and can do their homework, learn how to use a computer, and play on the playground. They even get a chance to have an after school snack and just be kids.
We walked to a children’s center that had kids who were orphaned by their parents. Whether that be because of alcohol and drug abuse to just not being able to take care of them. The social worker there explained to us that they try to keep these kids in the community and with their extended families. It was kind of heart breaking thinking how they only had 28 spots and it was full. But, how many more kids were alone.
They try to keep these kids together and safe. That is what this district does, it looks after their children first. Mainly because they are the future. I have never seen this many adults care for kids the way they do. It was so pure seeing them laugh and smile.
I walked out of there crying because I had never in my life experienced joy the way that I did at that center. It was another place that I left part of my soul and I know in my heart that one day I will build another center for children because it’s so important to let them know that we are here, they aren’t alone.
This trip taught me so much, but it was the kids who changed me. It was them who showed me how to smile even if life wasn’t perfect, even if I didn’t have it all. We live in excess and our world is still not considered perfect.
My mind still wonders to where Nonie is right now, what she’s getting into, is she laughing? I send her all my love and I hope that one day I am able to adopt a little girl from South Africa so I can show her kindness.
Im not sure if I even got all my thoughts out but this will do for now. Never take your life for granted and what you have. Don’t live in excess and help where you can. Remember that kids are our future and we have to take care of them first.
Having an imagination is to have it all my friends.