In the states we call an impoverished area the hood, in the South Africa they call it an informal settlement. When people hear the word hood or settlement they can be turned off but I find these areas to be the pulse of the world. I enjoy visiting these areas to see how people are living. It is easy to go visit anywhere in the world and live a posh lifestyle but it is always good to connect with those who are less fortunate and share their story.
This story begins visiting Motsoaledi, an informal settlement within Soweto that is extremely poor. The purpose of my trip to Motsoaledi was to see how people are living in the settlement and I was not prepared for what was ahead of me. As I descended down the main dirt road I would see rusted metal open face pool hall, reconstructed container homes and a day care center. My tour guide explains Motsoaledi has no electricity, which makes it extremely dark at night, and no running water inside the resident’s homes.
Majority of the family’s have to walk to a communal water tap to get fresh water. Some families have a water tap installed in their yards but no one has a sink inside their home. We arrived to our host’s home and would enter her two-room shack. Each room was approximately 4×8, one room was the living room/kitchen/bedroom and bedroom with two twin bed. She would explain that eight people live here and some sleep on the floor every night.
Visiting her home had me taking back by her living situation but her spirit wasn’t broken, she was happy raising her children and pursuing a better life. The real treat of my visit was seeing the babies playing in the settlement. They brought so much joy to my life with their excitement to take pictures and pulling at your arm afterwards to see their picture. They could have spent the entire day posing for pictures and I could have spent all day taking their pictures.
The people in Motsoaledi taught me a lesson of humility as they opened their settlement doors for me to spend time with them. As I walked back to the van taking in the more of the people and surroundings all I could do is smile from the warm welcome I received. The people of Motsoaledi might be living in poverty but their spirit is priceless!