Apologies for the lack of post in a wee while – holiday, followed by a illness, followed by busy are the latest excuses.
I said in my last post that I was about to head off on holiday, and I did, and it was awesome!
A week of 25 degree temperatures in the middle of winter, kayaking with crocodiles and hippos, camping with food-stealing monkeys, swimming in the Indian Ocean, watching whales from the beach, spotting shooting stars and seeing the Milky Way, and generally having a lovely, relaxing week with some wonderful friends.
Then we came back to Jo’burg and I spent a week in bed with the flu, which wasn’t as pleasant.
So this week was back to work. It was hard to get back into after a longer-than-expected time away, but lovely once I was there and great to see all the students again. On Tuesday I had a rather random experience on campus, as I was standing chatting to someone and we were asked by a security guard to move to one side, I turned to see why and found Jacob Zuma (El Presidente) walking past me. Bizarre.
The other notable event of this week came on Wednesday night. After Bible study at church I went with some friends into a nearby area called Sandton. It’s one of the real wealthy Jo’burg areas, home to some of the city’s biggest houses and fanciest office buildings and yet right in the midst of this sparkle and glamour there’s a bridge, and under the bridge a big group of homeless men live. It’s been a particularly cold winter here in Jo’burg (especially in the last few weeks) and so we went down there to give them some blankets. We didn’t stay long, just gave them the blankets, chatted a little and then left, to go back to houses, with beds, and warm food and all that I take for granted so often.
Sadly these men (and when I say men, you should know that some of them were really boys, probably no older than 13 or 14, and that a few weeks ago, there were women and children living there too) aren’t an uncommon sight in this city. There is massive poverty here, often starkly displayed alongside massive wealth. And I don’t really know what to do with that knowledge. I can go and give blankets to these guys, but they’re still there, living under a bridge, and they’re not the only ones. I can give money to people when they ask, and I do, but it’s just one person and it’s just small change. And as we drove home after leaving the men on Wednesday we were praying, and I really didn’t and don’t have the words. What do I pray? God feed them? God help them? God save them? I don’t know. This side of life in Jo’burg is hard, and yet, I think it’s supposed to be. If there are children living under a bridge then I’d rather know, and bring them blankets and struggle with the injustice of it all than drive over the bridge and be happy in blissful ignorance.
In summary: confused and uncomfortable with reality.