International Experience in South Africa BY: BEAU
South Africa Land area: 1,219,090 sq km / slightly less than twice the size of Texas Climate: mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights Population: 49,052,489 Life expectancy at birth: 48.98 years Ethnic groups: black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% Languages: IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2%
Recent South African History 1948- The National Party was voted into power and instituted apartheid; which was known as the “separate development of races” and favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress led an opposition against apartheid which led to many of its members, such as Nelson Mandela, being jailed for decades. Early 1990’s-Due to boycotts from western nations the National Party negotiated a peaceful transition of power. 1994- Nelson Mandela was elected president, officially ending apartheid.
The Thanda After-School Program The Thanda After-School Program was founded in 2008 as a means of reducing the rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence and increasing the students chance of passing the Matric as well as building essential life skills. Thanda’s classes include computers, art, soccer, basketball, netball, and construction/agriculture. Thanda is held at the nearby Khati High School from 3-5 on weekdays.
My Goals/Responsibilities My original goal of volunteering with Thanda was to build up the knowledge of the agricultural/construction teacher on all things agriculture. Another goal was to perceive any agricultural innovations that could be implemented in the community to help ease poverty.
Project #1 My first project that I worked on was a “chicken tractor”. In the local community chickens are mainly free range and are not contained, thus leaving the owner to search out where the chickens laid their eggs everyday. The “chicken tractor” could be built relatively cheaply and could keep the chickens contained to an area while and also could be used to fertilize gardens.
Project #2 My second project was to develop a garden that the agricultural students could get practical experience working in. A new movement in the community is practicing permaculture. Twin and I made a contact with an agricultural coordinator at another school down the road who practices permaculture with her students.
Project #3 Thanda started a new entrepreneurship class for recent graduates in February The only student that showed up was interested in starting a chicken business I worked with him for four weeks on ideas for his business and took him on field trips to similar businesses around the community
Trip Expectations Met? Overall, I enjoyed the culture, people, and places. However…….the coordinators of the organization led me to believe that there was a need for me to be there when there really wasn’t.
Advice For Upcoming International Experience Trips Extensively research the organization/company. Search out contacts who have worked with the organization. Have at least one phone call with someone in the organization before you go.