Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A visit to the Alexandra Township

Today, on a training course, we were taken to the Alexandra Township (Alex) in Johannesburg. This was related to exploring diversity and sustainable development. It was an interesting and informative experience whereby we had the opportunity to sense and explore the businesses and living standards in the Township.

Firstly, if you are reading this blog entry you are likely to be privileged. Although they now have electricity and water, this was not the case for many years. Furthermore, in the really poor shacks, there is very little space, no water and often just a single light. The shacks are connected to one another, and there are small passages through which people can walk (you sometimes have to bend down, and squeeze aside if someone is walking the opposite way). Nonetheless, there is an atmosphere of positivity and community in the township.

With South-Africa having one of the largest gaps between rich and poor people, it was interesting to see that this is also evident in the Township. We visited a hosting establishment which provides light meals, drinks entertainment and a B&B facility. We heard the tough time which the owner had experienced, which gave us an understanding of the challenges and constraints these businesses have to survive.

We had a nice lunch, and some interesting discussions. Overall the day was very meaningful. I have developed a lot of respect for these people who have managed to build successful businesses in this environment.

We should all do our bit to understand differences and do something to help uplift and support the development of these communities. You are only limited by your imagination and the opportunities are out there!

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