Here we are in week two of this amazing trip! We have finally completed our 1st week of volunteering and what an incredible experience it has been so far. I really just cannot express how unique some of these children are. After working with them for almost two weeks, I think it is becoming more and more obvious just how special this is to the 20 children we see at each school. While the photography skills we are teaching could help lead to a possible career for these children, the reality is that many of them will not become photographers which leaves me questioning the true meaning of this project. What I have come to understand is that the simple joy that these children get from this project is what matters. For many of the students, this is the most enjoyable part of their morning, day, or even week. For many of us, this can be hard to comprehend. The idea that an hour and half with a camera could be the highlight of our week. However, after seeing the living conditions, the schools, and the people that many of these children interact with on a day-to-day basis, it becomes easier to understand how something so simple, can create such happiness.
Since I have arrived in South Africa, I have been shocked and saddened by many things. The lack of proper organization throughout the countries systems is one of the many causes for such poverty and poor living conditions. There are countless homes in which the contractors began to build the home and simply left. There are teachers who will leave classes to have a smoke break, or dismiss a classroom so that they can leave early. I have even witnessed Headmasters (Principals) using sticks to beat children. I am just so saddened by some of these sights that I have seen since arriving in SA, yet for many of these children, it is so incredibly difficult to leave their poor townships unless you are selected to join a Junior School of Excellence (JSE), or if you are athletic enough to join a club/ travel team. Unfortunately for most children, they will live within miles of the township that they were born in. My only hope is that I can make a lasting impact on a handful of these wonderful children and allow them to create a life better than the one that they have grown up in. I think that this is the meaning of our project in Port Elizabeth, and as each day passes, our time here will become more and more meaningful for both the volunteers, and most importantly the children.