I had an idea of what to expect upon our first visit to Vrygrond. I’d seen pictures from previous Cape Town CAD trips and I felt like I was prepared for what lied ahead.
However, I did not think about how I would feel when we visited. Upon entering, I felt a sense of insecurity as it looked very different than any place I’d visited before. I saw homes made from various materials pieced together, stray dogs laying on the ground, and the air was very dry and dusty. There were empty chip packages strewn about, their colorful foil glimmering in the sun. Barefooted children played on the ground in front of shacks, and several people passed by us, pushing old shopping carts containing large bags of empty cans and bottles for recycling.
We walked through Vrygrond with smiles on our faces, conversing with one another as if the activity around us was the “norm”. We posed in front of a crèche, smiled at babies, and commented on music we heard from passing cars. In all honesty, I felt uncomfortable. I felt sad. I felt like it wasn’t fair that we have “so much”, and the people in the township have “so little”. When I reflected on this later… I thought more about this. The following is a post I wrote after visiting Vrygrond:
“We took a walking tour and although it was what I’d expected, actually experiencing it was…. (insert word here because I can’t think of one). It’s easy to say “we have it so good”… and we do- we have more material things…but we are truly blessed because we have so many more opportunities. This township clearly has very little in material things but there are people here who are working so hard to give their young people access to opportunity and a safe place to live and learn. Wine tasting and beaches are lovely, but I think the greatest impact this trip will have for me will come from my time spent in Vrygrond.”
I am incredibly grateful for this experience.