Doringbaai & Lutzville, Day 1

Thursday, March 9

Today we drove up to Doringbaai and Lutzville, where we met our home stay families, conducted our initial interaction activities, and got to know some of the local residents (including lots and lots of children). Clearly not the smoothest day ever, but in terms of learning more about South Africa, what did you learn today and what did you most benefit from as related to the opportunity to interact?

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Who are you and why are you here?

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32 Responses to “Doringbaai & Lutzville, Day 1”

  1. Caley Says:

    I loved meeting the kids and spending time with them in the afternoon. It just goes to show that having fun and play can happen regardless of differing languages and cultures. I also learned how difficult life can be for the unemployed and uneducated in South Africa. It was a very difficult day but all in all I probably learned more on that day than any other.

  2. Phil Says:

    A day of learning indeed! Despite the rough few days, I think we all left with a better understanding of the relationship between those living in poverty and the privileged after this visit. In Lutzville specifically, there was a tone of uneasiness, uncertainty, and skepticism from the township towards us that had been established after years of feeling taken advantage of.

  3. Samantha Frapart Says:

    Non-stop circles of feelings! While this was a rough day to say the least, the highlights were bonding with the children of Lutzville, and getting to know my home stay mother and her family.

    Samantha, Moni, Rooma and I were fortunate enough to stay with Noi. I’ve never met a woman who could open her heart and home with such love and compassion and I was instantly drawn to her. Though we did not get to spend much time together, I learned quite a bit about her deep faith in god (she loves Joel Osteen – go figure!), and her incredible day-to-day efforts that make her son’s life feel normal and even special. I remember at one point she called her son spoiled and I thought “man, if you only knew.” I feel really fortunate to have gotten that time with Noi.

  4. Eugene Shearer Says:

    I arrived late to the party and after a 33 hour flight I was driven 5 hours north to Doringbaai. My first impression of South Africa was how clean and beautiful the countryside was. Not knowing what was happening to the other classmates, I really enjoyed my car ride by eating biltong and napping while Faizel and his wife jammed to some 90’s dance tunes and smoked cigarettes. I don’t have much else to say since I spent most of the day in a car on this day.

  5. Sam Says:

    After settling into our homestay in Doringbaai, I was struck at how the community reflected a lot of South Africa’s problems in general. A stark racial divide within the down, how the majority of the businesses there were white-owned, and the general reliance upon government handouts were all clear.

    My homestay experience Peter and Bettie was fantastic. We enjoyed a nice dinner and had productive discussions about the current state of business in the area, as well as explored potential new ideas that Peter had. Brian, Tyler and I concluded that if Doringbaai were to have a brighter future, they needed more people like Peter and Bettie in the community.

  6. John Says:

    This was evidently a complicated day. Seeing Lutzville West for the first time left me very humbled. Meeting the kids was a rollercoaster of emotion, but also some of the most fun I had all trip. The walk back through the community was profoundly unnerving in a way I’ve never felt before, even in my travels through similarly impoverished communities. There was a lot of attention without a lot of structure, and I wish things had been handled differently from the get-go. Unfortunately we all felt very isolated, and had no means to contact our other classmates or the outside world.

    Those struggles aside, this was probably the most educational day of the trip. I’ve never been to a place like Lutzville West before, and likely never will again. I suspect it will leave a lasting impact on me.

  7. Linda Says:

    The children were so excited to have us there. They followed us around to every activity. Our housemom’s grandchildren, Danielle and Denajia, were adorable. Given their proximity to and working relationship with the sea, I was surprised that the food she served us and her family was not seafood; it was mostly processed meat and starches which I presume are the most affordable.

    Our housemom was the first to tell us why we were actually there – to encourage the youth to stay off drugs and alcohol, seek job training and work. She implied that the town suffered from rampant alcoholism and drug use. Zach never told us this and I was angry that he expected us to deal with this serious social ill with no training whatsoever.

    We also had to leave our house that night because there was an alcoholic beggar living there that our housemom failed to disclose to ThinkImpact. That was an awkward exit that Orlando helped us through.

  8. Tyler Says:

    I felt especially privileged on this first day in Doringbaai, thanks in major part to my host family. Peter and Betty were gracious hosts, and I felt taken care of and welcome in their home from the moment we stepped in the door. Over dinner, Sam, Brian, and I got the chance to talk about the community’s problems with Peter, who is one of the most vocal community leaders. We got a ton of perspective on how he has seen things deteriorate over the years and the ways that volunteer groups like ours may or may not have had a lasting impact in the past. Later that night, we all watched a locally produced DVD documentary where elder members of the community shared their stories of how the fishing village has changed over time. The consensus was that Doringbaai had fallen very far from its heyday and there was enduring concerns over whether young people in Doringbaai could forge a future for themselves here.

  9. Bill Quach Says:

    I was in Lutzville. It was great to take an inside look at the lifestyles and culture of an impoverished community, which I assume is representative of much of South Africa. I believe taking this inside look also came at a cost, and that cost was our group making individuals in the Lutzville feel uncomfortable in their own homes. People were skeptical of our presence and goals and I understand that. This day taught me that the MBA is a valuable degree and we should do what we can to positively impact the world from our position of privilege, but there is a limit to what we can do to help. Making an economic impact at Lutzville was near this line.

  10. Parnali Says:

    While I was certainly comfortable with our welcoming Doringbaai hosts and my particular home stay family, I was very taken aback as we took our group tour of the small town. Our Doringbaai hosts (three African women) walked very cheerfully through their side of the town, pointing out the many landmarks such as convenient stores, gas stations, the winery, etc. in a very happy and uninhibited manner. However, the second we crossed over to the “white” side of Doringbaai, I saw an immediate flip in our hosts demeanor. For starters, they became extremely quiet and stopped pointing out restaurants and landmarks as openly as they were. Further, though there were several white neighbors outside in their yards and walking around, not a single African or White Doringbaai resident said hello, or even spoke a word with one another. The theme of racism was very apparent and extremely tough to witness.

  11. Garry Ferguson Says:

    Thursday, 9 March: This was a day unlike any other. The trip to Lutzville was an incredible experience, though short lived. I’ll start with the disappointment. I was disappointed to leave prematurely, but understood the decision as safety concerns could not be ignored. Plus, if the predominant thought in the minds of participants regarded inadequate safety, I think everyone’s experience would have been substantially inhibited. I understood and agreed with the decision to depart, but would like another shot at some point in my life.

    The kids were fantastic! They had energy to spare. We didn’t even speak the same language in many cases, but other human characteristics and activities transcended language. It is interesting to see how fulfilled these people were despite not having a standard of living anywhere close to what many of us have in the U.S. Observing this brought to mind the hedonic treadmill theory. In other words, people can continue to accumulate stuff, material items, worldly possessions, and be pleased with that stuff momentarily, but still live an unfulfilled life while continuing to chase material things as their state of satisfaction returns to the same level it was prior to the positive or negative event. Ultimately, stuff, if you will, does not lead to fulfillment. Stuff is nice to have and is ok to have. It undoubtedly renders some amount of pleasure, but that pleasure fades and it’s on to the next thing, and the next thing that gives you a momentary sense of pleasure, but you will inevitably return to that homeostatic disposition. They obviously didn’t need a lot of material things nor basic things we take for granted, but they still were able to be realize joy. It reminded me to continue to strive to be better while being content with the blessings I have.

    Moving on, it didn’t take long to see that there was little we could accomplish in the way of real business solutions. Given that business concerns were off the table, my concern shifted to the importance of the ministry of presence – just being present amongst the members of that community. Being in that setting was uncomfortable at times, but I expected to feel that way prior to arriving and almost became comfortable with being uncomfortable, if that makes sense. Personally, I love structure and boundaries, hence my decision to be a member of the military, but I didn’t think either of those personal affinities would allow me to make a substantial impact in this particular setting; therefore, I completely disregarded them and decided just to be present and positive, hoping that doing so could have been beneficial to the community.

  12. Garry Ferguson Says:

    Thursday, 9 March: This was a day unlike any other. The trip to Lutzville was an incredible experience though short lived. I’ll start with the disappointment. I was disappointed to leave prematurely, but understood the decision as safety concerns could not be ignored. Plus, if the predominant thought in the minds of participants regarded lack of safety, I think everyone’s experience would have been substantially inhibited. I understood and agreed with the decision to depart, but would like another shot at some point in my life.

    The kids were fantastic! They had energy to spare. We didn’t even speak the same language in many cases, but other human characteristics and activities transcended language. It is interesting to see how fulfilled these people were despite not having a standard of living anywhere close to what many of us have in the U.S. Observing this brought to mind the hedonic treadmill theory. In other words, people can continue to accumulate stuff, material items, worldly possessions, and be pleased with that stuff momentarily, but still live an unfulfilled life while continuing to chase material things as their state of satisfaction returns to the same level it was prior to the positive or negative event. Ultimately, stuff, if you will, does not lead to fulfillment. Stuff is nice to have. It’s ok to have, and it undoubtedly renders some amount of pleasure, but that pleasure fades and it’s on to the next thing, and the next thing that creates a momentary sense of pleasure, but you will inevitably return to that homeostatic disposition. They obviously didn’t need a lot of material things nor basic things we take for granted, but they still were able to be joyful. It reminded me to continue striving to be better while at the same time being content with the blessings I have.

    Moving on, it didn’t take long to see that there was little we could accomplish in the way of real business solutions. Given that business concerns were off the table, my concern shifted to the importance of the ministry of presence – just being present amongst the members of that community. It was uncomfortable at times, but I expected to feel that way coming in and almost became comfortable with being uncomfortable, if that makes sense. Personally, I love structure and boundaries, hence my decision to become a member of the military, but I didn’t think either of those personal affinities would allow me to make a substantial impact in this particular setting; therefore, I completely disregarded them and decided just to be present and positive, hoping that doing so could have been beneficial to the community.

  13. Alana Says:

    I learned a lot about South Africa. I think the village of Dooringbai was a truer experience of South Africa than Cape Town. I enjoyed meeting the children; they were very sweet and excited to have guests in the village. I learned more about race, and spoke to my home stay parents about the history of the town. The beach was amazing, and the children playing on the beach was adorable. In Dooringbai, it just seemed like a simple lifestyle, almost like a small town in the U.S.

    I learned more about the fishing economy and how it impacts the members of the village. We discussed the fish business in class, but meeting people with family members who are employed in the industry was interesting.

  14. Nick Eyer Says:

    The experience in Lutzville, although much shorter than initially anticipated, was valuable and for various reasons memorable. First and foremost, I am relieved we all we able to depart safely and I 100% agree with and understand the group’s decision to depart early. However, that didn’t necessarily make the action of leaving much easier. The two plus hours we spent upon arrival just running around with the kids in the community were certainly the most enjoyable and most memorable few hours of the trip for me. The home stay I was situated in – along with Garry, Micah, John, and Gabriel – was the home of one of the sweetest families I have ever come across, and undoubtedly the sweetest, most caring individuals I met during my time in South Africa. Monica was beyond thrilled to have us there, and her husband and two little boys were extremely welcoming and polite. Her third son, who did not make it home until late evening after dinner, was perhaps one of the most knowledgeable and driven individuals in the entire community. He stayed up late with us chatting about our experiences, his experiences, the community, and so forth. The next morning, he offered to show us around the limited business scene in the community, and shared his insights throughout. I learned that, to my surprise, the owners of the few businesses that were in the community were actually immigrants from outside of Lutzville, and that many in the community were somewhat bothered by this. I was very curious as well as concerned about the ability of our group to add value to business operations in Lutzville.

    Despite the genuine warm welcome we received from the community kids and our home stay family in particular, for whatever the reason may be there were some individuals in the community who did not appreciate our presence in their community. It was a very contrasting experience from walking the streets early evening to staying in with the family.

    All in all I found this experience to be one I will never forget. In addition to offering a more comprehensive view of the realities of South Africa and Africa in general, it allowed me to better understand the difficulties – economic, political, social – facing businesses in South Africa while reminding me to not take anything for granted.

  15. Micah Says:

    Not much to say that hasn’t already been said, but seeing the realities of how people outside of the big cities was valuable. Most importantly, I think the experience brought us together as a group as only an ordeal can.

    I will remember fondly the night Garry and I slept together in tiny twin beds, less than a foot apart.

  16. Caroline Says:

    I was a little nervous being the only person in the group staying by myself in a home stay, but I had done home stays in foreign countries before and was ready for it. I did not get to spend much time with my host family because my host mom was the manager of a restaurant in town and worked until 6, and my host dad worked at the mines and didn’t get home until 9pm. During my conversations with them, the topic they discussed the most was education. They spent 800 rand a month to send their daughter Jaime to school in Lutzville because it was a better school. That is an huge amount of money for these people. They had done the same for their older daughter, 22, who had a full time job in the mine, a car, and an apartment in Lutzville. Their number one priority is to educate their daughters so they can have better lives and get out of Dooringbai. In order to do that, they lived in a tiny home and lived very frugally. If they chose not to send her to a better school, they would have been able to afford a larger home, all of which they explained when they apologized to me about the size of the home. Half way around the world, in a 4 room home, I bonded with this family because I realized that despite so many differences, this family and my family had such wonderful things in common because my parents, too, had sacrificed to give my sisters and I the best opportunities.

  17. Preeta Maitra Says:

    Linda and I were roommates in Doringbaai, and her post sums up a lot of the sames things that I felt on the first day here.

    A couple additional points:
    I was really stricken by the stark contrast between the white side of town and the black side of town, just by walking down one relatively short main street. I was also surprised that the entire oceanfront was not overrun with hotels and restaurants – that would be quite common here in the US.

  18. Samantha Toth Says:

    The contrast could not have been more vivid between Cape Town and Lutsville. I don’t think was expecting the interior of South Africa to be so arid and flat. It definitely highlighted the extreme inequality in South African society (again, largely reflected in race). I very much enjoyed getting to know Noi, our home stay mother, as well as the many, many schoolchildren who were excited to spend time with us. The highlight of our time in Lutzville was definitely the two hours we spent with them in the afternoon, playing games and learning about their lives. I especially enjoyed watching Caley dance to Taylor Swift with a group of 12 year old girls (who all knew every single lyric).

  19. Renee Weissend Says:

    The first moments in Doringbaai were certainly interested. I felt very out of place and unsure but open to the experience and the journey. I really enjoyed spending time with all the children. Their smiles were such a beacon in the village. Our host family was welcoming and kind. We connected immediately. The highlight was drawing and singing with the two host family children – Eli and Marcella. I will never forget them and think of them often. I wish I could build them a home with running water and other amenities that I take for granted and send the children off to school to get a proper education and a chance of a different life, should they so choose.

  20. Rooma Chi Says:

    One thing that stood out in Lutzville was the lack of businesses within the community. There was one small convenience store and a mechanic shop which functioned as a hobbyist shop but there weren’t any businesses with opportunities to employ people from the community. To find work people have to spend their week working in the mines or farms.

    Another thing I learned was that kids are the same everywhere. While playing with them in Lutzville, the language barriers didn’t stop the little girls from trying to braid hair or stop the kids from running around playing with balls. It was a special experience to interact with them and have them eagerly hold my hand while touring the community.

  21. Kristin Johnson Says:

    Renee and I have reflected on this day a lot and I think the simplest way to describe it is as, “high highs and low lows.” We had an amazing time with the young girls in the town who walked with us during our mapping exercise, and an even better time with two children at our homestay. What upsets me the most is knowing that the likelihood of either of those little kids escaping the cycle of that community is nearly zero. While we were there, the host mom was already letting one of the kids skip school. I’m not sure how you go in and help situations like the ones that we witnessed, but I truly hope that change can come to the community and opportunities arise.

  22. Moni Says:

    I don’t know what I expect coming into Lutzville but, the sea of 60+ children greeting us was both overwhelming and wonderful. While I quickly learned there were miscommunication and safety issues within the community, I felt relatively safe and welcomed in my homestay. My host mother was a simple, sweet woman, deeply religious and with only a few friends in the community. She liked to keep to herself and provide the best home for her young 7-year old son, a huge Marvel fan. I was so thankful for how welcoming she was and she instantly claimed the four of us (The Sam’s, Rooma and me) as the daughters she never had. Spending the evening with her was very humbling and spotlighted a few things that I took for granted in the U.S. One particular moment that stands out is when we were talking about childbirth in the community and how people go into the main town hospitals to deliver their baby. When I asked if they received any medicine for the pain she said no and was beside herself laughing at the ridiculousness of my question.

  23. Adriana Penalba Says:

    The more I think about how our time in Lutzville went, the angrier I feel. I was dismissed when I asked questions about safety. I befriended my house mom only to leave her and this village within 24 hours because the trip had not been appropriately planned. I enjoyed playing with the children, but what type of message did we send?

  24. Kavita Says:

    Although I didn’t necessarily feel unsafe in my home (despite a weird occurrence with a stranger popping his head into our home, unexpectedly), I felt very unsafe walking around in the community. This feeling started when we were walking around the village and were being harassed by a homeless drunk man that was outside of the liquor store.

    I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to stay with our host mom. She was reserved, but sweet, and went out of her way to ensure that we liked the meal that she was preparing for us. As a vegetarian, I was a little worried about how much I would be eating during the visit, but for the most part, I didn’t have very many issues.

  25. Baoxin Says:

    Lauren and I were quite lucky to have such a nice host family in Doringbaii. The family lives in a modern decorated 3b2b house, with LCD televisions in each of the bedroom and audio-visual system in the living room. Their living standard is obviously higher than their neighbors, and this might be because one of our homestay mom’s sons in law works for mining industry. But we did not get a chance to talk about it since we were asked to talk with her 16-year-old girl who’s attending high school at Lutzville. The daughter was quite curious about the outside world, so we showed her some pictures of cities we’ve been to both in the States and in China.

    I was also taken to the grocery store behind our homestay house twice by an elder daughter of our homestay mom, and waited for her to buy loose-packed cigarettes. During her chat with the Pakistan store owner, other young men and women came to the store to buy cigarettes as well. I was shocked that such many young people did not go to work and just watched TV and had cigarettes to kill time.

  26. Mansi Narula Says:

    This was such an intense day of being out of my comfort zone in a country that I wasn’t familiar with. I’ve lived in similar conditions in other third world countries but found this to be sort of scary because there was no established trust between the host family and I. As each hour passed new events took place that helped paint an uneasy picture such as meeting different family members, learning about our purpose in the village and exploring the community.

  27. Swati Seth Says:

    My first impressions of Doringbaai were that it is a quaint village away from all the chaos of the city. After meeting our hosts, we walked around to map the area for the rest of the class. It was surprising to see how well connected the families were within the village – all somehow related to each other and thereby gesturing and stopping by every now and then for a quick chat. Apart from seeing some of the local businesses, I was surprised at how well we immediately bonded with the kids and started playing with them. In the evening, we had a nice meal with the host family and watched some South African sitcoms. While browsing channels, I was surprised to see Indian sitcoms (with real bad English dubbing) being aired in Doringbaai. I ended my day feeling at home – watching sitcoms while having dinner with family!

  28. Brian Murphy Says:

    Beautiful day. Arrived in Dbai, did the “Why are you here?” deal on the beach, then hung out with the little kids. We did sprints together and rapped a bit.

    I was nervous for the children – they didn’t have much of a chance to make it. They had to bus to the schools and it was prohibitively expensive – I can’t remember the exact figure but it was near $80/month.

    If we would’ve stayed longer I would’ve loved to teach the children a computer class at their local library – how to research for their homework, how to sell stuff online, etc.

  29. Lauren Busch Says:

    I had some anxiety coming into this experience. In college when studying abroad, I did a homestay in Morocco so I had some idea for what to expect – but that didn’t exactly calm my nerves. My first impression of Dooringbai was that there was so much natural beauty surrounding it. Compared to Lutzville, the ocean provided a familiar backdrop that made it a little easier to adjust to the new setting.

    My homestay mom was such a gracious host. Both meals Baoxin and I had were delicious – although, I did find it interesting that she insisted we eat our meals by ourselves. We spent some of the evening chatting with our homestay mom’s 16 year old daughter. She wanted to hear about the USA, where we have traveled and what our high school was like. After dinner, Baoxin and I spent a lot of time with our homestay mom’s granddaugher, Lesley-Anne, practicing English flashcards. Both of these moments were so humbling and genuine – they will be memories that I will cherish for years to come.

  30. Katie Thigpen Says:

    The kids put me at ease right away. As a teacher before b school, I have a love of children and genuinely enjoy engaging with the (If you haven’t seen the pictures of the kids braiding my hair, you are missing out). But, I was extraordinarily upset to hear that all the kids learned in school was English and not hard skills. They are being set up for failure.

    Additionally, I was absolutely stunned to see the poverty that existed in South Africa. As someone who worked in the inner city and constantly conducted home visits for my students, I have been exposed to poverty in America. I have seen people living in extremely unsanitary conditions–but generally in apartment buildings. It was crazy (and disheartening) to see people live in shacks with tin roofs–it made me reflect on what rural America looks like and if there is any similarity.

    While we didn’t stay long, the experience genuinely made me think and hope to continue work in social justice (even if it is not my major job, it is something I will always pursue).

  31. Natasha Mayekar Says:

    Though I had a positive homestay experience, I had an uneasy feeling that would not go away. After walking around Doringbaai a little more, it seemed like things didn’t quite add up. Seeing broken bottles, easy access to liquor stores, and the persistence by the people that the village was very safe to walk around late at night did not seem quite right.

    I appreciated the kindness of my homestay family and enjoyed watching Indian TV shows dubbed in English with them. I also really enjoyed meeting all of her family members and was fascinated to learn that her husband was half Indian.

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