Doringbaai & Lutzville, Day 2

Friday, March 10

Unfortunately our Doringbaai and Lutzville experience didn’t come off as we had hoped. Yet, many had interview visits and new interactions with local residents and host families. In every situation we have opportunities to learn and insights to gain.  What were yours today?

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Abalone Farm in Doringbaai

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30 Responses to “Doringbaai & Lutzville, Day 2”

  1. Phil Says:

    Heading into Doringbaai, I was able to connect with a 20-year-old rugby player that lived in one of the homestays. We initially started flipping through the TV and finding out we enjoyed some of the same music. We then transitioned into sports and highlighted the difference between baseball and cricket, rugby and football. He had a desire to come to America and play football, while I wanted to run out to the rugby field with him. We laughed that the grass is always greener.

  2. Samantha Frapart Says:

    More circles of feelings, of course.

    Although we were unable to take much else from our experience in Lutzville since we left quite early in the morning, I was able to learn something from my experience with Think Impact. I think this is the day where I really found my voice, and realized that I am adult enough and responsible enough to stop something when it does not feel right. Taking responsibility for our own safety may seem obvious in hindsight, but can be challenging – especially in group settings. I was proud of myself, and my classmates for our ability to stand up for ourselves and what feels right to us.

  3. Eugene Shearer Says:

    I thought, “What did I get myself into!” during our first meeting in the morning. It seems as though a lot happened while I was away!

    After learning about all of the racial tension in the country, it was interesting to experience it first-hand. I met my host family who were an older South African couple who lived and worked in Cape Town, but decided to retire in Doringbaai. They were a paradox. They still believed that races should be separate and found it “disgusting” to share utensils with other races, yet they believed that Nelson Mandela is one of the most admirable men in the history of South Africa (and probably of the world). I realized since apartheid ended recently, much racial tension and older beliefs still existed in the country.

  4. Sam Says:

    Although our stay was brief, I felt like we started to gain traction with some of the ideas we had discussed with Peter the night before. The reliance on government handouts to fund business was apparent in most of our interviews, except for the Tuk shop at the edge of town. The family who operated the shop seemed to take a very different approach to business than their neighbors – they were opportunistic and scrappy, having moved recently from Cape Town. They also acknowledged the alcohol and drug issues facing the town, but were more than willing to sell loosies to the teenagers who seemed to hang around the shop.

  5. John Says:

    I’ll just say I was very proud of the way our McCombs community stood up for each other and listened and respected everyone’s concerns. While there were varying levels of discomfort and multiple courses of action to take, I was impressed with the way everyone handled themselves during a tough time.

  6. Caley Says:

    I learned how important communication is in a group environment. Through this experience I feel like I was able to reflect on how lucky and privileged all of us are to be able to get an education and live where we do. Walking to the winery near the water in Doringbaai was a little surreal because you pass a guard gate into this little oasis with white South Africans on vacation sipping wine. It was a very stark contrast to the life outside of the gate.

  7. Tyler Says:

    Today was a hard day for everyone, but for different reasons. For the Lutzville group, the safety issues were obviously foremost and overshadowed the other aspects of the village stays. For me personally, I was sad for a different reason. In that brief 24 hour period, I felt like I had the chance to talk with a few of the small business hours and was starting to formulate an understanding for projects that we could undertake for them. We were also informed of a community rugby match taking place that Saturday and a big braai in on our honor that had to be expedited. I undoubtedly think we made the right call in getting everyone to a safe space, but I also felt like I lost out on something real that I never could have experienced in Cape Town.

  8. Linda Says:

    In Doringbaai, we were able to take the morning to talk to some businesses. Some managers were more willing than others to speak to us. The representative from the Trust told us that her main concern was that the youth don’t seem motivated to work. We asked for some evidence of this. She said they offer internships in the local businesses for high school students but no one ever takes that opportunity. When we dug a little deeper we learned that those internships are UNPAID and they rarely lead to full-time employment due to age minimums and budget constraints. It’s an internship to nowhere! These kids won’t be motivated to do anything unless they see that it can improve their lives. But there is no such opportunity in their lives. So they’ll sit and collect paltry government subsidies.

    So many emotions that afternoon. We had legitimate reasons to leave, but I had to question my privilege. We got to leave as soon as we felt unsafe, but the families we met and the sweet children we played with have to stay there. Not only did we get to escape, we escaped to probably the nicest hotel I could have imagined.

  9. Bill Quach Says:

    The contrast between Lutzville and Dooringbaai was great. I left curious about the rest of Lutzville and how the community we attempted to stay in in Lutzville came to exist. The ingredients for a prosperous economy were not in place and a visit with the politicians and business leaders of the Lutzville and Dooringbaai could have valuable. I want to learn more about the challenges they see, and what they label as their greatest obstacles preventing a higher quality of life for their people.

  10. Garry Ferguson Says:

    Friday 10 March: I woke up after a less than restful sleep in the 80+ degree temperatures that were featured at night in many of the homestays. I learned that it’s not effective to sleep within earshot of Micah who unbeknownst to me is one of the world’s preeminent snorers. Despite not feeling 100%, it was not the time to be all about me. Being in the village was about everyone else. It had to be. That’s why we were there. Among concerns for the people in the village, I was concerned with the feelings of the group in light of the unsavory and controversial activity that took place the night before. I wanted to project positivity in hopes of reengaging people and keeping them focused on making a positive impact. Unfortunately, the concerns were of a nature that warranted disengaging and aborting the project. During our discussions leading to our decision to leave it was interesting to observe objectivity understandably giving way to emotion with each passing minute.

    Despite our departure from the villages, the day and the trip was far from lost. The five-plus hour bus ride presented a wonderful opportunity to get to know classmates on a personal level and solidify friendships. The ride culminated in exquisite accommodations in Gordon’s Bay where we could continue to revel in the novelty of South Africa. Being in the villages and the hotel at Gordon’s Bay all in one day was a remarkably stark contrast. That transition felt similarly odd to the transition from Pepper Club to the villages in the days prior.

  11. Parnali Says:

    During my second day in Doringbaai I felt like I was much more comfortable with my homestay family. For this reason, during our two hour lunch break I sat in the living room with my homestay mother, her daughter (16 years old) and son (22 years old). Though they were extremely welcoming and chatty, I was confused as to why these children were simply sitting at home and watching TV – they hadn’t left the house since they woke in the morning, while their mother was in the kitchen making them breakfast, lunch and washing their dishes. When I had asked the children if they received any homework from school or what kept them busy, they laughed it off making it very apparent that school and education wasn’t valued –they loved staying at home and watching television for hours. Though I wasn’t surprised, as we were informed about this concern in Doringbaai, it is very impactful when you see it in front of you.

  12. Alana Says:

    After our meeting, I visited business owners with the group to learn more about the challenges they faced. The winery visit was not as useful because the representative was concerned about selling wine. However, the visit with the convenience store manager was useful. We learned more about the inventory practices and how the manager is meeting the demand of the residents. However, we learned more about the tourism of Dooringbai. Its hard to believe that Dooringbai receives 10,000 visitors every year, especially in December. Nonetheless, I was excited about trying to figure out ways to monetize tourism.

    I see a ton of opportunity in Dooringbai to improve the community through education and economy. I was told that it takes about $80 per month for a family to send their teen to high school, and the teen is typically two grade levels behind the other students. We talk a lot about the use of technology, and how companies are finding ways to provide Wi-Fi to developing countries. Education through technology could be a key here in Dooringbai.

  13. Nick Eyer Says:

    I learned a lot about my home stay family and the community of Lutzville. While on a brief community business tour with one of the individuals in our home stay, we were able to visit a garden and small farm on the outskirts of the community. We learned that most of the product from the garden and small farm is actually produced for use/consumption outside Lutzville, which was somewhat surprising to me. I also learned a lot about the struggles individuals and families face in the community. Our home stay parents paid for cabs each and every day to have their two young children attend school outside the community, with a goal of positioning their children to move from Lutzville one day. This struck an emotional chord with me, and had me further wondering about what exactly we could offer the community from a business perspective during our time in Lutzville.

    Ultimately, we were in a tough scenario and our trip to Lutzville was cut short. As I mentioned in my Day 1 post, I am relieved we were all safe in the end. On a lighter note, I was genuinely impressed by and appreciative of our group’s ability to come to a consensus, support each other and stand by our collective decision-making. Although in a highly-complicated context, it did make me feel proud to be part of the McCombs community.

  14. Micah Says:

    I remember how hard and awkward it was to say goodbye. But I will also remember Monica’s reaction. Though she coordinated our visit, and I expected her to be most upset with our leaving so early, she expressed that she understood and agreed with our decision to leave. I regret not being able to spend more time with her and her family.

  15. Caroline Says:

    I felt bad having to leave my family so quickly, without being able to say goodbye to the young daughter and my host father. I did, obviously, understand and agree with the decision to leave. I was disappointed though in the organization of this part of the trip because I feel like there were those who wanted us there, especially in Doorginabai, and who always feel like they are being left behind because no one will stick around long enough to truly help them. We were not the appropriate people to do that in general or under those circumstances, but there is no doubt that it is a much harder problem to solve than the Think Impacts of the world make it seem.

    When we did our company visits I wish I could say I was surprised to find all of the business owned by white people. While some of the businesses had been passed down, the others were started through regular means- funding, investors in the trust, etc. Did the colored people in Dooringbai really not have any ideas for businesses? That I highly doubted. What I am sure happens is that they are not given the same access to mentoring and capital to start one.

  16. Preeta Maitra Says:

    One of the things that really surprised me when talking to the Doringbaai Trust was the way that community elders talked about the youth of Doringbaai. The elders were saying and implying that the youth in the community are lazy because they do not want to volunteer at the local businesses. This actually seemed similar to here in the US when people talk about unpaid interns. It is not and should not be surprising that people do not want to work for free. Expecting people to be grateful for free work is, in my opinion, not practical or helpful to solving the bigger problem. The youth seem to have the choice to either volunteer with the hope that they may (or may not) one day get a full time job, or live off of welfare and spend their days abusing substances. To me, this is not much of a choice. This community needs a lot of help, first and foremost in the area of education. After seeing the way Think Impact works, I don’t believe that Think Impact is the right group to help Doringbaii improve the lives of their youth.

  17. Samantha Toth Says:

    This was an emotional day, made especially so by saying goodbye to Noi, our home stay mother. She did not seem to be surprised at the incidents that had occurred, but very regretful. She spoke at length about the challenges of the community, especially related to alcohol and unemployment, and how difficult it was for the community to come together. It definitely caused me to examine my own privilege and the many, many benefits of growing up where I did that I take for granted. I would also like to add that I was very grateful for the responsiveness of McCombs to the safety concerns which were raised.

  18. Renee Weissend Says:

    Doringbaai will always stay with me. Spending the day with the children and families opened my eyes. The families really had nothing but each other. Spending the next day with the companies was a stark contrast. It made me sad to learn how few work opportunities there are. It also made me sad that local firms, such as the winery, seem to take advantage of the people in Doringbaai or don’t serve them as they should. For example, how can the local grocery store – the only one in town – not sell vegetables and fruit? I walked away from the experience feeling immensely grateful.

  19. Rooma Chi Says:

    While arriving at Doringbaai, I was quite shocked to see the differences between Lutzville and Doringbaai. Compared to Lutzville, Doringbaai looked like a fancy beach resort with its restaurant and winery. I didn’t personally get to visit any businesses but through my classmates, I had the chance to learn about the struggles to get a good education and the lack of jobs available for younger people. Even if students were able to finish their high school education, I sympathize with their lack of motivation due to the lack of jobs.

  20. Kristin Johnson Says:

    The visit to the winery sticks out the most in my mind when I reflect on this day. Knowing that there is a serious alcoholism problem in the community, we were very hesitant to drink at his winery at 10am. He wasn’t as interested in teaching us about his business as he was trying to make a sale… and it was very apparent. He was pushing the wine on us hard–and everyone was uncomfortable.

  21. Moni Says:

    All of the circle group discussions and dynamics made me question if this situation was planned or reality? Did I unknowingly sign up for a NOLS trip on leadership? Regardless, I was thankful to have a great group of classmates in Lutzville that were able to voice not only their own feelings but also empathize and support each other’s feelings. While I know we had good reason to leave the village and were not efficiently set up for success in this village, I couldn’t help feeling a bad taste in my mouth for not making a difference in this community. It was particularly jarring to escape to our nice hotel in Stellenbosch knowing our host family and the community would be stuck in unemployment and poverty, with limited opportunity to escape.

  22. Adriana Penalba Says:

    After being in Lutzville for a night, Doringby felt like a 5 star resort. It was disheartening to see all the ways in which Heart Capital had misrepresented to us what kind of experience we would be having. It was also disheartening to see that while Doringby was much nicer, all the employers were white, and the workers were black or colored.

  23. Kavita Says:

    One of the girls that I had met in the village, Eloise, opened up her heart to Parnali and I during our visit to Doringbaai. She was in charge of taking us to and from the central meeting spot everyday and she told us a bit more about her life and her struggle to want to get out of Doringbaii and get an education and move forward with her life, but that her heart and her family was in the village and she couldn’t leave them behind. She was most likely going to forgo her education to stay with her mother and stepdad. She also told us about how within the span of two years, both of her brothers had died in accidents. It was clear that she was staying at home for her family.

    Despite everything that happened, I appreciated having the opportunity to meet people like Eloise, who were symbols of hope and pillars of strength for her family and community.

  24. Mansi Narula Says:

    I really liked that being a business student gave us license to ask all the questions that we wanted while visiting businesses. I found the general store and winery visits to be the most intriguing. Hearing about the day to day and longer term goals of the general store manager put into perspective small business pain points. Furthermore, I found the winery visit to be quite awkward knowing the town had an alcohol problem and the employee that we were speaking to was very enthusiastic about selling the cheaper wine at the local liquor store.

  25. Baoxin Says:

    We went to the pebble factory, which was quite simple and crude. The manufacture of pebbles consists of two steps: pebble sorting (based on pebble size) and pebble washing, and both of the two steps are done manually. Six staffs were in the factory when we arrived, although we were told 40 permanent employees worked for this factory. The plant was quite empty, and half of the plant was used as warehouse; around 300 bags of pebbles were laid on the floor. According to the instructor, the pebbles with a price of 40 rands per bag were in short supply, and they were waiting for a 1.5 million rands subsidy to enlarge the factory. We stayed there for about 15 minutes, and here are the findings:

    – Low attendance rate and manufacture by hand lead to low production efficiency;
    – Over dependent on government subsidies;
    – Low salary results in low work motivation (I roughly estimated the average salary, and if it exceeds 2500 rands/month, then the factory won’t break even).

  26. Swati Seth Says:

    The next day in the village was a bit turbulent since we were informed of some people in Lutzville having a bad experience with their home stays. However, we went about with the exploration of the area by interviewing the local businesses. The emergent theme there was that there are definitely opportunities for the local people to do business, however, the youth is not too motivated and is highly addicted to alcohol and drugs. I was surprised to meet a Pakistani family who owned a small tuck shop there – on questioning them about the issued faced by locals – they corroborated (in Hindi / Urdu) that its easy to do business in Doringbaai especially for international people since the local youth population is not motivated to work and is heavily into drugs and alcohol.

  27. Lauren Busch Says:

    This was a hard day. I came into the morning pretty positive as I had a nice time at my homestay and was really starting to get to know my host family. However, learning what had happened to my classmates in Lutzville and Dooringbai was extremely disheartening and a huge cause for concern for me. While I did gain some insights from the business visits we did in Dooringbai, things had become tainted at that point and it was hard for me to remain committed to the purpose of the trip.

    Saying goodbye to my host family was by far the worst part of this day. They were confused and disappointed, and I’m not sure if I explained the situation to them in the best way. It didn’t help when they gave Baoxin and me Springbok lawn chairs as gifts – how nice of them! It was truly such a generous gift that I didn’t feel I deserved. The good news is I was able to get WhatsApp contact info for the two older daughters and we continued to chat after the trip. I hated the thought of them thinking they did anything wrong, and I hope they realize how big of an impact they had on me in such a short period of time.

  28. Brian Murphy Says:

    We sat for a while and spoke with our host dad, Peter. Peter was disappointed to see us go, but completely understood the situation. We had a lot of respect for Peter. He worked for the Fisheries department and cared a tremendous amount about the community. Peter actually started the pebble factory in Dbai. We all wondered how long he would stay in the town. The job was the only thing keeping him there but it seemed like an incredibly inconvenient schooling system for his kids.

    We also spoke with the owner of the hotel/fish store and told him about what happened in Lutzville. He told us that we should not have stayed there – said it was so much more dangerous than DBai.

  29. Katie Thigpen Says:

    This was absolutely an emotional day. We had already said goodbye to our host mother, Mama, the day before. While we waited for the rest of our peers to get their bags and say goodbye to our host family, we spoke with Zach about the county’s politics and the lasting effects of apartheid. He said the racial relations in South Africa are probably the worst of any country in the world–America gets so much flack for being the worst in terms of race relations, so this was surprising and saddening to hear.

    When we got to Dooringbaii, Kree and Renee’s host family sort of adopted me and took me to the beach with them. They were lovely and wonderful people and it saddened me to see them in this situation. I’m glad we were able to have a BBQ before we left and say goodbye properly.

  30. Natasha Mayekar Says:

    This particular day was combined with many highs and lows. I really appreciated the kindness of my homestay mother and could see that she truly cared for us and wanted to provide us with a comfortable stay. However, after learning about what my classmates had experienced in Lutzville, I was quite shocked and saddened. Visiting the businesses seemed very secondary and I felt that I could not focus as well. I did find the convenient store model very fascinating, especially with the way inventory management was conducted. However, I felt quite disturbed after the winery visit after learning that the owner sells as much wine as he can to the local liquor stores, further propelling the alcohol abuse problem.

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