If the first leg of our trip could be described as a Toyota Highlander (spacious and comfortable with all of the technology and versatility anyone really needs) then the second leg would have to be something more like a Volkswagen Polo (small 5 seater with manual roll-down windows ) which is exactly what we traveled in as we logged another 16 hours in the car. Our biggest concern quickly shifted from “did I take my malaria pills and apply enough mosquito repellant?” to calling “not middle” or “shotgun” the second the car was in sight.
Of course this was only one (admittedly insignificant) difference between the trips that we took in the first and second week of our time in South Africa.
Our trip to Sicabazini in KwaZulu Natal during the first week was focused on connecting with the rural farmers and villagers that P.E.A.C.E. has helped as well as those that will be helped by the secondary tier cooperative that we are helping the foundation to build. In just 3 days there it was very easy to see why P.E.A.C.E. feels so compelled to focus on poverty alleviation in rural areas of the country: so many hard-working people who lack access to tools, resources and education that many others take for granted. 4-Wheel drive adequacy being one of them…
After an abbreviated stay at our home-base in Johannesburg we left for Polokwane in the Limpopo region to learn about the role of government and business in P.E.A.C.E.’s initiatives. When we pulled onto a dirt road after 4 hours our biggest mistake was assuming this meant we had arrived at our accommodation; I guess the official traffic signs should have been our first clue that this was just another road.
Thankfully it turned out to be worth the drive! The staff at Makgabeng Lodge were eager to share their history, culture, and SWAGG (which Roy and I immediately sported!) with us 🙂
In addition to embracing the culture we met several government representatives at the municipal and provincial level as well as local business leaders with various interests in community development. Each meeting revealed new challenges, and in a lot of cases mis-aligned incentives, that currently hinder social change and poverty alleviation in South Africa. We left feeling a little deflated but still optimistic about our ability to provide P.E.A.C.E. with a sustainable and strategic plan for moving forward. It was hard to be anything but optimistic with sunsets like this:
We finally arrived back in Johannesburg for good and are really looking forward to a week without traveling!
P.E.A.C.E. Team 🙂