Blikkiesdorp is one of the places we will be visiting while we are in Capetown. Blikkiesdorp is an “informal” settlement created around the time of the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament which took place in Capetown in 2010. It was created, according to the residents, as a place to put squatters, street people, and some allege, criminals, to get them out of the public view for the World Cup.
It was walled and barb-wired off and guards were stationed at the entrance to prevent people from leaving unless they had an acceptable reason. Now the guards are gone, but the residents are stuck in a settlement that they didn’t choose, 20 miles from the city center. It’s prohibitively expensive to travel the distance needed to work at a job, and the unemployment rate is huge.
The people in Blikkiesdorp live in tin and zinc buildings, about 10 feet by 18 feet in size. They have no indoor water or toilet, and in fact share these facilities with three or more other families. Whole families live in one room.
Blikkiesdorp is translated roughly as “tin can town”, because of the metal buildings. The poverty and need there are extremely high. You can go here for an interactive look at Blikkiesdorp and the residents and to read some of their stories.
Seeing the videos and the pictures on the Internet about the sea of need that exists in places like Blikkiesdorp tempts me to lose hope. It’s overwhelming. How can we possibly help? I wish I could build all of them a house, but I can’t.
Robin assures us that there is joy and happiness to be found. I’m not seeing any of that in the videos we watched on you tube. But then again, that may not be what the makers of those films were trying to convey. You see what you look for, right?
But I wonder, how do I show compassion in the face of all that loss and need and not rip my heart out? It’s overwhelming, and I don’t want to be overwhelmed. I want to be able to maintain my center amidst all the evidence of lack and disease and poverty.
I will just have to look for good things. According to what I’m seeing on the Internet, I may have to look hard, but I will look for them. I know I can look for the love of the people for each other, I can look for the love I have for them, I can look for the joy in the children and in the adults. I am taking Robin’s comment to heart, that the people, and especially the children, are masters come here to teach us powerful lessons. I just hope I am made out of the right stuff to be able to see past the problems and into the lessons.
I know that I can get awfully caught up in the appearances of negative. I wish I knew how to prepare myself better for this. I wish there was a book I could read, a personality trait I could develop, an insight I could learn to magically make this better and easier. I am afraid I will be too small, too overwhelmed, too sad and too afraid to help. I hope I’m up for this.
I must be up for this, otherwise I would not be going! This is the path that has been set before me, and the one I am on. I have not come this far just to fall on my face. The Universe gave me this to do, so there must be that within me that is capable of doing it. Otherwise the Universe would have given this to someone else to do. I have to trust. I am afraid, but that’s okay. Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway, right? Right. So I’m just going to own my courage and step out in faith.
I don’t need to be fixed, I don’t need to be taught. I need to experience this in the way that I am experiencing this. I know the tendency is to read this kind of thing and want to offer advice. I don’t really need advice. The Universe is advising me, and that’s all I really do need.
I am blessed, so blessed. So are we all. I’m remembering to take in the blessings that I take for granted today.