Soweto – Kliptown

In the morning, our team visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, which is a memorial to commemorate the Soweto uprisings on June 16, 1976, now known as Youth Day. We learned about the events leading up to and what caused the youth to come together and march. Hector Pieterson was one of the first children shot during the uprising and his story along with many others were told in this museum.

After we had lunch in Soweto and then made our way to Kliptown, a township in Soweto. Today opened my eyes in a way I never though possible. Our team met up with Father Bob, founder of a youth group called Soweto Kliptown Youth (SKY). He toured us through the ‘ghetto’ of Kliptown and gave us the history and current state of the area. The moment we arrived, a little boy came over and hugged me, and then stayed next to me and held my hand. The little boy, probably around 3 years old, had sores on his feet and back. I was told this was the cause of playing in and near the dirty water in the town. He is not in school and desperately needs to see a doctor. It broke my heart that in the moment, there was nothing I could do.

As we walked around, on two separate occasions a woman came up to me asking for 3 rand for bread for her child, and a young boy asked for just 1 rand. 1 rand is only 8 cents in America, which shows the heavy poverty these people live in. As Bob took us on  a tour of the township, he took us to a woman’s house who was clearly wealthier than the people living there. He explained to us that she comes from a royal South African family but stays in the township to help people and give them a place to stay when they need it. There we met a young man named Gordon who is working for the owner of the house and we had to the opportunity to hear his story. His mother was murdered by his step father when he was 12 years old and after went down the wrong path by doing drugs. He told us that he could have gone to jail and thought about suicide but Father Bob helped him get back on his feet and now the woman who owns the house has taken him in. Overall, the experience we had in Kliptown was life changing.