WINTERTON, South Africa– Long rows of rainbow-colored huts sit neatly on a golden field like crayons inside a Crayola box. The tiny, concrete structures shelter large Zulu families who live in poverty on the outskirts of Winterton, a rural farming town in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The government-built township is home to more than 6,000 Zulu, the country’s largest ethnic group. Many residents here suffer from unemployment, hunger and diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
The Isibani Community Centre, a compound of cheerful, mustard-colored buildings located across the street from the township, is trying to improve health, education and self-sufficiency among residents. “Fortunately the lifestyle of the Zulu people is improving, but for many, daily living is an ongoing desperate struggle to simply survive,” says Isibani facility manager Sofi Ntshalintshali.
The non-profit center, staffed mostly with volunteers, offers a mix of programs from food and clothing distribution to HIV/AIDS awareness counseling to day care for children and adults with special needs. Trained caregivers make home visits to sick residents, delivering food and assessing health. Some of the food is grown in the center’s large, shaded garden. Vegetables and seedlings from the garden are sold to residents at affordable prices. The compound includes classrooms, offices, a church, a physical therapy room, a counseling center, a kitchen and bakery, and respite rooms for victims of sexual abuse.
I toured Isibani (meaning “Bring the Light” in Zulu) on a sunny Friday afternoon, a few hours after residents had picked up their weekly food bundles, which include maize donated by local farmers. The center was mostly deserted, though a handful of children were jumping rope on the rusty-red dirt. My camera distracted them, and they posed for a shot, squealing, “Shoot!” I obliged and they crowded around me to view the digital image, which returned a spill of giggles.
BERGSIG FARM SCHOOL: A PHOTO ESSAY
August 1, 2010
By Becky W. Evans
Bergsig Primary is a small, rural farm school serving 61 students whose parents work on farms in Winterton, South Africa. The students line up by grade each morning and afternoon to sing songs such as the national anthem, which incorporates five of the country’s 11 official languages: Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. Last week, I visited Bergsig (meaning “mountain view” in Afrikaans) with my husband, who taught English at the school 17 years ago. He was invited to join the students for their morning songs, while I kept busy with my camera. Click here to view the photo slideshow.
“Listening for the future of South Africa”
Journalist and educator Becky W. Evans photographed and produced this multimedia slideshow during a summer tour of South Africa with the Ubunye Partnership 2010 Presbyterian pastor exchange.