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South Africa: orienteering

posted by Brett - he traveled to South Africa during July and August of 2008 for hands-on experience in public health, one of his concentrations at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study

So we had orientation a few hours ago and I got my NGO assignment. I will be working with ARK-Absolute return For Kidz. Myself and one other girl will be working with them. This is their Mission on their website:

ARK is an international charity whose purpose is to transform children’s lives.

ARK was founded in 2002 by a group of senior figures in the alternative investment industry, pooling their skills and resources to improve the life chances of children. With a shared vision of collective philanthropy, ARK delivers high social returns on philanthropic investment.

ARK brings together passionate experts with the best talent from business. It has developed a strong results-driven model to identify, create and deliver innovative programmes addressing critical issues in the areas of HIV/AIDS (South Africa, Mozambique), Education (UK, Asia) and Children in Care (Eastern Europe) that are transformative, scalable and sustainable. ARK applies the same principles and disciplines to managing the charity as it would to running a business, focusing on the transformation of children’s lives through rigorous research, monitoring and evaluation. ARK’s work meets high standards of efficiency and effectiveness.

ARK’s Board of Trustees and Patrons ensures that the central administrative costs of ARK are met. 100% of donations are then used to deliver ARK’s programmes. The Board acts as a catalyst for others to give and leverages additional funding and significant resources for ARK’s work.

I am excited for this. Hopefully we will be working on projects and/or with people directly that are being helped by the organization. The good thing is that they also work in Eastern Europe, so maybe this will turn into something that I can pursue there in the coming years.

We are having dinner in the Bangkop(?) area tonite at an Islamic restaurant.

So during apartheid there were different sections of people - White, Black, Colored and Asian. Apparently now Chinese are considered Black. I dunno. But whats interesting is that saying "colored" here is totally chill. People will often identify as that, and apparently Colored people make up the majority of the population of either South Africa or Cape Town. Though apartheid is over, people still identify with some of the terms because they actually semi-accurately denote cultural practices and understandings.

I haven’t bought a cell phone and won't be. And Im happy about that. Its cool to not be attached like that. Besides the fact that it will allow me to spend less on stuff I don’t need and invest more in the food and experience. Ive been eating a lot of food and good stuff. The pizza is mad good here. I just ate one with chicken, brie, basil and cranberry jelly.

We got our syllabus. When I have it in my hand I'll type it up. But in two Mondays we have a guy coming in who runs the archival documentary something or other at the University of Cape Tow,n and is a well-known documentary photographer, and he'll be doing a lecture for us so I'm stoked!

We've been hearing consistently about how crime ridden SA is. They said travel in more than pairs. And it has been reiterated over and over. It's mostly petty, like theft, burglary. So we've been rather good at watching out. Our mentality hasn’t changed and we aren’t really changing our behavior other than being in groups. A few of us just had coffee and the owner of the café called the police maybe to report or talk about a mugging she just watched for the second time this week. Oh well. Apparently this has a lot to do with how severe the economic gap is and also how on top of each other the rich and impoverished are.

More later.

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