The Land of Plenty

Pam, who has let me adopt her as a surrogate mother, runs a school for about 120 children, from babies to 6 or 7 years old. The children's families live in the shacks bordering the train tracks that divide the slums from the place where a memorial is being built to commemorate the Freedom Charter signing in 1955. She has been taking care of the community's children for over 13 years, for virtually no pay, because most of the children's parents are either dead, single with multiple mouths to feed, or part of the 43 percent unemployment rate. The department of Social Welfare donates R6 (just under a dollar) per child per day for food, and that is the only funding these children benefit from. The meals they get at Pam's crèche are often the only food they'll eat during the day.

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Arid Lands

At times I was so sleep deprived I felt like I was on some strange drug, with the world moving by in slow motion like a movie montage. Elders waved canes at each other during cease-fire negotiations, assistant chiefs waved loaded assault rifles at perceived rivals, and yet another meal of goat stew and maize meal found its way to me for nourishment, day after day. Goats were ubiquitous and sometimes tasty: boiled, stewed, grilled, fried, hollowed out and stuffed with illegal AK-47 parts for shipment to Nairobi. In meetings with various people under trees and in urban, sewage-infested slum shacks, I was alternately blessed, cursed, begged, argued with, chased away, and welcomed, depending on the day.

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