It’s true, everything in S.A. shuts down mid-December and nothing much happens till mid-January. Every email gets bounced back with an “out of office” message, my favourite coffee shop is closing at noon today until Jan. 19th. And there’s no traffic in town, other than taxi vans full of folks “going home” for the holidays.
Work, what’s that?
So, there’s nothing to report on the work front. I’m planning a workshop early February with my RESHI (?) (Rapidly-expanding Social Housing Institutions) to discuss their property management systems (computer programs, basically). My back door wish is that they will agree to work on a sector-wide system that could be managed through NASHO, but we’ll see.
One thing I’ve learned about systems is that every social housing provider hates theirs but is always reluctant to move to a new system. Devil you know and all that…
16 Days of Activism
From November 25 (UN day for Elimination of Violence) until December 10 (Human Rights Day), people are encouraged to participate in actions and events to highlight the need to reduce violence against women and children. There’s lots of media coverage, people calling in to talk shows, banners and parades, bike and foot runs. And on the street where I work, I felt something as I passed under a tree on my noon walkabout.
Yesterday in the Star there was a report about the allocation of widow’s pensions. Apparently the allocation panel takes into account the widow’s “marriage prospects” when making their decision. So if the widow is young and attractive, she’s not as likely to receive benefits. ARRGH! There’s some activism required on that file, I’d say…
At the DisChem, where I had to line up for 30 minutes to buy some Ibuprofen, which is kept behind the counter, I was pleased to see that no one could steal my drugs while I walked back to the other 15 minute line up for the cashiers. My 200mg pills were jailed for the duration and only “released” once I’d paid up and the cashier snipped off the plastic tie!
And the receipt slip came with this affirmation from my cashier, Ntombele: “Always remember you are BRAVER than you believe, STRONGER than you seem, SMARTER that you think and twice as BEAUTIFUL as you’d ever IMAGINED!” Better than ibuprofen…
Informal Economy, part II:
Since I arrived, I’ve had to duck around the 7th Street hawkers who sell their “beadwork” to tourists. I’ve not been entirely successful, but I have been adopted by Shepherd. He is my official hawker, much to the dismay of the others.
The City of Joburg does have a formal recycling program, at least in my neighbourhood where people are given special bags, one for paper and one for plastic/metal/glass. However, there is a very large informal economy of “binners”. We see them in downtown Ottawa too, of course, looking through blue bins on garbage day. Most of the guys here are either from Zim or some other nearby country and can’t get work permits.
They walk in the middle of the street, pulling these large plastic bins on a makeshift cart system. It’s very dangerous and dirty work.
They mostly live either on the street or in dismal flophouses, sharing floor space in shifts.
The Rusty Radiator awards
Are put out each year by the Norwegian Students and Academics’ International Assistance Fund. They are meant to remind people that “foreign aid” comes with a whole bunch of misconceptions and that we need to think twice (three times) about how we “help”.
Watch this, it is hilarious!
Only four more sleeps…
Until my Christmas present arrives at OR Tambo. Yes, Debbie is due in at 10 PM on Xmas and that will be soooo good.
If anyone is looking for help with Christmas shopping, I think a gift certificate for a session with Professor Musa would be a great stocking stuffer:
That’s it for now, folks