Posted by: Naima | March 18, 2009

Step Your Game Up, USA

As I enter my third month in Cape Town, I’ve become more comfortable with encountered South Africanisms. So comfortable, in fact, that until yesterday I didn’t even think twice about the free condoms being distributed all around the country. Due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, the boxes of condoms in most bathrooms (especially on campus) are provided by the South African government as a campaign to combat transmission of the disease. As I was drying my hands, staring at the eye-level box that sat half empty I thought, “Why don’t I see boxes of condoms everywhere in the United States?”

wear-a-condom1

While I do understand and believe that abstinence is the best way to avoid both STDs and pregnancy, it’s not the only way and it is absolutely not enough to tell people who are already sexually active. I have never understood why so many people go to great lengths to prevent people (regardless of age) who have already begun sexual activity from protecting themselves adequately This is important: South Africa’s government has it’s issues. But someone got it right when they started nailing “Condotainers” to many of the bathroom walls. Unfortunately though, realizing that I see these most in one of the top universities in the country, it’s clear that this wonderful installment isn’t always prevalent in the areas that need it most. I actually just got hooked up with an organization that works with children infected with HIV and provides meals, medicine, and good times to ensure long and happy lives.

The group is call Ubuntu Africa and is located in Cape Town’s largest township – Khayelitsha, where I saw Jacob Zuma speak a while ago. The NGO was started by an American who was on my program in Cape Town 5 years ago and came back to do something about the extreme poverty she saw. If the volunteering this semester goes well, I might start considering applying for a summer internship with Ubuntu.

I have a feeling I am going to feel slammed soon in terms of time. I’m still finalizing my time table so I’m hoping to get together with Amandla! soon and perhaps write about some of the experiences I have in Khayelitsha. Also, multiple paper deadlines and tests have somehow jammed themselves within two days of next week – awesome. I’m also starting to get knee-deep in spring break plans (details to come later) and of course, I’m in Cape Town so I fill up spare moments with running around seeing/meeting/loving new everything.

I love being busy.

Peace and then some, Naima

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