Mdzananda is more than just an animal clinic. They have employees who drive around Khayelitsha (South African township outside of Cape town) picking up and dropping off dogs and cats if pet owners can’t. They have a little truck with a trailer that they take out on rounds. The trailer has individual sections for individual animals. I was able to go on a couple of ride alongs and get a better feel for the community as well as talk to some employees who spoke a bit of English.
My time in Khayelitsha was very eye-opening. The poverty was shocking, and crime was a major problem as well. Though, of course, there is far more to this place than crime and poverty. One time I left the clinic (Mdzananda) to walk around the immediate neighborhood with my camera. I must have looked insane, though people were very nice. I ran into a group of neighborhood boys that I knew from the clinic who decided to walk with me because they said I needed protection. Khayelitsha is not the place to walk around by yourself, especially if you’re a white woman. You stick out like a sore thumb carrying boatloads of cash. Women, in general, are easy targets everywhere around Cape Town and being white in Khayelitsha is like being black in Montana. Most people will do a double take.
Once while at a stoplight in an Uber in Khayelitsha, there was a young boy, about 14, working his ass off on the street by quickly washing windshields for donations as cars stopped at a main intersection. I immediately began looking for my wallet. The light turned and I still hadn’t found it. This boy began holding the pace of the car by my window until he was at a full sprint, for at least the length of a football field on a busy street. I was finally able to give him some money. I hope it was a 20. Living in poverty changes so much. Skin color changes so much, even though it doesn’t.
Certain parts of the township were vibrant with a buzzing energy; bustling with relaxed people. Another interesting duality in South Africa. See South Africa Landscapes. The energy was new to me and difficult to describe. Living was different here. I could just feel it. Of course, the survival piece was different for people living in Khayelitsha but so was living. It seemed like there was a deeper level of comfort and connection among people. I, of course, could be wrong, but there was something. I needed more time there.
While riding around with one Mdzananda employee he explained to me while driving around in a rich part of the township that he would never want to live there because it was so boring. No one was out in the street. It resembled a lower-middle-class neighborhood where I grew up in Fresno, Ca. It seemed white to me. White people lack tribes. Apparently, there are quite a few people in townships who make good money but choose to continue to live in shanties. Interesting.