Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This is why I came to South Africa...

Yesterday was the reason I came to South Africa.Yesterday I spent 3 hours talking with domestic workers. I got to interview 7 wonderful women and hear their stories. It was inspiring, horrifying and just all around fascinating. It's so hard for me to even begin to talk about it,it doesn't quite seem real. I had three sessions of interview, with 2 women the first time, 2 the second and then 3 the third. After those 7 women a group of French exchange students showed up and so we all went down to talk to them. The steering committee for the Western Cape branch of the domestic workers union talked to the students and then we all sat around and had some snacks. When the French students wanted to take a picture of the whole group of domestic workers (or Home Executives as one of the women called herself) the National President of the union called me over and said "Lila,come be in the picture with us,you're one of us". My heart practically melted out of my chest. All of the women had started out a bit shy and not sure what to expect but by the time I left at 6pm they were all laughing and joking with me and asking when they would see me again, which was exactly what I had hoped for.

The interviews I did are really going to help me with my ISP,and they're the bulk of my research. Today (Tuesday) I'm interviewing Myrtle Witbooi, the Secretary general of the Western Cape branch of the domestic workers union and on Thursday I'm talking to the National President. I still haven't quite processed how lucky I am to have the opportunity to talk to such strong, amazing women. The last week hasn't been the best, what with me being sick, not being able to eat very many foods and losing my USB with ALL of my work for this 40 page paper on it, but yesterday made all that disappear.

I've got 9 days to write my 40 page paper and get it printed. I have absolutely no work on it any more,and have to start all the secondary research over. But nothing can dampen how great my experience with these women has been. On Friday I'm going downtown to help them with their booth for May Day - I'm really interested to see what it's like here. I think the new President, Jacob Zuma, may even be coming to talk.


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