Highs and lows of the last week

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. We thought that a weekly ‘highs and lows’ post would be good just to give some insight into some of our daily challenges and joys so here goes:

The highs this week have been
1). Afternoon strolls. Meeting people, hearing their stories and discovering some really beautiful gardens outside some of the shacks here in ext 6

2). The municipal park. The kids love playing there and it has served well as a school holiday outing change from home.

3). The positive response we have received from a lot of members of the public on our blog. It’s been very encouraging and much needed when things are tough

4). My parents arriving back in South Africa after 4 years abroad. Being able to show them where we are staying and spending an evening with them (I also had my first bath and shower this month while with them which was AMAZING)

5). Being taught the techniques behind successful hand washing of clothes by my friendly neighbours who clearly thought my clothes didn’t look clean enough after my attempts at hand washing

6). Getting used to sleeping on the thin mattresses on the floor and the cold and actually having a few really good nights of sleep

7). Julia befriending the lovely ladies at the spaza shop near us and spending many hours there getting her hair braided or just chilling with the girls.

And some of the lows

1). The all permeating smell of paraffin. Our shack smells of it. Our clothes smell of it and I’m sure the hacking cough I have is partly as a result if it

2). Bucket baths. Washing hair and bodies in a bucket with one kettle hot water and some cold water does not do it for me. I miss my shower

3). Hearing the very sad story of a lady a few shacks down from us who was arrested for selling dagga (marijuana) earlier this week leaving behind a 4year old who now lives in the shack alone with only the Nyaope guys as company at night. (Update: the department of social services has taken the girl so she’s not alone. Good news. )

4). Feeling completely overwhelmed by the media interest our month has generated. Torn between talking to people to generate much needed conversation in this country and telling the media to go away and leave us in peace

5). Leaving my parents to return to Mamelodi when we would have loved to spend more time with them.

6). Julian’s 4am wakeup to catch the metro-rail only to have to wait 45 mins in the cold for a delayed train


  1. Ek geniet jou updates en sterkte kollega !

  2. Ek geniet jou updates en sterkte kollega !

  3. Sebastian says:

    Hi there, How’s the budget looking?Transport has come up as a major theme during your month so far. This issue lies close to my heart since I commute on a daily basis too.(Metro rail, Gautrain, Rea Vaya, taxis, Buses) Good luck for the next 2 weeks. Seb

  4. You guys are doing brilliant,regards to Julian…I am truly humbled by you both!

  5. You guys are doing brilliant,regards to Julian…I am truly humbled by you both!

  6. Calyn says:

    Well done to you & your family. A brilliant life experience for your children.

    What is being done about the 4 year old? A child can’t be left to gangs and drugs?

  7. Beth says:

    I’m also concerned about the 4yr old. Does the correctional services dept not work together with social development. Tshwane welfare perhaps? Because right there, that child’s future is being spelled out for him/her… Left in the “care” of Drugged men/women who may do almost anything for their next fix… Perhaps the next time journos come to your door step, send them in that direction…

    Your little girls, have they not been affected by the paraffin and cold nights?

    • Ena says:

      Hi Beth
      Luckily the department of social services has taken the child so she is ok (well better off than being left alone in a house full of druggies…..)

  8. dawie says:

    Ena – re: “hacking cough” and I accept it is off topic. Presumably the subject of Mamelodi air quality was examined before your tenure there. Whilst it is not adjacent to mine dumps and workings – certainly not with the notoriety of, say, Tudor Shaft and Carolina – radioactive pollutants in the air coupled with AMD (mynwater-besoedeling)will have far-reaching effects on local communities. Chronic respiratory problems must be present in many of the informal settlements.

  9. Nomonde says:

    Ena I have to say that is a very brave venture you guys have embarked on. I find your blog interesting and informative. I wish you luck!

  10. Hey guys, shoh, we miss you and think of you every day. Thanks for keeping us in the loop. Will keep praying for you.
    Much love from us xx

  11. George and Wendy says:

    Always in our thoughts.
    Love and best wishes to you all.
    Wendy George and your cousins Paul and Jean Pierre.xxxx

  12. Nompumelelo says:

    I started at a new job on 26 Aug..I have been late 6 times already for work..Metrorail..signed a warning today..I want to scream..I want to set a train on fire..Jah bless your family, you are strong..so South African :-)!.the strength!..the character!.Thank you for the lessons maan..

  13. Katie says:

    Wow, this is so fantastic to hear. I love how you’re really trying to embrace this new culture. Keep going 🙂

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