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What do you think about Mamelodi for a Month?


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  1. Jacques du Preez says:

    Hello! I’m very excited about and interested in your idea… Please give me a call. Perhaps I can offer to film an edit inserts / diary cams about it – those you can use on your blog, and I can use them on my channels. My detail: 071 452 5477. Hope you’re keen! Jacques du Preez, Head of Content, Provantage Media

  2. Noku Katom says:

    Well done guys. May God bless you, I am moved

  3. XolaniF60 says:

    I lived in a Diepsloot shack for 7 years. The smoke, from the mbaweni, rats and non existent services inspired me to study and leave. I can’t believe you’re going there, willingly. Especially with your whole family. Best of luck and I will donate R100 for each of the 30 days to a charity of your choice.

  4. Michael says:

    Afternoon Hewitt family. I once lived in Mamelodi and experienced all the troubles and expenses of transport to and from work. Where in Mamelodi are you staying? Because there is Mamelodi West which is better, Mamelodi east which is good and you have Mamelodi extension (RDP, extensions and all those Mikhukhus area like Lusaka, Alaska, etc).

  5. Aden Thomas says:

    Hi there…

    I am the host of the breakfast show on Heart FM in Cape Town. This is such a cool story – I’d love to chat to you about your experiences.

    Please forward telephone details and I’ll get my producer to follow up.



  6. Annine says:

    Hi guys,
    Hope you are still enjoying your time in Mamelodi.
    I’m a Tuks honours student and my class has just finished working on the latest edition of the Mamelodi Voice. It is a newspaper we have put together for the community.
    I’m sure it can help you with a few things in Mams and I won’t mind bringing you a copy.

    Would be great if I can 🙂

    You can also visit our blog

    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Annine Dormehl.

  7. Olebogeng says:

    This is the most encouraging thing I have seen in post apartheid South Africa. This is the only way we can truly help sort out most of the problems we have in this country, by learning to understand each other and respecting each other. This has given me hope! Mr and Mrs Hewitt you are doing more to brake down barriers that have been put up over centuries. Thank you, you guys are True sons and daughters of this soil! You have walked a mile in shoes that most will never consider. All of the best and much respect!

    Have you guys been to friday night funeral preparations? That would also be an interesting thing. And if you can maybe give me your views on the costs and what you think about the value or sentiment attached to the cost of funerals in Townships.

    I support your initiative!!!

  8. Annine says:

    Hi there,
    Me again,
    My e-mail address:

  9. Roman Kamunga says:

    Hi guys,
    Julian and Ena, you are blessed wonderfull couple to come up with a crazy idea like this… this shows love for other human, respect for what others are. This is a one rare good thing to to happen. Please start your own charity to start changing the lives of those still living in those conditions I will be the first to donate toward that charity.


  10. Peter Rowntree says:

    ‘Hail’ the Hewitt family. I amazed at your humility and courage to go out there and rebuild broken bridges. You are an amazing example to all South Africans. I’m sure this experience will be invaluable to your children who will grow up appreciating the value of community and respecting the needs of those less fortunate.
    Best wishes,
    Peter Rowntree

  11. Zozo says:

    Please take a very good care of your little ones while your in Mamelodi there are very sick people in our communities and their anger is misplaced. Just be careful it will be a pity to see such a good deed turns to horror, I admire your courage and strenght may the good Lord bless you.

  12. vanessa says:

    Hi Julian,
    Please give me your details,
    i would like to chat to you about lower income earners that survive on only R1200 a month…..

  13. tshwarelo says:


    never in my life could i have imagined anything like this happening. wow, you guys are extraordinary!!!!!!

    much love

  14. Mothupi says:

    You are a true South African. I believe your love for South Africa made you and your wife do this. God bless her! I agree with Xolanis thoughts..I will also donate R100 for each day you spent in Mamelodi. Please give us details my brother


  15. Kanshu says:


  16. mahlangu says:

    Hie Julian and Ena I wish you well on your shack staying .I would like to agree with Roman.It would be a good idea to start a charity organization which will help in any way in the same community where you are staying.
    Good Luck

  17. Kevin R says:

    Well done Julian and family, this is an amazing endeavour. Your experience is an inspiration.

  18. Patricia says:

    Enjoy your stay. may you learn as much as you can. God bless you.

  19. Cathy says:

    What an amazing Family may the Lord Bless you.

    I salute and respect you.

  20. lange says:

    I’m humbled. You guys are true Africans. I agree you should start a charity. This is really humbling. God bless you

  21. christine says:

    that is awesome what you did. i think a lot more white south africans should do what you did. i have become involved with a charity and have seen how people live white and black. it is scary. i also battle financially but if i see the state that the people have to live in then i am happy with what i have. well done to you and the kids

  22. Judy Streicher says:

    Hi Hewitt Family
    Wow! What an incredible journey. I really need to have some facetime with you regarding understanding risk management in the townships. The Financial Services Industry needs to and wants to urgently start contributing real value to these communities.

    Please please please contact me on

    Kind Regards

  23. Sarah, London (from Edinburgh) says:

    I think it’s really great what you’ve done. Well done!

  24. Arvind Ahir says:

    A truly incredible thing to do. I commend your courage and humility.

  25. Carol Davis says:

    I’m reading this from the UK, having attended an African school in Botswana as a white child very much in the minority. While I’ve seen the odd criticism of this project, I think it’s magnificent – and your blog is honest, humane, and really illustrates the issues in an a very thought provoking way.
    And has obviously attracted lots of worldwide media interest, and made lots of people think. Let’s hope it prompts some real change, in whatever form.

  26. Keith Mayoh says:

    What a remarkable experience to have had and to have given your children. I am particularly struck by the two countries living in the same geographical space concept. I was a public school teacher here in Australia for 40 years and often struggled against the imbalance caused by the luck of your birth.

  27. Brigette says:

    Hi Leah and Julian; I looked this blog up after hearing the Kaya interview this morning. I think what you guys did is amazing; and the best way to learn. You have done more than any of our ministers have done; you have real facts. I wish we (South Africans) could stop this black-white negativity thing; and start helping each other as people. Yes we are different colour skins; but lets embrace and celebrate that; instead of going on and on about how others are more inferior because of what has already happened. The true fact is if we continue as we are; there will be lots and lots of white families living in shacks for real soon too. So this is not wrong; but reality. Great work

  28. Tembekile Ngonongono says:

    Great work indeed, agree with you Brigette.

  29. Otto says:

    Hi there

    It was great to hear your story on the Current (CBC)

    I’m a South African who lives in Montreal (Canada) with my family. We moved back to CT for 4 months this year for work and school for the kids.

    My wife helped out with Humanity when we were living full time in SA. Would love to give something back, in terms of time and labour. Are there any projects out there for people from overseas to sign up for??


  30. Riman says:

    I am a Black African, with connections to both South Africa and Zimbabwe. I have found it unjust that as people of colour, we are made to believe in class injustice.

    After emigrating, I tended to see that it is not everyone who is white who has a case to answer. Indeed, my experience seems to show that there are very good people on both sides of the colour divide.

    The reality therefore is that, there are many who are evil on both sides. We cannot for ever believe that we are poor because of the ‘white people’s rule’. What has our government done for us?

    This is true not just of South Africa and Zimbabwe, it is true all over the continent. The elite blacks soon forget where they came from, and amass wealth under the cloak of trying to right past injustices. Meanwhile a lot of their own folk are destitute in the townships. Very few successful blacks seem to think of ‘plowing back their riches’ in the very areas where their folks live. Rather, they are inclined to flaunt this, so they can be worshiped for their achievements.

    Your effort to me is a humbling experience. I admire your courage, no matter what anyone may find wrong with it. Now that your eyes have seen, and your bodies have endured, that is something way beyond just building a school or play area for folks in the decrepit suburbs of Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, or indeed any city or town around the world.

  31. Stella says:

    Not a day goes by that I don’t think, “There, but for the grace of God go I,” but you had the empathy
    and courage to live it with your family and share it with the world. Your empathy and courage are an inspiration. Stella

  32. Stella says:

    Not a day goes by that I don’t think, “There, but for the grace of God go I,” but you had
    the empathy and courage to live it with your family and share it with the world. You are an
    inspiration to me. Stella

  33. Arianne says:

    While your stay may not have changed the reality of poverty or the racial divide in South Africa (which it doesn’t seem like it was meant to do in the first place), it does seem like your month was worthwhile, you learned a lot, and your kids will grow up better educated in the world. You’ve also opened up public debate, which may in itself draw attention to the problems and potential solutions. It’s sad to see so much negative feedback for a constructive project.

  34. Jackie Parker says:

    THe NYT article on your experience in Mamelodi let me to read your blog posts starting with your parents’ touching and supportive entries. What an amazing treatise on poverty, race and economics. You have truly given people around the world a lot to think about. I think your friend who wrote about the necessity of entering into relationships as receivers rather than givers had a very profound insight. I recently visited Ghana, not to work on an NGO but to be a guest of a family, and it was a fantastic and humbling experience to be the recipient of such hospitality, especially by those who have so much less material wealth.

    Jackie, California

  35. Elizabeth says:

    Hi I just wanted to commend You for caring enough to see how it is to live in poverty.I myself am a single mother in my mid 20’s living in poverty with my mother and a 2 year old girl in the US. Ive always felt like rich people never cared about the poor,nor cared to know about a day in the life of a poor person.May God Bless You guys and give You a whole other outlook and appreciation for life after your month there.Praying for You and Your little girls,-Elizabeth, Hollywood Ca

  36. Rea says:

    I like that you guys did this. I hope that one of the outcomes is even seeing your house keeper in a new light. It takes a very strong person not only to live in that environment, but to know that this is your reality. To feel that if your are to rise up or make anything of yourself- it would be from this very place. That is a strong thing to take in. No electricity, cold water. That is difficult on anyone.

  37. Mistie Parker says:

    I think what you’re doing is so great. I grew up in America, but we were very poor, and went without running water & electricity for most of my childhood. Mu mom was great. She raised me & my sister alone after my dad ran off with a lady from his work, when my mom was pregnant with me, but that was fine, because we didn’t need him. My mom worked during the day while we were at school. However, even working full time, my mom didn’t make enough wages to pay for utilities & my medications both. Unfortunately I was a very sick child, but because my mom was working full time & my father was court ordered to pay child support(which he never did, not even once)They said my mom’s income was too high to receive any kind of Government assistance. I don’t think she would have taken the assistance anyway, she was very proud, & said she would work for what we needed.
    Anyway, my point to all this is that I’m happy to have been raised poor. I see people everyday who take for granted what they have, and they don’t realize how precious things like clean running water are, and if they lost these things, they wouldn’t know how to get by. My childhood made me work hard for the things I wanted & needed, & I know I wouldn’t be the same headstrong person I am today if I had grown up in a privileged home. I believe my childhood was better than most American children, because I had a mother who truly loved me & my sister. Don’t listen to the critics. Trust me, your children are going to thank you for being able to give them more than one perspective in life. Lots of love.

  38. John says:

    My commendations !!! Thank you for demonstrating to us all what is possible, and what we all need to learn. God bless you all !!

  39. TJ says:

    Thank you for making this effort. You and your children will make the world a better place as a result of this experience. Furthermore, you are inspiring other privileged people, such as myself, to look beyond their own comforts and see the struggles of others.

  40. Bevan says:

    Really inspiring to read about what you have done. Just wonderful to know that there are people who do wonder what life is really like beyond the realm of white privilege in South Africa. It is people like you who give the country hope.

  41. Anonymous says:

    What makes human special? “Survival of the fittest”, should not be applicable to them. We can all hold hands and move ahead with life. Poverty, diseases, illiteracy are plaguing all around the world. We can choose to ignore or we can experience the pain and do something about it. You guys are truly inspirational for doing this. Happy to see your children being able to learn being human.
    Keep up the good work.

  42. Wolf Cilliers says:

    Great to hear about your experience and what you did. There are some other white South Africans who did the same. Dr Nico Smit, a theologian and his wife stayed there in Mamelodi as well for quite a while (back in the apartheid era I think). There is also this other family with 5 or 6 kids who willingly left their comfortable home in northern JHB and moved into Hillbrow to bring the Gospel there. The Viviers family I’ve met live permanently in Khayamandi to do the same.

    • Ena says:

      Hi Wolf. Thanks for your comment. There are many many South Africans (across all race and demographic groups) who reach out on a daily basis: some do the same/similar to what we have done, others run charities, foundations etc, others just touch the lives of the people they interact with daily. We know the Brankens (the family in Hillbrow) personally and have read the stories of some of the others. They are all amazing individuals and part of why we love this country so much. We really don’t think we are special, in fact I think there are many who do a lot more than we do and get hardly any recognition for it. I have no idea why the media is so obsessed with our journey. Our challenge to everyone is to do their little part, as small and insignificant as it may seem.

  43. Krzysztof Smolik says:

    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hewitt,
    First of all, my congratulations for idea and realization.
    Perheps you will be surprised that about yours Mamelodi month I read in Polish daily newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza”(Sept 21st).We get in touch with South Africa while we spent our last winter (European) vacation travelling in RSA, so I focused on the title “Mamelodi for Blacks and Whites”. Thank you for that what you have done! It keeps my opinion which I had after visiting your country that despite all bad things which happens people of all races and different social status may live together and cooperate. This is also important for my two sons (18 and 15 years old)to confirm it. We drove 3 000 km in South Africa always finding help and kindness from people of all races. The problem is that those who are listening us now, have doubts and question “were you not afraid to travel there?” is almost obligatory. I recomend article about Hewitt Family to them right now.
    Thank you! Krzysztof Smolik, I appologize for my English.

  44. Andrea says:

    Hi! First of all, congratulations! I’m writing from the other side of this planet, from a beautiful country called Argentina. I’ve reached this blog through a local news website. Of course that it’s impossible for any communications media to give this “news” whithout critics and arguments against your experience.

    But my humble opinion it’s that it takes a LOT of COURAGE to decide changing your life this way. And i’m clapping right now because of this. We are living in a really sick world, into a system that’s pure perverssion. And, in order to begin any change, it seems to be very important to be responsable of our acts. Why am I talking about responsability? Because you guys might have the best of the intentions, but what you’re doing may be useful for the system itself, for all those powerful people and things we don’t won’t. Anything can be used against us, always. It’s been said that you’re exposing your children to things they can’t understand, thay you’re damaging them permanently… stupid and harmful things like that. I guess you already know all this kind of things and facts. But I’m writing for those who haven’t thought about it. You have to be aware of the fact thay you’re doing something that represents danger to the capitalist global system, and so you will be attacked by the media (in sutil or more explicit ways, but the results are more or less the same), and so you have the responsability to defend what you’re doing.
    I agree that empathy is the key. Of course. But there are other keys that are really powerful also, like knowledge. Knowledge understood as personal and community growth and enligthement.

    I apologize for my horrible English. My ideas die when it comes the moment i have to write them in a language that’s not my first.

    Again, congratulations. Your story it’s inspiring for many of us.

    I will read you every day. A big hug from Argentina

  45. Hi everyone!

    I didn’t have the time yet to read everything in your blog, but i saw several comments about charity and i have to say, with all my respect, thay charity it’s a dangerous concept invented by the hegemony (the same powerful people that invented so other harmfull things)

    Why it’s a dangerous concept to me? Because when you give money, food or whatever to those that don’t have it, you’re putting yourself in a position of superiority. No matter your good intentions. There are no races, there are different etnic groups. But the race it’s only one, the human race. Instead of doing charity, that it’s something ephemeral, perishable, we have to help “empowering” those who are vulnerable and don’t have what we have. Here, in my country, what we are doing is:

    we go to vulnerable neighbourhoods, we help people to organize them as a community, we teach them how to make a community local farm and plantation, we organize reunions weekly to talk about their rights (because a big part of the problem it’s that extremely poor people are so bowed, submitted under the cruel rules of this liberal system), and when whe reach the goal, we move to another neighbourhood that needs this. And what’s the goal? To “empower” them, to make them know that not only they are human beings whith the same rights than anyone, but also that they have the capacity to organize together a better future for themselves and for all of us.

    Be careful of the idea of charity. Because we’re not giving away anything that’s disposable for us (5 dollars, or 100 euro, an old t´shirt, a coup of milk), we have to give them what is theirs from the beginning. It’s not a present, it’s a human right, it’s what we all deserve!

  46. Food says:

    I very much enjoyed reading through your blog. It makes me think about what I can be doing here at home.
    I was wondering if you have considered doing a post about the foods you ate. The tomato sauce you mentioned sounded good and I would think you had to come up with different ways to keep meals interesting, especially with the kids. I guess this comment sounds silly when looking at everything the people of Mamelodi go through every day, but food can make a powerful statement. Vegetarians show their caring of animals, while sustainability is shown through buying local. We can remain conscience of the world’s poor by eating how they do. Even if it’s only one meal a week, it can be a reminder that follows us throughout the day. Maybe that one reminder can change how we live and make decisions in other areas of our life.

    As a side note: maybe a way to help the people of Mamelodi would be to find out who could use some help with housing or other repairs and go in with a group of people and supplies and have a work day. Locals, homeowners, and volunteers go around to each house and everyone pitches in to get things done. I would hope that action would be viewed more as a helping hand instead of a handout.

    Thank you for your thought provoking month.

  47. Mieke Van Der Vyver says:

    Hi Julian!

    This is so funny – I heard about your website through my sister-in-law, and only got to read it tonight for the first time! Then I looked onto your and Ena’s profile – only to realise you look familiar. Is it possible that you were an engineering / Business student studying Mandarin part time at Stellenbosch University in the early 2000’s? With Amy Yu? Both your and Ena’s career paths look amazingly impressive.

    But most of all – what you have chosen to do in Mamelodi is incredibly inspirational! I completely salute you and feel driven to do the same with my family.

    I would love to see where your family’s journey takes you – do you have a facebook page? I will look for you!

    Take care,
    Mieke (nee Loubser) Van der Vyver

  48. Ho ascoltato l’intervista rilasciata alla radio (Rai Uno) qualche settimana fa. Che dire? Complimenti, la vostra è stata senza dubbio una scelta bella e coraggiosa.
    Ho inserito il vostro sito fra i siti suggeriti nel mio blog, spero vi faccia piacere.
    Un abbraccio
    sinforosa castoro

  49. Detective Nkwe says:

    We are looking for two suspects who are wanted inconection with murder,rape,car theft and other numerous crimes,the suspects are soshanguve residents and are believed to be hiding around mamelodi,their names are sello skonamona makgatho and Rider Nkadimeng.

    We need your assistand,if u can publish de story for us and any one who can come forth with the information dat can lead to the arrest of this boys will receive R5000 as a reward!!

    Any one with information can contact detective Nkwe on 0791912376

  50. Phil Mahuma says:

    Congratulations Hewitt family and all respondents with positive feedback!

    I am also a Mamelodian by adoption.

    Please view this DVD that presents our work:

    UP COPC (searched on YouTube)

    Collaboration with any- and everyone always most welcome.

    Best wishes

    Dr. Phil Mahuma
    Family Physician(Steve Biko Academic&Tshwane District Hospitals)
    Lecturer:Family medicine Department, University of Pretoria(UP)
    Director: UP COPC Research Unit

  51. Frans says:

    Hello mams fm am frans i like to listen mams fm i was there to ask the space for preaching the word of God than am stil waiting for ur call guys make a deal to contact me on this no 0766442758 plz

  52. busisiwe says:

    Good day

    im Busisiwe Mpongose from Mamelodi east ext 11,im 25 of age and i just released my Gospel album last month,im a product of a music company called Music Waves that is based in Mamelodi east phase 5,i would like to have an interview on air with you ,please tell me me if your interested and anything you need me to bring to you.

    hope to here from you,lets promote Local Music

    kind regards

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