aB South Africa: ‘I faced the Bunny Chow. And I lost’

Nine members of the university community made FIU alternative Breaks history April 30, 2013, when they departed for South Africa to work with children and adults with HIV/AIDS. Theirs is the first aB group at FIU to travel to the African continent. FIU News is following the team’s journey.

Dontay Proctor-Mills at the Victorian Market in Durban

Dontay Proctor-Mills at the Victorian Market in Durban

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday morning we went to the Victorian Market in downtown Durban – known for it’s South African beaded jewelry and Indian spices. We all experienced what it was like bartering in a fast-pace market. Later we went to a second market at Essonwood. It was in a park and resembled a farmers market. Here they sold more local products like honey and chili. There was live music and a hip-hop dance group performing. Between the two I was able to buy souvenirs for my family. I’m glad I was able to bond and share this experience with my group.

In the evening we were invited to dinner with a colleague of our staff participant, Whitney Bauman. I had the highly recommended Bunny Chow for the first time. All the locals I had spoken to prior to this point referred me to the Bunny Chow when I asked about South African food. This dish is literally a half loaf of unsliced bread filled with curry. I faced the Bunny Chow. And I lost. It was too much food and way too spicy. We also enjoyed the company of South African students and Canadian students studying abroad. It was great to fellowship  and terrific food.
Sunday, May 5, 2013

We planned on hiking and going to a Zulu tribe at the Valley of 1,000 Hills. Unfortunately, we got lost and ended up driving through a village. I was taken back by the poverty I was witnessing and it put me in a bad mood. When we got to our destination we canoed on a lake. It was the most serene experience I had ever had ever partaken in. It was also my first time in a canoe.

Reflecting with the group that night was great. It was difficult to explain or express how I was feeling about the village and poverty, but when I was able to get some of my thoughts out everyone in my group shared their experiences with me. They’ve all been abroad and seen poverty firsthand; they helped me understand that what I was feeling was normal. Although these villages live differently than I do in the States, they enjoy their lives, and as much as I am willing to help, they don’t need me to save them. What we were actually witnessing was a display of human strength. These people live without the majority of things I think I cannot live without.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Today we arrived and the Blue Roof Wellness Center and there was fire near the entrance. We initially thought they were burning trash but the fire department needed to be called. After the fire was out we got to work. Jeremy and I began clearing out trash at the same entrance the fire had been burning before. We started our gardening project and painted two children’s activity rooms.

As we cleared the entrance, many of the people from the neighborhood came to thank us for our work. It humbled me to know that the work we do for the center not only has an impact on the center, but also on the surrounding community.

– Dontay Proctor-Mills

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