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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Men, Women and Children

A thought from yesterday's meetings with Tino and Raymond. Independently they both stated the following on Champlain students and this project entering into the South African townships:
“You'll have more contact than most South African academic researchers ever have.” 

The UNFPA has stated that Violence Against Women is the number one cause of global poverty. I can understand that here. Africa is predominately children. Europe and America have significantly older populations. Men in South Africa are considered heads of the household and are "free" to discipline their wives as they see fit. Women, we've been told, are second class citizens with rights equal to those of the family pet in the western world. 

Though generalizing, men here see children as their right. They determine whether birth control is used and see children as a symbol of their place in the world. Men may have many partners and many children. Mothers stay with the children, fathers travel for work. All this with little to no income. 

Parents often die early due to AIDS, TB and malaria. Sisters often become the head of households at young ages—bringing up their siblings AND their own children at ages as early as the onset of puberty.

How can this not equal a circle of poverty?


Shari said...

I've put your blog as my homepage while you are in Cape Town and frequently hit the "refresh" button to look for new pictures and posts! It is all so compelling!
Parents, friends and relatives all wait.....
Soak it all in, learn and finally since I'm a mom - be safe! lol :P

Joan said...

It's an interesting dilemma that many people in the workd face, the clash of the cultures. I have experienced it many times but especially in Appalachia and as an urban teacher. There is an existing culture that the people who live in it are happy with but I want to change it because I'm not happy with it. I couldn't fathom living that way. People change when they are unhappy. So, how do I make people unhappy? How do I make the parents of my students unhappy with the aspects of their life style that are causing their children to not succeed to my cultures standards in school while maintaining a friendly relationship? How do you create a game that makes people unhappy with their lifestyle while having fun?

I like challenges and I like this line from an ABBA song to help me go against the odds:

If you see the wonder in a fairy tale you can take the future even if you fail.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shari and Joan!

The amazing thing here is that is a nation of children. Remember the old Star Trek TV show - the original?

There was one in which they came to a planet of children. The reason was that upon reaching puberty they all died of a disease. It is like that here and the dis-ease is poverty and AIDS, TB, malaria, lack of access.

Captain Kirk can not run in and save the planet this time. It is our planet

The 2nd economy of South Africa is children. Hungry to eat, learn, love and become. As a mother, how can one not fall in love with Africa?


Joan said...

I remember that show. Very interesting analogy. I think you find short life spans common in areas of poverty. I know that there are urban leaders who are mature but I often work with very young parents. In the city people, particularily men, often die at a young age from violence. Alot of the father's of my students were victims of violence. There's another commonality in poverty, children having children. Even the grandparents I know are at least 10years younger than me! However, they often look 10 years older.