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Community Engagement & Service

South Africa: Race, Gender, and Health Beyond Borders

Alternative Break South Africa 2015

The Program:

Often times we view social justice issues in a vacuum. However in reality, issues do not exist in isolation. This program aims to help students understand how race and gender identities affect communities in Cape Town and Johannesburg in regards to health, with sub-conversations on the intersectionality of these issues with environmental sustainability, economic opportunity, housing, education and family structure. Participants will compare conditions before and during apartheid to present-day conditions, and analyze how the effects of apartheid continue to manifest themselves across South African communities today.

The apartheid administration reigned over South Africa from 1948 until 1994 creating a system of racial segregation that stripped non-whites of their rights, removed them from their homes, and enforced structural racism that has existed in South Africa since Dutch colonization in the 1600s. Although this system was dismantled over two decades ago, its legacy continues to influence daily life across many South African communities today. 

 Townships, informal urban settlements that were initially created to provide a reliable supply of cheap labor to white settlers, still exist today and are inhabited predominantly by black and colored populations. These overcrowded communities are riddled with poverty, high rates of HIV/AIDS, gangs, violence, disengaged youth, poor infrastructure, poor sanitation and environmental health, and limited access to health and education services. Within townships and across the country, women face even more inequality - demonstrated by higher unemployment rates, higher HIV/AIDS prevalence, lower education levels, and high rates of gender-based violence. 

 We will uncover the many layers of intersection between community issues by going on local excursions (active-learning museum trips, tours of historical sites) and engaging with various women-led community organizations (Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids, and the South Africa Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union). We will also work with organizations that deal with health-related topics including HIV/AIDS prevention, sanitation and the environment (Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, All Women Recycling, and the Sustainability Institute’s Lynedoch Eco-Village). Participants will reflect on the progress that can be seen and what remains to be done in our partner communities, and draw parallels between the issues we see in these communities and those faced in our own communities in D.C. and at AU.

Engagement Itinerary:

Day 1 (Friday): Flight arrival into Johannesburg. Ground transport to Hostel (Ghandi’s Backpackers). Labor Museum visit. Education dialogue Session. Explore city

Day 2 (Saturday): Apartheid Museum. Vilakazi Street. Mandela House. Kliptown Open Air Museum. Hector Pieterson Memorial. Dinner and reflection. New Year’s Eve

Day 3 (Sunday – New Year’s Day): Breakfast. Explore Braamfontein Neighborhood and the Mining District

Day 4 (Monday): Flight departs from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Flight arrival in CPT. Ground transport to lodging. Attend Cape Town Carnival. Program briefing, explore Observatory neighborhood. Dinner and reflection

Day 5 (Tuesday): District 6 Museum. Red Bus Tour. Table Mountain Visit

Day 6 (Wednesday): Robben Island Tour. V&A Waterfront and Noble Square. Dinner and reflection

Day 7 (Thursday): Site visit: All Women Recycling. Old Biscuit Mill Exploration. Site visit: Desmond Tutu HIV/AIDS Foundation or Emasi Children’s Shelter

Day 8 (Friday): Site Visit: Africa Jam Camp Day 1. Picnic & Lions Head Hike around sunset (reflection).

Day 9 (Saturday): Site Visit: Africa Jam Camp Day 2 or Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids (GAPA) (Group split). Mzoli’s Lunch. Site Visit: Sonke Gender Justice Mission. Dinner dialogue with South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU). Reflection

Day 10 (Sunday): Site Visit: All Women Reclycing. Site Visit: GAPA or Emaci (Group Split). Educational Dialogue Dinner with guest (TBD)

Day 11 (Monday): Site Visit: Lynedoch EcoVillage. Site Visit: GAPA/Africa Jam/ Emaci (group split)

Day 12 (Tuesday): Khoi San Tour or Township tour with Kenny. Rhodes Memorial Visit. Dinner and reflection

Day 13 (Wednesday): Site Visit: Abalimi Bezekhaya or Emaci. Cape Point to Cape of Good Hope Hike and Boulder Beach. Educational Dialogue Dinner with guest (TBD)

Day 14 (Thursday): Meeting with the U.S Consulate: PEPFAR and/or U.S Consul-General. Site Visit: GAPA. Mama Africa farewell dinner

Day 15 (Friday): Leave for CPT International. Flight arrives in IAD (Saturday)

Quick Facts

Destination: Cape Town, South Africa

Dates: December 28, 2016- January 12, 2017

Cost: $3,060.00

Faculty Adviser: Dr. Bette Dickerson

Cost includes: airfare, meals, lodging, ground transportation, guides, admission fees, travel insurance, and administrative fees. 

Cost does not include: immunizations and visas.


Meet Your Student Leaders!

Mehvish Jamal is a senior studying Economics and International Relations. She is passionate about using the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to address issues in inequality and environmental sustainability. Mehvish also participated in the 2014-2015 South Africa Alternative Break Program.

"I am beyond excited to guide students as they build lifelong relationships with community partners, engage with social justice issues both at home and abroad, and embrace the ubuntu philosophy!" 

Yasmine Yaiche is a senior studying Biology and Public Health, with hopes of utilizing those degrees towards Global Health research and learning. She is passionate about advancing health by thinking differently and looking at unique ways to implement positive change through an international perspective. Yasmine participated in the 2014-2015 Race and Gender Identity in Post-Apartheid South Africa Alternative Break Program.

"As a past participant, I am thrilled to now lead and learn alongside students as they embark on a journey that will allow them to create parallels between the program’s social justice themes in South Africa and the US - a learning experience that will be both innovative and fun!"