A tour of Gugulethu and Khayelitsha with Uthando South Africa MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

A Day in the Heart of Gugulethu and Khayelitsha with Uthando South Africa

Today, I want to take you on a special journey – not the typical romantic getaway, but an adventure that will fill your heart with a different kind of love. A love, not of roses and candies, but of community and compassion.

Let me confess, I’ve had my fair share of disappointing encounters with tour guides. As an independent traveler, I prefer to explore on my own terms. But there were times when I had no choice but to join a guided tour or when it was mandatory.

So here’s the thing. I had quite the surprise when I met James Fernie from Uthando South Africa. He’s the kind of person you want by your side when you explore a township. He’s not just knowledgeable and charismatic; he actually wants to have a real conversation with you. That’s amazing, right?

But let me tell you, there’s something else that’s really puzzling. We visited these communities, and everywhere we went, people treated James with such warmth and respect. It was like they knew each other for ages. And you know what? James returned that warmth and respect, which is pretty incredible.

Uthando isn’t your typical township tour. It’s more than that. Uthando offers a one-of-a-kind chance for you to personally connect with members of the community in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu as they go about their daily lives.

Imagine if you were the mayor for a day and could give every family in Cape Town the gift of spending a morning with individuals like James Fernie and organizations like Uthando. You would have the opportunity to respectfully and safely meet people who live in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu – everyday people like you and me. Good-hearted people who have hopes and dreams, families, worries, and a great sense of humor – just like us.

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My journey began in the heart of the city where I hopped into a microbus with a group of five. Our driver, James, took us on the N2 road, leisurely cruising while answering our questions and sharing a condensed version of South Africa’s history. Along the way, I discovered new facts and was reminded of things I had forgotten. James’ captivating commentary played a vital role in enhancing the experience.

One profound moment was when I came across a simple cross, marking the place where Amy Biehl had tragically lost her life. Surprisingly, I found myself deeply moved by this sight. I can’t quite explain why it had such an impact on me. It happened at a service station, yet that black granite cross washed away any irreverent thoughts I may have had. It made me realize the significance of entering a different community.

Arriving outside one of the social outreach centers of the Neighbourhood Old Age Homes (NOAH), I anticipated seeing elderly individuals sitting in chairs, appearing cold and somber, perhaps even resentful of our presence. However, what I encountered was a room brimming with warmth and vitality. NOAH provides a space for about 130 older community members to come together daily. They engage in various activities like singing, dancing, soap-making, exercise, and enjoying meals together. But more than anything, they engage in what elderly individuals everywhere do: they reminisce, tease one another, laugh, remember, and share their experiences of sadness, hardship, and joy. The room was filled with wrinkled faces adorned with laughing eyes and engaging smiles. I received warm hugs and handshakes, witnessing the pride and self-assurance that can only come from a life well-lived. This wasn’t just a tour; it was a genuine and effortless conversation that lasted until it was time to leave. We bid our farewells with a spirited song and dance, leaving me wondering how I could get my hands on whatever they put in their tea every day.

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As I made stops at different places, like the Khambulani Day Care Centre and a small clearing where Uthando was constructing a new house for an elderly resident, I eventually found myself at the Abalimi Bezekhaya (home planters) vegetable garden project. It was an unexpected sight in the heart of Khayelitsha – a peaceful oasis with neat garden beds brimming with vibrant vegetables, while I sat under a cool thatched roof, enjoying coffee and vetkoek with apricot jam.

Uthando partners with and supports over 25 projects scattered throughout Cape Town. Throughout the day, I had the privilege of visiting several of these projects. As I sipped my tea in the refreshing shade, I reflected on what made Fair Trade in Tourism ventures truly special in comparison to others I had encountered. And then it hit me: the answer could be summed up in one simple word:

people.

I made my way home, feeling touched and proud. The people I had met were authentic, genuine, and had no need for pretense. Interacting with them was a real, meaningful experience that made our day special. It was refreshing to be in a place without artificiality or ceremony, where people are simply living their lives. And even though our interaction was brief, it left a lasting impact.

If you’re interested in visiting Khayelitsha, Nyanga, or Gugulethu and want to explore the area with someone who knows it well, I recommend reaching out to James at Uthando. You can find more information on their website www.uthandosa.org.

To discover more exciting Fair Trade in Tourism adventures, including these mentioned above, visit the FTTSA website or connect with them on Facebook. Join the FTTSA community and be part of these wonderful experiences.

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