YMCA Diversity, Inclusion & Global

March 04, 2014

South Africa - First Experience

Cultural Differences Unite Us

Yesterday we visited the Apartheid Museum and learned all about the history of South Africa. They took us through the British, the Dutch, the Indians, and the segregation of whites and colored. It was quite amazing to see how different people were treated. It was also interesting to learn about the gold mines and the diamonds. It was humbling to see how people were treated and it did not make me proud to be white.

I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to walk through the museum and learn about the Apartheid. Being a huge advocate for Diversity of all kinds I was truly saddened by what I learned and saw. There was also a huge dedication to the work of Nelson Mandela. In fact, they even had a red Mercedes in the museum that he was given after he got out of jail. Nelson Mandela was quite a hero and he will be greatly missed by all. Seeing all this made me realize what an amazing man Nelson Mandela was and how much one man's influence can change the world!

After visiting the museum off to the Mamelodi Y we went. They welcomed us with open arms and pulled out all of the stops for us. This Y is a large building with an outdoor playground for kids, a small child care center, an area where they grow corn, and a building where they teach vocational and business skills to young people. Victor is their Executive and what a passionate leader he is. He also has a small, but very passionate staff team.

The Mamelodi Y is the only community center for 2 million people. This is amazing given the way the facility is structured. No fitness center, no gym, no pool. It is truly about community programs. They have a distinct vision and they want to serve their community. They shared their strategic plan with us and we hope as a coalition that we can help them achieve their goals. Once again, they are proud of what they do, they are passionate and they are extremely nice and gracious. They are so excited to work with us and we all left with a passion for helping them.

We are now in Durbin in a hotel on the water. It is beautiful here with lots of green, sand, and sea. At 2:45 p.m. we will visit with the national office then have dinner with them. It will be an interesting day ahead. I will write more this week and catch you up on our many travels. Until then, keep us in your thoughts and know that the Y is doing great things everywhere!

- Lisa and Joanie

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