A More Positive Start to Day Two


After a tense first day, we were feeling anxious about what would happen during our second day in Langrug. A routine was started that we begin each day with a morning meeting to share what had been done since yesterday and what everyone felt needed to get done that day. We settled into the wendy house to discuss our plans for Day 2.


Working group, WPI teams, Scott, Bob, Baraka and Sizwe


Wendy house on the morning of 23 October 2012


When we arrived in Langrug on our second day, the settlement was already feeling a little more familiar and a little less overwhelming. The meeting between the Municipality and the community leaders was still going on. Joey ended up not being able to attend the meeting, but Harold, Hendri and Natasha came in his place during overlapping time periods throughout the morning.

Upon the conclusion of the meeting about half an hour after our arrival, the Municipality officials exited the scene as we took their places in the wendy house. Our meeting began with the sharing of the bread and Nutella that we brought, since we figured the community leaders and working group would be hungry after being in meetings all morning. At first, they were hesitant to accept this offer. They asked questions like “Did you guys have a meeting before this too?” as if they wondered if we were going to be eating as well. Once they saw that we were all going to share the food, they felt a lot more comfortable. They shared some biscuits with us, and Sizwe suggested that the men provide drinks (which Scott sent Tim to get from the shop across the street). We passed a few glasses of Coke and orange soda around to share. One of the working group members said she had only had Nutella once before and loved it. We were left wondering if Nutella seemed too rare or upscale for them, as we did not want to come off in that way. It was interesting to see that some of the community members stacked four slices of bread up to eat, which caused us to quickly run out of bread. The community members promptly provided another loaf of bread, which seemed important for them to feel like they were sharing food with us as well.

Once the meeting convened, we were first introduced to a CORC member joining us for the day. His name was Baraka Mwau, a student at the University of Cape Town, and will be joining Sizwe later in the week as well. Almost instantly, we noticed the more positive vibe in the room, especially from Trevor due to the clarity gleaned from his meeting with the Municipality. In the meeting with the Municipality, it was agreed that they would focus on the reblocking of F section and perhaps move forward with the multi-purpose centre. Community leadership realized they need to do their homework concerning costs, logistics and data analysis, which would then be presented to the Municipality. Concerns about the toilets in Zwelitsha were expressed, and Natasha was said to be dealing with this issue. For all of the projects, it is important that all of the available money from the Municipality’s budget be spent before the end of their financial year in June. Trevor expressed interest in taking our teams to visit other informal settlements in the Stellenbosch area to see examples of successful reblocking as well as other types of toilets, a sentiment that Harold had also previously shared with us. Scott took this opportunity to put our time into perspective by clarifying that we will only be working in Langrug less than 30 days, which he was concerned may be too short of a time to plan and implement a project if we’re taking some of those days to visit other settlements. Trevor also shared his desire for clearer definitions of the responsibilities of each of the stakeholders involved, since he’s not sure about the specific roles of the community, CORC and the Municipality.

We then decided to break up into three groups to deal with the different issues that surfaced during the meeting with the Municipality that needed to be defined and researched. The teams consisted of working group members as well as WPI students from each of the two teams and were formed somewhat randomly. The teams dealt with reblocking tasks/cost analysis, multipurpose centre tasks/cost analysis and chemical toilet community opinions in Zwelitsha.


Instead of focusing on the past, the today’s morning meeting felt like we were moving forward. Everyone seemed a lot more positive and willing to be proactive in solving many of Langrug’s problems. By breaking into smaller groups, we felt a greater sense of direction and purpose than the previous day. Today was also our first experience with sharing lunch, which we knew from last year became somewhat of an issue. We could see some of the potential problems that may arise, like what to bring to put on the sandwiches besides peanut butter and jelly and some people taking too many slices. That is something that will need to be figured out when the time comes.