Scene 1: First Encounter with Maitland Garden Village (MGV)

Cast of Characters: Ronell, Sheila, MGV Team


During A term the team did some extensive preparation for our arrival in Cape Town and in particular our work in Maitland Garden Village. Part of the planning phase focused on how we hoped our first week would go and in particular our first meeting with our sponsors – Ronell and Shelia. Through our skype conversation and emails exchanged the group got a very basic understanding of what the project might entail. It was our hopes that once entering Maitland Garden Village we would get a clearer vison of what exactly it is we will be doing. We hoped that our Sponsors would be able to give us direction and guidance on what they wanted us to accomplish. We were concerned that it wasn’t going to be that easy though. We knew that it was very likely our sponsors didn’t have an exact picture of what they wanted. For this reason we figured we would begin our journey by getting to know our sponsors and the community they are a part of. Then we could work our way towards the more details of the project.


During A term preparation the group created a chart of first week plans. For our first visit to Maitland Garden Village the team planned to focus on getting to know the community and in particular our sponsors. As a result we called Ronell and told her to meet us in the soccer field which is in the center of MGV. From there we hoped that Shelia and she could give us a tour of the Village. While doing so we wanted to ask them basic questions about their lives. We decided we would take pictures as we walked around the community, using each one as a conversation starter. Ronell and Shelia could describe to us what we are taking pictures, and in turn we would become more acquainted with the community.

Key “Take Home” Observations:

  • Working with the Green Light Project and helping it to become an official CBO may help to put MGV on the map.
  • Associating ourselves with Ronell and Shelia will help us connect with the community as well as hopefully get the community more willing to assist us in our project

Actions and Observations:

Our journey began with a taxi ride into Maitland Garden Village. When we asked the taxi driver to take us to the village, he stared blankly. This was our very first impression of MGV. Though only a 15 minute drive from where we were staying, he had never heard of the community and had no idea where to find it. We instantly got a better understanding of the small village and how difficult it must be for the community to find its voice in such a big country.

The taxi driver pulled up to a large soccer field inside of MGV giving us our first glimpse of the village. We had seen pictures, but you can’t truly experience a place without visiting it and taking in the smells, sounds, atmosphere and visuals that a camera could never fully capture. Kids were playing soccer on the field and enjoying the beautiful weather. Buildings surrounded the field with community members sitting outside in small groups. Our presence seemed to quickly spread throughout the community as we stood in the field waiting for Ronell and Shelia to arrive. Community members emerged from various places and walked by us giving curious glances and polite smiles. Others peered out of their windows and over their fenced gardens to observe us newcomers. We stood out in the small coloured community so there was no wonder as to why the community members couldn’t help but stare.

Though people were obviously curious, we didn’t feel threatened. No one approached us directly demanding to know why we were there or who we were. A few of the community members walked closer to the group smiling and attempting a quick hello before wandering away.

Once Ronell and Shelia arrived the mood quickly shifted. Both women were extremely outgoing and pleased to see us. No longer was the group on edge. The two women shook every one’s hands and attempted to learn each individual’s names. They laughed and joked welcoming us to MGV and promising that by the end of our stay we would become honorary members of the community. Ronell and Shelia’s presence also put the community members at ease. They could now see we had a purpose for being there. Though people were still staring and curious, they looked more relaxed and accepting of our sudden arrival.

Reflection and Learning:

Our first encounter with the community of Maitland Garden Village was a very positive one. Once Ronell and Shelia arrived it was clear that we were welcome in MGV. This is very important for our project. In order to work with people in the community we need them to trust us and want us to be there. As we get to know the community better it will become clearer to us how our presence will help them to move forward with the work they have already accomplished. We are excited for this process to begin through our interviews and conversations with the community members.

To go on to the next scene, click here!


Act 1 Main Page

Cast of Characters

MGV Homepage