Scene 4: Meeting Nobathembu


Since we are working on improving the current WaSH facility while planning a facility in Zwelitsha, it is essential for us to accomplish several tasks simultaneously. The team split into two; one to research prices of improvements at the local hardware store and another to finish our assessment with the caretakers and establish a relationship with Nobathembu, a significant character for the next few weeks. While community leaders Trevor and Alfred were out of town, we were able to learn more from Nobathembu. We hope Nobathembu can help us facilitate communication with the community and form a group of co-researchers from Zwelitsha to move our work forward.

Cast of Characters:

Nobathembu – a crèche and community leader

Victoria – one of the 3 facility caretakers

Kholeka- member of the 2012 Working Team

WPI Students


WaSH facility


We arrive in Langrug around noon and are greeted by Victoria and Kholeka at the facility.


Nobathembu arrives shortly after. Although we had met her on Friday, this was the first time we got to sit down and talk to her one-on-one. Morgan and Joe leave to check out the materials at the local hardware store and Ivette and Mackenzie stay at the facility to gather usage data and talk to the women. Nobathembu is quiet with them at first, but once they start talking to her she is friendly and animated.

The WPI team learns that Nobathembu lives in Zwelitsha. She decided to start a crèche in the community because she heard a calling from God. Her passion for both her work in the crèche and her role in the community are evident as she speaks about the children in the community and takes notes on ideas and important meetings in her planner.

Kholeka was not very shy. In the first 20 minutes of meeting the WaSH team, Kholeka pulled out her cellphone and showed them pictures of her mother, sisters, son, and boyfriend. Kholeka lives in Mandela Park, however her boyfriend lives in Zwelitsha so she stays there often. Her son lives with her mother in the Eastern Cape. Both women spoke about the sanitation in Zwelitsha, and the fact that most community members opt to use the nearby bush rather than walk to a facility in E-section. The nearest facility is both too far away and overflows to the point of no usability over the weekend. They also talked about the dangers of snakes when using the bushes, and how people in the community would certainly opt to use a new facility rather than continue to use the bushes. When the team asked Kholeka what she would like to see in the new facility, Kholeka made a point to not offer her opinion since she was not a permanent resident of Zwelitsha. She said that only community members should have a say on the subject.

The women also mentioned that four community members had taken a trip to see the Enviro Loo facility on Signal Hill, and they had a positive response to it. Additionally, those community members came back and told their neighbors that the facility was nice, so people in Zwelitsha are aware that an Enviro Loo facility may be in their future and they are not opposed to it.

Reflection and Learning:

Hearing from Nobathembu and Kholeka about their experiences with sanitation in Zwelitsha gave our project a sense of purpose. The fact that they as well as other community members use the bushes to urinate and defecate because they have no other option was disturbing to hear. It was good to hear that community members are enthusiastic about the possibility of an Enviro Loo facility because being on the same page as the community is essential in our work.