Scene 1: Alfred’s Worries


Throughout our project, building close relationships with community leaders is essential to learn about the needs and wants of the community. Trevor and Alfred are active representatives of the Langrug community; so we hoped they would help us form a Zwelitsha team this past week. Trevor and Alfred were not around due to other commitments we learned about later. Fortunately, Nobathembu, creche owner and active community member, formed a Zwelitsha co-researcher team in their absence. In this scene, Joe writes about a moment he shared with Alfred after he returned from this trip. Joe’s experience sheds light on the dynamic role of a community leader.


A shack in F Section

Cast of Characters:

Victoria – one of the caretakers at the WaSH facility

Hendri – a representative from the Municipality

Alfred, Trevor, Joe


When we were in Langrug last Thursday, Hendri was visiting to assess the progress of a shack that was being built.  Victoria was taking Hendri to the site and invited me to come along.

The shack was being built for someone who had been relocated from Zwelitsha.  They were currently living on a plot of land that the community wanted to use for a crèche.  The municipality was providing them with a new shack in exchange for their relocation for this community space.

The corrugated walls gleamed in the sunlight, standing out from the nearby shacks.  A mound of dirt blocked the entrance to the shack, and the inside looked unfinished.  After taking some pictures, Hendri left, seemingly unsatisfied.  Victoria and I followed.  I didn’t fully understand what I had witnessed.

On Monday, Trevor and Alfred were back.  They were in Pretoria at a conference the previous week, which had hindered our progress that week.  Now that they were back, we were hoping that they could help us communicate with our co-researchers.  We were fairly disappointed.  Trevor and Alfred seemed unaware that we were promised co-researchers from Zwelitsha, and kept leaving us to talk to other people.  With only three working weeks left, we were starting get a little anxious.

While we were completing an activity with the women at the facility, Alfred pulled me aside and asked if I could take a walk with him.  He seemed upset, not his usual cheery self.  I followed, and found him taking me to the shack I had visited with Victoria and Hendri.  No progress had been made since I had last seen it.  Alfred explained that he was responsible for having this shack built.  He had built the framework and tasked two community members with the rest of construction.  When he was in Pretoria, they had called him telling him that they had finished.  He in turn called Baraka and the Municipality telling them that it was done.  We walked around the structure while Alfred pointed out flaws in the little that was constructed. He sighed, angry that he now looks like a liar, and asked rhetorically what he was supposed to do about this. I didn’t know what to tell him.  We walked back to the WaSH facility in silence.


While we need as much support from Alfred and Trevor as we can get, this scene reminded us that as the leaders of Langrug they have many other tasks and worries beyond our project.  I got an inside look into Alfred’s leadership cares that he doesn’t always reveal.  It will be important to remember that they have other commitments to the community, and use our time with them effectively.