Interview with Yolanda

Friday, November 14th

We first met Yolanda while we were waiting for Auntie Marie in Flamingo. As Yolanda was walking passed us, a Flamingo team member told us, “You should talk to her. She is great.” This began our conversation with her. Although we did not speak for a long time, we still got a lot of useful information and got to know her. Her sweetness, open-mindedness, and effort to make her community a better place truly impressed us.

Yolanda was born and spent her childhood in a big house, but for reasons undisclosed to us, she moved to this informal settlement and has been living here since then. Since two years ago, many organizations have been helping Flamingo to re-block the community. The new shacks are all finished, electricity is coming soon, and a crèche is ready to be built. As a community member, Yolanda has been watching these changes in her community and adapting these in her life. When we asked her about whether she was excited about these changes in her community, she started tearing up: “I didn’t use to live like this. I am not used to this.”

Yolanda then told us she was very excited for the coming electricity: “I am going to cook a big meal on my electric stove.” She pointed at a gulley which looked like a metal tank with a metal grate on top to support the pot and explained to us how it works. Most community members use this kind of stove to burn wood, which is cheaper than paraffin, gas, and electricity. However, the smoke from the stove was very heavy and dark, so it had to be used outdoors. It also took a long time to burn the wood and bring it to the cooking temperature. While using the gulley, someone needs to keep an eye on it to make sure the fire does not go out or lose control since the whole shack can be burned down easily. The one she was pointing at was being used to boil water while we were talking. The lady who was boiling the water sat next to the stove, gazing into the air and looking bored.

We asked Yolanda what was her favorite meal. She laughed and told us it was curry. She usually spends two hours cooking every day for herself and her daughter. While we were talking about the food we usually cook in America, Auntie Marie came and was ready for her interview. We thanked Yolanda for all the information she provided us and wished her the best.