Act 2 Scene 2

Overcoming Obstacles


 Our day in Langrug starts cloudy and cold, but by the end of the day the sun is shining and warming up the side of the mountain. There is a lot of commotion as we have our advisors and only a couple community members with us today. We all have a lot on our agendas, so we get started working right away.


A weekend of planning resulted in a long, but easily accomplished agenda for Monday. We were excited to start working on the Management and Operations Manual for the aftercare programme, but ended up being faced with a bigger issue that slowed our progress.

Cast of Characters


Zwelitsha is a Priority

Upon arriving in Langrug, we are disappointed to see that many of the community members are absent. Mama Poto and Siyanda are both out for medical reasons and many of the others are up at Zwelitsha continuing construction. It appears to be a theme that when the weather is gloomy, but not raining, many community members dedicate their time to construction since it is easier to work. Sizwe goes to talk with Andrew at Zwelitsha while our teams stay put in the facility, coming up with a plan for the day. The Energy Team, who has joined us for the day to learn about electricity and energy usages in Langrug, heads out with Amanda 2, a new member of the community, to explore energy usage in Nobathembu’s crèche.

Only Khungeka and Zodwa are present in the facility with us, but have their own conversation on the side. After about a half an hour of planning and talking, our two teams decide that we need more community members to get work done. Danielle and Kostas head up to Zwelitsha to find Sizwe and try to recruit more members. Scott and Steve are also working with people at the Zwelitsha site, so we are hoping to go to them for guidance.

Shortly after, the Energy Team returns from their mini tour around Langrug. They give us a brief explanation of the energy usage information they discovered while they were working. Additionally, they take the time to introduce us to Amanda 2, who is a new community member we have yet to meet. She will be joining us in our working group starting today! When Danielle and Kostas return, they explain that we have to work with who we have because construction is taking priority today. We are all frustrated, but realize we have to get some work done.

Tension with the Stipend

Kostas explains that the WaSH Biz group is now in charge of helping the community handle the stipend money provided by WPI. The money is being distributed through the Savings Group. We decide to work together since many of the community members working with our team are not in the Savings Group, but are getting paid for working with WPI and want to participate in the conversation about the stipend. Once we start working and getting involved in the process, Scott comes in to tell us that we do not need to be involved in making decisions about the stipends, and should make headway on our own project.

We change plans and move out to the storage bungalow to do some work with Amanda 2 and Mama Thandi. Amanda 2 is a new member to the team who moved to Langrug in August and begins working with WPI today. Since she has no experience with any of our projects, we take time to do introductions and explain exactly what we are hoping to accomplish by the end of our time in Langrug. She speaks beautiful English and appears to be a great asset to our project group.

After about half an hour, our team realizes we are not being as productive as we could be, and we are all interested in the money situation happening in the facility. Amanda 2 and Mama Thandi, the only present community members who could work with us on our project, are also interested to know what’s happening. We agree to continue with more work the next day and move into the facility to listen in on the money management conversation happening with Sizwe, Trevor, Scott, Khungeka, Zodwa, and the WaSH-Biz team.

Meeting with the Community President Trevor

Meeting with the Community President Trevor

There is a feeling of tension as soon as we walk in. Trevor seems to be angry and is aggressively pursuing his point as we take a seat. Luckily everyone is speaking English which helps us understand what is happening. Nathan and Danielle move to finish painting part of the men’s room with Mama Thandi for a little bit while Mollie and Heather remain engaged in the conversation. It is hard to follow and eventually Scott, Sizwe, and Trevor are all speaking at once. Scott makes the point that WPI is paying for community members to speak English when Sizwe and Trevor start speaking in Xhosa. Eventually Scott points out that he, Steve, and Sizwe all need to leave for a meeting. Scott encourages Trevor to stay with the WaSH-Biz team to work through the stipend situation, but once the advisors leave, Trevor makes a quick exit.

The Energy Team waits in the bus for us as our two teams work together to finish creating a list of active members and start figuring out payment for the first two weeks. It is a slightly awkward conversation since we do not feel it is appropriate that we are handling the payment of community members, people with whom we are supposed to be on the same level, but we get it done efficiently and without conflict. Trevor’s help with dividing the money into a daily amount was essential to getting the job done.

Future Plans for the Savings Group

Future Plans for the Savings Group

Soon we all hop in the van for the long ride home and spend most of the drive discussing ideas about how to approach this new addition to the WaSH Biz project. It is a helpful conversation that allows everyone to voice their frustrations and begin thinking of solutions.


Monday was a hard day for our team. We did not have a lot of participation and were extremely frustrated with the way everything was handled. We wanted to make Zwelitsha a priority, but we were also looking to gain momentum with our own project. Our team was also very interested in the stipend situation since we are working mainly with non-Savings Group members, but felt that we were not needed or wanted in that discussion. It was a hard day for us to gain any information, but we are hoping for a better day tomorrow!

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