Act 2 Scene 6

“It doesn’t matter where the books come from”


The day begins at the Mandela Park WaSH Facility as usual. The day is bright and sunny and warmer than it has been the past few weeks. Our scene then shifts to the storage bungalow, WaSH-Services’ typical meeting spot.

Later the scene moves to the town of Franschhoek, a small sunny town about a 10-minute drive from Langrug. Locations of interest include the Franschhoek Public Library, a small quiet library located off the main road; Pick n Pay, a local grocery chain; and a small used bookstore called The Treasure House, just off the beaten road but with a wide variety of interesting titles in various languages, including both English and Afrikaans.


We enter the final full week before Thanksgiving with a lot of work still ahead of us. We hope the week can be a productive one because we are about halfway through the term and still have a lot to implement. We are almost finished with the manual for the aftercare programme and the library and are excited to begin implementing them soon.

Cast of Characters


The van approaches the WaSH facility on a sunny day, and we are confused to see another car in the parking spot in front of the facility. We alight from the van and are excited to see many of our co-researchers already there, waiting outside the facility. While we do not find the owner of the car, we talk with the women for a bit. They explain that the facility is not unlocked yet. Steve joins us in conversing with the women while we wait. We recognize most of them and we enjoy casually chatting with them, but two women are new and identify themselves as friends of Amanda 1. They do not participate in the rest of our day, but talk to us for a while before we enter the facility. We wait until Mama Poto and Zodwa come with the keys, about 15 minutes later, and then move into the facility to begin the day.

Defining Our Goals

We begin with agenda planning for the week. Both teams have a lot to accomplish this week, and Steve gladly pipes in to help guide us in making some definitive goals to accomplish by the end of the week, especially in light of how the end of the project is approaching quickly and we will be working only two days next week due to Thanksgiving Break. Some of our goals include finishing library set-up, completing the operations manual for the aftercare (sadly, we still do not have water at the facility so we are unable to consider opening the aftercare), and almost finishing the renovations.

Additionally, we talk briefly about Health Promoters and what day and time works best to schedule the next workshop. The community shares that they prefer morning meetings and Wednesdays work well for them. We agree that morning can work well, and we will see what days of the week are available for George. Our team hopes it is not Wednesday, the day we stay back at the lodge for meetings and writing work, so we can meet with the Health Promoters representatives also, and sit in on a session.

 Trying to Make an Impact

With so much work to do, we move quickly to the storage bungalow, and are soon followed by our co-researcher team. We discuss some things about Health Promoters and what they most recently learned about. Obesity was the topic and the women proudly share what they learned about eating healthy foods in specific portions, and getting more exercise on a daily basis. Amanda 2 shares her experience with trying to teach her family about healthy eating. She says her family said they would try to eat healthier, but have not yet. Siyanda tells us about her experience trying to recruit more people to come to Health Promoters, but because it was in the afternoon, not the morning, her friends came at the wrong time. They called her a liar because they didn’t know the workshop was still taking place, just at a different time. Unfortunately, she felt that she could not share with them what she learned in the session because she had attended without them. We talk about making posters and trying to advertise the correct day and time for Health Promoters going forward.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

Then, we move to talking about how to teach children about healthy habits, and Amanda, Siyanda, and Mama Thandi are very excited. We share ideas about games and activities to play with kids about healthy habits. As a group, we come up with different matching activities and interactive games to help younger children learn about different health topics. Amanda, Siyanda, and Mama Thandi share educational children’s songs and games they know from their childhoods including one that is to the tune of Frere Jacques. The four of us get excited when Amanda 2 begins singing Happy and You Know It, and we all sing along! We have fun trying to learn a song about brushing teeth in Xhosa, showing the women and playing Simon Says, and brainstorming ways to teach and play with kids effectively.

When we are done talking about curricula, we move on to exploring the options of book organisations donating books to communities in need. Siyanda puts it wisely and says, “It doesn’t matter where the books come from, as long as we have books.” We take this as the go ahead to begin talking to everyone about donating books to our little library. Additionally, Steve gives us the go ahead to buy some books and be reimbursed by WPI at a later time. The women begin to get a little distracted, so we take a quick break to eat some Fritos Siyanda shares with us and chat about life for a bit.

When we get back to work, Mollie explains the ECD Forum in Franschhoek, which we learned about recently from Scott and Steve. The ECD Forum is a group of local leaders from crèches and schools that strive to upgrade all early childhood development centers in the area. We explain how we can contact them and if they are interested we can all meet and talk about developing the aftercare programme. The women, especially Siyanda and Amanda, seem genuinely interested, so we are excited to see what they have to say.

Explaining the ECD Forum

Explaining the ECD Forum

 Franschhoek Adventure Time!

Once the WaSH-Biz team returns from Build-it, Mollie, Heather, Danielle, and all the WaSH-Serv co-researchers use the van to go to the Franschhoek Public Library. We want to ask for books to be donated to our library. Although we do not know the address of the organisation, Siyanda is able to guide Jan to the library.

Unfortunately, the library has just started their lunch break and will not re-open again until 2pm. Instead, we walk around town and look for other bookstores in the area. We come across a Pick ‘n’ Pay and treat our co-researchers to some ice cream treats. We have a good time exploring, laughing, taking pictures, and eating ice cream. Eventually, we come across a small, used bookstore called The Treasure House located on just off of the main street. The shop is quiet and small, but has a good selection of both children’s books and health-related books. Amanda 2, Siyanda, and Mama Thandi are very intrigued by a book about healthy eating that relates to what they learned in Health Promoters. Additionally, Danielle finds a young adult novel about Nelson Mandela that the women find interesting. We find six other books that look appealing and get those, too. Mollie takes a moment to pick out a romance novel to show to Mama Thandi, who loves to look at pictures of Heather’s boyfriend and everyone shares a good laugh about it.

Left to Right, Siyanda, Mama Tandi, Amanda 2, Heather, Mollie, and Danielle

Left to Right, Siyanda, Mama Tandi, Amanda 2, Heather, Mollie, and Danielle

Finally we head back to the library, which is open again. The librarian at the front desk, Barry, is very helpful. He seems genuinely interested in helping us with our project, and explains how the library regularly donates to a variety of smaller libraries. He tells us they do not receive as many books as other bigger libraries and therefore the turnaround rate for getting rid of books through donations is slower. He suggests we visit other libraries that are part of this library’s network. Barry proceeds to give us the email of his supervisor to ask about receiving a donation, and shows us the used books the library is currently selling. Unfortunately, none of those books appeal to the team, so we head out and hope the supervisor can help us.

Choosing Books

Choosing Books

Meanwhile, Nathan is back at the WaSH Facility, putting on a second coat of paint on the walls of the women’s bathroom and the posts of the children’s bathroom. Before starting for the day, Mama Victoria, a caretaker who spent a year in Eastern Cape visiting family, returns. She immediately wants to start working and decides to help Nathan paint. Even with the limited time, the two of them are able to paint everything that needed a second coat.

Our team returns from Franschhoek and heads to the storage bungalow where the WaSH-Biz team is wrapping up their Savings Group meeting. We look over the books we got in the facility. In the facility, some local high school students are hanging out and drawing some pictures. They seem intrigued both by the books and also by the prospect of helping us do some art on the walls to help transform the space. We are very excited to involve more community members and to see them excited about the books we have. The WaSH-Biz team finishes up their meeting, and seems very stressed and upset about how the meeting went.

We decide to end our day and head back to the van for the long commute back to the lodge.


This was one of the best days we had so far in Langrug! We began with a lot of planning for the week, and even though we have a lot to do, it seems manageable and our team is determined to get it done. Additionally, the purchasing of the initial books for the library, and plans to try to get more, really inspired people to continue working hard to make the library and aftercare programme successful! We are very pleased about how our work has been going and look forward to continuing it. Our goal is to have as much done as possible by the time we leave for Thanksgiving Break, and after today we feel hopeful that we can get it done!

Evidently, there was a lot of drama for the WaSH-Biz Team and their day was very unproductive. We are sympathetic to their problems, and hope that their drama does not affect the progress of our projects.

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