Act 2 Scene 7

Realizing our Humanity


Our day was spent in the storage bungalow on a hot, sunny day in Langrug, sitting in a circle together.


WaSH-Biz had a very unproductive and rough day with their co-researchers the day before. As a result, their team made a joint decision with the advisors to not spend the day in Langrug. Their hope was to make a statement about the quality of behavior and respect within their co-researcher group. Our team makes the decision to continue working on our project with our co-researchers, since we did not face the same issues as WaSH-Biz. We are all apprehensive about the day and hope to continue moving our project forward despite the setbacks WaSH Biz is facing within the community.

Cast of Characters


Preparing for the Worst

We approach Langrug anxious to see how the community will react to WaSH Biz’s absence. We have discussed our plan to start working right away and hopefully bring our co-researchers to the store should things get awkward or hostile with the WaSH-Biz co-researchers. As usual, Sizwe accompanies us to Langrug and we hope that he will be helpful in explaining the situation and diffusing any potential anger over a lost day of work. Although we do not think this will be an issue, we want to be prepared for any kind of situation.

As we get out of the van, it is apparent that the community members are confused. Amanda 1 and Nomahala head to the store right after the van pulls up, and our team goes to sit with Siyanda, Amanda 2, and Mama Thandi by the entrance to the WaSH Facility. Sizwe takes the opportunity to move into the storage bungalow to talk with the ladies about what happened the previous day and Danielle eventually moves to listen in on the conversation. The rest of our team moves into the facility and starts measuring for the library shelves we are hoping to start today.

Siyanda, Amanda 2, and Mama Thandi start talking in Xhosa about what is happening with the other WaSH team. Mollie and Heather begin to briefly discuss it with them, but are interrupted by Zodwa entering the facility. She talks to Siyanda and Amanda 2 in Xhosa then asks if everyone could join them in the storage bungalow to talk about what happened with WaSH-Biz. We are all very nervous, but want to get the issues on the table as much as possible in order to improve community dynamics and project productivity.

Establishing Our Feelings

After we all settle into our seats, Sizwe begins the discussion by repeating the contents of the email WaSH-Biz sent to him last night stating their issues and concerns with their co-researchers. Siyanda asks whether our group feels the same and we immediately clarify that the issues are not within our team, but do affect the WaSH group as a whole. Siyanda, Amanda 2, and Mama Thandi seem relieved at this news, and the conversation continues.

Led by Sizwe, we begin by discussing general group dynamics. Zodwa explains her perspective saying she thought they were working well together before the Savings Group meeting. Once that meeting started, there was a lot of bickering and childish antics about whether the five of them in the Savings Group would move up to Zwelitsha where the other two members were working, or if the Zwelitsha crowd should move down here. This argument completely stalled the productivity of the day and caused WaSH-Biz to get upset with the community. The ladies begin apologizing to us and saying, “it will never happen again.” Danielle makes a point to ask the community how they would feel driving every day to come work on a project with such motivation and excitement only to be completely unproductive because people are unwilling to work together. It is clear that the ladies are very apologetic and are upset with themselves for disappointing WaSH-Biz.

A Different Type of Meeting

A Different Type of Meeting

Working Through Community Dynamics

The discussion shifts to how the community can begin working out their own problems which are the cause of the problems like the unproductive Savings Group Meeting. Siyanda explains that there is a lot of drama between community members, especially those in the Savings Group. She continues by saying there is a lack of communication between group members and that they need to leave their personal issues at the door in order to progress the project in the short amount of time the students are here. Danielle gives the example of how she and Nathan have had many arguments in the past, but they don’t let it affect the community and their project work in Langrug. The ladies are surprised by what she says and tell us they never would have known. It is definitely a wake-up call for them. We go through all the behavior issues WaSH-Biz was experiencing including arriving to meetings and work drunk, leaving for a significant amount of time without any explanation, being absent without a legitimate reason, and having an unclear working time.

Communication Across Languages

Next, Sizwe brings up the issue of language with the group. WaSH Biz explained that they felt disconnected from conversations because their group would begin speaking Xhosa without any translation. Sizwe explains that while we need them to speak English, it also gets hard for the community members to comprehend our English when we have side conversations or speak really fast. Heather, Danielle, and Mollie discuss the dynamics within the Services group, explaining that we do not feel we have an issue with the language as much because Siyanda or Amanda always translates for us if they have conversations in Xhosa. Sizwe also shares an interesting piece of information. He tells us that in Xhosa, ideas and topics are repeated several times before the person talking feels his/her point has been reached. The students have felt like they aren’t getting all of the information when long conversations go on and Sizwe or another community member translates a single sentence, but this is just how the Xhosa language operates. This is very eye-opening for us and we feel much more at ease with the way conversation has been flowing over the course of this term. We also talk about how we need to ask for English more outright during conversations and that the community needs to ask for Xhosa as well. We agree to be more open about communicating.

Who Are You?

Our conversation then moves into a much more emotional and personal space. Sizwe decides to lead an open session for us to learn about each other and begin “respecting our humanity.” A lot of the problems community members are stating are that they sometimes feel like they are being talked about and laughed at behind their backs. He wants us to connect with the community in our struggles and experiences, as well as our project goals, and for everyone to be more open and trusting with each other. For the next two hours or so, we begin learning about each other’s pasts and the reasons each of us act the way we do. Mama Thandi begins crying early on, but soon most of us are crying and really opening up to each other in a new and beautiful way. Amanda 2, Siyanda, Mama Thandi, and Sizwe are brave enough to share their stories and Zodwa explains she does not feel she can share her struggles after hearing those of others because hers feel so small in comparison. Mama Poto asks if the conversation can end after a couple hours because she is getting a headache and her blood pressure is rising, but Sizwe and Zodwa mention how the information they are learning about each other is incredibly useful, and the conversation should continue a bit longer. We encourage everyone to share their stories, answering Sizwe’s overarching questions, “Who are you?”

Connecting Through Prayer

Closing Prayer

Closing Prayer

We end our discussion by standing together in a circle holding hands with our eyes closed. Nathan leads us in a prayer in English, thanking God for our project, the experiences we have had apart that have led us to this moment, and to the experiences we have had together. Siyanda then performs a prayer in Xhosa that is passionate and loud. Sniffles are heard throughout the prayers and finally we all open our eyes. Before heading out for the day, we exchange some light conversation and hugs and agree to start anew on Thursday with WaSH-Biz as well. Nathan talks briefly with Alfred outside and mentions how Alfred mentions how he never knew those personal details about his co-workers, seeming to view them with more compassion. Our group heads out shortly afterward and talks about what happened for part of the car ride. We are all emotionally exhausted and soon we all fall asleep.


Even though we didn’t make much progress on our project goals for the week, our team felt extremely lucky to have been a part of this conversation. We learned so much about the women we work with and loved getting the chance to experience their stories. Our group really hopes this conversation will lead to better team dynamics for the WaSH Biz team, but also for the WaSH Group as a whole. Now that everyone understands where each other is coming from, we are hopeful that the Savings Group will have less quarrels. We are looking forward to continuing with our project on Thursday and can’t wait to see the way the improved dynamic when we arrive!

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