We have made significant progress on the Munsieville Needs Assessment. After several drafts and two field tests, a final version of the survey was created. Our survey covers 11 topics that include health indicators such as housing, income, health behavior, and reproductive health. Our specific questions aim at health attitudes, general health knowledge and accessibility to health care and government services.
As we continue with the Munsieville Model, we must evaluate other settlements in the area for additional or alternative sites for Project Hope to establish programs. With the help of a local minister and director of a substance abuse center, Dave Gardner, another American, we have established contacts in Randfontein, a nearby city. We were introduced to Lucky, an eccentric Obama fanatic that is also the political representative of all of the informal settlements in one of the wards of the West Rand district.
The settlements have political representation as elected town officials of the general Randfontein elections and representatives for each individual settlement. We have been able to do a rapid needs assessment of Master, Jabulane, and Elandsvlei Klein, all settlements in Lucky's ward. We have been working with the Jabulane tribal leader, Brother Gideon, who acts as an interpreter and guide of the settlements.
Project Hope is most interested in Zenzele, an informal settlement on the edge of Randfontein. After spending an entire day counting each of the 2,350 shacks by hand, we estimate that the Zenzele population is approximately 11,000. We take the low estimate of each household having 5 people to approximate the population.
The Project Hope staff of Glenn, Betty, Engelinah, Eva, and me, spent two long days interviewing two households from each of the 35 streets in the settlement. We plan to analyze the data collected from the surveys early next week. Many of the residents were curious why we did not interview each house. They thought that we were like other organizations that offer free gifts or handouts to only those who participate in our survey.
We assured them that we chose the houses at random and did not need to interview everyone to get a general idea of what the population as a whole would need. We explained and asked them to spread the news that once we reviewed the answers that the people gave, Project Hope would be more likely to establish health programs within their community. The people of the townships are weary of "program representatives" making promises to pull them out of poverty.
We were told that some groups, even religious ones, could have ulterior motives like giving food to those who agree to be members of their church. We explain that Project Hope wants to include the community in every step of our health intervention and plan to give them complete control over anything we establish within a few years.
Project Hope's aim is to target the health of children. The settlements are full of small children playing in the dusty clay streets. They run through the dirt roads full of garbage and debris as if totally unaware that they deserve so much more. Many children make toys from the scraps around them. Kites made of plastic grocery bags and metal coat hangers and little race cars also made of hangers with plastic soda bottle tops or sliced soda cans for wheels. Many of the little girls play hopscotch and four squares with lines made in the dirt. Big groups of children get together and play dodge ball for hours.
Many pro-apartheid or truly ignorant White Afrikaans say the Blacks like to live in the townships and don't want to move to better homes. From what I have witnessed first hand the Blacks do like their friends and families living close to them and the general neighborhood camaraderie but they do not like living in squalor, hunger, and substandard housing. I am reminded of a commercial citing "Human Right #25: Food and Shelter for All." The people of the informal settlements have very little of both. Hopefully with the help of programs like Project Hope, the forgotten communities of South Africa will gain access to all human rights.