They say you’ve never been to Soweto if you haven’t seen the Orlando Towers that can be viewed from all corners of the massive urban neighborhood filled with over fifty townships in Johannesburg. The Orlando Towers are a symbol of racial discrimination that was systemic until the fall of apartheid in the early 1990s. The coal towers powered the white area of Johannesburg in the 1950s and the townships remained without electricity until the 1980s. That systematic discrimination colors the disparities that are felt even still throughout Jozi, as many of the locals call it. HIV/AIDS rates are highest among the black population. Teenage pregnancy, poverty, rape, and unemployment are rife, especially in the townships. Despite these poverty indicators, there is an emerging black middle class in South Africa that can also be felt as you make your way through the city and even out in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs. Things are indeed getting better despite the decades of racism and classism.
I was in South Africa on the Social Good Moms’ second insight trip of year. I visited Africa’s southernmost country for a week with Global Team of 200 Member and Social Good Mom, Elizabeth Atalay. Early during our visit we got an overview of the city and then later in the week we met with Rebecca’s Well, a women’s collective with programs in both the Soweto and Alexandra townships, met with ONE.org in their Johannesburg office and also met with Marie Stopes and visited their Gandhi Square office in Johannesburg.
Next week I will share in-depth stories about our visits. In the meantime – here are a few photos from our time in South Africa.