August 7, 2008

Visit to a Shantytown

Posted: 06:30 PM ET
CNN's Soledad O'Brien plays with children in Diepsloot while Journey for Change participant Laura DiFilippi takes her picture.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien plays with children in Diepsloot while Journey for Change participant Laura DiFilippi takes her picture.

Soledad O'Brien
CNN Special Correspondent

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Diepsloot is a massive shantytown on the northern edge of Johannesburg, about 30 minutes from the city center.

Cornelius Xulu, a project coordinator with Hope Worldwide points over a low hill to show me the scope of these thousands upon thousands of shacks, made of tin and wood and brick. Many are collapsing, with gaping holes and sagging ceilings.

Cornelius guesses the shack-city goes for 3 miles one direction and several miles the other - an indication of how entrenched the poverty is in this section of the city.

In the shantytowns the poor often pay rent for four tin walls, a mud floor and no utilities.
Here a shack can cost about 350 to 700 rand per month ($47 – $93 USD), which means many families are often too poor to buy food or clothing.

It is in Diepsloot where we start our fifth morning in South Africa, delivering bags of rice, boxes of soup, and packages of toothbrushes to the grannies - women who are raising their grandchildren because their own children have died.

The kids from Bushwick are excited. They've quickly grown to love the act of giving, and there are playful tussles over the soccer balls and toys to hand out to the small children who line the narrow and dusty streets.

Filed under: Journey for Change • Soledad OBrien

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Denese Hall   August 7th, 2008 9:55 pm ET

I am sure the childrens outlook on life and "material things" has changed drastically. I'm sure by now they are realizing that what they think of as a need is really a want. This is truly a journey that will bring about a change in the hearts and minds of the participants. The memories they will return with are priceless.

Its amazing how a thought can become reality!!! Thank you Malaak!!

polchomi   September 19th, 2008 11:00 pm ET

This time it is for real,"trillion of dollars" going down the drain.When America catches cold, third world countries got pneumonia,and the impact of the financial meltdown will be felt by everybody,especially the struggling economy of the poor countries of the world.Too much materialism and greed ! mend your ways and back to basic.RPNT !

cheritycall   October 27th, 2008 5:37 pm ET

Hi, Do something to help the hungry people from Africa and India,
I made this blog about that subject:

linda chapman   November 19th, 2008 3:42 pm ET

What can we as individuals do to help? I'm on limited income yet my heart goes out to these children.

G. Mack   October 23rd, 2010 3:34 pm ET

Soledad, I thank you for reporting on the lives of minorities in America (Black and Latino). However, I'm really interested in knowing more about the lives of white Americans. Since they are the majority race, it would be enlightening to know how they fare during these economic times, and what problems they're experiencing from the global economy, etc. Since it appears to be in vogue to keep a watch over minorities, wouldn't it equally informative to know how well off the majority may be living in comparison-if that's the case.

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