One Street at a Time

After some meetings yesterday, I’m looking at getting back to South Africa again in the not-too-distant future. I know, poor me, right? It is true, my work can sometimes ROCK, and South Africa is one of my very favorite places I have seen (safari game drives should be the way I wake up 365 days a year–truly amazing).

When I was last there, one of the hotels I stayed at in Cape Town was the lovely Table Bay Hotel. I love that this hospitality leader is also leading the way in looking at new ways to facilitate volunteer experiences for their guests (like other frontrunners: brand-wide with Ritz-Carlton Give Back Getaways, Marriott in select cities, several Fairmont properties, Rock Resorts, and more). At the Table Bay, guests are invited to actually make a difference in the “One Street at at Time” project that is helping to rehabilitate and fix up a township, Langa, just outside the city limits. Cleaning, greening, and growing, vacationers in Cape Town can help Langa become a more sustainable, thriving community. The townships around Cape Town are rough places to live: some residents have simple homes, some shared multi-unit apartments, and many live in shacks and sheds cobbled together with tin and cardboard…dirt floors…one spigot of pumped water to serve hundreds…no trash disposal so it is everywhere…shower curtains for a door to approximate a bit of privacy…maybe one electrical cord split and spliced from home to home to keep a bare bulb burning after dark…I’ve not visited Langa specifically, but this was the Cape Town township experience I saw. To commit to bettering these circumstances, even just for a day of an exciting vacation, is a big step forward. Langa—and the townships in general— are the areas where blacks were forced to live under apartheid rule. Langa’s one of the oldest townships in Cape Town, and currently one of the poorest areas of greater Cape Town.

The Table Bay is providing all of the materials, hardware, and labor, that means you, for the first phase of redeveloping a shop-lined Langa street, Harlem Avenue. Painting, building and repairing, cleaning, planting, shoring up foundations, and bringing a new level of finish…and a new level of pride to the district. And THAT is what service travel is all about.

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