SAWIP inspires, develops and supports annual teams of interns and its whole alumni body to bring about community development through social projects amongst the most disadvantaged and marginalised South Africans.

lessons from a township creche

by Irene Kim
Irene Kim
musician|photographer|avid sprinkler runner
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on Jun 28 in Experience 0 Comment

t's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something. - Crash: 2004

The 21st century has seen the advent of great technology - today I can connect with people via my Blackberry, stay in contact with a friend from America through Facebook, and just with a click of a button on my laptop, voila! I could be speaking to that very friend from America through Skype. It's absolutely amazing.

But, we have also lost the ability to connect with people outside the technological sphere. I think a lot of the technologically capable world will rather sit behind their pieces of technology connecting with strangers than making the effort to connect with people outside of their sphere. I know that this rings true for myself - indeed - I guess I have lost the ability to connect with others.

How does this work in the context of servant leadership then? How did I learn to reconnect with people?

Below is a piece that I wrote for this photo below as part of an auction for a SAWIP fundraiser. A part of the community service experience - and how I learnt from it all!

Each of the SAWIP team members has to spend a certain amount of hours doing community service. When I first started looking for a suitable project to be involved in, one emotion raced through my head: fear. The fear of not finding a project, the fear of not having the ability to connect with people, the fear of rejection. Confused, I kept on asking myself: “Why, Irene? Why are you fearful? You are a potential leader of South Africa. You are not meant to be fearful!” After talking to others about my fears, I realised that we were all in the same boat.

Lesson number 1: Leaders are also human beings.

After a few weeks of procrastination brought on by my fearful state, I finally found a project. A friend’s mom was working at a crèche in a township on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. My task was to play with the children. But I was fearful yet again. I don’t connect naturally with children - how was I going to be able to connect with children that weren't from the same socioeconomic background as myself?

Lesson number 2: Face the fear.

When I got to the crèche that first Friday afternoon, I was not sure what to expect. As I saw the faces of the children I was going to be playing with, I got more tense. But, once I got inside and started playing with the children, my perspective started to change. It does not matter what circumstances we are in - everyone wants to be loved. And the great thing about love is that anyone can give it. Seeing a child’s face light up when you play with them, or giving them a hug is something to be cherished and worth preserving.

Lesson number 3: Love can go a long way

On one of my last days at the crèche, I decided to take my camera with me to take some photos of the children. The children were ecstatic, always wanting to be in front of the camera. The photo that is being auctioned off today serves as a reminder of why we, as future South African leaders, have to be involved in our communities. In order to know how to change our communities, we need to know what is going on in our communities.

Lesson number 4: Be connected.

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Irene Kim

musician|photographer|avid sprinkler runner


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Guest Friday, 28 August 2015

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