As promised, I’ve been working on processing the first few days of our time here in CPT.
Here’s a thing that struck me. It struck me strongly and quickly. On our tour of Langa Township, our guide Khonaye commented on the children running around. “You’ll notice they’re everywhere,” he said. “Children here will play 5, 6 blocks away from their homes without danger.”
They don’t need to worry about abduction, molestation or violence, he told us.
The community policed itself.
We stood incredulous. Why don’t they have to worry? How does the community police itself?
“If someone does something, there is vigilante justice.”
Let that one settle in.
Now, I’m no proponent of vigilanteism, and I’m all for following the letter of the law. That said, the most heinous thing I can fathom is a crime against a child.
Here, where three families would co-habitate in one room, the children were safe.
In the suburbs of some of the squeaky cleanest of America’s communities, parents forbid their children from crossing the street alone.
Amber Alerts happen too frequently. They happen at all.
In Philadelphia, violence directly impacts my learners with a disturbing regularity.
This is not to sugar-coat things. One of the first things Captonians will tell you is their city has the most violent crime in the world. Mugging stories are omnipresent.
Still, within the cobbled together communities where corrugated metal is a frequent building material, the children can play safely.
It’s far from perfect, but it’s striking.
Given such community protection of the children, where is the ire when thieves steal entire labs worth of computers or dig up and steal the wiring and ethernet cable? These tools offer gateways allowing learners access to the rest of the world. Ignoring computers, where is the community fundraising to provide pencils, paper, books and erasers so that teachers can create gateways allowing access to the worlds that exist within learners’ own minds?
I’m not dictating what should be done. I’ve seen the dangers of outsiders pronouncing edicts for improvement on existing systems.
What I’m trying to do here is think aloud to bridge the disconnect going on in my mind.
Nothing is simple.