When I first came to South Africa, I expected it to be a lot like Kenya. A unique blend of rich and poor, a seamless transition from slums to mansions, a rising indigenous middle class navigating the confluence of Western and African cultures…
As it turns out, I was dead wrong.
Here in the province of Kwazulu Natal, the mixing of worlds is much more like oil and water. One minute, I’m using an ATM at a massive urban shopping mall. The next minute I’m standing in a rural Zulu township. For one meal I’m eating a hamburger and for the next, cow tongue (for the curious, it tastes like roast beef… with taste buds).
But the wild dichotomies of South Africa carry far deeper consequences than what I might eat for lunch. In a country that boasts “the tallest water slide in Africa” and “the southern hemisphere’s largest shopping mall,” there is also the greatest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world.
The same country that hosted the 2010 soccer World Cup also counts its annual AIDS deaths in the hundreds of thousands.
For me, this raises a number of difficult questions. Why is HIV/AIDS so prevalent in the richest African nation? How could there be such an enormous gap between the rich and poor? And, most importantly, what is being done about it?
Why We’re Here
That, my friends, is why the World Next Door team is here. Laura, our three summer interns (Brad, Jen and Tyler) and I will be spending all of June and July here in Kwazulu Natal. We will be digging deep into these difficult questions and exploring the amazing work of WND’s newest partner ministries.
Over the next two months, you can expect to read stories of injustice covering everything from the ongoing effects of Apartheid to the difficulties of raising a family of children as a widowed grandmother.
But you’ll also read many stories of hope. Lives being transformed, orphans being loved, widows receiving care… you’ll meet phenomenal leaders who have dedicated their lives to expanding the kingdom of God here in the AIDS epicenter of the world.
Above all, you’ll learn how your life connects to the lives of the people we meet. You’ll be exposed to many new and refreshing ways to get involved. And you will hear Loving South Africa’s vision of how we can stem the tide of HIV in our world today.
One more thing…
Oh, and one more thing. We’ve been working behind the scenes to produce a pilot episode for our newest concept: World Next Door In Motion, the world’s first online social justice travel show (at least, we think it’s the first).
The full pilot episode is coming soon, but for now, here’s a little taste of what’s coming!
An awesome summer
As you can see, it’s going to be an awesome and unforgettable summer. Take a look at the next steps to see how you can get connected and then strap in… It’s going to be a wild ride!
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About the Author: Barry is the founder and director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.