On Saturday I went downtown with my roommate Amanda to meet Muhammed Ali, a Darfur refugee she met the other day. He’s really amazing; he was a doctor in Darfur, and he was imprisoned by the rebels when he continued to practice and to help all injured people/anyone who needed to help. While in prison, he was tortured and God only knows all of his experiences. He was fortunate enough to escape, at which point he literally ran through the jungles to seek refuge in South Africa, sneaking across the border as he didn’t have passport or anything of the sort. SA has a policy that permits all Darfur refugees to remain here, so he is allowed to remain here as he tries to rebuild his life. Currently he is selling his and others’ art downtown to help pay for necessities while he is earning his Masters in Public Health. Though he is no longer a “practicing” doctor per se, he continues to help all sorts of street and poor people in the area that can’t afford health care when they fall ill.
On Sunday we went to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for the sunset concerts that they have there all summer. We got there early so we could wander around the vast, beautiful gardens at the base of Table Mountain before picnicking at the concert. The Rudimentals were playing that night, a ska band that’s pretty big here. It was a very fun time, will definitely be doing it again.
Today, Monday, was the first official day of classes. It went pretty well, and my courses should be relatively interesting. Tonight Graham and Claire had a big party at their house since Graham’s sisters, Sandy and Sharon, were both in town from India and California, respectively. It was a blast; their whole family was there, plus all their friends, so it was a huge party. I obviously didn’t know hardly anyone, but it was very fun, and it was kinda cool to be on the opposite side of things for once – it was interesting to see what people experience when they come to my family holidays! Graham and the family were warning me initially about how there’d be so many people and they’d all be curious about me so I’d be kinda in the spotlight, but then they’d say that actually it shouldn’t be too bad, that it probably wouldn’t be anything compared to my family’s gatherings and that I’d be used to it! Lol, I guess I do come from a bit of a sizeable, rambunctious family, don’t I…
Claire made bobotie for the party, a traditional Cape Malay dish that was positively amazing. It was kind of like meat loaf, but better. She also made ice cream. When I left they insisted on sending home leftovers with me – clearly the concept of the poor, hungry college student is universal, and I was glad to have them!