Here are some photos of our trip up to the border:
It may be hard to see, but this is the picture of a little boy on the train who happened to stick his head out from the side of the seats. There were quite a number of babies and little kids on the train, which made it fun during the night when one would cry, then the other would take cue, and eventually became a chorus of blubbering. There was no sleep on the train, at least not for me.
Some of kids would approach us, then run away, approach, run away – it became a fun game for them.
As it appears, a mother and toddler were just a few rows up from me. I waited for quite a while to take a photo of them. Every time I was ready to take a shot, she would magically open her eyes and catch me. I am leary of taking direct photos of people here without asking their permission first, expecially if they have a child. Or, a vender would come through with loud plastic toys, candy, fruit, potatoes, etc. and wake everyne up. Eventually, she fell asleep for a while and I got a couple photos of her and the young tike.
This is Buhle, a Wits student, who was our translator/guide during the trip. She’s phenomenal. Without her, we’d be lost. I think she speaks 8-9 of the 11 official languages in S. Africa and has helped us out tremendously. What she is not good at is driving – in fact, she’s horrible – and riding with her is an adventure by itself. I only feared for my life 407 times during a 15 minute trip, which I guess was an improvement from those that rode with her the day before.
I’m not sure what the name of this boy’s name is. He is from Zimbabwe and illegally crossed the border into S. Africa by way of the Limpopo River. It is an extremely dangerous way to cross into the country because of the crocodiles and hippos that occupy the waters. He and another young boy beg for money and live on roughly 5 Rand/day (which is about 60 cents/U.S.). They don’t have a home or clothes, other than what they were wearing. As you’ll see in the following picture, one of them doesn’t even have shoes.
The two Zimbabwean boys told Buhle the story of how they crossed into S. Africa and what there lives/days have been like since leaving Zimbabwe. What is amazing is that how they now live, which is literally day to day and very dangerous, is preferable to the way life was in Zim.
They approached me and asked if I’d take there photo. I got the feeling that they’d been so neglected and were just glad we’d pay attention to them.
David is a man from Zimbabwe that we met at the border. He was a banker by profession but now has to sell handmade boxes/stands to support his five children back in his home country of Zim. I don’t want to say too much about him because James is going to write a profile on the man. Plus, I think his eyes say plenty. He was a very kind and educated man that deserves more from life than what he’s been dealt. I hope he made it to where he was heading safely.
This is a section of the fence that divides S. Africa and Zim. Border jumpers are constantly cutting holes or digging under it in an attempt to cross over as they flee Zimbabwe. Border patrol/military are positioned along the fence with high powered rifles to squelch the influx of immigrants.
We got to the fence around 5 am one morning hoping to see some crossing over, but were unsuccessful.
As we walked along the border, we happened upon these clothes that were left behind by a jumper. They were likely used to cover the barb/razor wire or left in haste as they ran for safety once on the S. African side.
There will be plenty more pictures and stories to follow.