Recognizing My Privilege in South Africa

Right now I am laying in a bed way too big for just myself, in an apartment in Cape Town, South Africa. I am encompassed by down blankets and fluffy pillows that always seem to be colder on the other side. To the left of me is a power strip that is charging my iPhone 6+ and my Nikon camera, while I am typing this on my tablet. On the ceiling there are three dimmed lights that overhang the massive closet doors. Both sides of the closets are filled with my clothes and shoes. There are several sweaters, sweatshirts, about 8 pairs of blue jeans, over 10 scarves in all different colors, different sized bags for different occasions, and almost 10 pairs of shoes. This is undoubtedly excessive.

Last night I attended a Gala Fundraiser at the Artscape. I was able to walk there due to the fact that my apartment is located in the business district of Cape Town. Had I not been able to walk I would have easily taken out my iPhone 6+ and requested an Uber which requires a valid, working credit card.

I am here in South Africa because people in important positions at Rutgers University and The United States Agency for International Development believed in my research and its potential impact. I have one more semester to complete in order to obtain my Masters degree in Global Affairs, with a concentration in Conflict and Human Rights. I imagine doors will open upon graduation, although I have absolutely no sense of where they will lead.

My point in writing this is simply for self-reflection. However, I decided to post it on Facebook because I firmly believe that it is imperative that we recognize the privileges that have been conferred upon us. Some that we have earned, some we were born with, and others we don’t necessarily deserve at all.

Those who have no bed to lay in. Those who don’t know what it feels like to be engulfed in down blankets, or to flip your pillow over as your face and the coldness of the other side meet. Those who have no cell phone or camera and have never seen themselves after a picture has been taken. Those who have never seen a tablet or iPad. Those who do not have any clothes to fill a non-existing closet. Those with one pair, or no shoes at all. To those whose heels meet with Mother Earth everyday; weather NOT permitting.

To those who I hope benefit from the fundraisers I attend. To those that do not live in the business district. To those that live in the informal settlements and/or in rural areas. To those with no access to credit or banking. To those with no access to clean water or sustainable infrastructure. To those who lack the support of others to believe in their dream. To those who lack opportunities and equal access to education.

To those that are deprived of the feeling that as one door closes, another opens.

This is for you.

Warmest, Lauren K.



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