Winter School Review of Community Solidarity Accommodation

KC JOURNAL NO 31 November/December 2012

Juliet Kabe* report on the meeting with communities about the solidarity accommodation they provide for the Khanya Winter School.

The solidarity accommodation, based on community support, is becoming a feature of the Winter School. This began in 2010, when Khanya experienced its financial crisis. The solidarity accommodation has assisted Khanya in holding the Winter School and keeping the school cost-effective. The issue has since developed politically, and is part of Khanya’s orientation to movement building that arose out of our debates and discussions with communities to build sustainable resources and increase the responsibility and accountability of activists and movements. This includes reducing dependency on donor funding and using resources sustainably and increasing accountability. Khanya therefore values the ownership and contribution of communities towards making the Winter School possible.

This year a total of 58 participants (26 females and 28 males) were accommodated in the solidarity accommodation provided by communities. This represented more than half of the school’s participants (57%), in particular those from out of town. Khanya assists communities with basic food packs and a small amount for electricity as well as providing transport to and from the school on a daily basis.

Meeting with hosts

A meeting was held on 20 October with the community hosts to thank them and to review their experience of the school and their interaction with the school’s delegates and to plan for 2013. The meeting was attended by 29 people (10 males and 19 females). The hosts were overwhelmingly positive about their participation in the school and volunteered to continue hosting delegates in 2013. Furthermore, there is an agreement between Khanya and communities to prepare and organise the accommodation earlier. The meeting also discussed some of the challenges they encountered and proposals to improve the situation. The hosts related their  experiences of the school and had the following to say:

# “We were disturbed because we arrived early to fetch delegates but they arrived late and we left Khanya late at night. However, the person who stayed with me was from Zimbabwe and we shared a lot. She spoke about life in Zimbabwe and the difficulties that they experienced there. I shared food with her and I didn’t want her to just eat oats for breakfast. She was my visitor and she shared things with me. She mentioned the fact that some people were not happy to stay with communities at the start of the school but afterwards they enjoyed themselves.”

# “We need to pack the food that Khanya provides better as some things spilt and were wasted. The people did not have enough blankets. They were good guys. In the morning everyone sat around the heater because it was cold. I enjoyed the school and we used to discuss what happened at the school till late at night.”

# “I had the best people, Hanna and Katerina from Sweden. They were so humble and they felt they had to be at my level. They did not want me to make them soup and we watched the Olympics together and walked around the neighborhood. I showed them the Green boxes used by the [local] government to cut electricity to the people and they took pictures. I was sad to see them go. They gave me seeds, something I never thought of, and now I’m growing my own vegetables. They sent me pictures and a DVD of their work in Cape Town.”

# “I hosted two people and my mother would cook Putu (maize) for them. They had love for people and we got used to them. We would sit and talk with my 84 yearold mother – they accepted her as their Grandmother. They were so well behaved and they still call me and they want to come back. They bought my mum a cord for boiling water in a bucket.”

# “I’m very happy about Khanya. Khanya works for the people. Khanya even came to pick up a person who was ill and took her to the doctor. Mathilda and Rachel stayed with me and we discussed our lives. I would cook bones stew and porridge for them. I wish even the old could go to the Winter School. I also want to go to Cape Town, to see all the struggles they spoke about.”

# “I hosted two ladies and I had no problems with them and we would socialise together. The two of them broke the toilet seat and they did not tell me. I was hurt by the fact that they kept quiet. I was sad when they left.”

# “I want to thank Khanya because they recognise [acknowledge] us. Khanya invites us after events to assess things, others we work with, never recognise us. It’s wonderful for you to recognise us. We take the people we host as our family members. We spoke everyday and discussed politics, and what they did about evictions. One was my age, another was my children’s age. The young one spoke of the need to end capitalism and I was impressed by this. Even tomorrow, please allow me to host codes. We are not after money. The relationships we form mean that we interact with each other and we learn from each other.”

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