South Africa, Louisville and Power Outages


I read with interest the recent power outage at University of Louisville.  Currently I am on exchange at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg.  I must draft this entry quickly because a scheduled power outage will shut down all electricity at the university for the entire afternoon.  Last night the power was out at my residence from 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m.  As the University of Louisville struggles during these difficult budget times, I wondered what we would do if our power went out every other day.  Some schools in South Africa are actually using coal miner hats with lights to teach the classes!  The best estimate is this will continue until 2012.

 But power shortages are not the only issue that challenges this nation.  Just a month ago students staged protests because the university did not have adequate housing forcing students to share single beds.  Even more alarming, the student newspaper reports 800 people die of HIV/Aids related illnesses every day and that by the time one was done reading the short article four women will have been raped.  They continue to struggle with race relations and how to co-exist.  A recent video of university students (not from Pietermaritzburg) showing students forcing university domestic workers to drink warmed dog food containing urine shows they have a long way to go.

Yet I have found the South Africans very resilient and still full of hope.  Their spirit and desire to attain a better tomorrow gives them strength and is inspiring.  The professors here are making the best of the situation and are still trying to educate their students even though they now need to be even more creative in delivering lectures.  They remain positive even during these challenges.  As I get ready to go into darkness again, it puts some of our problems in perspective.