Mlungu on my stoep

MAMELODI - An affluent white family has decided to spend a month living in a Mamelodi shack.

Julian and Ena Hewitt together with their two children left the comfort of their Wapadrand plot in Pretoria to experience everyday life in a South African township.

A white family doing the laundry and cooking is not a common sight in this Pretoria informal settlement

But for the past two weeks this family of four has been part of the community

The Hewitts are living in a shack here in Mamelodi, next door to their domestic worker for the month of August.

They want to experience first-hand the hardships experienced by so many South Africans so they can better understand the lives of those less fortunate than they are.

"We live in different worlds in South Africa, we live in different pockets where we’re unaware of what goes on around us and we feel that firstly empathy is crucial to a thriving democracy," said Ena Hewitt.

"We want our children to grow up in this country and we don’t want them to be unaware of the way people live so its an eye-opener for us and for them.

"It's more about changing ourselves than it is about changing anyone else."

As a real estate agent and Alan Gray employee, this couple is comfortable managing money.

However, with a R3,000 budget for the month, the Hewitts are struggling to keep up with the cost of daily living and even turned to solar heating as a cheaper way to prepare meals.

"It takes two hours to cook a meal on a primice instead of ten twenty minutes," said Julian Hewitt.

Leah Nkambule has been a domestic worker for the Hewitts for the past four years and is pleased that her employers are experiencing her lifestyle.

"They have everything, a plot, a farm, cows and sheep. I couldn’t believe that such established people would be able to live in Mamelodi," said Nkambule.

"But I’m so happy that they can live here, and see my life and be part of this community."

While some have dismissed the Hewitts' decision to move to Mamelodi as pretentious, they believe the lifestyle exchange will make them a better family, and better South Africans.

For daily updates of their experience, visit The Mamelodi Month blog.

- eNCA

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