Ubuntu – like Ubomi – is a Xhosa word. Translated into English, it means community, or even more powerfully, cohesion. But it’s more than just a term in an environment where more always seems to be breaking apart than holding together sustainably: Families are torn apart, huts burn down and collapse, political realities are extremely unstable. But those who are together find support. And that is precisely what makes the community of the people among themselves so strong.
I still remember the feeling I had when I first stood in the Township of Khayelitsha. As an Umlungo (white person) from a rich Western country, I was a stranger and somehow out of place in an environment that lacked everything. And at the same time, I felt very welcome. This community between the people who welcomed me was so vibrant, so warm and intense. The cohesion is so strong that our German words can hardly describe it. That is why we from Ubomi also speak only of Ubuntu.
In the years that I have been on the ground for Ubomi, I have experienced Ubuntu in the most diverse forms and variations: In families, in projects, in entire districts and neighbourhood communities, there is an unshakable cohesion. But not all people also find a home in it. And above all, children who fall out of these communities – usually due to fateful tragedies – are lost. They are no longer cared for or they seek new support – not infrequently in criminal organizations or in bad relationships of dependency.
It is precisely for these children that we want to be there. With our Ubomi houses, we give more than a hundred children and young people a space in which Ubuntu is lived, in which cohesion grows and perspective is created from community. Through the promotion of individual interests and strengths, mutual appreciation and acceptance. And through shared experiences that give them support and create a sense of belonging.
We knew that we could really make a positive difference on the ground. What we didn’t realize was that more than 9,000 kilometres away, virtually on the other side of the world, Ubomi is also creating completely new communities in a wide variety of places in Germany. A cohesion for a good cause.
Stand-up: Paddling across the North Sea for the Townships in Cape Town
For Ubomi lives not only from the founding team and the people on the ground in Khayelitsha, who provide daily warm meals and a place of refuge for neglected and orphaned children from the neighbourhood. But also from those far away who support this – financially, through volunteer work or participation in events.