This is Vicky’s B & B, called South Africa’s smallest hotel.  It’s made the local papers, and while we didn’t meet Vicky herself, we met her daughter.

This hotel is in one of the townships outside Capetown called Khayelitsha.  This, as well as the others we visited on yesterday’s tour are dirt poor, with shanty’s for homes, and rampant unemployment. The children, most of all suffer, since parents may work long hours (and walk miles to and from their jobs in Capetown), or have given up and rely on alcohol to get through the day.

But then you hear about Vicky, a woman I wish I could’ve met, who began this hotel to help the children. Once inside, we were grouped into the common room, and given a little history of the hotel, and then of Vicky’s mission: to bring the children into the city to see the museums and give them a view of the world outside their poor community.  How does she do this?

By inviting tourists into her hotel to visit, take pictures, see the view of town from the second story deck, and to place whatever the guest can afford into a box.  That money is used, her daughter explained, to bring the children on trips to places like Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was kept prisoner for a time (he supposedly was kept at three area prisons over his long incarceration).

How does Vicky decide which children go?  By reviewing the children’s school report cards.  And while this may have seemed like a ploy to work on the sympathies of us visitors, I didn’t mind, and neither did any of the others in my group since we all responded with donations.  I took a business card from the daughter; I asked her if she is going to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and she said “No” without blinking.  “I am going to be a doctor.”

(Area children pose willingly for tourists, probably since it’s an every day occurence, and they gleefully run towards the camera to see the result.  These children may live in a 8 X 6 shanty with as many as 4 or 5 other families.

The government is slowly trying to replace these shantys — which number in the thousands — but it’s a slow process and we were told, “will take years.”)