AlgonquinCollegeLogo Small World - Big Picture
Part One: From Jan 8th 2007 - Jan 13th 2007
Jan 8th – 10th

In Johannesburg / Soweto
- Visiting Alexandria Township
- Apartheid Museum
- Life in Soweto

Jan 11th – 14th

In Help Lesotho - LESOTHO

Part Two: From Jan 14th - Jan 19th
Jan 14th In Cape Town
- Visiting Bush Radio
- Zip Zap Circus
- Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
- Cotlands Orphanage
Jan 18th - 19th In Robben Island
- History of Robben Island
- End of Expedition Ceremony

Learn more about the places to be visited by the Expedition Team:

Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg, a world class African city, is the largest and richest city in South Africa. It was in 1886 that an unemployed minor found some traces of gold in this region. Following this, people from all over the world moved to Johannesburg or Joburg as they call it, to be part of this lucrative gold mining industry. Johannesburg transformed from a small shanty town into a busy and modern city, known to many as the ‘Gold Capital of the World.’ Over the years, Johannesburg has become the economic nucleus of South Africa. The city is bustling with high-rise buildings, theatres, museums, cafes, street markets and shopping centres. However, because of South Africa’s history of apartheid, the city was divided into different parts for the whites and the blacks. The city is trying to integrate the wealthy ‘white’ neighbourhoods in the north with the ‘black’ townships in the south.
Johannesburg is a city full of history and character. There is a lot to explore in Johannesburg, from its peoples, the culture and the society as a whole. Join us once we arrive in Johannesburg to see what South Africa’s commercial centre has to offer! As well, we will visit the Apartheid Museum where we will all learn the history of apartheid.

For more information, please visit:
  • Alexandria Township
We plan to visit The Gogo’s Sewing Project in this township. This project is supported by the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Information about the project will follow shortly.

For more information about this project, please visit:
Soweto, South Africa
Soweto, which lies to the south of Johannesburg, is not only the most populous black urban residential area in South Africa, but it is also the most metropolitan township. The township of Soweto was formed as a result of the segregation that took place during the apartheid era. Soweto, established in the early 1900s, was created to mainly shelter black workers, who worked in the mines and other industries in the city of Johannesburg. The inner parts of Johannesburg were reserved for the white population. Over the years, Soweto grew in size as more and more townships were built within the area. There are about 32 townships which make up Soweto to-date. The oldest township in Soweto is Klipspruit, established in 1904. Soweto is currently home to some two million people.
There are some recurrent problems in Soweto such as poor housing and infrastructure, overcrowding and unemployment. But over the past few years, improvements have been taking place as better houses are being built. There is a lot to see in Soweto. Did you know that the home of former President Nelson Mandela is in Soweto?  Visiting this town will tell us a lot about South Africa’s apartheid history. Join us as we go back in time to learn about Soweto, its history and culture.

For more information about Soweto, please visit:

  • Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is known as the most excellent museum in the world dealing with South Africa’s 20th century history. At the heart of this history lies the apartheid story, which is showcased in this museum. Both the rise and fall of this era is captured in the museum. There are numerous provocative film footage, photographs, text panels and artifacts showing the events and human stories of apartheid.

We will have the opportunity to visit this museum and see the series of 22 individual exhibition areas. It will be a very dramatic and emotional journey about this state-sanctioned system that was based on racial discrimination. Apartheid is a part of history we have to understand and visiting this museum will open all of our eyes to a story that remains untold in many parts of the world.

For more information, please visit:

Kimberley, South Africa
When it comes to diamonds, the first town to come in mind is Kimberley, in South Africa. In 1871, diamonds were found on a small hill, Colesberg Koppie, which later became Kimberley. Thousands of men came to this area in search of diamonds. Once they finished digging the hill, they continued on digging; the outcome was a big hole. Did you know that this hole is the largest man-made hole in the world? It is this hole that produced the celebrated Star of Africa; an 83.5 carat diamond. A small shantytown of tents was built as people settled while searching for diamonds. Over the years, as an increasing amount of people moved to this area, the small shantytown grew to become the town of Kimberley. The big hole, which is located in the middle of the town, is now dormant, after having produced 14.5 million carats of diamonds from 28 million tons of ‘blue ground.’
Our time in Kimberley will be spent visiting the Big Hole and other mining operations. We may get the opportunity to meet some miners and talk to them about their work, their work conditions, the safety issues and much more. Be sure to follow the expedition to learn about the mining industry in this part of the world!

For more information, please visit:

Cape Town, South Africa
In the South African province of Western Cape lies the beautiful city of Cape Town, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. In the early days when traders traveled by boat, Cape Town was an important stopping point. Traders traveled around Africa on the spice route to and from Asia. They stopped at Cape Town to replenish their ships, as well as trade with the locals. Over the years, more and more traders, mainly Europeans, settled in this part of South Africa. As a result, Cape Town evolved to me a cultural melting pot of different cultures from different backgrounds. Cape Town is filled with shops, cafes, markets and artists, to just name a few. The city is filled with historic buildings of Dutch and English architecture as many of them settled in this area.

Be sure to join us as we learn about Cape Town, its history and its peoples. We have also selected four different organizations that we plan to visit; Bush Radio, Zip Zap Circus, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and the Cotlands Orphanage. Find out how these organizations are making a difference in Cape Town!

For more information, please visit:

  • Bush Radio
Bush Radio 89.5 fm in Cape Town is known as the Mother of Community Radio in Africa. Bush Radio has a long history. In the late 1980s, an organization called the Cassette Education Trust (CASET) was interested in the development of an alternative audio communications system. They recorded information onto cassettes in radio format and distributed them in townships in and around Cape Town. They wanted to inform and educate the poor on issues they knew little about. These issues included literacy, hygiene, health and some relevant political issues. Between 1991 and 1995, CASET worked hard to establish itself as a community radio facility but it faced various obstacles. In 1992, CASET dissolved as an organization and emerged as an aspirant community radio initiative adopting the name Bush Radio from the Bush College (later University of Western Cape). As their license applications were rejected, they began broadcasting illegally and this did not last long. In 1995, they were granted a license at last, after years of struggles. Finally, Bush Radio has made it to the airwaves where the expression of the people can be heard.

Radio Bush is helping to build democracy by providing hot news, high drama and allowing the local people to express themselves freely. At the same time, Bush Radio also produces some educational programs. As we visit Bush Radio, you will get an opportunity to learn about their history, their programs and the work they do to keep their station alive. Stay tuned as we visit Bush Radio in Cape Town!

For more information, please visit:

  • Zip Zap Circus School

Cape Town is home to the Zip Zap Circus School; a unique organization that uses the challenging medium of circus arts training and performance for the purpose of educational outreach and youth development of the South African children. The School also provides skilled riggers and stunt performers for businesses and the film industry. The students at this school, aged between eight to eighteen years, come from a variety of backgrounds. While some are wealthy and gifted students, others are homeless and poor. Zip Zap allows the students to learn from each other, from languages and cultures to tolerance, mutual respect and trust. Segregation is not tolerated at Zip Zap. After all, Circus is a place of magic; a place where one can be different and original at the same time. According to the founders of Zip Zap, this circus school represents their vision of the New South Africa.

Once we are in Cape Town, we will spend some time at the Zip Zap Circus School. You will get to hear the children tell us their stories, what they love about the school and their future plans! Maybe they will teach us a few things about self-esteem, self-confidence, self-expression and mutual respect! Join us at Zip Zap Circus School…where ordinary children do extraordinary things.

For more information, please visit:

  • Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital

In South Africa, the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is the only remaining dedicated comprehensive pediatric hospital. It is solely involved in providing care for children and over the years, it has built enormous expertise in the areas of pediatric diagnostics, treatment and health care delivery. Because of this, many undergraduate and postgraduate medical students, as well as pediatric health care providers (physiotherapists, child psychologists, speech and occupational therapists) are all trained here. The hospital provides several services including education of children, parents and community health workers in issues such as HIV/AIDS, family planning and contraception, dehydration and nutrition.

As we visit Cape Town, we will pay this hospital a visit. Do you want to how the hospital is and how the families and children feel about the hospital? We will give you all the answers once we visit the hospital!

For more information, please visit:

  • Cotlands Orphanage

In 1936, Cotlands was established as a care centre for unwed mothers and their infants. In the last decade, the organization has evolved to become a shelter for the abused, abandoned and HIV-positive terminally ill children from birth to nine years of age. This change in responsibilities is the result of the changes and needs of the South African society. South Africa is identified as one of the countries with the highest numbers of HIV/AIDS infected people in the world. As more people die from this pandemic, an increasing amount of children are left uncared for. HIV/AIDS is creating an increasing amount of AIDS orphans and child-headed households. Organizations such as Cotlands are addressing some aspects of the changes in the South African society. Cotlands services eight communities and impacts more than 1500 families directly, through their home-based care, or indirectly, through outreach and counseling.

The orphanage has three main areas; the Sanctuary, the Hospice and the Educare Centre. The Sanctuary is the home of the abandoned, abused, neglected and HIV/AIDS children. There are a number of baby units, a Television Room as well as a small dining area. The terminally ill babies and small children are looked after in the Hospice. With a TV Corner, a kitchen and a garden, families and volunteers can spend some quality time with their loved ones. The Educare Centre has three classes where children learn about different things; the Toddler Unit, Grade 00 and Grade 0.
We will visit the Cotlands Orphanage to share all the work of the organization and its progress. We may have the opportunity to talk to some of the children, their families and volunteers to hear how this organization is making a difference in the communities? Follow the expedition to hear their stories.

For more information, please visit:

Robben Island, South Africa

Off the coast of Cape Town lies Robben Island; the island that Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for 18 years. This island is known for being a prison for political activists during the era of apartheid. In fact, for nearly 400 years, this island has been a place for exile, isolate and imprisonment. In 1999, it was declared a World Heritage Site and is now a conservation area, home to the Robben Island Museum. Did you know that former inmates often lead tours around their old cells? This emotional journey for them, as well as for the visitors, allows for a deeper understanding of their history. Robben Island has some wildlife; from the diverse birds to seals and great white sharks. The cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the strong currents helped to deter the prisoners from swimming to the mainland.

While in Robben Island we will tell you the stories of this island. If you want to hear the stories of former political activists that were prisoners on this island, stay tuned!

For more information, please visit:
End of Expedition
Our last stop of our expedition is Robben Island and to mark this end, we will have a benefit concert with some local South African and Canadian artists. Check this section for updates on our End of Expedition ceremony!