Four young black men of the 300+ people present that day are convicted and sentenced to 18 years in jail, but they are released from jail 13 years early. The girl’s parents fly from the U.S. to attend the release hearing, but do not object. Two of the men request a meeting with the parents, and tell them of their goal to help disadvantaged children in townships like they were from.
The parents are moved to forgive the men, believing it to be apartheid that killed their daughter, not the men who cited the killing as a purely political act. The parents are further moved to help the men to carry on the spirit of their daughter’s work in South Africa, and create a foundation toward that end, giving two of the four men jobs at the foundation.
|The kids were fascinated with Martha's blonde hair!|
|An apt representation of my feelings about tour buses. However necessary they may be for getting groups of people around, I'm feeling increasingly imprisoned by them.|
|Siyavuya Maxhama, one of the most compelling kids I've ever met. I'm sure he's not alone.|
I took some pictures of some of the kids (with the requisite showing of the LCD screen), and one kid about 12 engaged me, started asking me questions in fairly good English. Siyavuya had a commanding presence for one of so few years; he was thoughtful and well-spoken, very interested in me, my sons, and the U.S. I learned that he was one of four students that were in the running to win a week-long trip to NYC in mid-October, and he was very, very excited about the potential prospect of winning. It must have been some sort of leadership competition, as he expressed his goal of becoming a leader, and he clearly possessed the qualities of one. Siyavuya led me into the gymnasium, where all the desks from the classrooms had been relocated for testing. He showed me a few classrooms, and then expressed interest in meeting Reade and Tate, the latter of which appeared soon thereafter. Reade also showed up to meet him before we had to leave, and I had a feeling of regret, wanting to stay and learn more of this kid, about his life here in Cape Town.
After leaving the school, we continued on for lunch, oddly returning to Mzoli’s, where the four of us had eaten lunch days before. I took a few people of our group through the process of ordering the meat, leading them through the back where the boys had discovered pig heads in the butcher room, back toward the room where the wood-fired indoor BBQs were, then through the back to where our group congregated to eat. One of the guys at the BBQ talked with me, telling me about how much wood they go through, ultimately offering me his Facebook name and email on a piece of paper, hoping I’d ‘friend’ him. Tafadzwa had immigrated from Zimbabwe a year ago, and had been hoping to find work to allow him to continue University, though currently felt stuck being the self-affirmed “quickest BBQ’er in Africa”. Not sure that’s a good thing unless you like your meat rare, but, I digress.
|Tafadzwa at the helm of the BBQ at Mzoli's.|
|An image I took for Will, one of the college students, for his class on race and ethnicity.|
|Molly the Owl at John Pama Public School, Cape Town, South Africa|
|Yes sir, I too realize that I'm another year older today.|
A bit more about the Amy Biehl Foundation is in order. Needless to say, trying to engage the young minds in South Africa after school, when they’d otherwise have nowhere else productive to go, is a noble task. Their particular method of outreach clearly has long-term positive consequences for the kids they target, the value of which cannot be underestimated. We spoke at length with Kevin Chaplin, Managing director of the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust (as well as The South African Ubuntu Foundation), and several of us had some specific ideas for Kevin in regard to ‘getting the word out’ in this day and age of social networking. If you have any interest whatsoever in helping this amazing network of like-minded people working for the benefit of the poorest of South African populations in Cape Town, you can find more by visiting:
or you can email Kevin directly at:
People often come from the U.S. to volunteer, especially college students during the summer, usually spending either one or three months working at the foundation. I can assure you that it would be a rewarding experience for anyone interested in bettering the lives of children who have few or no one to look up to.