Beth has filled you in predominately on what we’ve been up to and how the project is progressing, so I won’t go over the plan for our next two week. I’m going to reflect back on what we’ve done and how far we’ve come.
I love South Africa. I love the people, I love the scenery, I love the culture. These two weeks so far have been absolutely incredible and it’s so difficult to even begin to explain the journey we’ve been on.
Before we left, we knew that we wanted to reduce rape in South Africa through an educational programme but really we had no proper plan of how we were going to do this and if it was even possible and if anyone would be able to help us.
The adventure started with long flights but we arrived safely in Durban. We were instantly overwhelmed with the openness and generosity of the people at World Changers. We met what felt like 30000 people with names that we couldn’t even begin to remember, but they were welcoming and they provided incredible food! It’s easy to not appreciate things like this when you are tired and hungry but the welcome that we received was so real and genuine. A lot of these people have now come to be true friends in such a short amount of time due to their friendliness and passion.
Our first morning in SA involved a conversation with Mark who runs world changers. It is so clear that the Academy does incredible work with huge numbers of young people and makes a massive difference. Something so simple as (insert programme things here), that we would overlook is so important to these people. As much as we complain about the UK education system and its many flaws, we underappreciate the amount of soft skills that we are taught from a young age.
In the afternoon we went to see the Jes Foord Foundation. This was a turning point in our journey as we found people who are as passionate at ending rape as we are. Jes Foord was raped in 2008 and has devoted the last 7 years to educating students and providing counselling to rape survivors. After listening to her talk, we explained our idea and Jes and Trish, who runs the foundation, jumped at the chance to be part of it. Jes’ story is harrowing, I won’t include the details here but a simple google search will provide you with it. I am still in awe of how strong she is. To be able to keep telling her story over and over must begin to take its toll but she believes that her message is bigger that her and I truly understand that. For those of you who do not know, I was raped when I was 15, although the circumstances were different, the feelings are the same. I didn’t know how this project was going to affect me, the last few weeks have been tough as everything that is to do with the project brings back reminders, but this project is bigger than me. Through this project, I can prevent other people having to go through what I’ve been through and what Jes has been through and what a person went through in the last 17 seconds.
I won’t go into all the details of everything we’ve done and everyone that we’ve met over the last two weeks, but it’s clear that we have seen so much of the good that is happening in Durban. Jenny Chetty, Joe White and his wife Sma, NK, and many others are just a few who are doing important work in many different fields, helping so many people, and changing South Africa for the better. Although most of what we’ve seen has being incredible and I have completely fallen for the country, it is clear that there are problems that need addressing. Obviously rape is one of these, but youth unemployment is currently sitting at 70% and the entrepreneur numbers are extraordinarily low compared to other developing African countries and these issues are being addressed by many of the incredible people we’ve met. Additionally, we’ve visited townships and seen how the poor communities live. The Western culture that we’ve been raised in suggests that these people should not be happy about their situation, it actually appears, that on the surface at least, they have a positive outlook and are so enthusiastic about life. In a session with Jenny, I said that I aspire to be a force of nature, it is clear to me now that the South African people are a force of nature and we should all aspire to be as unembarrassedly enthusiastic as the people that we’ve met here are.
In terms of the project, it is so clear that this is going to work now. There is a huge amount of work to be done and it will take years before the entirety of South Africa is educated on this issue, but we can significantly reduce the amount of rape cases here. The talent of the people at Jemotech studios will reach global audiences and the world will listen to the South Africans about their rape crisis. Rape can be stopped and we are part of the solution. You can also be part of the solution by donating to our cause and by tweeting, reblogging, sharing, even just talking about it begins the discussion that we need to create. Be part of the solution.