Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Preparing for South Africa

This is Poomla. She was a staff person with Illita Labuntu. Her job was basically community education and awareness. It is amazing that I remember her name even though I was last there in 1994.

That is me at the far left with the staff of Illita Labuntu. If I recall, they had a picture of Malcolm X, AKA El Hajj Malik Shabazz on the wall. I remembered thinking, "hmmm" and was impressed with them even more.
This was a drawing hanging on the wall at Illita Labuntu depicting two individuals in the throes of violence that cycles through so many of our lives, encroaching on our happiness and our ability to function at an optimum level.
As I begin to prepare for my trip to South Africa next year I am renewing contacts and going through photo albums thinking about my previous experience. In the picture above the woman on the right is Mandisa, the Director of Illita Labuntu. On the left was the only male, and they jokingly called him their token male. Mandisa is holding a t-shirt that I gave her from the National Black Women's Health Project's HIV/AIDS campaign. The shirt was very popular everywhere I went. It reads: "You can get a new man but you can't get a new life." I have always thought how powerful that statement is. It gets at the heart of sometimes how we sacrifice our lives for those we love because we are so used to giving ourselves away as if we have no value or worth. However, that observation in no way seeks to minimize the violence that oftentimes serves to keep women in relationships. However, the emotional ties to partners that sometimes is stronger than our self interests and self love because we are so conditioned as women to be care takers of others and to put everyone else first so that it becomes second nature. Some of that socialization also results in us becoming dependent on others emotionally as we may find that we are dependent on them economically.
South Africa was my first real field research trip and I experienced the grass roots fund raising process I call scrounging around to get funds. I received small amounts of funds from various sources such as the Department of Health and Human Services out of Washington, DC, the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation, and the Unitarian Universalist Association to conduct a month of field research on violence against women.
While at the Rape Crisis Centre in Cape Town, the staff told me about a sister, Mandisa, that had previously worked with them and then had started an NGO in one of the black townships, either Gugalatu or Khailetcha. The NGO was named Ilita Labuntu. I recently googled Mandisa and discovered to my delight that she is still carrying on the work of educating the community about violence against women. At that time they had a youth component that trained the young people as peer mediators in their schools.
Keep your eyes and ears tuned to this blog as I begin to introduce you to some of the individuals that I was fortunate enough to meet in 1994 and that I am communicating with as I prepare for 2008.
Blessed Be!

No comments: