For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. – Nelson Mandela
March 21: SA Human Rights Day
Every year on March 21, South Africa commemorates the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre by recognizing this day as Human Rights Day. All across the country, museums and historical sites host programs and events that resurface the rich history of this country and turn the spotlight on the plights of injustice that have been overcome with a breathtaking display of tenacity and courage. This whole experience has really been quite profound as the stories that have taken place on this country’s soil create a remarkable stage for the work of freedom to continue. Slavery, although abolished in theory, has certainly not been abolished in practice. Thus, the call to action for this people and so many others can be found in the echoes of Mandela’s quote above- to use the freedom found under his leadership to “… enhance the freedom of others.”
The A21 Campaign has continued to do just that. Over the past several weeks, we have witnessed some really mind-blowing successes in the counter-trafficking world. Just before I sat down to write this blog, I read an article released in Thailand about the rescue of three Thai girls from a brothel here in South Africa. We know from our close connection with the South African police that this rescue was the result of a partnership between Thai police and our South African police. This type of camaraderie has not been seen or demonstrated before, so new territory has been pioneered with the release of this story!
There is also some “epic” cycling happening with Team A21! For the past seven days, cyclers from around the world have been riding in the Cape Epic- the untamed African MTB Race. Our A21 Teams are riding this 718km of mountain terrain and climbing 14,850m to raise awareness and support for victims of human trafficking. While they ride, the A21 schools team has been presenting our prevention material to students in high schools all along the route. This week alone, we presented to over 750 students about human trafficking, what it looks like here in South Africa, and what they can do to protect themselves. We also had the thrill of introducing The A21 Campaign app that I designed for a smart and feature phone program called Mxit. This program will allow us to not only reach young people in developed areas, but also the demographic that resides in impoverished communities all throughout southern Africa. Really really exciting!
Outside of work, I have had some pretty remarkable experiences, as well. We spent human rights day with a very timely and appropriate tour of Robben Island. This is where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners spent a majority of their years in the late 1900’s amidst the revolution to end apartheid in this country. We heard the words of an ex-prisoner and viewed the places in which Mandela drafted documents that would become the fundamental pieces of a new South Africa. We learned of life in the prison then and life on the island today. I left with mental mix of both questions and answers that will have me ruminating for weeks and months ahead.
The excitement will certainly continue now that my family has arrived in South Africa! After 36 hours, they touched down exactly half-way around the globe from our home in Oregon (literally- Klamath Falls is the farthest point from South Africa both latitudinal and longitudinally- crazy). We have the week mapped out in a document that I have titled “Adkisson Family Takes South Africa” 🙂 There should be no lack of fun here!
The Adkisson family’s South Africa survival pack- loaded with biltong, speckled eggs, Milo, Rooibos tea, Nik Naks, Koeksister, BarOne... only some of SA’s favorite fares.
Cannot wait to check back in with you!
Until next week,