worth: 1. good or important enough to justify (what is specified): advice worth taking; a place worth visiting. 2. having a value of, or equal in value to...
The last two weeks have had their fair share of adventures! As I come to work everyday, I am utterly amazed at what is being done in the fight to end injustice here in South Africa- and what a privilege it is to take part.
Since I last posted, we have presented to several government interfaces including the Western Cape Metro 1 community development workers (CDW), victim assistance workers, and law enforcement officers. The CDW meeting was held in Khayelitsha, one of the Western Cape’s largest townships. The workers there represent the meeting place of government and civil society for some of the most impoverished communities in the areas surrounding Cape Town. The presentation that we gave them has been vetted by the South African counter trafficking coalition (CTC) and includes information about human trafficking, what it looks like globally and here in South Africa, and how these officials can identify and respond to it in their communities. For the first time, I really felt like I could see and hear the disconnect between cultural traditions and the proper implementation of counter-trafficking legislation coming down the pipeline here in South Africa. One example was embodied in the conversation surrounding ukuthwala- a traditional practice in this region that sometimes takes the form of forced marriage between an older man and an underage girl. Our presentation includes a slide about the first trafficking conviction in the Western Cape of a man who ukuthwalad a 14 year old girl (http://ewn.co.za/2014/02/14/Ukuthwala-rapist-gets-22-year-sentence). What ensued was a heated conversation that opened my eyes to so many of the challenges that we [NGOs, government, civil society] have and will continue to face when advancing the prevention and awareness side of human trafficking.
In addition to the prevention presentations, I have also had the opportunity to take part in direct victim assistance. The A21 Campaign South Africa works alongside the Vice Squad (law enforcement) and HAWKS (South African police service’s organized crime division) to place identified victims of trafficking in protective care and to provide any other assistance, as necessary. This last week I took part in identifying victims of trafficking following a police-led brothel raid here in the Western Cape. Face to face with women my age whose backgrounds have positioned them to be easily exploited and abused, I truly realized that what I have said all along really does prove true in these moments. While the numbers and statistics may seem daunting- and while our work may seem a drop in the bucket when thinking about the enormity of this global injustice- this one woman in front of me is worth every dollar that The Lumos Foundation has so generously fronted for me to be here, she’s worth every extra hour that we spend in office researching for her repatriation, and she’s worth the daily reminder that she is loved in the long road of recovery ahead of her. Out of all the amazing sights I have seen while here in Cape Town, the glimmer of hope that I caught in one of these girls’ eyes was the most beautiful to behold. Because of the moments that we spent with her, she now knows she has a way out, her young daughter can now be protected from becoming a victim in the years ahead, and both can share the message of freedom with other women in their world. It is so worth it.
I have one more month here in Cape Town. With what has happened thus far, I can only begin to imagine what will unfold in the days ahead. We will be busy doing school presentations this month and continuing with direct victim assistance and government trainings. If you would like to learn more about The A21 Campaign’s prevention work, please let me know and we can get you the information necessary to present at your school, church, business, or social group. I promise you, it’s worth your time and passion.
SO much love from Cape Town. Thank you for your support and prayers!