As I have said in my previous blogs about my latest adventure, South Africa is sensuous, grand, and diverse, with a sultry vibe that is intoxicating! There is so much to do in this fascinating country, that it would take several visits to really experience everything it has to offer, if that is possible, even for those who call it home.
One of the most memorable experiences we shared while in South Africa March 22-31 2011, was our visit to the Amy Biehl Foundation. The story behind this organization is an inspiring one of pure forgiveness, and an unselfish display of Loving Thy Neighbor.
In 1993, Amy was a Stanford graduate and a Fullbright exchange scholar who was on a 10-month study at The University of Western Cape Community Law Center. The following is an excerpt from the website listed below.
“She helped to develop voter registration programs for South African blacks and women as that nation’s
first all-race elections approached in April, 1994. On August 25, 1993… just three days before she was to return to the US… while Amy was driving
three black colleagues back to Cape Town’s Guguletu Township, a group
of youths pelted her car with stones and forced it to stop. Dozens
of young men then surrounded the car repeating the militant Pan Africanist
Congress chant, “One settler [white person], one bullet!” Amy
was then pulled from the car, struck in the head with a brick as she
tried to flee, and then beaten and stabbed in the heart while she lay
on the ground. During the attack, Amy’s black friends yelled that she
was a “comrade” and friend of black South Africa to no avail. Amy was
carried back to the car after the attack by her friends who then drove
her to the nearest police station where she died. Amy was 26 years
old at the time of her murder.
But Amy did not die in vain, as is so evident at the Amy Biehl Foundation, which was set up by her parents.
“Amy’s parents developed the Amy Biehl Foundation
so that their daughter’s death might produce life in South Africa through
prisoner rehabilitation programs, literacy training and job skills
instruction. “How do we link arms in friendship and do something?” Mr.
Biehl asked a hushed room of journalists during a press conference
in South Africa. “We, the Amy Biehl Foundation, are willing to do
our part as catalysts for social progress. Are you, the community of
South Africa, prepared to do your part? It is one thing to kill
people in the name of freedom and justice; quite another to day-after-day
build a country of educated and responsible citizens through education
and leadership. We shall see how South Africa chooses her future.” 1
|Amy’s legacy is how she led her life. Hers
is a legacy of inspiration, not tragedy. Amy was an extraordinary
example of dedication, perseverance, courage, and compassion.
She lived her life to the fullest, never accepting failure in
any of her pursuits. It was her goal to become the best and
to use her talents to improve the world. She believed it was
her duty, as a person afforded opportunity and education, to
actively seek social change for those not so fortunate. It was
her dedication and courage that continues to inspire so many
people throughout the world.
Amy’s legacy lives inside so many people. It drives her mother
to continue her work and flourishes among the staff of the Amy
Biehl Foundation Trust in Cape Town. Her legacy has inspired
young people in the United States and has been a source of opportunity
to thousands of South African youth. Amy’s legacy thrives in
the hearts of all of us who knew her and thousands of people
she never met who have been inspired by her story. Perhaps most
amazingly, her legacy lives through two men who played a big
role in her death. Today, Ntobeko Peni and Easy Nofemela spread
Amy’s legacy throughout their community in South Africa. It
is their transformation that truly represents the powerful legacy
of Amy Biehl. Their transformation is what Amy was working for.” 2
Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by some of the students with a wonderful musical presentation, and a real sense of excitement that we were there to interact with them.
We were able to visit several classrooms, learn a few dances and songs and make new friends, as our hearts were made bigger. The Amy Biehl Foundation operates after school care programs throughout the Cape Flats, and offers art, music and sports opportunities for the children in many townships. They also have first aid and CPR training, and HIV/Aids Peer Education. The work that is being done here should be an example to the rest of the world of the possibilities to bring about social change and help the less fortunate, as we embrace one another and work together for justice and equality.
The Amy Biehl Foundation is in dire need of financial assistance, and you can visit the foundation’s website listed below to see how you can give back. Also, when we book a trip through Lion World Tours, a portion goes to the Amy Biehl Foundation. As part of your vacation, we can arrange for you to visit as well, and become a part of this inspiring organization.
Our visit to the Amy Biehl Foundation changed my life, and inspired me to be more socially active, with a desire to not just recognize problems, but be part of the solution. I hope this brief description of my experience will inspire you, as well.
My Savvy Vacation
“When good men die their goodness does not perish, but lives though they are
gone. As for the bad, all that was theirs dies and is buried with them.”
1- www.rjgeib.com/heroes/amy/amy.html – thank you for your information and insight
2- www.amybiehl.org/amy.php – may God continue to Bless your work!
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