Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A DREAM COME TRUE

We are here in South Africa, at the beginning of what is planned to be a five-nation tour of World Vision projects seeking to address the suffering of Africans battling the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as the fulfillment of a lifelong dream ... not only to visit such a wonderful and amazing place, but to do it together as father and daughter. What could be better?

And we have come at a truly amazing time. June 16 is celebrated in South Africa as "Youth Day," commemorating the start of the Soweto riots of 1976. The riots were initially sparked by a government edict that all instruction in black schools would be held in the Afrikaans language, the language of white power and privilege here in South Africa. Peaceful student demonstrators were met by police violence, and a number of black schoolchildren were shot by the police. The tragedy brought home to many people within and outside South Africa the brutalities of the Apartheid regime.

Today is June 6 (6/6/06 ... does anyone else feel a little creeped out by that?), 10 days before Youth Day, and it is the beginning of our fourth day in South Africa. I think we have finally overcome the jetlag and are adapting to our surroundings, including "re-learning" how to drive a stickshift when everything left/right is reversed from the way we are normally accustomed.

While it is the beginning of summer at home, near beautiful Seattle, here the winter is coming on. The nights are cool and crisp, but so far the days, though shorter than we are used to, have been warm and sunny. Where we are staying in Roodeport (a busy suburb of Johannesburg), the night air is filled with the smell of many campfires, but in daytime this is nothing but a bustling city that looks for all the world like Los Angeles.

Our transition has been helped by the wonderful and warm staff in World Vision's Southern Africa Regional Office, as well the gracious and dignified people, black and white, who inhabit this beautiful country.

We are so excited because today is our first real day "in the field." The Soweto Townships, site of the original Soweto Riots, are still among the most impoverished ghettos on earth, and World Vision is working hard to help South Africans improve their quality of life there. We are only minutes away from departing for the Townships for a very special youth event, facilitated by World Vision, designed to empower children in our projects to be aware of their rights and able to speak for themselves.

Too often the most vulnerable people on our planet are the ones, like children, who have the least options in speaking out for their own welfare and making their circumstances known. We are grateful that here in South Africa children are being valued and taken seriously and will be very interested to get to know some of these children and their stories, and hopefully be able to share some of these with you in this space, this time tomorrow!

2 comments:

World Vision Staff said...

HI Larry and Amanda,
What an amazing and miraculous adventure you are on. God bless the rest of your trip and keep the posts coming!
-Levi

Larry Short said...

Thanks Levi! Appreciate the comment and glad to know you are checking these! Not sure how often we will be able to.

You'll be happy to know we just got back from Soweto and had an amazing time. Did numerous interviews and about 150 photos. Will try to organize these into a post first thing in the morning!

- Larry