Yesterday was our final day in Cape Town. As we flew back to Johannesburg, I reflected on the sites, tours, and people we encountered which have expanded my understanding of the cultural, historical and political dynamics of this beautiful port city. It's been a whirlwind. Over the last three days I've feasted on some of the best Indian and African food ever (District 6 Guest House, our home for the last 3 days, and Marcos African Restaurant respectively); we visited the bleak terrain of Robben Island, the prison home to Nelson Mandela and other luminaries from the 1960s anti-apartheid leadership; toured The District 6 Museum, which chronicles the apartheid government's forcible removal of some 70,000 people from a thriving multi-cultural community in the 1970s; had a sumptuous lunch at the lovely home of Archbishop and Mrs. Desmond Tutu; engaged in a powerful conversation with 7 young Black women entrepreneurs struggling to elbow their way into Cape Town's white and male dominated business community; visited Table Mountain, the incredible mountain range towering above Cape Town (we didn't go to the top because of dense cloud cover); and finally, just before heading to Cape Town International airport, we met with the director of Nonceba Family Center, a rape crisis and women's shelter in Khayelitsha, the largest Black township outside of Cape Town.
This beautiful, state of the art facility was opened in 2008 (although they have been providing services since 1998) with support generated after the tragic death of a 19-year-old budding filmmaker, Ashley Kaimowitz, who had been introduced to Nonceba while making a film about child rape in Khayelitsha in 2002. (She was killed by a drunk driver in 2005). While the stories of rape, incest and abuse were sickening, many of them sounded hauntingly familiar to the horrors that happen to young children, teenage girls and vulnerable women in the States. But what is disturbingly different: Nonceba is the ONLY such center in all of Khayelitsha, a township of almost a million people.
My take away message was that there is incredible power in one person's stand against injustice. In the mid-90s, the director of Nonceba Family Center, Nocawe Mokayi, was so horrified when a six year old was raped, she was moved to action. Over a decade later, she has created a safe haven for vulnerable, abused children while leading an education revolution to empower young girls and women to heal their wounds.
It is this determination, strength and power that has been demonstrated by women of all walks of life again and again on this trip. Here's to the power of one.