Soweto – An inspiring and humbling experience!
Today we headed to Soweto, the largest township in South Africa to meet with Pastor Thembe and friends. I am not going to lie, at first we had our doubts about how the meeting would actually go. Thirty people had downgraded to about a dozen, and this dozen was definitely a quiet group. No jokes, no response, and at first no questions…
We were all wondering how quickly this meeting could end, but then something funny happened, one brave Sissie told us a story about how she had stood up for the children in her community who were being sexually abused. She broke the wall of silence, and after that the questions didn’t stop coming. There was absolutely no doubt in any of their minds that modern slavery existed in their backyard. So much to the point that many of them informed us of current trafficking/forced labour/child sex trafficking happening in their area that they knew about.
Instead this group of 12 became passionate and inspired to help fight trafficking. They asked insightful questions about identifying trafficking, receiving support, and where the victims need to go next. They let us know that this is something they urgently need assistance with, and they wanted to know when I was going to come back! I was able to articulate that I needed them to rise up and champion their community, because I as an outsider can not be the one to know what they need – before I had finished speaking they were ready to sign up as volunteers right then and become the champions of the vulnerable in their community!
After we finally were able to drag ourselves away from that awesome meeting, we headed to a part of Soweto where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived, while we were there we had the opportunity to enjoy a little street festival. Today is the first day that the Springboks rugby team is playing a test match in the Soweto stadium! The whole area was pumping with White Afrikaans South Africans in Springbok jerseys eating braai and drinking beer with Black South African’s in Soweto! WHAT AN AMAZING SIGHT, so much significance wrapped up in the whole experience. We also went to visit the Hector Pieterson Museum, and once again wow! The history of South African, which is really so recent, is also just so dynamic and fascinating. I feel like I will never really grasp the complexity of this country, which of course brings me back to why I am so excited to see a new generation of activists rise up in Soweto, also fighting for freedom, but this time on behalf of the modern slaves, the vulnerable and exploited in the community! With such a strong history of fighting for injustice, there is no way that we won’t see amazing things come out of Not For Sale in Soweto! I can’t wait to be a part of it:)