Dear CHOSA Volunteers and Graduate Volunteers;
We have not yet met, but I already know that we have something very important in common: we all went to South Africa at some point intending to spend a limited time learning as much as we could about a country in the throes of an exciting political and social transition, but we all came away with much more than we bargained for.
The experience of working at the coal-face of social transformation – in communities of the poor and oppressed, where the seeds of a better world are sown daily whenever people who have nothing to gain from the way things are come together to imagine the way things might be – is unforgettable. There are few places in the world right now more engaged in processes of social transformation – both forward and backward, ne? – than South Africa. And the connections we forge with people we join in those processes are deeper and more real than many of the social connections we will make in other areas of our lives.
It’s pretty hard to “leave” South Africa behind, for sure. I should know. I returned to the US about three years ago after living there for 14 years, and I could not be more excited about my new job as CHOSA’s Fundraising Coordinator, which offers me a way to maintain my connection to the country that is still the home of my heart. I am especially excited about the chance to connect with all of you, who share my passion for South Africa’s future – and for the children who will build it!
I know that some of you have been back at home and “varsity” for a few years now since your time in Cape Town, and you have been doing great work in your continued efforts to support CHOSA. I have learned from Jared and Ellen about some really creative fundraising work you have done, and will be very interested to learn more from you about these experiences, and any other ideas you might have for how we can work together to ensure that CHOSA’s work – and the work of the community projects it supports – continues.
I spent my time in South Africa working as a journalist, and later as a land and media activist with various poor and landless communities struggling to overturn South Africa’s legacy of land dispossession. I also worked in partnership with various community organisations waging similar struggles in different parts of the country – and during that time had a chance to see some of the exciting work then underway in parts of Khayelitsha, so I know something about the inspirational people you all left behind!
Now that I’m back in the US, and far away from those communities, I know that one of the most important contributions I can make to South Africa’s future is to help mobilise resources to allow special kinds of social transformation projects – those that really value democratic, community-led processes – to continue and flourish. But as we all know – it takes a village! So I will be counting on all of you to help me spread the word about the important contributions that people in the US can make to South Africa’s inspiring next generation – with just a few dollars, nogal!
One of my first priorities will be getting to know you, and finding out from you what kind of support you need to grow your efforts to support CHOSA, and to keep connecting and re-connecting with the communities you learned so much from during your time in South Africa. I look forward to meeting many of you and to working together with you to ensure CHOSA’s continuity.