I was fortunate enough to have traveled to South Africa back in the spring of 2008. Before arriving, I had sought out many adventures to experience during my six weeks stay. Everything from rugby and cricket games, to helicopter rides, to Great White Shark diving. From the start, I planned on taking in as much of the culture as possible. I came across a few tours that took you through some of the poorest parts of CapeTown. These "townships" actually welcome tourist, and they benefit from every van load that passes through. I figured, what better way to see first hand the struggles that still exist in South Africa? I scheduled my tour for April 6th, 2008. That morning, I was picked up by my tour guide, "Lou". Our first stop, like most other township tours, was the famous District 6 museum. A former "whites only" area, it was once the site of a government-issued force removal of over 60,000 black people. Buildings and neighborhoods were bulldozed, and everyone was forced to relocate. Now the site serves not only as a museum, but as a memorial site for the rebuilding efforts of the community.
After an hour or so at the museum, we were off to the township of Langa. En route, our tour guide pulled over to the side of the road. He explained that this was the Amy Biehl memorial site, the spot where Amy was actually murdered. He explained at length, who Amy Biehl was, what originally brought her to South Africa, the murder, and the political events that followed. Before leaving the memorial site, we learned a little about the Amy Biehl Foundation, and the work her parents continue to do in and around CapeTown. This was the first I had ever heard of Amy Biehl.
As we continued the tour, we finally arrived at the Langa township. I immediately realized that these were the worst living conditions I had ever seen. I couldn't believe that beautiful downtown Cape Town was just a few miles away. It went from the gorgeous waterfront, 5 star hotels, to shacks for as far as you could see.
We visited the local doctor, talked with some locals, and had a chance to spend some time with a few of the young people. This was the most rewarding part of my entire trip to South Africa. These kids had nothing. I couldn't believe they lived in these conditions yet they were all laughing and playing in the streets. They made the most of a single soccer ball and a skipping rope. I felt so welcomed in their neighborhood and enjoyed every second with the kids.
After an hour or so, we said good-bye. I had mixed emotions about leaving Langa that day. I still had half a day ahead of me, including a late lunch downtown, and a tour of the Robben Island prison, where Nelson Mandela (president of the post apartheid government) served most of his 27 year sentence. It was a quiet ride back. I was really taken back that day. I said thanks to Lou, tipped him, and went about the rest of my day.
It wasn't until later on that I got digging around and discovered much more about the Amy Biehl story - the amazing acts of forgiveness that include; Amyís parents supporting the release of the convicted murderers, to later employing them through the Foundation itself. Amy Biehl's father, Peter Biehl stated upon the release of the convicted murderers: "The most important vehicle of reconciliation is open and honest dialogue...we are here to reconcile a human life which was taken without an opportunity for dialogue. When we are finished with this process we must move forward with linked arms."
I also took it upon myself to learn more about the Apartheid Government, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Nelson Mandela, and the current struggles of surrounding countries, such as Zimbabwe. The reality is, South Africa has come a long way, but it is still a third world country. We can all agree that Africa in general needs the worlds help. This site was created for a few reasons - first and foremost, to bring awareness to the Amy Biehl foundation, and to share information relating to the foundations purpose and goals. I have added a link on every page of this site that will direct you to the AmyBiehl.org and AmyBiehl.co.za websites. Here you can learn more about the foundation, shop at their online store, or contact the head office in Cape Town, South Africa. Finally, I hope this site encourages everyone to help in some way. Please refer to the Contribute section, to see how Iím contributing, and how you can help. I chose to help by creating this site. It took a little longer than expected, but I consider this just the start.