Rarely will you hear a story like Amy Biehl's story. It's a story that many people are drawn to immediately,
and one that I personally share with whoever will listen. In building this site, I've had the privilege of talking
to people from all over the world, most of whom have been decided to help in some way too. Its been amazing sharing
stories, hearing about visits to South Africa, first hand accounts of working with the Amy Biehl Foundation,
and the many stories of meeting Linda Biehl. Please enjoy the following contributions.
If you wish to share a story, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"On a recent trip to Cape Town I visited Mr. Kevin Chaplin and the staff of the Amy Biehl Foundation (ABF). Following a brief visit to the ABF offices to learn about the Foundation's history and meet the team, I visited the ABF Memorial site, the greenhouse garden project and the after-school care programs in the Guglethu area. I was very impressed with the work of the ABF and the level of dedication shown by the staff. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provided support to the Amy Biehl Foundation through their Capacity Building Technical Assistance Fund (CBTAF). The purpose of the project was to build the human resource capacity of the organization to improve service delivery, organizational and strategic planning capacity, as well as enhance fundraising skills and awareness of alternative sources of funding." - Adèle Dion - Canadian High Commissioner
"My name is Gabi Sulcas. In the second half of 2008 I had the opportunity to run a series of drama workshops at one of the Amy Biehl Foundation's after school programmes in Crossroads. I had never been to Crossroads before, so it was interesting to discover a new part of my city. However, the real joy of the experience came out of working with an excited group of youngsters who were keen to express themselves through the medium of drama. In our sessions we did many activities including role-play, choral speaking, improvisation and mask-making. I'm not sure who had more fun - me or the kids! It was a real honour to be involved in on of the Amy Biehl Foundation's incredibly positive, important programmes."
She was not a top recruit but did improve tremendously and became the leader on a very good team. One thing I remember was Amy at the beginning of practice on the mats. We have what we call "mat chats" when the divers stretch before practice and we discuss issues-- she was just so informed and extremely intelligent. I truly enjoyed our chats.
A second memory was what I've always thought was one of Amy's greatest qualities. Her ability to make you feel you were the most important person or activity at that moment--even when you knew she was equally committed to academics or a boy friend etc. She always made you feel you were the most important.
Another memory that depicted her dedication was (if I remember correctly) that it took this great student an extra quarter to finish Stanford. Why? She majored in IR and needed to spend a quarter overseas. The diving season is fall and winter so she could have gone overseas any spring and summer quarter (as several divers had done) but not Amy--she was not going to miss off season training!
There are just so many more "Amy stories" I could go on for pages—but simply put-- I still always tell every freshman class about Amy and what a special women she was."
"My name is Nora Kennelly. From July to December of 2010 I lived, studied, and volunteered in Cape Town, South Africa. I traveled to South Africa with my college, Marquette University from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I studied at the University of the Western Cape I worked with the Amy Biehl Foundation. Twice a week I participated in the Youth Reading program as well as the sports after school program. My mornings were spent at Mkhanyiseli Primary school in Nyanga. A classroom of ten grade 7 students. During class we primarily worked through a required text, Whitney's Kiss. The book would later appear on their end of the year assessments. We worked through usually a chapter per session. We played vocabulary and trivia games to keep things interesting. We also worked in important social issues in present day South Africa. The students were energetic and excited; they rarely came to class with bad attitudes. In the afternoon I switched to Nomlinganiselo Primary School just a few blocks away. A fellow Marquette student, Brian, and I taught an English class Monday to Wednesday. On Monday we joint taught, Brian continued Tuesday, and I wrapped up on Wednesday. Brian and I sought out this class to fill a time gap before the after school program began so we had more freedom in regards to lesson plans. We primarily focused on writing development. We spent the term developing student essays. Each class we went over essay principals and then worked with the students in class on their essays. This class was very different from my morning class primarily due to this class containing forty plus learners. It was a great opportunity to see what it was really like for a South African teacher and how to manage class size. Finally, I participated in sports after school program with a boys football/soccer team. Usually we played pick up games but towards the end of my time the Amy Biehl Foundation Mini-League was established. Every Wednesday schools from the surrounding townships would travel to participate in a primary school league. The boys were so excited every week to put on matching uniforms and play regulation matches. They seemed to have so much fun the few times we were rained out was very sad. Overall my South African experience was intimately connected to the incredible experience I had working with the Amy Biehl Foundation. From the learners to other volunteers invaluable relationships were formed; I consider myself to be very blessed."
"My name is Brian Harper and I am a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. My road to the Amy Biehl Foundation came through a service learning program that my university offers in Cape Town. Each student who participates is placed at a site (typically an NGO or school) where they work two days each week in addition to taking classes at the University of the Western Cape. I was fortunate enough to work at the Amy Biehl Foundation, which allowed me to work for both an NGO and a school.
There is real power to the story of the reconciliation that took place between Amy’s parents and the people responsible for her death. Just as compelling is that this reconciliation is a continued effort to change the world as it is into the world as it should be. This is manifested in the foundation's programs designed to provide opportunities for under-privileged youths in Cape Town's townships, drawing them away from negative influences like drugs and gang violence and in turn helping them to grow in new and exciting ways. My role in this process was as a teacher at two schools in Nyanga township. Two days each week I would teach reading lessons to a group of 6th and 7th graders at St. Mary's Primary School, English to a group of 7th graders at Nomlinganiselo Primary School and guitar lessons to a group of students from various schools in an after-school program at Nomlinganiselo.
One of the most refreshing aspects of my work was seeing the students behave like kids would anywhere--they liked to use their cell phones and talk during class and asked me on a field trip if we could go shopping when my plan was to simply go to a museum exhibit. Though this could be frustrating as a teacher, it taught me that there are border-transcending qualities that children all over the world share. And just as we believe that every child in the United States deserves a good education and decent opportunities to succeed in life because such things are fundamental human rights, so it follows that every child in South Africa or anywhere else in the world deserves the same. The Amy Biehl Foundation recognizes that we live in an imperfect world where not every child is afforded these opportunities. The Biehls, foundation staff and volunteers deserve the utmost credit for trying to give students who might not otherwise have such opportunities just what they deserve: a chance.
I feel very blessed to have worked with the dedicated ABF staff, volunteers and students. I was truly inspired by the tenacity my students showed, whether in writing essays in an unfamiliar format, reading challenging material or learning to play the guitar. This experience changed my life in incalculable ways, and I would not trade it for anything."
"My name is Christina Luchetta and I am a graduate from the University of Notre Dame. I studied abroad through Marquette University's service learning program in Cape Town the Spring of my junior year. I studied at the University of the Western Cape in the Institute for Social Development while interning at the Amy Biehl Foundation for about 5 months. The forgiveness that the Biehl's expressed is one that many people would say is impossible, yet they serve as a very real example that it is in fact humanly possible. The Biehl's forgiveness allowed for a dual transformation both for their own ability to cope with the death of their daughter as well as for 2 of the men involved in Amy's death. As an intern, I saw these transformations first hand as I personally worked with Easy and Ntobeko who are now working for the foundation. Easy and Ntobeko know best the lives of the kids in townships as they grew up there themselves. While interning, I taught 6th and 7th graders in the Young Readers Role Model program and then in the afternoon I would teach Foundation Phase basic English and math) to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders at a primary school in the after school program. The kids were absolutely amazing and lovable...I can't wait to make it back to Cape Town one day. My experience would not have been as incredible as it was without being apart of the Amy's legacy--their story of forgiveness is an inspiration to everyone who hears it and should be looked to as an example we all can strive towards."
"My name is Margaret Collard. My connection to Amy is that I met her in 7th grade at Calvin C. Capshaw Junior High School. She'd just moved to Santa Fe, NM and was new in town. We became pals and ended up going to lunch every day together for most of our last three years of high school. A best friend, in sum. After I visited her twice up at Stanford during college (I was at Occidental in LA), we decided over margaritas in San Francisco to move East together after graduation. We lived together in DC until she left for South Africa in 1992. I put her in a cab for the airport! She was always an amazing friend to me. I miss her terribly to this day. Interestingly, last week my 10-year-old daughter had a school project to ask a parent if they'd ever received a letter that changed their life. So, it was just last weekend that I told both my 8- and 10-year-old the story of Amy again (each time it's a little less abridged) and mentioned a letter she wrote to me in 8th grade that made me decide I really wanted to pursue her as a good friend. She obviously changed my life and continues to do so, your website being the latest reminder!"
"My name is Aaron Bos-Lun. I am a student at Wheaton College in Massachussetts and was an intern at the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust. Nothing can compare to an internship at the Foundation, and I carry memories of it every day of my life. There were three main areas I worked: in the Amy Biehl winter camps run for township youth, the HIV/AIDS peer education program, and teaching English to 6th graders at a primary school. The young people the ABFT works with value the organization in a way words can't appropriately capture. For example, one boy suspended from the afterschool program made an agreement in which he would come to clean up and help out just to be there: even if he could not participate or be around his friends, it was worth it just to be around the Amy Biehl program and staff. Building off that, in everything I did at the Foundation I was deeply impressed by the commitment of the ABFT staff; these are people who believe in vigorously approaching the challenges facing South Africa, and are reaching children in remarkable ways every day. They also made an effort to welcome interns and get to know us personally; I stayed in many of their homes, which enhanced my understanding and appreciation of South Africa tremendously. I remember one night a fellow intern and I were staying at Tobeko's house in Gugeletu, and he had to get gas before we left. This was the gas station where where Amy was killed, and by the man whose house I was now going to. I thought to myself what might have been on Amy's mind as she died in the very spot I stood, and that everything I ever do after that moment will be life that she was denied. The next morning, as Tobeko woke us up to the sound of Lionel Richie on his speaker system, and as he cooked breakfast for me--a young white American--I was made more aware than ever of the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust's unique capacity for good. The inspiration Amy still provides to so many cannot be overstated, but more significant is the concrete work that continues to happen for South Africa in her name."
"My name is Joel Semakula and I am an international student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I am originally from East London in the UK and interned for two months with the Amy Biehl Foundation last summer. During this time, I was able to teach English and Life Orientation in a township school, to teach the HIV/AIDS Peer Education class with the after-school programme and play a part in organising and running the camps that took young people from the townships away for their winter breaks. The experience was phenomenal and is one that will stay close to my heart forever. I will never forget the impact those young people had on me and the relationships I was able to build in the short time I was with the organisation. The diverse and dedicated team of staff made my stay a joyous and memorable one and I now miss them all dearly. I worked closely with the other interns, and their input definitely enhanced my experience. I fell in love with the Xhosa people, learnt some of the language, got into a police pursuit, had breakfast with Desmond Tutu and even bungee-jumped. By the end of my internship, I really felt comfortable in the townships and felt I had a real grasp of the issues facing the communities my kids were from. I was forced to push myself beyond my boundaries, to escape my comfort zone and to understand I did not have all of the answers."
"My name is Jim Howell and I am a high school teacher who taught my students in Geography about Amy's life, the trial, and the resulting ABF. I used the Prime Time Live segment that aired in 1997 as a means to share with the kids what the effects of Apartheid were (and are). I was fortunate enough to take 6 kids to S. Africa on a hunting safari in 2001. Linda Biehl is my hero. I have shown my students her story and that of Limpho Hani. What an inspiration!"
"My name is Chaz, I am a Bonner at Univ. of Richmond. My experience at the Amy Biehl Foundation was amazing. I honestly learned about myself and the dynamics of running a non-profit organization in a place as unique as Cape Town. I got involved because I met Linda Biehl, Amy's Mother, at a Bonner Conference two years ago. I learned of the story and I just didn't understand how someone could reach out and forgive to that extent. I wanted to understand, so I pursued an internship there to learn all about true forgiveness and reconciliation. I highly recommend getting involved and volunteering in some capacity. At the end of the day, I really felt like I made a difference because of the lasting relationships I built with the staff, people of Cape Town and most importantly, the children of the townships. I completely changed as a person from my first week to my last week and I think people saw that. I taught two english classes and an aerobics class at one of the after school programs, which was a first so the kids LOVED it and so did the staff because it was bringing something fresh, healthy, and fun to the township children. I was there for about two months and I lived at a great student housing lodge owned by a woman named Gaynor Fisher who was pretty awesome! The Amy Biehl Foundation has a unique way of operating when compared to US NGO functioning. The foundation was established in result of the power of sincere forgiveness and from that has evolved into an organization that seeks to provide hope, opportunity, and better strategies of living in townships of the Western Cape. It was an amazing experience I will never forget. Please enjoy my video of the experience - Amy Biehl Foundation: A Powerful Internship Experience of Serving in South Africa"