When I was living in South Africa I read. A lot. But for some reason I never read Long Walk to Freedom. Anyway, I’ve been reading it this past month and I can’t put it down. I bring it everywhere (and this is not an easy task because it’s a huge book which takes up a lot of space in my bag). I’m not sure why I’m so interested in reading this story now. I left South Africa over 3 years ago but I find myself thinking about South Africa’s history. Living in such a divided world of black and white where the color of your skin defined your place in life. Nelson Mandela tells stories about living in a world where you can’t move forward simply based on your race – it had nothing to do with your character or how hard you worked to achieve a goal. It’s interesting because I felt this and experienced moments of discrimination living in South Africa but for some reason I’m finding that reading about the historical context is both inspiring and challenging.
Last week I went back to South Africa to help once again with an annual project in my Peace Corps community. Bringing young girls from Johannesburg to visit the village where I lived. I always feel so proud of the work that has continued in the community but I guess what I kept thinking about was that while South Africa has made so many strides in their walk towards freedom…there’s still a long way to go. When I tell people that I was a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa there is always a bit of surprise on people’s faces. But the reality is that there is still great need in the country. But what I love to see when I go back is that the country is taking ownership in developing and supporting the areas and people that need assistance. It’s not easy. Nor is it perfect. It will take time. But I feel honored that I’ve had the opportunity to continue to see the changes that will take shape over the days and weeks and years ahead.
I suppose you always have a little bit of your heart that stays in the places you call home. With the families and friends you have met. That’s how I feel about South Africa. So continue your walk towards freedom my beloved South Africa.
Here are just a few pictures from my visit. Love to you all!