I'm sitting in a car wash drive-through writing this post. It's amazing how much spare time you have waiting for a car to be washed. The opportune time to collect ones thoughts.
Our district has a penchant for creating opportunities to keep our social conscience alive...today was no different. We came together as a collective to celebrate the start of woman's month and more specifically Woman's day. Yes, I know it's the 2nd August. We are one week early.
After the required introductions and salutations, our programme director introduced the keynote speaker. Valdi, the Executive Director of the Trauma Centre, is not an unfamiliar figure to all of us. Her organization is often called upon to counsel our learners and educators who are exposed to trauma. She is an activist of many years standing. She is a person who knows how to use language and stories, and is able to drive her messages home with appropriate emotion and cut deep into the conscience of her audience. Today was no exception.
True to form, we are forewarned of an explosive set of challenges. She intros these with 3 powerful stories from school environments in and around our district. The central theme is that of a call to action, a need for agency, that we have no choice but to stand up in the shadow of the action of women in 1956 and emulate their resolve. She laments the scourge of violence and abuse in our communities and that it must be stopped. She reminds us that we don't stand a chance of educating our children if the learning and teaching arena is filled with trauma. That we are fooling ourselves if we believe that 30 minutes of debriefing fixes the deep wounds to our psyche that trauma brings. No longer can we ignore it and pray that a focus on curriculum and institutional management will heal our scars and woundedness. Powerful stuff. It's sobering and scary. It is real. It sets the tone for the remainder of the event. Rightfully so. We cannot have cursory celebrations.
After her input, we are treated to a musical interlude by Natasha and Andrea. They sing: "if I believe". They get a rousing applause at the end. A fitting conclusion to part 1.
Part 2 of the celebration is led by two learners. A Grade 9 boy from Strandfontein high, Michael, and a Grade 12 learner, Lauren, from Wynberg Girls high. Their talks seem to be a seamless echo to Valdi's input.
Michael talks about the need for equal opportunity and treatment of women. He highlights our achievements in this regard in South Africa, and the need to continue the pursuit. We have not overcome this challenge yet. Lauren expands on the education crises with regard to educating girls in the tribal areas in Pakistan. She doesn't leave it there...she brings the outward journey full circle to the challenges in our back yard. I am in awe of the confidence of both learners.
They represent our future, and are potentially part of a fulcrum for a lever that will realize a new breed of social activist and active citizen. We need their voices to boom throughout the city, province and country.We are left inspired!
And the icing-on-the-cake to round off the day? Faldiela gets the news of an addition to her family - a granddaughter!