Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Better coming!

A BetterWorld…is coming….

Jah rastafari! Bless i….salasi i….Jah provideth! Amen man. Amen. That’s my new greeting in the morning from the old Rasta who runs the stand on the corner. Frank has moved to the other side of town (actually just the other side of the park in front of City Hall). Last week, I picked up a three drawer stand on the side of the street and was struggling with it back to Museum’s Park when Rasta came up to me and offered to help. We walked and chatted (yes, every sentence ended with “I”) the rest of the way home and now, we are good friends. Maybe it helped that I was wearing an colorful beaded armband that he had made. Sorry Rasta I will not smoke with you though. Yesterday, he offered me his chips with a cheery “bless I”! I don’t even have dreads, wonder how he found out that I have some Rastafarian tendencies.

The three drawer stand is now nicely sitting in the corner of my new bedroom. I had to clean out the cockroaches and hammer a nail or two into the bottom drawer, but now it’s decent, and does a fine job holding my socks. Siri and I spent this last week organizing the final details of the new flat then cleaning, scraping, mopping, cleaning, and painting. It’s really amazing how different the place looks now from when we first did our exploring of the other flats in this compound. It feels like a home. People have been so generous to lend us the necessities and even the frilly decorations (like lacey curtains…sick). No, we have zebra stripped fabric covering a wall, painted 3 walls in the living room Argentina blue, my room is peach with fabric hanging everywhere, our kitchen has a collaged map of South Africa over one whole wall, and Siri’s room now has a yellow floor and is decorated with her wardrobe. The house is beautiful! Who knew how many uses milk crates could have. Currently, they are the structure of our coffee table, stove, bookshelves, dresser, end table, bathroom cabinet, footstool, and I’m sure in a few weeks we’ll discover many more uses. We are so thankful to have some space, some peace, and a place to welcome others into. Already it has been so fun to have people drop by for tea or lunch or a movie! One downfall, the toilet is outside. The middle of the night potty stop still requires a pep talk to actually get out there. We’ll get used to it though.

And now for something completely different.

“Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil. Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.” Isaiah 1: 5-7

About a month ago, after one of our Wednesday night street outreaches. I was reading the Bible, bumped into this verse and had to stop. That night I had been talking with a woman named Petunia who I had met a few weeks earlier. When we met in Marabastad (another location in Pretoria), her finger was swollen to the size of about 3 fingers, there was a gaping wound that was severely infected. I talked with her about what happened and she said that a client had bit her. She had gone to a clinic and they had given her stitches but a few days later, due to infection, they were taken out and she left the wound open. Now we bring a first aid kit with us each week and the women are very open to letting me do first aid if they have minor cuts or wounds. We talked about how to care for it and she asked if she could do it on her own. Petunia took some supplies and did a great job of taking care of it. A few weeks later, her finger looked almost normal again. Praise God. The point though, is that that night, after meeting her again, then reading this verse, so many images came to mind. These women are wounded and beaten and often do not comprehend (or have taught themselves how not to comprehend) the depth of their injuries. It speaks of the state of the city as well as the people in it. We do not realize how much our rebellion damages us. For the women working on the street, some of the afflictions are simply closer to the surface. It struck me how infected our lives are with sin and selfishness. We are just like these women in many ways. A few verses later though, the Bible says this:
“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the cause of the widow. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool…Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.” Isaiah 1:17-18, 26

There’s hope! We have hope that things can change. This is what I pray for this city, for the people that I meet on the street, for those impacted by abuse, fear, oppression, entrapment, and addiction. There are so many in this city who are seeking justice and are going to the dark corners and forgotten buildings to let people know that this justice and freedom is for them too!

This past week, I attended a training hosted by World Hope, a Christian organization working against Human Trafficking in South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique. It was really an amazing opportunity to be challenged and taught about what is really happening in the world, just beyond our vision. The facts are devastating but the movement that is growing and awareness that is being raised about Human Trafficking is incredible. TLF has launched a Counter Trafficking Campaign for the city of Tshwane and as we have been working towards the World Cup, we have continued to discover and be invited into the plans of other organizations and groups of people. I’ll describe briefly what our plans are (in cooperation with many other organizations).
*Street Outreach; TLF partnering with a few other organizations will be doing street outreach and awareness raising at taxi ranks, bus stations, taverns, salons, train stations, and a few other locations outside of the city. We will use public theatre, posters, one on one conversations, and trainings to talk with people about what trafficking is and how they can play a role in preventing it as well as helping them avoid becoming trafficked themselves.
*Public Spaces: We want to partner with the School of Creative Arts to put on performances, use art and public interaction in the shopping malls and public squares in town to start the conversation with people who may not be aware that Human Trafficking is happening here in their city.
*Protection/Aftercare: The Potters House, Lerato House, and other shelters will make beds available to temporarily house victims of trafficking, especially during the World Cup. Social workers will be on hand to handle the cases and try to get people back to their homes.
*Trainings: We want to work with the property management of the residential flats in the city to offer trainings for all of the caretakers who will be working; giving them the information of what to watch for and resources on how to deal with potential situations that may be taking place in the flats, right in front of them.
*Being a part of BetterWorld Village: During the World Cup, TLF and it’s partners will be hosting a fan park in Burgers Park where there will be stages to discuss social issues such as homelessness and Human trafficking. This is a great opportunity to continue to raise awareness creatively and empower people to step out and start making changes in their communities in very practical ways.

God has really been confirming that this new role, is where I need to be for the next 6 months here. I am still at the Lerato House 2 days a week and I really enjoy my time there with the girls. Right now there are 6 new girls and they are adjusting pretty well. One girl ran away but was brought back by the police.

If you are still interested in learning more about Human Trafficking and the different campaigns that are working to fight against it, check out these websites and articles or feel free to email me or comment your questions and I will try to find out some answers or resources for you:

Justice [ACT]s


TLF’s Better World

Time Magazine’s Article on Trafficking in South Africa,9171,1952335-1,00.html#ixzz0ckJxtjsa

The Ultimate Goal, South Africa

World Hope South Africa

Sorry for being sort of slow lately to update you all about what’s happening here. Time is running and the days really fly by. On a more personal note, I’ve been thinking about home a lot lately and will be excited to come back. Right now, that seems far off but I know that July 25th will sneak up on me. Yes, I have a plane ticket. Washington state, here I come! Oh no…that’s scary to think about. One day at a time.