This is the last in a series of posts written by the SEED community chronicling their journey into the rural heartland of Limpopo, South Africa with 25 girls who are a part of the SEED program. The trip was a part of the urban/rural exchange filmed to capture the voice of young women of South Africa. The journey was documented through journal entries by SEED staff which have been published on Girls’ Globe over the past 5 weeks.
We start early, as this afternoon the girls will be putting on their show. They get straight into their groups and continue to practice their performances. Our girls are nervous as they still feel a resistance from a number of the girls.
As 3 o’ clock draws near, the excitement of the performance seems to stir, even in the quietest of the girls. The groups come together and one by one give expression to the themes they have chosen. One girl stands to read her poem, her voice gaining force as the words resound throughout the room. She throws her paper aside and continues to repeat, ‘I will be heard; I will be heard’ almost with a preachers determination. The girls are noticeably moved and the rest of the performances bring forth a collective energy and spirit, leaving behind the fear that had upheld their silence.
‘I will be heard; I will be heard’
It is our last evening and we gather the SEED girls for an evening bonfire and barbecue. Sitting around the fire we all give our individual thoughts on the past eight days. This trip has not been without its challenges and everyone has been stretched emotionally, physically and mentally. For some, the different foods, and ways of living of their host families proved the greatest challenge. For others the barrier of language and lack of co-operation from some of the rural girls, posed the greatest frustration. However there is a collective feeling that the work holds enormous value and is not only needed in the rural communities but also in the townships.
We are all packed and ready to go. There is one last interview with a girl called Johanna. She came forward yesterday to say she would like to tell her story. Johanna is 17 and holds her daughter of 2 years in her arms. She has a message to tell teenage girls who find themselves pregnant. She says, ‘Do not give up; stay at school; work hard and look forward to fulfilling your goals.’ She has 2 more years of school and as she preaches to those girls younger than her, one senses she is also preaching to herself, never to give up.
Our trip has come to an end but this is really just the beginning. Over the past eight days so many girls have come forward to share their stories, stories that not even their parents know about. These stories must be met, not only with a listening ear but also with the knowledge that we have a responsibility to provide a space for girls to continue to find support and acknowledgement. This is the task that lies before us.