Religion Magazine

Miracles… in South Africa.

By Jenrene

In 2003  I went to a shantytown visit in Kuma, South Africa. This day began speaking to youth about their dreams. An Awesome experience, indeed. So sacred.

There were many beautiful things  happening in this community. Young people were alive and  vigorous and purposed to live out their dreams.   The community people were strong and encouraged through prayer… immensely resilient.

I remember writing in my journal I kept: ”  I fell in love with the young people here!  They are phenomenally bright and vigorous!   I wish I could have stayed with them a an entire day! The youth taught me so much! I hated to leave the schools.”

I  had mixed emotions. My ambivalence went deep. My reticence  filled the car when I saw  huge discrepancies  in the community. On one side of the earth, just outside of Kuma, South Africa – were diamond fields. In yet the other end side ( ride across the road – in fact)  were shanty towns… fields of them… several small huts of tin shacks with holes in them.  This is what you  shall see here in these videos – places people actually called: ‘home’.   As I observed the   fields that day, it seemed that there were maybe even more  tin shacks than diamonds that were in the fields, that day.  I was  informed by my friend Karabo that the  DeBeers family owned all the diamonds in South Africa. ( Read the highlighted link for the history.)

It left me speechless.

That was a long ride home that day. One thing we thought to do for this family, though not quite enough, was to encourage them. We had brought lunch that day, but we couldn’t dare eat  in front of them. So we gave them our lunches. That ride back to Johannesburg was a quiet ride that day after hearing  Make’s story. You will hear in the  video how Make’s name means : Miracle.  (How wonderful! ;0) )

Listen in on it, yourself…

This is how Make‘ survived: the community took care of her and her siblings. It’s called the Spirit of Ubuntu. How the S. Africans care for each other. Whether they are family or not, they make ends meet. Community is FAMILY.  I was so inspired by this principle ofliving and being  I wanted to bring pieces of it back to the United States.  So I did.  I helped youth at Dr. Martin Luther King School in Syracuse N.Y. build a virtual  cultural museum  during  Black History month and taught the youth - my peer leaders at the time - about community, purpose and dreams. Something resonated  deep within me to see such a spirit of community so very present between people who were neighbors. It’s like  the neighbors  were unctioned by this Spirit of Ubuntu to become families, in a sense. It took community and friendship and kinship bonds to an entirely different level.

We went to encourage Make’ that day… but I think she encouraged us,  more than we could encourage her. Funny how when you reach out God’s hand to bless, you are blessed. Make’ says she believes and has faith “that everything will be fine.” Of course they will… as much as I tried to be angry about the diamonds on the other side of the field, only miles away from Make’…her spirit shined and stayed with me and I was encouraged by her resilience the rest  of that day.    I thought:” maybe it really doesn’t matter who has all the money, maybe true value and worth is found in the  spirit of the community and principled living.”

Peace, in the midst of all this… Amazing, it is. A Miracle.


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