A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

Sala Kahle (Stay Well)

Last weekend I drove around Weenan Game Reserve with the express purpose of spotting a giraffe. Three hours into my self-guided safari, I’d had no luck. Then I passed a car full of people playing the game How Many India Men Can We Fit into a Vehicle.

“Is something back there?” I asked.

One of them wagged a dismissive finger. “A giraffe at the third set of trees. Is there water that direction?” he asked, indicating where I’d come from. I nodded, but all I’d found at the dam were a mess of muddy footprints of formerly thirsty animals and two exotic-looking water birds.


I parked the bakkie and walked into the bush about a hundred meters when staring into the sun, I saw a silhouette that reminded me of a Loch Ness monster with two little horn-like protrusions from the top of its head, and wide ears on the sides. I went closer, then stopped, closer, then stopped. All the while it stared, occasionally turning its head so I could see its profile, sweeping its magnificent mane of reddish brown. Its fur was cream-colored with sienna-brown spots, and overall was a bit dusty. Maybe I’ve gotten used to being around rhinos and zebras and have been swept up in the novelty of it, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an amazing creature. Then two more approached cautiously from my left. One went to stand behind the one I was watching, and the other, a bit younger, stared from farther away. If I inched forward slowly for another hour, I might’ve been able to touch one like an African Snow White. I thought of Isak Denison, I had a farm in Africa...

This week has been full of farewells, and a chance to greet the owner and show him the project before I go. Months ago when I first got that annoying rash on my neck, my healer friends said I wasn’t speaking my piece (or my peace). I went to see one a few days ago, and she told me it’s good I’m going home to rest and be safe, that I’ve made a huge impact and am very brave and other such kind reassurances from other dimensions, that as we talked a series of strings all around me were being cut, and my guardian beings reappeared, that upon my return from India I reacted to an evil spell here and have cleared it myself, and that all the energy I felt when she first met me was her wrapping me in white light of protection. I thanked her, and she asked me to pick a tarot card. The card I picked simply stated ‘Success.’ And another labyrinth walk this morning provided thankful confirmation.

My work here has been really rewarding and really difficult. With much idealism and heart for everyone, if all I did was touch a few people and expand their knowledge and confidence, then this has been a success. People are the best investment there is. “We’ll never find another like you,” they say. But we found each other, and one at a time, however slow and disheartening it may feel, we’ll each pay it forward and keep making steady positive progress.

For the final movie night on Saturday, I picked up The Gods Must Be Crazy. With all we’ve been through these last few months, they must indeed. It was an amazing community send-off, the usual chorus of ‘We need you’ and ‘My heart is breaking,’ and lots of people requesting pictures, and I've been receiving Zulu send-off calls all day. I’m complete and ready to go. Thank you, South Africa, for letting me into your heart. Keep in touch.

Posted byValerie at 9:18 PM 0 comments  

She's Got a Ticket to Ride

I realized on Monday that my original plane ticket back to the US was in time to visit my dad for his birthday in August. I have done "better than my best" (as She & Him sing), and though we're not where I hoped we'd be, we've made such amazing progress. I've worked with so many motivated, wonderful, smart people. When people protest that they need me, I remind them I was never meant to stay forever. I aim to be a Mary Poppins: build their confidence and pride in their work, stabilize by using input to form workable systems so they can sort out future crises togther through positive collective action. It's a community project, and I think it's imperative the community, with helpful guidance from professionals, be empowered to dictate its direction. Otherwise we'll never break the cycle of the have-not's asking and not doing themselves, and the have's giving and thereby deciding, and the mutual resentment that such a system breeds. I say, 'You are doing this work! You are amazing. You started this project without me, and you'll continue without me. And I am teaching a few of you to use the computer so you can better do your jobs, but also selfishly so we can keep in touch!' (Photo: a hard day's work making thatch)

Which reminds me, last night my brother said he got all the selfish genes. He was sitting by the beach sipping sweet tea and eating a muffin and asked, "Don't you want this?" Yes and no. I appreciate that more when it's not an everyday occurence, when it's in contrast to, for example, what I did today. Coming full circle from my child sex abuse work in India, I learned of a man in one of the communities who's raped at least two children, one at age 6 and one at 13. The 13-year-old is now 16, and suffered a heart attack earlier this year before finally getting up the nerve to report what she's been living with, the poor stong girl. The man threatened to kill her and her family if she rtld, and now she says she feels much better that it's out. Her heart was breaking physically and emotionally, and now she can heal instead of hide. The good news is she has tested negative, and now victim counseling will begin at school and the local hospital for her. People have been pushing her to file a police report, and she doesn't want to. I told her she doesn't have to and tried to tip off the police. They weren't interested, but said her mother could report it. I treated mother and child to KFC & Coke for the ride home, which delighted them and honestly didn't smell appealing or like real food to me. I'm so spoiled from this fresh farm food.

Where to now? Looks like a visit to the land of plenty to see my very relieved family & see how many friends I can summon to visit me (or fund me to visit them, ha). I wish everyone here the best, and bid farewell with a heavy heart, full of admiration for all the hard work and positive people I've had the pleasure to know. In the spring the burnt grass will grow back a lighter, fresher green, and the buffalo, rhino, and all the people will keep on keepin' on. (Photos: friend's drive, and a close-up of the red: things are not always as they appear when close up)

Posted byValerie at 8:20 PM 0 comments