One of the great things about being in Joburg and being able to travel to Durban in an hour by plane is that there is so much going on. I can hardly keep up. Last week along with Kameelah I went to see “Bruised Butterfly” – a one woman play on “the struggle for dignity and survival in a violent society”. A story of multiple rape by three men at different times. The sexual violations continue within society through the psychologist [why do I have to continually repeat my story? do you doubt me? does it give you a hard on?] the men in bars [male voices – why was she wearing a short skirt? she sleeps around! those kind of women!], the police [why didnt you fight back? what were you doing in the park at 3pm? some of these women!].
It was in hard hitting visually and in language but needed to be seen and the words said – just a pity that there were not more men in the audience particularly as the play was followed by a discussion. Rape stories in South Africa are everywhere. The woman sitting next to me in the play – her daughter had recently been raped, I wondered how many other women in the audience had been raped or whose mothers, sisters, daughters, friends had been raped.
On Friday I travelled two hours to Emalahleni, Mpumalanga just outside Witbank for the launch of a 250 hectare farm which will be run as a Women’s Cooperative called the “Thembuhlelo Community Trust”. The farm which will run as a sustainable agri-business was brought together with the support of Sister Love South Africa Inc (a locally based non-profit organization that focuses on capacity building and sustainable development for community-based non profit organizations, especially those involved in HIV/AIDS and women’s health) which is affiliated with it’s parent organisation based in Atlanta Georgia.
This is a huge powerful venture that has required hard work and determination by Sister Love and the women, to gain the support of the National Development Agency, the Dept of Land Affairs, Dept of Labour, local estate agents and to persuade the farm owner to not only sell the farm but stay on for 6 months to support and train the Cooperative members. The farm will include dairy farming (some 250 cows at present), vegetable farming and raising chickens and will be self sustaining and provide income. By the second year they hope to begin processing their own dairy products.
The farm project is also closely linked to HIV/AIDS and will include 3 Local Women-led HIV/AIDS service organizations: Nomakhaya Community Care Givers, Reach for Life Home Based Care and Sifunokuhle Home Based Care. Amongst the members (60 women plus 6 farm workers from the original farm) 75% are affected and 25% are living with HIV/AIDS .
NEXT UP for me: Out in Africa – Gay & Lesbian film festival (Joburg and Cape Town); Time of the Writer (Durban); and “Women for Childrens Rights” (Part of the Art for Humanity Project) Pietermarizburg