Kareen Shawa-Durand recently attended the GSGC sponsored Believe Summit. She lives in Livingstone, Zambia, where she started the Girls Stand Up organization. After meeting Renee from Jikeleza at the Summit, she traveled to Cape Town and had the opportunity to visit Jikeleza and meet all of the kids and wonderful staff. Please take a moment to read Kareen’s impressions of Jikeleza and the GSGC Community…
I LOVED LOVED LOVED the experience visiting Jikeleza. There is an innocence and yet also a level of maturity about the kids that go there. I was incredibly humbled to be wholesomely welcomed into their space and to share that electric vibe that is created when the beat of the drum simply impels you to move. The emotion that these kids show when they dance is very clear and indescribable. Children as young as 5 years old, stay with the pace and commitment asked by the instructor with no hesitation.
To be able to see another program achieve so much over the years is very encouraging to me as I take on a similar task with GSU. Our seeds are from the same soil and the connection with the staff, the girls and even the building was instant and familiar. While I was there, I was privileged to meet the founder of Jikeleza. It was his birthday and when he walked in, all the kids sang the birthday song then all rushed to give him a hug.
Then two older girls walked in and the younger girls with the instructors and staff, rushed to give them hugs and kisses. Renee, near tears herself, told me that the two girls where in Jikeleza’s first group and where now both in university on full scholarships studying, Accounting and Dance.
Right there, my hopes, dreams and ambitions where staring me in the face! This was validation to me that with time, commitment and support, my GSU girls will get there. They too will return to motivate younger girls because they are on a viable path to future determined by themselves.
Least to say, I fed my soul that day and look forward to returning to Jekeleza in the near future. If it wasn’t for the connection with GSGC, I would have never have met Renee or Marilyn or the girls at Jikeleza. This connection gives me and GSU the comrade relationship necessary to stay the course when it comes to fighting for a cause. Thanks GSGC. Thank. you. very. much.
Girls Stand Up
Plot Number 12338 Woodlands Ext.