The last few weeks have been extremely busy, but exciting to say the least. Right now, it is a very interesting time to be doing human rights work in South Africa. This month, Johannesburg is hosting the 25th African Union Summit. African leaders from all over the continent are here, and there is much to be discussed on the agenda, most of which will revolve around to empowerment and development of women in Africa.
Last week, the National Director of my organization asked me to sit in on an African Union Summit Briefing meeting as the official representative of Khulumani Support Group. That was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my trip thus far. The room was filled with representatives from different civil society organizations (CSOs) that generally address human rights issues in South Africa. The primary focus of the meeting was to brief the organizations on the agenda of the summit, and to discuss ways that CSOs could have the greatest impact on this year's African Union Summit. The people I met and the work that they do was incredible.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous, sitting in a room with such accomplished individuals, but I think I held my own pretty well. I was able to successfully articulate what exactly Khulumani Support Group is, and what we bring to the table. By the end of the meeting, there were a number of organizations, not only eager to work with Khulumani Support Group, but eager to work with me as well. Not only did I have a great time, but I also met some amazing people.
Shortly after that meeting, I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend another event on behalf of Khulumani Support Group. This event was hosted by Rethink Africa, an organization that strives to provide valuable resources to impoverished African communities in order to help local citizens break the circle of poverty. The event they hosted was focused on the establishment of a national minimum wage in South Africa.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the wealth distribution and unemployment rate here is astonishing. Something must be done, and that event provided a great platform for local community leaders to voice their opinions and provide suggestions to ensure the development of a better South Africa. The room was loaded with representatives from various South African government agencies, CSOs, NGOs, universities, and local communities. It was clear that the question was not whether there should be a minimum wage, but when and how it will be implemented.
Being able to attend both of those events was amazing. Since coming here, I have learned so much in such a short amount of time, and I have also had the opportunity to build networks with some of the most intellectual people I have ever met. I have only been here for four weeks, and I cannot see how this trip could get any better.
Oh, yeah! I’ve been told that I should add some pictures to my blog.
Check out my view!