- A FRESH LOOK
AT SOUTH AFRICA
- I HAD FORGOTTEN
HOW MUCH I LOVED IT HERE
RIGHTS TO REALITIES
HEARTS AND MINDS
- A TRANSFORMATION
GLIMPSES OF OUR WORK
- AMY BIEHL
FOUNDATION TRUST VIDEO
UNDERSTANDING: BRIDGE-BUILDING IN 1998
- AWARDS OF
- EVENTS MADE
- EVENTS MISSED
- LINDA AND
THE CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL
- MUSIC MAN
- THOUGHTS ON
OPENS SCHWAB ACCOUNT
- JULY 28, 1998
It has been six round-trips to
Cape Town since our last Newsletter, and what an eventful
eight months we have experienced! So much has been achieved
in the conversion of rights to realities for the disadvantaged
people of the Cape Flats. So much as been experienced by our
family in the wake of the Amnesty Committee ruling of July
28. So many opportunities present themselves to the Foundation
to be a constructive force in the advancement of human fulfillment.
Amy lit the candle, and in this season of hope and thanksgiving,
we are thankful for her foresight and initiative and are grateful
to everyone who has helped us along the way throughout this
FRESH LOOK AT SOUTH AFRICA
In assessing the rate and extent
of social progress achieved in the new South Africa it is
essential to view the situation at the grassroots level in
the Black Townships and informal settlements, and to observe
the scene with reasonable frequency. If change is not occurring
in the human condition at the grassroots level, then change
is not occurring. And, generally speaking, change is so subtle
as to require continual, periodic observation.
This year, we have been fortunate
to be able to share glimpses of the new grassroots South Africa
with strong Foundation supporters Tracy and Judy Kendall,
Scott Lowenbaum and a traveling group from Rancho Palos Verdes'
St. Peter's by the Sea Church. We have been able to welcome
first-time visitors in Amy's friend, Katie Bolich, and in
Linda's sister, Laurie.
Most important - from a family
perspective - we were able to have daughters Kim and Molly
with us for a week during our July visit to Cape Town. Molly
installed a township version of the Youth Reading Role Models
program that our Foundation Trust has licensed from her Family
Literacy Foundation in San Diego. Kim spent time chronicling
our fifteen violence prevention programs with her camera and
reconnecting with Cape Town friends. Neither Kim nor Molly
had been in South Africa since their observations of the murder
trial of Amy's alleged killers in 1994. Their visit - just
days before the Amnesty Committee's announcement - equipped
them with a fresh perspective that subsequently served them
well when the news finally broke.
Kim has offered to share some
reflections on her Cape Town visit.
TO THE TOP
HAD FORGOTTEN HOW MUCH I LOVED IT HERE
"On July 9, I boarded a
plane for Cape Town for the first time in four years. I had
nervous butterflies in my stomach. For one thing, I'm not
fond of flying and it's a very long flight. But I was also
unsure of what to expect. It had been so long since I'd been
to South Africa. How would it feel to be back in Guguletu
where Amy was killed? Would her killers be granted amnesty
while we were there? Had things really changed with the new
democratic government? My worries were calmed after seeing
Table Mountain from the airplane window as we were landing.
I had forgotten how much I loved it here.
My first impression, however,
was that things had not changed much. Squatter shacks still
crowded the land between the airport and city. A lot of people
were simply hanging out with nothing to do. Children were
running around with no shoes on their feet. Surprisingly,
I did notice some streetlights sticking up between some of
the shacks. That was new. Finally, these people would have
the benefit of electricity!
The first time we drove into
Guguletu, I noticed several new businesses along the main
street - a barbershop, a small market. We were going to the
Guguletu old folks' home for a beautification project. We
met kids from the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust Youth Panel.
These children were eager to be there and ready to work. Stodel's
Nursery donated plants and a man named Marvellous came to
instruct the youth in landscaping. While they were hard at
work, my mom, Molly and I visited some of the residents of
the home. We gave them perfume (courtesy of Lori from the
Clinique Counter at Neiman Marcus) and chatted for awhile.
The older ladies were pleased to know that the youth of their
community were taking an interest in improving the appearance
of the Center. After spending a few hours with these bright
kids and fascinating old folks', I was totally at ease in
of my favorite activities on this trip was when I accompanied
the youth choir and marimba players from St. Gabriel's Church
to a performance at the international music conference at
Stellenbosch University. Dad drove me into Guguletu at 6:00
AM; it was still dark but the township was bustling with movement
- mostly people heading for bus stops to catch a ride to work.
I boarded a large bus with the kids and Father Basil and off
The drive to Stellenbosch was
gorgeous - very green and hilly - but, as in most areas of
South Africa, squatter settlements popped up every couple
of miles. I thought the people who lived in these camps must
feel very isolated.
We arrived at the University
in time for the choir to practice. The children were all in
traditional Xhosa dress and makeup. They looked terrific and
sounded even better. Between rehearsal and performance, I
was able to visit with several of the singers. They all wanted
their pictures taken so I happily obliged. The performance
was incredible. The group attending the conference loved the
choir and gave it a standing ovation. I got a little teary
because I knew how Amy loved the music in South Africa. She
would have been thrilled by this talented choir. After their
performance, the kids were served hamburgers and juice from
McDonald's - now that was something new!
A day or two later, The Amy Biehl
Foundation Trust broke ground on a new playing field at Lwazi
school in Guguletu. It was very exciting and at least 60 school
children were there to watch. They will be responsible for
care of the field. That means they will have to keep the cows
and goats that wander the township streets off the new grass.
The Cape Town Roses - a girl's soccer team - was in attendance,
as was Henry Reynolds of USAID. Again, I had the pleasure
of listening to children sing. Singing is very spontaneous
in South African townships. It is one of the things I love
most. Everyone seems to know the words to every song. We left
the school wishing we could make the grass grow faster. It
would be great to see the Roses in action.
One of the simplest and most
moving episodes took place at New Crossroads Youth Centre.
Molly was training her community coordinators for the Youth
Reading Role Model program. One of them was reading a new
children's book called "The Day Go Go Went to Vote."
Everyone in the room was captivated by the story. When he
had finished reading, Molly asked him why he wanted to be
involved in this program. He said that President Mandela had
such love for his people that he constantly gave so much of
himself. He said that he wanted to show his love for his people
by giving something of himself.
This is just one example of the
dedication and enthusiasm that many in South Africa feel about
their country and their future. Things have changed since
the 1994 elections. There is hope.
On July 17, Molly and I boarded
a plane back to the United States. This time there were no
butterflies - only a strong feeling of pride. I am so proud
of what Amy began in South Africa. And I have so much respect
for what my parents have accomplished in the time since Amy's
death. There is still much to be done, but I have every confidence
in my parents, in the programs they have put in place, and
in the people of South Africa. Things will continue to improve.
I can't wait to go back..."
TO THE TOP
RIGHTS TO REALITIES
Kim is correct. Conditions will
continue to improve for South Africa's disadvantaged people.
But the rate of change is painfully slow for those who have
been most denied under the apartheid system. A new free society
can be a frustrating place if the rights that are enshrined
in your Constitution are still denied to you due to the circumstances
in which you must live.
On September 15, Linda and Peter
were invited to make a presentation at the United Nations
in New York in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They spoke about the
challenge of convening rights to realities, as experienced
in their current violence prevention work in South Africa.
Two constitutional rights in
the new South Africa were highlighted: the right to an education
and the right to equal employment opportunity.
Every South African has the right
to an education. However, for the youth in the Black townships
and informal settlements of the Cape Flats, access to an education
of any quality is only the remotest of possibility. Decades
of systematic resource denial have left Black township schools
a wasteland characterized by violence, absence of textbooks,
copy machines and other tools of instruction and learning,
and by traumatized teachers who admit to spending no more
than five percent of each class period in effective teaching.
Youth are only in school until 2:00PM, after which time most
are left unsupervised and unchallenged to roam the streets.
In an effort to make a caring
educational experience a reality for Guguletu township youth,
retired teacher Angelina Peter and some colleagues - in partnership
with the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust - launched and successfully
nurtured an innovative after-school school, meeting each weekday
afternoon in classrooms at Intshinga Primary School. Response
from youth and parents was overwhelming and the school enrollment
was capped at 170 students. This maintains a ratio of 28 youths
per teacher, as contrasted with 65 - 90 students per teacher
typical of most Black schools in Guguletu.
So successful is this school
that the Western Cape Department of Social Services is assuming
sponsorship beginning with the new school term in January,
1999, and will subsidize each child in attendance each day.
This represents a significant
victory for community inspired educational programming. It
is tangible evidence that it is possible to convert the right
to education to a reality, and to inspire an agency of government
to step in to ensure the sustainability of the reality.
Moreover, every South African
has a right to a job and to equal employment opportunity.
However, the reality is there are few jobs available in a
lackluster economy with interest rates at 24 percent, and
there is no equal employment opportunity in Black and Colored
communities in which unemployment is as high as 80 percent,
and apartheid-engineered schools do not produce employable
To address this lack of jobs
and inequitable employment access for Black youth, the Amy
Biehl Foundation Trust has initiated employable skills training
in block-making, sewing and welding for Black high school
youth and is creating micro business enterprises around these
trained youth to enable them to support themselves, even before
they leave high school.
In October, we opened the doors
on the Community Baking Trust, which is baking and distributing
low cost bread to the disadvantaged communities and creating
training, employment and economic opportunity for hundreds
of community residents and non-profit organizations. This
new, multi-million Rand business will create substantial wealth
and employment opportunity in communities where little exists
At the grassroots level, we are
experiencing considerable success in convening rights to a
job and to equal employment opportunity to reality for many
of the most disadvantaged residents of the Cape flats.
Going forward in 1999, we will
be focused on strategies for extending these educational and
employment realities to more disadvantaged South Africans
throughout the Western Cape.
TO THE TOP
HEARTS AND MINDS
We feel very involved in two
insightful new book releases having much to say about South
Africa - its youth and its Black Township life. Both books
are inspired and written by people we value and appreciate.
No More Strangers
Now - Young Voices from a New South Africa
By Tim McKee and Anne Blackshaw (a Melanie Kroupa Book)
DK Publishing, Inc.
New York, New York 10016
Interviews and photographs of
12 young South Africans, with foreword by Desmond Turn and
cover notes by Linda and Peter Biehl. A wonderful exploration
of the awakening to freedom by across-section of South Africa's
Mother to Mother
By Sindiwe Magona
David Philip Publisher (Pty) Ltd.
Claremont 7708, South Africa
A fictional take-off on the events
preceding and following Amy's murder in Guguletu, from the
perspective of the mother of one of Amy's killers. Sindiwe
-in fact- grew up in Guguletu with Mrs. Evelyn Manquina, mother
of the young man who played a key role in Amy's death. "He
could have been my son", she has told us.
We highly-recommend these two
extraordinary books to your attention. "Mother to
Mother" has not yet been released in the United States.
If we may purchase it for you in South Africa, send $20.00
for this purpose to the Foundation and we will handle your
request as promptly as possible.
TO THE TOP
Victor West was the ambulance
driver who first reached Amy, on August 25, 1993. A driver
of 17 years experience in the Black and Colored townships,
Victor was in a state of continuous trauma. His experience
with Amy put him over the edge.
Following four years of depression
and therapy, Victor was persuaded to contact Peter and Linda
Biehl on one of their visits to Cape Town; contact was finally
established in March of this year.
Over dinner, Linda and Peter
assured Victor that they knew there was nothing he could have
done for Amy when he reached her at Guguletu Police Station.
However, they shared their discovery of acute need in the
disadvantaged communities and in their schools for emergency
first aid training and for well-equipped first aid kits. Victor
understood the need and grasped the clear opportunity to do
something positive and proactive for the poor communities
- in Amy's memory and honor.
Within weeks, Victor West and
his colleague, Ivan Naidoo, and designed a complete emergency
first aid training and certification program. The Amy Biehl
Foundation Trust agreed to underwrite free training for disadvantaged
community volunteers, for teachers in each of Guguletu's 20
schools, for members of the South African Police, and to purchase
and re-supply quality first aid kits for each trainee certified
and for each school.
Thus far, Victor and Ivan have
trained and empowered more than 300 people. So successful
and so personally - rewarding has their program been that
Victor and Ivan are forming their own company to expand the
scope of their work. With profits from training in the corporate
sector, Victor and Ivan will subsidize a continuation of free-of-charge
training in the disadvantaged communities. The Amy Biehl Foundation
Trust will be a founding stakeholder in this exciting new
enterprise, and will continue to recruit trainees from neighborhoods
and schools and to underwrite the cost of first aid kits.
Throughout this fulfilling program
experience, the most rewarding opportunity has been for us
to observe the complete transformation of Victor West, form
fragile insecurity to strong self-assurance and clear sense
of self- direction.
Victor is a great transformation
story as he joins the ranks of community-spirited entrepreneurs
who will play a vital role in the transformation of their
We will continue to share glimpses
of our many violence prevention and community empowerment
programs in South Africa in future editions of the NEWSLETTER.
The stories are numerous and continually-evolving.
TO THE TOP
GLIMPSES OF OUR WORK
We are fortunate to receive continuing
attention from quality television production and broadcast
organizations with interest in our work. Among the most current
are the following
CBS NEWS 60 MINUTES
We were pleased with the commitment
of Producer, Rich Bonin, and Associate Producer, Jim Margolis,
to produce a segment for Leslie Stahl to be focused on our
violence prevention programs and their roots in Amy's convictions.
Since the week of October 5, "60 Minutes" production
and film crews have accompanied us from Cape Town to La Quinta,
capturing glimpses of our work and of Amy. Leslie Stahl spent
several days with us in Cape Town and with the people who
are driving our programs. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was interviewed
at Emory University in Atlanta.
The "60 Minutes" people
have been thorough, professional and very human throughout
this entire experience, and we appreciate the significant
visibility they have offered us. Our program segment will
air on Sunday, January 10, 17 or 24, 1999 - pending breaking
THE TRAVEL CHANNEL (DISCOVERY
The Travel Channel very recently
aired a segment which features film shot and narrated by South
African, Michelle Garforth, and a studio interview taped in
Los Angeles. The South African footage contrasts beautiful
Cape Town with its Cape flats environs and highlights some
of our violence prevention projects.
This programming segment is characteristic
of a new look in travel television, which makes the point
that today's travel can be purposeful as well as pleasurable.
We have requested a copy of the segment tape and - when received-
will be pleased to make copies available to anyone interested
in return for a contribution to the Foundation.
TO THE TOP
BIEHL FOUNDATION TRUST VIDEO
Produced by us for Associated
Press cameraman, Alvin Andrews, in Cape Town, this 12 minute
video highlights our projects in the Cape Flats and some of
the struggle violence which left a generation of "young
lions" which has yet to be disarmed. It is this generation
that accounts for much of today's violence in the townships
and informal settlements.
This video is of professional
news quality with music and narration and - while not totally
inclusive - does provide a highlighting of several of our
very successful violence prevention projects. Copies of the
tape are available in return for a contribution to the Foundation.
TO THE TOP
UNDERSTANDING: BRIDGE-BUILDING IN 1998
We have had many opportunities
since our last newsletter to share our understanding of the
new South Africa and to build bridges between that world and
ours. We are deeply appreciative of each opportunity because
it offers us possibility for improved understanding, which
is of great value. Among these opportunities were the following.
of California Davis (Davis, CA)
Presbyterian Church (Washington, DC)
Peter's by the Sea Church (Lancho Pains Verdes, CA)
School (Hillsborough, NJ)
"Good Morning America" (New York, NY)
Radio "Morning Show" (Palm Springs, CA)
on the Status of Women (Los Angeles, CA)
Broadcasting Co. "Big Life" (Toronto, Ont.)
the Hate" (Las Vegas, NV)
Nations (New York, NY)
Nations Associations (Los Angeles, CA)
On Forgiveness (Cal State U. Long Beach, CA)
oF Power", Crystal Cathedral (Garden Grove, CA)
TO THE TOP
"Women of Courage"
(Posthumously to Amy Biehl)
Commission on the Status of Women
Los Angeles. CA
Operation Stop Hate
(To the Memory of Amy Biehl),
Las Vegas, NV
"Scars into Stars"
Award (to Linda Biehl)
Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, CA
TO THE TOP
In November of this year, the
Department of Social Work at California State University at
Long Beach published our narrative entitled "Private
Loss and Public Forgiveness" in a special Forgiveness
issue of its influential journal, REFLECTIONS: NARRATIVES
OF PROFESSIONAL HELPING (Volume 4, Number 4).
Persuasive Editor, Sonia Leib
Abels convinced us to share our experiences with the Amnesty
Committee of South Africa's Truth & Reconciliation Commission
and with the phenomenon of forgiveness, itself. Once the narrative
was written and submitted, Sonia proposed our participation
in a Colloquium on Forgiveness, sponsored by her REFLECTIONS
and Department of Social Work.
The day spent at the Colloquium
was intense and rewarding. We spoke to and with several hundred
students, faculty, administration and community residents
in a very open and candid manner, and it was very clear that
forgiveness is a subject and a "process" of considerable
interest and importance to many people. We struggled to deal
with the questions, emotions and ambiguities relating to forgiveness
in a responsible way and departed the campus exhausted after
Those who may be interested in
a copy of our narrative, "Private Loss and Public Forgiveness"
may obtain one for a modest donation to the Foundation, or
may purchase the edition or a subscription to REFLECTIONS
by telephoning Sonia Leib Abels at 562-985-4626.
TO THE TOP
We returned to New Jersey on
June 9, 1998 for the third annual fund-raising event organized
by teacher, Steve Schwarz and his students at Sunnymead School.
We were treated to a terrific Italian dinner, entertainment
and a raffle. We were fortunate to be accompanied by Judy
and Tracy Kendall and Scott Lowenbaum - en route to Cape Town
Steve Schwarz and his students
have created the Foundation's first official WEB SITE and
are continually upgrading it. For those who are able, the
site may be accessed at....
We were later fortunate to attend
the wedding of Steve Schwarz and Mary Beth Hocker on July
24, 1998 followed by the wedding of Tracy Kendall and Mike
Carney on August 1, 1998 in St. Louis. These young people
are very important to the Foundation and we are very happy
TO THE TOP
Kelly Stockdale and Donald Webb
have been constant friends and supporters of our Foundation
from the moment it was founded in 1994. We regret missing
their wedding due to our commitments in South Africa.
Similarly, on October 16 we missed
our first presentation of the Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Award
in Albuquerque, New Mexico in four years. We felt terribly
about missing this unique and special event, but the filming
schedule for "60 MINUTES" required us to extend
our stay at Cape Town through October 21.
TO THE TOP
On the evening of November 20,
we met with members of Coachella Valley High School's "Save
the World" Club for a discussion of our experiences with
violence prevention programming in South Africa. Coachella
Valley High School is a large school of some 2800 students
- almost all of whom are Hispanic. Significant violence and
organized street gang activity plague the school, and this
club was recently formed by approximately 100 of the school's
top students and leaders.
We have begun a process of mutual
discovery that will require time and creativity to advance.
But we are thrilled with the opportunity to apply what we
have learned in South Africa to the needs of youth in our
own Coachella Valley.
TO THE TOP
AND THE CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL
Linda now has the distinction
of having appeared at the Crystal Cathedral as an honored
participant twice within three weeks. Founded by Dr and Mrs.
Robert Schuller in an Orange County, CA drive-in movie theater,
the Crystal Cathedral has expanded to a substantial campus
of architecturally significant buildings and a congregation
and influence which spans the world. Its "HOUR OF POWER"
television ministry-broadcast weekly from the Cathedral-taped
it's 1500th program on October 25 and plays to a global audience
in excess of 32 million viewers each week.
On Sunday, December 13, Linda
was Dr. Schuller's special guest interviewee and created a
touching memory of Amy and an insightful characterization
of South African Black township life and of the people with
whom we work to produce grassroots change. It is difficult
to speculate about airtime for Linda's interview. CNBC may
carry it on December 27 and/or it may be reserved to air early
in the Christmas season, 1999.
Earlier, on November 22, Linda
was presented by Dr. Schuller with a "Scars into Stars"
award and participated in the Crystal Cathedral's first tree
lighting ceremony. Along with fellow recipients including
U.S. Senator Max Cleland and Wally ("Famous Amos")
Amos, Linda exemplified Dr. Schuller's vision of a person
with the strength and grace to transform tragedy into victory,
in the best tradition of Christian leadership.
During the "HOUR OF POWER"
interview, Dr Schuller informed Linda that her story - and
Amy's - will be included in his next book, soon to be completed.
We are indebted to Dr. Schuller
and to the Crystal Cathedral for the consideration they have
TO THE TOP
Thanks to the efforts of Linda's
father, Dick Shewalter, musical instruments have been flowing
steadily to the disadvantaged youth of South Africa in the
luggage of Linda and Peter Biehl since July.
Shewalter, of St. Charles, IL,
became interested in the Themba Music Programme, which our
Foundation has assisted for the past two years. Musician/music
teacher, Benjamin Lewn and his musician friends volunteer
their time to teach music theory and instrumental music to
Black township youth as a violence prevention measure to occupy
the youth of the poor communities in a constructive learning
The greatest need of Benjamin
and his fellow volunteers is for musical instruments - new
or used - on which to teach the youth and which can be made
available to students for practice purposes.
A contributing columnist to the
GENEVA REPUBLICAN newspaper, Dick Shewalter presented the
story concept to writer, Renee Tomell, who produced a story
- "Legacy lives on" - for the June 25 edition of
the REPUBLICAN. Simultaneously, Shewalter arranged with Jim
Roesler - through his St. Charles Parcel Pins - to collect,
package and ship donated instruments to the Foundation in
The results can now be heard
in Black schools in Langa, Guguletu and New Crossroads, as
young students toot on everything from trumpets to French
horns. Our readers can help, also, by sending us their unwanted
instruments, for South Africa's youth.
Thanks to Dick, Jim, Renee and
others, Benjamin Lewu is creating the 'finest band in all
TO THE TOP
As proud as we are of Amy and
of the work accomplished by her Foundation, we are constantly
humbled by the warmth and generosity of people - many of whom
we have yet to meet.
It is not easy to receive. It
is especially difficult to accept the unsolicited gift. Such
gifts carry with them a special responsibility to somehow
visualize what the giver would like to see happen with the
gift - or as a result of the gift.
Each gift should produce a result
that might not have occurred without the gift. Given the magnitude
of need and the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar in South
Africa, we have grown to view each gift as an opportunity.
The opportunity to find a way to extend each gift and to multiply
its value to the fullest extent possible.
In this way, receiving becomes
giving - almost in one motion.
The Foundation has received many
wonderful gifts in 1998 and we would pause to mention three
gifts, in particular:
Gift of Katherine and David Bradley
for its generosity in tribute to Molly Biehl and for South
Gift of high school senior, Anne
Chamberlain, of Manchester, NH, who donated her $250.00 Martin
Luther King, Jr. essay contest prize to continue Amy's work;
Gift of Andrew Robbins (Somerville,
NJ) who - at eight years of age - gave his $14.00 savings
account and broke our hearts in one simple note from parents,
Peter and Patricia Robbins.
In the fast-forward from receiving
to giving, the following results can be achieved
--The Bradley's gift can result
in a successful launch of a Youth Reading Role Model program
in a Black South African community and in operation of this
program for at least four months;
--The gift by Anne Chamberlain
- matched by Cape Town merchant donors can produce supplies
enough to support the Intshinga after-school school for
at least two weeks;
--The gift of Andrew Robbins
can provide soccer balls to at least three teams of young
soccer stars who otherwise might be practicing by kicking
The giving flows immediately
from the receiving and has become an empowering feature of
a humbling experience.
TO THE TOP
OPENS SCHWAB ACCOUNT
Humility is not inconsistent
with sophistication. Consequently, the Amy Biehl Foundation
recently opened an account with Charles Schwab & Co. in
order to facilitate the gifting of stocks or securities to
the Foundation to support its work.
Already, we have received three
very generous gifts of securities from friends of the Foundation:
--From David and Margaret Schineter,
shares in FMC;
--From Geraldine Boone, shares
in EXXON for development of sports, playing fields in South
Africa's disadvantaged communities;
--From Terry, Carolyn and Ashleigh
Murphy, shares in Complete Business Solutions, Inc. to support
our human rights agenda in South Africa.
These generous and tax-advantaged
gifts of securities to our 501(c) (3) Foundation have opened
an exciting new window of opportunity for us - for which we
are exceedingly grateful.
To contribute securities to the
Amy Biehl Foundation, simply reference our......
ACCOUNT NO. 1129-5822
0164, CODE 40
..And know that your gift can
make a tremendous difference in South Africa - disproportionate
to its value In U.S. currency.
We are excited, also, that the
addition of this important capability signifies a growth in
the maturity of the Foundation, following four eventful, productive
and formative years.
In combination with the Amy Biehl
Foundation Trust in South Africa, we are recognized now as
a serious and innovative international factor in human rights
work, with special connection to South Africa. We are confident
that Amy is amazed and -at the same time-urging us to do more.
It would be impossible to conclude
this particular Newsletter without some mention of the amnesty
award granted to Amy's four convicted killers by South Africa's
Truth & Reconciliation Commission on July 28. Similarly,
it would be impossible to ignore the beautiful day on September
23 in our nation's capitol when Nelson R. Mandela was presented
the United States Congressional Gold Medal in the Great Rotunda
of the Capital Building.
These two days are poignant like
no others in our memories from this extraordinary year of
memorable days. Both days signify ends and beginnings. Both
are almost impossible to describe.
TO THE TOP
The telephone call from Cape
Town came at 1:00AM in La Quinta, and the last television
film crew left the house at 7:30 PM. At 6:25 the next morning,
we did a live telephone interview with CNN, then flew to New
York to appear on "GOOD MORNING, AMERICA" the following
morning. Then, back to La Quinta.
It is interesting that each significant
"event day" since the day of Amy's death is measured
and remembered in terms of its media dynamics. Amnesty was
noteworthy for its media fascination and attention.
We had anticipated a decision
in favor of amnesty. Consequently, we were prepared when it
finally came. Still, the abstract and intellectual qualities
of decision vanished against the reality of news footage which
captured the relief and joy in the faces of four young men
as they walked from prisons to embrace of families and friends.
At that moment, we missed Amy
very much - knowing there could be no embraces for her. No
release for her.
Still, there was time to acknowledge
the satisfaction that Amy would have felt in the fact that
the truth and reconciliation process worked, in the end. The
root causes of discontent and of anger were acknowledged and
accepted and forgiveness was granted. Reconciliation should
now be attainable.
We know Amy would quietly celebrate
the possibility of reconciliation. And she would accept the
trials required to reach this threshold of possibility.
If Amy could accept the outcome
of the truth and reconciliation process, then why shouldn't
we do likewise?
We do. And we hope for better
results in the lives of Amy's forgiven attackers. They have
referred to Amy as a struggle "hero". We hope they
will honor her with their life examples, this second time
TO THE TOP
The morning dawned beautifully
- one of those beautiful early autumn mornings in Washington,
With daughters Kim and Molly
(Zach was anchored in Newport Beach with his football coaching
duties) we arrived at Blair House for the quiet breakfast
hosted by President Mandela for the original sponsors of the
bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal. We were thrilled
to be included.
In fact, we were thrilled to
be included in such an event from its inception by Representative
Amo Houghton and by his Senior Legislative Assistant, Bob
Vanwicklin, who have been kind to us in so many ways.
This amazing whirlwind day includes
so many points of such value and meaning for us - so many
"moments" of personal importance. It is impossible
to recap all of them,
so we shall try to capture a
Seeing South African
friends Abmed Kathrada (MP),
Franklin and Joan Sonn (Ambassador), Jakes Gerwel
(Presidential Chief of Staff) informally, at Blair House;
Meeting Ms. Graca Machel
- South Africa's new First Lady - for the first time and
watching Kim and Molly banter with President Mandela;
Being seated in the
front row of guests in the inspiring Great Rotunda, directly
in front of Presidents Mandela and Clinton;
Opening the official
event program and seeing the inside front cover inscribed..."In
Memory of Amy Elizabeth Biehl";
Hearing Senator Carol
Moseley-Braun read the Act creating the Gold Medal, including
the following words...
"Millions of individuals
of all races and backgrounds in the United States and around
the world followed Nelson Mandela's example and fought for
the abolition of apartheid in the Republic of South Africa,
and in this regard, the Congress especially recognizes Amy
Elizabeth Biehl, an American student who lost her life in
the struggle to free South Africa from racial oppression,
and the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation displayed
by her parents, Peter and Linda Biehl."
Hearing President Clinton
ask the following questions...
can we truly redeem the life of Amy Biehl? How can we honor
all of those who marched and worked with Nelson Mandela who are no longer
standing by his side?"
Listening, as Amy's
hero - Nelson Mandela remembered her
"She made our aspirations
her own and lost her life in the turmoil of our transition
as the new South Africa struggled to be born in the dying
moments of apartheid. Through her, our peoples have also shared
the pain of confronting a terrible past as we take the path
of reconciliation and healing of our nation."
Finally, as Representative Amo
Houghton introduced our family to the guests who filled the
Great Rotunda, we experienced a wave of emotions from heartbreak
This was - quite possibly - the
most humbling experience of our lives. God Bless America.
God Bless South Africa. And God Bless each of you who has
walked the road with us.
We wish you peace and fulfillment
in this season of hope.
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