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  Volume Four, Number Two
  18. JULY 28, 1998
  19. SEPTEMBER 23, 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 extraordinary year.


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.



"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 Guguletu.

One 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 we went.

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..."



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 youth.

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 currently.

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.



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 youth.

    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.



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 new nation.

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.



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


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 news developments.


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.



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.



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.



April 20-22 University of California Davis (Davis, CA)
April 26 National Presbyterian Church (Washington, DC)
May 3 St Peter's by the Sea Church (Lancho Pains Verdes, CA)
June 9 Sunnymead School (Hillsborough, NJ)
July 30 ABC "Good Morning America" (New York, NY)
August 10 KPSI Radio "Morning Show" (Palm Springs, CA)
August 26 Commission on the Status of Women (Los Angeles, CA)
September 2 Canadian Broadcasting Co. "Big Life" (Toronto, Ont.)
September 12 "Stop the Hate" (Las Vegas, NV)
September 15 United Nations (New York, NY)
October 24 United Nations Associations (Los Angeles, CA)
November 16 Colloquium On Forgiveness (Cal State U. Long Beach, CA)
December 13 "Hour oF Power", Crystal Cathedral (Garden Grove, CA)



    "Women of Courage" Award
    (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



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 lunch.

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.



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 with us.

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 for them.



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.



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.



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 shown us.



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 pursuit.

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 La Quinta.

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 the land"!



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 Africa's children

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 rocks

The giving flows immediately from the receiving and has become an empowering feature of a humbling experience.



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......



..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.


JULY 28, 1998

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 around.


SEPTEMBER 23, 1998

The morning dawned beautifully - one of those beautiful early autumn mornings in Washington, DC.

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 few:

    • 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...

    "How 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 to pride.

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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