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  Volume Five, Number One - October 1999

Five round-trips to Cape Town have been completed since our last NEWSLETTER was mailed. Our work in South Africa continues to expand and to increase in impact and complexity. Opportunities to share our violence prevention experiences with American audiences are increasingly numerous, as are invitations to contribute to conflict resolution and peace-building ventures throughout the United States and in troubled arenas such as Northern Ireland. We are, therefore, proud to report that Amy’s legacy lives through her Foundations and in the daily work of a growing team of dedicated people who care enough about their world to become actively involved in it. As we now approach the sixth anniversary of Amy’s death, we celebrate her life and rejoice in the countless instances in which "Amy’s Magic" has brought us another outstanding person to join the ranks of her American and South African teams. This NEWSLETTER is dedicated to the incredible people who keep Amy’s work and dreams alive.

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WHAT IS OUR WORK?

Frequently, we are asked about our "mission statement" for the Amy Biehl Foundation (USA) and the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust (South Africa). In truth, neither charitable organization has a mission statement at this point. In the early-going, we felt a mission statement might actually close too many windows of opportunity for service. We believed our understanding of Amy and of her human rights agenda were sufficient basis for a charter. We felt a foundation could be well-guided by Amy’s life-long emphasis on thorough research, careful listening and activism through empowerment and facilitation of others. In other words, we concluded that a commitment to Amy, to her convictions and to her approach to activism were enough to guide the formative years of a Foundation in her honor.

Thankfully, we have been blessed with good friends and good fortune. These simple convictions – consistent with Amy – have produced two growing Foundations and an outreach which extends to many thousands of people. We remain convinced today that Amy’s convictions and example are excellent guidelines within which to grow Foundations and that they continue to provide us with an inexhaustible supply of challenging human rights work and opportunity.

Our work continues to focus on violence prevention and conflict resolution. We take a holistic approach to development of non-violent, functional people, with a balanced concentration on health, education, recreation, arts and employable skills development. Research and experience tells us that balanced, empowered people are not likely to commit violent acts which rob others of their human rights. We work most extensively with youth, in the belief that their value structures and behavior can be impacted, before they become rigid and entrenched with passage of time.

In our work, we strive to produce program models which can be replicated anywhere. A model program is both an inspiration and an example to be studied. It should not be reproduced exactly. Rather, a model should be modified to reflect the special needs and characteristics of particular communities. We empower people to produce model programs of merit and we empower other people to learn enough from the models to create their own individualized programs.

Our experience teaches us that good violence prevention programs must be sustainable, financially, if they are to be successful in the long-term. Therefore, we work hard to help create "economic engines" with the capacity to fund violence prevention programs through commercial enterprise. We believe strongly in the application of business economic wealth production to the needs of enlightened programs with social benefit. We try to mold business to a social agenda and it works.

It has always been our goal to migrate violence prevention strategies and programs which are successful in South Africa to communities and settings for which they are well-suited in America. We were invited to work first in South Africa. Now, we are being invited into communities in America. These invitations are realizations of our dream.

It is important to note that our work – modeled around Amy and her work – is attracting a significant wellspring of very talented young people who want to join in the work. Many are from universities and colleges in America. However, the Foundation’s work has been embraced by primary, middle and high school youth throughout the United States and – more recently – by adults preparing for retirement, and seeking meaningful social work to perform.

OUR TEAMS: SOUTH AFRICA & AMERICA

"Amy’s Magic" has introduced us to many gifted people, who are team members with us in Cape Town and in America. Were it not for the visibility afforded Amy’s story and the work of the Amy Biehl Foundation and Amy Biehl Foundation Trust in various media, we might not have experienced so much interest in our programs. However, through no special effort or recruiting program on our part, we have been blessed with an outstanding team of people – some paid, most volunteer – who accomplish our work.

Among current team members in South Africa are:

 

Sarah Baigrie

A talented young South African artist, Sarah has created our new Saleable Arts program, featuring art and craft work of commercial appeal, produced by the young artists enrolled in various after-school programs supported by the Trust in and around Guguletu township. Sarah – who began as a spirited volunteer with our Trust – has trained these youthful artists and has created a commercial identity for their work. We hope to establish U.S. distribution for some of the work, through our Website, among other channels. Sarah came to us through our valued friendship with her parents, Diarmuid and Jenny Baigrie, of Cape Town.

 

Maggie Barker

A recent Woodrow Wilson Scholar at Princeton University, Maggie arrived in Cape Town August 2, to begin a year of service to South Africa’s disadvantaged youth through expansion of our Trust’s education programs in the Western Cape Provence. A two-time visitor to South Africa, Maggie’s graduate thesis was on the plight of Black public education in South Africa. Maggie, whose home is Reston, VA, has pursued us for two years before this perfect "fit" emerged between our program needs and her special capabilities and interests.

 

Brian Cook

An Amy Biehl Intern from Stanford University, Brian has immersed himself very quickly in a range of Trust projects, with emphasis on education, health and life skills training for township youth. An experienced traveler, as a university undergraduate, Brian has adapted quickly to Cape Town and has become a key contributor to team debates on program content and strategy. Brian resides in Palo Alto, CA where his mother is a Stanford faculty member.

 

Patrick and Sonia Cronin

The Cronins approached us following the CBS "60 Minutes" feature in January from Vancouver, B.C., where Sonia is the Canadian federal justice attorney for British Columbia and Patrick is associated with a prominent labor law firm. Characteristic of young, workaholic attorneys, the Cronins needed time away from the pressures of their jobs but were unable to sit on a beach and do nothing. Having decided to travel in South Africa, they volunteered their services to Amy’s Trust for six weeks. During their time in Cape Town, Patrick and Sonia accomplished significant work to advance the human and employment rights of South African domestic workers. They introduced us to Maggie Shongwe, founder of the Domestic Workers Association, who knew and loved Amy and who had planned to introduce Amy to her ladies on the afternoon of Amy’s death. The Cronins have expressed a desire to be continuing contributors to the work of the Amy Biehl Foundation and we are fortunate to have their support.

 

Cathy Farmer

Having just completed her MBA at the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN), Cathy was part of a team representing the University’s Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which assisted us in Cape Town this summer. Whereas we had intended for Cathy to apply her significant business analysis capabilities to a potential flour milling acquisition, she was acquiescent in assisting us with a more pressing need for design of a management reporting and control system for bakery operations of Community Baking Trust. This she accomplished under significant timing pressure and returned to Seattle to resume her career with Weyerhaeuser Corporation. Cathy has committed to assisting the Amy Biehl Foundation in development of a work service vacation or sabbatical program through which talented people can integrate South African travel with service to the country’s needy population through various programs of the Trust.

 

Isa Helfgott

A product of the Pacific Northwest, with interests and educational background in the arts and education, Isa is assisting the Domestic Workers Association with its pre-school for children of domestic workers employed in the Sea Point neighborhood of Cape Town. She will also be assisting Linda Biehl with concept development for a multi-purpose arts and entertainment centre to be located in the Cape Flats. Isa was traveling in South Africa when we had a chance meeting at a Cape Town restaurant, following which she volunteered her services to the Trust.

 

Anne McMillin

A member of the University of Notre Dame MBA team, Anne brought to the Trust an excellent background in consumer brand development, marketing and stewardship earned in businesses including advertising and specialty retail. We were able to put Anne’s capabilities to work in developing a new brand identity for Community Baking Trust and its products and in creating a niche service concept for the Monde Modeling Academy – a new interest. Anne has returned to the United States to pursue a career in branded marketing with the "Cover Girl" business of Proctor & Gamble, having made a great contribution to at least two important programs of the Trust.

 

Conic Mkefa

We discovered Conic purely by accident and learned very quickly that he possesses a strong interest in the youth of disadvantaged communities and a passion for their rights to self-determinism. He was a natural choice to take charge of our employable skills training programs at Buthisizwe Training Centre. His value as a role model for township youth is incalculable. Conic and his wife – both activists in their country’s democratic struggle – are now seeing a dream of youth empowerment in a free South Africa come to fruition.

 

Ashleigh Murphy

We met Ashleigh last year during a study/living program in which she was doing course-work and independent studies in association with the University of Cape Town and residing with two families in the Black township of Langa. She had a hunger for information about Amy and her activities in South Africa. We were struck immediately by her "can-do" attitude, by her resourcefulness, courage and inherent good nature. Ashleigh accepted our invitation to join our Trust team this summer to become our first Intern Coordinator – a demanding role that she has completely fulfilled, in addition to her contributions to several key violence prevention projects and to the "Cape Town Roses" girls’ soccer club in Guguletu. Ashleigh has written our first Intern’s Handbook which will benefit our interns (or prospective interns) for years to come. Ashleigh Murphy will be sorely missed when she departs Cape Town on August 20 to complete her senior year at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). We hope to see her back one day.

 

Trevor Murphy

Following the departure of Project Director, Sheila Roquitte, we anticipated a long and difficult search to secure a new Director. Again, "Amy’s Magic" was at work when business friend, Kit Haines (Vice President, Marketing, Riviana Foods), recommended we approach "this outstanding young guy who is just wrapping-up a Peace Corps stint in Tanzania and may like to go back to Africa". We contacted Trevor Murphy and knew following our initial meeting that he was blessed with a perfect combination of temperament, ability and African experience to succeed as Project Director at the Trust. He has not disappointed us. Trevor has distinguished himself in his stewardship of our education and arts programs, in particular. An economics graduate of Cal Berkeley, Trevor is hoping to apply his interest in micro-credit to affairs of the Trust before returning to graduate school in the United States.

 

Noah Novogrodsky

The restaurant encounter in Cape Town with Isa Helfgott also brought us Noah Novogrodsky. A Robert S. Bernstein Fellow in International Human Rights (Yale University), this bright young human rights lawyer form America was able to pick up the file left by the Cronins and wade into some important structural and legal issues confronting the Domestic Workers Association in Cape Town. Noah has quickly taken charge of this important portfolio with the goal of legally asserting the rights of the Domestic Workers Association and securing those legal rights and protections for the future. Noah has performed hundreds of hours of world-class legal services for the Trust – all on a pro-bono basis. His thoughtful service is an invaluable gift to our Trust and its advocacy work on behalf of domestic workers.

 

Jamaal Smith

A native of New Orleans and a double major in accounting and in finance at University of Notre Dame, Jamaal lovingly put aside his mother’s fears and journeyed to Cape Town for the most important self-realization experience of his young life. While working with the Trust this summer, Jamaal worked with Cathy Farmer on design of the financial management and control system for Community Baking Trust, and on organization issues involving Monde Modeling Academy. His primary legacy, however, will be the management and financial/cost control systems he created for Buthisizwe Training Centre, and the legal formation of its umbrella trading trust to shelter an emerging portfolio of micro businesses. Of equal value was the close working partnership which Jamaal nurtured with Conic Mkefa, which was critical to his success. The two men became inseparable, and we commend Jamaal for his commitment and for his recognition of the partnership process as the most productive approach to achieving results in another man’s country. Like Amy, Jamaal learned this vital lesson far earlier in life than most of us, and it made his time particularly impactful.

 

 

Darrell Williams

Were it not for the tragic death in Los Angeles of our friend and his older sister, Anthea, we might never have met Darrell, who put aside a promising athletic career to follow his sister to Harvard University. As Assistant Project Director and, then, as Project Director, Darrell has distinguished himself through his caring and effective service to our Trust. In September of last year, he volunteered to assume the demanding responsibility for creating and managing our innovative Community Baking Trust. Almost one year later, as Managing Director, Darrell has learned more about the joys and perils of building a new, growth business in the new South Africa than most of his nation’s executives three times his age. In the process, Darrell Williams is grooming himself to become an important factor in the future leadership of his re-building country. We shall watch his successes with pride and with gratitude.

 

Eleanor Williams

Yet another talented member of the amazing Williams family, Eleanor joined our Cape Town team following her high school graduation, at the age of 17 years. Without question, she has become the most capable and sophisticated Administrative Manager ever to serve the Trust – all within a matter of months. We are hopeful that Eleanor will remain with us until she enters a major university in America. In the meantime, we are obsessed with a concern for how we will ever replace her seemingly boundless capacity for excellent work or her great good-humor in every situation.

On August 17, our Cape Town organization will be augmented by a team of four Wharton MBA graduates, led by Elisa Parsons (a friend of former Project Director, Sheila Roquitte). This impressive team from the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate school of business has already written a business analysis and growth strategy for our Community Baking Trust which is interesting and challenging, and will be working with us on a plan to expand the business throughout the Western Cape Province and to optimize its unique, community-based distribution system. The Wharton team will work with us for three very intensive weeks on these important projects.

The involvement of America-trained MBAs in disadvantaged South Africa is emerging as an important trend for the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust, which can provide the opportunity for grassroots business/social work and benefit materially from the value of very significant pro-bono consulting input to its program. We believe we are well-positioned and sufficiently visible to capitalize and expand upon this trend for years to come.

Among current team members in America are:

 

Molly Biehl Corbin

When not absorbed with her new duties as mother to Alexander Jeffrey (born May 18), Molly has accepted part-time responsibilities with the Amy Biehl Foundation. From her home office in San Diego, as Domestic Liaison, Molly will help to manage an expanding interface between South Africa’s Amy Biehl Foundation Trust and its American counterpart and the numerous funders and supporters of our work in South Africa, who are resident in America. This important communications link has become increasingly difficult for us to manage as we have found ourselves with less available time in America, as a combined result of more time spent in South Africa and heavier schedule commitments when we are in America. Molly will also assist in managing our schedule of speaking and other commitments while we are in the United States. Her background as Executive Director, Family Literacy Foundation, will serve us well as Molly assumes these duties.

The new telephone/fax number for the Foundation in San Diego is (858) 278-1420.

 

Kim and Zach Biehl

Although heavily committed to specialty retail management, college and coaching, Kim and Zach continue to contribute significantly to the Amy Biehl Foundation and have represented us well on many occasions and at numerous functions which are of great importance to the Foundation. Our work and image are greatly enhanced through their many voluntary efforts on our behalf.

 

Laurie Martin

From her base in Wickenburg, AZ, Linda’s younger sister has become an important Foundation spokesperson. Her efforts have resulted in new relationships and in significant financial support for the Foundation from a well-traveled and globally savvy community to which we would not have access otherwise.

 

Crystal Gonzales

A resident of the Coachella Valley agricultural community of Mecca, Crystal is the first intern of the Amy Biehl Foundation in America. An honors graduate of Coachella Valley High School, where she was founder/President of the "Save the World Club", Crystal will enroll as a scholarship student of the University of California – Irvine in late September, 1999. As a focus for her internship, Crystal is spearheading an innovative violence prevention program to help Coachella Valley High School and its surrounding, predominantly-Hispanic communities reduce the high levels of violence with which they are presently plagued. In this important pilot project, Crystal is coordinating local resources with those of national resources including Youth Links/Peace Links (Washington, DC) and US Representative Mary Bono, to host a "Listen-Up" town hall session to be held in Coachella, CA on November 19, 1999. The Amy Biehl Foundation is introducing the "Listen-Up" program of Youth Links to the violence prevention challenge in its Coachella Valley home, thanks to an invitation from the "Save the World Club" and its faculty advisor, Michael Rosenfeld, to become involved. We are honored to have Crystal Gonzales as our first U.S. intern and are confident of her ability to deliver a successful pilot violence prevention program for her community.

Our care team in America is greatly strengthened by students of Mary Institute Saint Louis Country Day School, Wydown Middle School (St. Louis, MO), Sunnymead School (Hillsborough, NJ) and by student, Scott Lowenbaum. The continuing, innovative fund raising efforts of these committed young students have made a dramatic difference in the lives of hundreds of disadvantaged South African youth. Each year, these young American students and their teachers come through with substantial financial support – unsolicited by this Foundation. Unquestionably, they represent the very best in America’s youth and our best hope for the future.

With American and South African teams of this caliber and range, who can deny that "Amy’s Magic" continues to sustain the hearts and souls of her Foundations by delivering the right people, to the right place, at the right time?

 

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Seven Months, in Brief

The past seven months have seen a continuous stream of amazing experiences, which have left us humbled and fulfilled as parents and as Foundation directors. Among the highlights of this period are the following:

 

January

10 Dr. Herma Williams and a traveling group of presidents and key administrators of prestigious eastern U.S. colleges and foundations tour violence prevention projects supported by our Trust.

16 First "Party for the Arts" is hosted by the Biehls to introduce a broad cross-section of Cape Town and Cape Flats residents to the arts of youth from townships and informal settlements.

17 CBS "60-MINUTES" airs Leslie Stahl feature segment on the Trust and its work to a prime time U.S. television audience.

18 Prestigious "PRESIDENT’S AWARD" is presented to the Biehl Family by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Association.

24 Biehls meet with directors of the German Fulbright Alumni Association, in Frankfurt, to discuss opportunities for a working partnership in South Africa. Meetings are arranged by Dr. Ulrich Hueck.

 

February

06 Amy Biehl is presented – posthumously – a Humanitarian Award by The Immortal Chaplains Foundation of Minneapolis, MN. Peter and Linda receive the award from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

08 Linda Biehl meets with Mrs. Judy Kendall’s sixth grade class at Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School in recognition of its continuing support of youth in South Africa.

11 The Biehls appear in a live interview on NPR’s "DIANE RHEEM SHOW". Among numerous on-air callers are Mrs. Kendall’s sixth grade class and one of Amy Biehl’s former teachers.

20 Biehls participate in an event hosted by State Senator, Tom Hayden, in Brentwood, CA to honor Anne Blackshaw and Tim McKee – authors of "No More Strangers Now" (DK Publishers, New York, NY).

21 Biehls appear with Anne and Tim at All Saints Episcopal Church (Pasadena, CA) and at the Midnight Special Bookstore (Santa Monica, CA) to talk about South Africa’s road to reconciliation.

22 Peter and Linda address over 700 high school students and adult guests at a special evening event at the University of California – Irvine’s Barclay Theatre, hosted by the Irvine chapter of Youth Ethics Advocates and Dr. William Hsiang.

 

 

March

06 "Spirit of Tahirih" award is accepted for Linda and Peter Biehl and the Amy Biehl Foundation by Molly Biehl Corbin and husband, Tim, at a performance event staged by Muhtadia Rice in Los Angeles, CA.

09 Biehls address the World Presidents Organization (WPO) University at Cape Town on Robben Island on process of reconciliation.

15 Helderberg College, near Cape Town, hosts the Biehls who address the student body at its weekly convocation. Senior class President – a PAC party member – describes the Biehls as "Black people with White faces".

21 MTV "Road Rules" crew, with Semester at Sea students arrive in Cape Town for a concert by Johnny Clegg. The Trust provides fifty kids from the townships through its Themba Music Programme and the Biehls are joined by Amy’s close Stanford friend, David Hill, for the event.

 

April

01 Biehls address the Palm Desert Rotary Club luncheon at the invitation of Leonard Rudolph, providing an opportunity to become acquainted with our local desert community.

12 City of La Quinta Community Services Commission invites Linda and Peter Biehl to discuss youth violence prevention strategies for the community, presenting another opportunity to become involved locally.

15 Biehls speak to students at Georgetown University (Washington, DC) on conflict resolution, at invitation of Dr. George Irani, noted international conflict resolution specialist. South African Ambassador, Sheila Sisulu, is a surprise visitor.

21 Biehls attend City of La Quinta Youth Forum on a day marked by the passing of William J. Biehl (Peter’s father) and Linda Biehl’s birthday.

26 University of California – Berkeley, Human Rights Center hosts the Biehls to talk about "Converting Rights to Realities in the new South Africa".

28 Biehls appear at San Jose Rotary Club luncheon to acknowledge club’s decision to provide funding for three Trust projects in the Cape Flats. An evening appearance at Stanford University’s Haas Center of Community Service focuses on "Getting Things Done in South Africa".

 

May

04 Abigail Carney born to Foundation supporters Mike and Tracy (Kendall) Carney, in Spokane, WA.

18 Alexander Jeffrey Corbin born to Dr. Tim and Molly Biehl Corbin at Mercy Hospital in San Diego, CA. On this same afternoon, "OPRAH" show airs segment, "Remembering Amy".

20 Linda and Peter Biehl are presented with an award by California’s Death Penalty Focus in Santa Monica, CA. Introduction of the Biehls is by actress, Alfre Woodard, and presentation is by actor/producer Mike Farrell. Friends, the Glietsmans, are table-mates at dinner.

29 Peter Biehl greets team from Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, University of Notre Dame on its arrival in Cape Town.

 

June

05 With Fr. Basil Van Rensburg of St. Gabriel’s Church, Guguletu, Linda and Peter discuss forgiveness and conflict resolution with participants in an Ecumenical Conference on Violence Prevention at Mission San Juan Capistrano, in California.

11 Annual fund raising dinner with Steve Schwarz and his sixth grade students at Sunnymead School in Hillsborough, NJ. Once again, this great event raises over $1000 for the Foundation. Fr. Basil joins Linda and Peter for the event.

15 Biehls attend dinner at Cape Town’s Mt. Nelson Hotel, hosted by University of Notre Dame College of Business Dean, Dr. Carolyn Woo and her visiting faculty and students. Dr. Woo discusses a long-term commitment of Notre Dame to South Africa development.

20 New Intern Coordinator, Ashleigh Murphy, arrives in Cape Town to join Amy Biehl Foundation Trust.

26 Biehls join Henry Reynolds (Deputy Director, USAID-South Africa) and his family in North Adams, MA on the occasion of Henry’s recognition by alma mater, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, with its Alumni Prize for 1999.

 

July

06 Linda and Peter join Drs. Paul and Sonia Lieb Ables (Cal State – Long Beach) in presentation of a paper, "Transforming Private Issues into Social Development", at 11th International Symposium of I.U.C.-I.S.D. entitled "Social Development for the New Millennium: Visions and Strategies for Global Transformation", in Cape Town.

07 Visiting social workers and sociologists tour violence prevention projects supported by the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust.

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In Memory of Amy’s Grandfather

Amy’s grandfather, William Joseph Biehl, passed away quietly at his home in Bermuda Dunes, CA at approximately 2:00 AM, April 21, 1999. He had always encouraged Amy to reach high and to go to the top to get what she wanted. Amy and her grandfather shared many hours of political discussion over the years, and – a little girls – Amy and her sisters were admonished by their grandfather that "intelligent people are never bored".

No one was more devastated at the news of Amy’s death. Few have been more supportive of our work in Amy’s memory. In his last hours, Linda told "Grandpa" that a little angel was waiting for him. We are certain that Amy and her beloved grandfather are – in fact – together again.

The Amy Biehl Foundation will find an appropriate memorial for William J. Biehl at some point in the future, in celebration of a special relationship.

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REMEMBERING AMY

August 25th is the sixth anniversary of Amy’s death in Guguletu, Cape Town, South Africa. As busy as we are with her two Foundations, it is essential to pause, on occasion, to reflect on Amy and on the elements of her character and personality which made her special and productive in life. We are committed to keeping her Foundations and their approach to service as reflective of Amy’s image as possible.

Recently, Kim Biehl reflected on Amy and her love of music.

"What is it about he music?

the beat.

Voices folding over and melting into each other

creating natural harmonics

important lyrics, significant melodies, heavy refrains

the beat.

Staccato clicks, full-bodied baritones, open sopranos.

the beat.

Drums pushing, pulling, prodding me to my feet.

the beat. the beat. the beat.

Rhythm tapping, knocking, pounding on my soul.

Amy, is that you?"

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Thank you.

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Donations can be sent to:
Amy Biehl Foundation
P.O. Box 66
San Marcos, CA 92079-0066
Phone: 949.650.5356
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