Lessons for Future
let us share more subtle, complex and difficult lessons
learned in our eight years of human service work in countless
townships and informal settlements near Cape Town, Strand
and George. These
lessons are more important to share because they might contribute
to future progress and may Æ in a sense Æ become a part
of AmyÍs continuing legacy here.
THE ñPREVIOUSLY-DISADVANTAGEDî ARE STILL DISADVANTAGED
South AfricaÍs Constitution and Bill of Rights are treasures.
So are its people Æ too many of whom remain disadvantaged
and disenfranchised as a matter of daily living experience.
This unfortunate reality is not unique to South Africa.
We share it in America.
LESSON TWO: THE ñMAINSTREAMî
IS WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE
we are told by members of the advantaged community that
we must bring ñthose peopleî from the disadvantaged communities
into the mainstream of South African life.
We argue that the true mainstream is where the people
are: in the disadvantaged settings where more than 70 percent
of South Africans reside.
LESSON THREE: RESOURCES
MUST MOVE TO THE MAINSTREAM
and financial capital must be integrated into the mainstream
of South African life.
Mainstream communities have vast daily needs for
goods and services, for education and for health and nutritional
service-oriented people should not have to journey from
their mainstream communities Æ struggling with impossible
transportation barriers Æ to come to Cape Town to be instructed
that they must pay 20 percent interest to borrow seed capital
for their own empowerment.
LESSON FOUR: ISOLATION
Africa is a case study on the far-reaching effects of isolation
on human advancement.
Years of sanctions have extracted an incalculable
toll on the nation and its place in the world. Of even greater
importance is the continuing isolation of 70-80 percent
of the nationÍs population from the tools and resources
required for human and economic self-empowerment.
Lack of efficient, safe and convenient transport
continues to isolate disadvantaged South Africans and is
among apartheidÍs cruelest legacies.
Transportation issues plague our violence prevention
programs and businesses daily and consume more human and
financial resources than any consideration other than the
safety of our people.
LESSON FIVE: SURVIVOR
ETHICS ARE A DAILY CHALLENGE
Africans often characterize themselves as survivors.
Traits of survivors are often admirable. Sometimes, they are not.
We find a sort of ñdog-eat-dogî mentality in the
business and organization world which is disquieting.
Since September 1997 the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust
has been operating as a sanctioned charitable trust in South
Africa. Regardless of our charitable work, we have consistently been
forced to pay more than necessary for capital equipment,
goods and services.
We have swallowed hard and carried on because we
are guests in this country.
When the mission of our Community Baking Trust is
to provide low-cost, high-quality bread to poor people,
why should we be forced to absorb two arbitrary price increases
in flour each year?
This is counter-productive because eventually we
are forced to pass at least a portion of these cost increases
through to our customers, who given a chance will expand
the national demand for bread dramatically, if they can
afford a loaf of bread.
Additionally, the bread we donate to other charitable
programs becomes more costly to us.
At some point, we must finally adjust the price of
bread to our customers or put Community Baking Trust to
In our experience, we believe the Amy Biehl Foundation
Trust is plagued with the misconception that we are blessed
with abundant financial resources. This is not true. While
we have invested over R20 million in South Africa since
September 1997, most of it has been painstakingly raised
in the United States and each dollar becomes more difficult
to raise, each year.
For those South Africans Æ private, corporate and
governmental Æ who have assisted us financially, we are
To those Americans who continue to embrace South
AfricaÍs continuing struggle for economic justice and our
very small role in it, we are similarly appreciative.
Nonetheless, the perception that the Trust has significant
money arouses the survivor ethic, which says ñ...thereÍs
money there; letÍs go for itî. It would be more productive
for South Africa were we to sit together with the question
ñ...thereÍs money there; how can we make it go further to
benefit South Africa?î
SIX: JEALOUSY IMPEDES PROGRESS
a disadvantaged community has nothing, harmony and solidarity
abound. When a member of that community earns something (whether commission
sales of ñAMYÍs BREAD-The Bread of Hope and Peace, or a
salary for teaching in one of our TrustÍs after-school schools)
harmony can be disturbed and solidarity shaken.
Jealousy impedes human social and economic progress.
We wonder whether jealousy led to the torching of
our Community Baking TrustÍs Parow bakery.
Or to the derailing of a project to develop a community
arts/economic empowerment center for the people of Philippi,
Nyanga and BrownÍs Farm? Or to creation of senseless roadblocks
to a peer HIV/AIDS prevention program in a Thembalethu school,
SEVEN: FEAR OF SUCCESS UNDERMINES ACHIEVEMENT
is that disadvantaged people are so unaccustomed to promises
kept, to dreams fulfilled, that they develop a fear of success
-of actually achieving - a long time goal.
This fear is often expressed at the very moment when
success appears with the assertion that ñ...we were not
properly consulted on this projectî.
Always at the last minute, this inevitable phenomenon
has forced us to become creative problem-solvers.
Yet, sometimes, we fail.
school principal once told us: ñMr. and Mrs. Biehl, we must
have conflict. And when conflict develops we must stop everything until conflict
can be resolved.î To which Linda replied: ñI donÍt agree
that conflict is essential.
And I know that while you are stopping everything,
children in your community are dying.î
EIGHT: RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CAN WORK
ways, our most fulfilling moments have occurred since your
nationÍs truth and reconciliation process presented us the
opportunity to know, understand and reconcile with Ntombeko
Peni and Easy Nofemela Æ two extraordinary young men granted
amnesty for their roles in AmyÍs death, who now work hard
for their community and our Community Baking Trust. We take
pride in our growing relationship with Ntombeko and Easy
and in the nation which makes it possible.
Simon Fanshawe, in his July 28 piece for TELEGRAPH
MAGAZINE (London Daily Telegraph) puts perfectly for us:
ñBecause when youÍre with Peter and Linda and Easy and Peni,
it just seems the most obvious thing that they are together
as friends. Somehow, it doesnÍt seem strange at all. Because that way,
at least AmyÍs death has given them all a future.î
LESSON NINE: ñITÍS STILL ABOUT
ago, we were invited to address the student body at Helderberg
College, near Somerset West.
The students Æ a very interesting and diverse group
Æ were attentive as we spoke. When we were finished, a student body officer (African and
Pan African Congress member) addressed the students to say
ñ...the Biehls really are Black people with White faces
and we thank them for returning to South Africa.î Then,
he returned to us and said ñbut, you know, Mrs. Biehl, itÍs
still about the land.î We shall not forget that remark.
It remains a chilling reminder of unfinished business
TEN: RISK/REWARD ANALYSIS MUST BE A DAILY EXERCISE
learned in our work that a daily consideration of whether
rewards justify risks is essential. Some of our people Æ
South Africans and
Americans Æ have faced gun-point confrontations. Last Friday, August 17, an Albany bakery driver was fatally
shot in Gugulethu. How can you knowingly place your people
at risk? What return can justify this? These daily judgments
weigh heavily on those who make them.
Recently, a police commandant implored us to continue
our bread deliveries in the Cape Flats with the following
plea: ñif you pull out, the thugs will have wonî.
South AfricaÍs disadvantaged people donÍt require
an oppressor to rob them of their futures.
They are, sadly, capable of doing it to themselves.
SMALL ACHIEVEMENTS, BIG CHALLENGES
September 1997, the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust has launched
and sustains a holistic portfolio of community-centered
violence/prevention/human empowerment programs.
- AB Connect (email chat
room for linking schools and kids)
- After-School Programs
- ñGo For Goldî Tutorial
Program (with Neil Muller Construction)
- Youth Reading Role Models
- Zerilda Park Primary
- After School Feeding
- Emergency First-Aid
Training (nearly 5000 people trained)
- AmyÍs Tavern Project
(HIV/AIDS prevention with beer distributors)
- HIV/AIDS Peer Education
- Nutrition, Cooking and
- School Vegetable Gardening
- Amy Biehl Greening and
- Amy Biehl Music Program
- Art Therapy
Skills and Enterprise Development
- Buthisizwe Education
and Development Trust
- Buthisizwe Manufacturing
- Community Baking Trust
- Amy Biehl Athletic Scholarship
- Khayelitsha Golf Driving
- Mountain View Skate
- Playing Field Creation
pride in these very successful programs with their creators
and managers in townships and informal settlements from
Cape Town to Strand to George. Each week, thousands of youth and many budding township entrepreneurs
and teachers draw their salaries from programs and businesses
sponsored by the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust.
are vast. The demands of mounting and sustaining quality
programs are humbling and we need help from South Africans
at all levels in order to expand our work.
Help can come in a variety of forms and favorable
tax treatment may now be offered for financial gifts to
our Buthisizwe Education Fund Trust.
We invite South Africans to contact us or Project
Manager, Ashleigh Murphy, at (021) 425-0094/5/6/7 or at
committed us to South Africa for life.
We are challenged by the magnitude of human need,
humbled by our very finite resources and fearful of the
safety of our dedicated people. But we wonÍt abandon the people we are here to serve.
you for this opportunity to share our story with our South
Peter and Linda Biehl
Highlights at a Glance
11 Peter and Linda join Steve
and Marybeth Schwarz at Edgar School in Metuchen, NJ for
another successful speaking/fund-raising event with MarybethÍs
new students, teachers and parents.
Trust staff member/advocate Laura Harley departs South Africa
to begin graduate studies in international public health
at Yale University. LauraÍs many important contributions
to disadvantaged communities in the George area are her
Foundation staffers Trevor Murphy (Laguna Beach, CA) and
Sarah Baigrie (Cape Town, RSA) are married in Plettenberg
Bay, RSA. Many key Xhosa staff members of the Foundation
participate in a beautiful occasion.
29 Duke interns Neil Gupta and
Chintan Maru join the Foundation for the summer months.
4 Biehls host former
Notre Dame intern Michelle Carlos and 2001 Irish MBAs to
meet Foundation Cape Town staff at a gathering in their
11 HBO airs documentary film
ñLong NightÍs Journey Into Dayî on South AfricaÍs Truth
and Reconciliation process for the first time.
of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business Administration,
Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, hosts its annual
dinner at Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town.
Blauuw, driver for the George branch of Community Baking
Trust and beloved friend, is murdered while delivering our
bread (ñAMYÍS BREADî) to the community of Thembalethu.
None of us shall ever forget Jacobus or his selfless
service to his community.
16 Biehls join David Webber
and Renatta Van Rooyen to complete Jacobus BlauuwÍs delivery
route in Thembalethu, in his honor and memory.
Korr (University of Missouri, St. Louis) attends Foundation
staff meeting in Cape Town to share some of his research
into the role of sport on Robben Island during the extended
imprisonment of anti-apartheid struggle heroes.
tours key staff members of the US Senate Foreign Relations
Committee to Foundation programs near Cape Town.
15 Peter attends the bittersweet
farewell gathering for USAID-South Africa Director, Stacy
Rhodes and wife, Trish, in Pretoria and is introduced to
incoming Director, Dirk Dykerman. Stacy Rhodes has been
very important to the FoundationÍs successful relationship
with USAID, and will be missed.
21 Linda and Peter, with David
and Dianne Webber, meet Raymond and Wendy Ackerman Æ founders/builders
of Pick ïn Pay Æ South AfricaÍs largest retail supermarket
chain and most innovative social enterprise.
Under Ray AckermanÍs guidance, Pick ïn Pay markets
will offer ñAMYÍs BREAD...THE BREAD OF HOPE AND PEACEî to
South AfricaÍs advantaged markets.
25 To commemorate the eighth
anniversary of AmyÍs death, Linda and Peter, Vanessa and
Victor West, Ntobeko Peni and Easy Nofemela distribute free
bread and other survival essentials to flood victims in
KTC and Lower Philippi, near Cape Town.
8 Peter and Linda
share the opening of the season of atonement with a Tustin,
CA synagogue community struggling with the frustrations
created by the unending violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
9 Biehls arrive
in Washington, DC for Congressional presentation on the
new South Africa with students from the University of Maryland,
scheduled for Wednesday, September 12.
11 The day no American will
ever forget. The day we lost our innocence.
19 Biehls address over one thousand
members of the Seattle Rotary Club, introduced by South
African native, Paul Suzman.
20 Linda and Peter attend and
address a fund raising event for SeattleÍs Desmond Tutu
Peace Center featuring a screening of ñLong NightÍs Journey
College Scholars Program students and faculty host the Biehls
at their annual planning/work retreat in Santa Monica, CA.
Participants share experience and wisdom in community
service work, guided by Joyce Kaufman, PhD, Program Director.
26 Biehls arrive in Albuquerque
for two wonderful days with students, faculty, staff, parents
and friends of Amy Biehl Charter High School, to announce
the schoolÍs first major capital fund drive for a new center
11 Official launch of ñAMYÍS
TAVERN PROJECTî in George. This unique and creative project
integrates counseling by trained community service volunteers
with distribution of condoms and literature to the taverns
where youth congregate, using the beer trucks of Southern
Cape Beer Distributors (Pty) Ltd.
16 Linda and Peter address the
prize-giving ceremonies at St. JosephÍs Marist College in
Rondebosch, where they learn from Headmaster, Hugh Fynn,
that Foundation Education Director, Solomon Makosana is
a board member. A wonderful evening!
16 Biehls join Project Manager,
Ashleigh Murphy, for lunch with administrators of the University
of Cape Town Graduate School of Business to explore opportunities
for involvement of UCT MBA candidates in Foundation business
enterprises and start-ups.
22 Biehls depart Cape Town for
the last time in 2001.
24 Peter and Linda are featured
speakers at dinner to celebrate the 10th anniversary
of Washington, DCÍs Faith in Politics organization, founded
by Rev. Douglas Tanner to provide an intimate forum for
reflection and consideration of ethical issues as they relate
to political matters.
Biehls have the unenviable challenge of following
remarks by Co-Chairmen, Reps. Amo Houghton (NY) and John
by interns Neil Gupta, Tejas Shah and former intern/present
Cape Town staffer, Elizabeth Richardson, the Biehls speak
at Duke UniversityÍs Parents Weekend hosted by Terry Sanford
Institute of Public Policy. Also participating are former
interns Carrie Johnson and Chintan Maru of Duke and Christie
Lacy-Krietz of Stanford. A wonderful opportunity to meet
Duke faculty, students and parents!
repay daughterÍs killers with forgivenessî, by Gavin du
Venage appears on San Francisco CHRONICLE front page.
4 Biehls have lunch
with Milton Academy director of jazz music, Bob Sinicrope,
to explore opportunities for synergy with our music program
in the Cape Flats. A Milton Academy jazz band has already
contributed its performance fee from Cape TownÍs Green Dolphin
Club to the Foundation.
Joshua Margolis, faculty and MBA candidates at Harvard Business
School host the Biehls for an invigorating day of mutual
exploration of opportunities for partnership between HBS
and our Foundation.
Marcellette G. Williams and her committed team at University
of Massachusetts-Amherst orchestrate a finely-tuned and
fully-scheduled campus ñimmersionî for Linda and Peter,
during which they are presented with seemingly-endless and
thoughtfully-planned opportunities to engage with UMASS
trustees, administrators, deans, faculty, students and area
residents on a wide range of subjects relating to AmyÍs
living legacy and to the living of her values, as parents.
Nothing is overlooked in this unforgettable visit Æ including
the continuous distribution of ñAMYÍs BREADî throughout
the ñUMASS Communityî and a presentation of ChancellorÍs
Medals to the Biehls at a memorable luncheon of traditional
South African cuisine catered and presented by students
in the highly-rated UMASS hospitality management program.
We shall report further on this memorable visit in
a subsequent NEWSLETTER, but we would sure follow Marcellette
Williams and her incredible team anywhere they may go!
lunch with Chancellor Williams and presidents of Smith College,
Amherst College, Hampshire College and Mt. Holyoke College,
the Biehls spend the evening with Foundation supporters,
the Greer family, at their beautiful country home near Great
9 Linda and Peter
are introduced to Open Society InstituteÍs Herbert Sturz
and wife Elizabeth and Dr. Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corporation
of New York, and wife Clare at a dinner hosted by Foundation
partners, Vincent and Anne Mai in New York.
It is an evening of far-ranging discussion of opportunities
for human service and conditions in South Africa, Afghanistan
and New York City.
11 ñAmyÍs bread brings jobs,
sustenance to South Africaî, by T. Susan Chang, appears
in Boston GLOBE food section.
full circleî, by Gavin Du Venage, appears in the Toronto
13 At 9:01 AM (PST), William
Zachary Corbin arrives at San DiegoÍs Mercy Hospital to
proud parents Tim and Molly Biehl Corbin.
13 Peter addresses an evening
gathering of the Anti Defamation League of Orange County,
CA in Newport Beach while Linda stops off in San Diego to
assist Molly and Tim.
Del Mar High School welcomes Peter to its 2nd
Annual Community Service Day, along with 21 area non-profit
organizations which benefited from 18,000 hours of volunteer
service from CDM seniors last year. Peter has the opportunity
to speak with two assemblies (high school, middle school)
on a fulfilling day.
15 Peter addresses an evening
prayer meeting at St. JohnÍs Neuman Catholic Church in Irvine,
Foundation programs can still use the following donated
items (in new or used condition):
- Baby clothes/toddler
clothes and accessories
- Ballet shoes and attire
- Golf equipment
- Musical instruments
Please send donations Æ with an indication of value,
for tax purposes Æ to the Foundation in La Quinta, CA.
We close this NEWSLETTER with the following letter
Æ just received. We hope it will be as inspiring to you
as it has been to us.
Dear Peter and Linda,
Thank you for coming to CDM (Corona Del Mar High
School) today. I regret that I cannot be there to meet you.
I have read about your incredible journey through
the papers and the internet.
Though I have never met you I feel somehow connected
with you in spirit.
It will almost be two years ago that ñA Long NightÍs
Journey Into Dayî was shown at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Lucy Steinberg said at that time it changed her life.
I barely knew her at the time.
Later that year my son, an 8th grader
came home from school and told me his good friend was strangled
at school and was in the hospital in Intensive Care. I asked what happened and my son told me he watched a ñbullyî
choke his friend until he passed out. I asked my son what
he did to help his friend. He told me ñnothing, I was too
scared?î The incident was left unreported and everyone thought
the victim had a seizure. I was literally sick to think
my son witnessed this incident and did nothing.
We talked for a long time. He agreed to do the right
thing the next morning and report the incident.
When he did the principal told my son that what he
saw wasnÍt right and his friend really did have a seizure.
I realized at this moment that the school was in
denial and there were serious problems.
The victim and his family were ostracized and blamed.
Lucy Steinberg was a friend of this family. She called me,
a mere acquaintance, to figure out what we could do to help
the family and support the victim.
She talked about the documentary, ñA Long NightÍs
Journey Into Dayî and how the essence of this film compelled
her into action by standing up for what was right. This
was what I came to find out was my defining moment, a decision
to keep the peace or rock the boat.
It has been a long, hard journey for Lucy and I in
the past year and a half. We went up against a community that wants no bad publicity,
wants to see things through rose-colored glasses and doesnÍt
often hear what their children are actually saying and feeling.
We had town-hall meetings to promote peace and tolerance
at school. We
organized meetings to highlight community agencies that
have character-education programs.
We were floored by the response.
Parents started talking to their children about what
was happening at school. The code of silence was breaking down and kids started reporting
one incident after the other of bullying and intimidation.
We brought these stories to the attention of the administration
and school board.
After much work at anti-intimidation policy was drafted
and approved by the school board.
This was not only to assist the victims but also
to ensure the bullies received help as well.
The amazing part of all this is that the work your
daughter Amy did touched peopleÍs lives even after her death.
Lucy felt the power and conviction to fight for a cause
she believed in. Her belief helped me have the courage to
sacrifice something I cared about ñbeing the good PTA momî
to being an activist.
The hardest part now is to forgive and let go of
the anger to those that did ever thing in their power to
discredit us. But
your example of forgiveness to the men that murdered your
daughter humbles me. Your message of peace coming from honoring
your daughter is extremely powerful. By concentrating on
what positive steps we could do to change the school climate
and not dwelling on the obstacles and the negativity, we
were able to make changes.
The battle is not over but it is a wonderful joy
to have you on our campus. That is what I call a leap of
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