Thank you all for supporting our first endeavor into providing knowledge and sustainable human rights work to people in need! We stayed in the community with our students, allowing us to get to know different aspects and members of the society. We approached the volunteer caregivers of Dikgale’s child care centers (rural northern South Africa) by asking open ended questions, allowing them to express their desires to us. Their commitment to the initial program was impressive. For most of them it was the first time they had committed to an ongoing program beyond some schooling. A few of the centers wanted more classes per week and to begin inviting members of the communities.
The class structures were calculated yet remained necessarily flexible in order to respect where the students were regarding learning and committing to both brain and body. We had semiweekly conversations diving into the basics of nutrition science and the idea of questioning health. We engrained not only empowerment to have the ability to fight back, but the Krav Maga principles of early recognition and attacking the attacker in productive ways.
After laying down the groundwork in Dikgale, we became aware it would not be the place for sustainable programs. It was by no means easy to leave and there were many tears upon our departure. Every individual we connected with has written to us on WhatsApp since we left.
We took the self defense work south to a quaint town which has seen a recent increase in violence, rape, and murder. We were invited by The Giant Flag, a small and powerful non-profit aiming to bring job creation, clean energy and tourism to Graaff-Reinet. They set up a space in a local church where people converged from different parts of town. Seventy people signed up, giving us great hope for the future. The town is separated into three areas for three different cultures and races. It was a beautiful and unique setting to have everyone training together.
To make this work sustainable and autonomous for the locals, someone in the community must be trained to become a teacher. They must be both willing and able. Taking our week-long course was Nelly Mkonko, whose photo is featured at the top of this post. She exceeds any expectations we could have placed on her. She is a self-driven person in her mid-20s of the Umasizakhe neighborhood of Graaff-Reinet. Unlike her neighbors, she has been educated across the tracks in a private school. Since she was a child she has been uniquely motivated to train karate. Between trips to see her coach and doing the work at home, she finally earned her black belt. Beyond her training, her thirst for learning remains strong. Her face is bright and passionate when she explains her methods she uses with her fitness clients. Walking up to her house down a unkempt dirt road, you can see her standing with the fierce look of a passionate coach as teen boys are struggling to keep up the pace of her bicep curl regimen.
I have been looking for something to do with the younger generation. They need a smart outlet so they feel confidence in themselves, giving them a chance to look deeper into who they can be.
She is very aware of the violent discrimination not only against women but against anyone showing weakness. As one who has experienced bigotry in a traditional upbringing, she has had to stand up for herself in countless dangerous situations both verbally and physically. Nelly is driven to build the moral of the locals around her. This is why she is committed to learning all she can from Jazzy and build on her dreams. She has chosen to become a police officer, and we are proud of her decision as good officers are needed in South Africa. She will be doing a six month police training and then will be getting a part-time shift schedule. Jazzy will come back to South Africa to train her then. Currently Nelly is caring for and using the gear which includes focus mitts, tombstones, kick shields, and knives.
Here’s to good immersive work and support from around the world!