The extraordinary Rock Girls arrived home last night as the sun set over Table Mountain. Over the last ten days, on our second road trip to the Northern Cape, we have tracked lions in the Kalahari, sang our hearts out headed towards the Tankwa Karoo, slept outside under shooting stars in Anysberg Nature Reserve, and met girls all along the way. Girls in Calvinia who face teenage pregnancy, girls in Matjiesfontein who don’t have a high school, girls in Upington who are working together to make their community safe and rid it of sexual violence. Brave girls. All as brave as our Rock Girls.
We used radio, photography, film, and our own writing to share their stories. On the last night of our journey, we sat in a circle tucked away in the mountains outside Springbok and shared our own stories. After ten days together, safe in each other’s company, some of us told stories that we had never shared before. Heartbreaking stories about parents who abuse daughters, little girls who are raped and sexually abused by family members and friends, daughters who never knew their parents. We sobbed, but then we linked arms and agreed to work together to ensure other girls are free from these horrors and that we will give them the safe spaces to share their own stories and find solutions.
We are strong, we are brave, we are Rock Girls.
We were reminded of the power of radio this morning. Audrey and Thesline sent out a message of support to girls thanks to Radio Kaboesna in Calvinia.
We arrived here last night after a spectacular sunset over the Tankwa Karoo. We feel very far from our homes here. Reaching Calvin required long hours over bumpy dirt roads. We met girls preparing to for their final exams to graduate from high school and invited them on our bus. Unlike us, they haven’t had the opportunity to have a support group for girls. It made us realize how much confidence we’ve gained over the past five years as part of Rock Girl.
Things got hot fast once we headed north. We saw our first social weaver nest, a giant mass of straw built by tiny birds and quiver trees.
We pulled into Upington in time for a sunset cruise on the Orange River, a welcome sight after hours on the dusty road. As the sun went down, we danced to Boere Musiek and reflected on where travel can take you.Who thought we’d be doing the conga line to traditional Afrikaans music the night before we tour police holding cells at the Magistrate’s Court.
17 Rock Girls left Manenberg Friday afternoon and we headed to the hills. 50 hours later we’ve slept under the stars while listening to baboons and jackals, interviewed girls in the Karoo, trained in radio and photography, visited the largest telescope in the Southern hemisphere and got off the beaten path in our beautiful country. We haven’t slept much.
Already, we’ve heard that girls in remote areas don’t have access to libraries, high schools and programs like Rock Girl. Sadly, violence against girls is also a problem here.
Tomorrow we head to Upington to meet with girls at the Magistrates Court and learn more about their lives before we head to the Kalahari Desert.
On this trip, the Rock Girls have invited four Americans girls who will be going back to share these stories with their communities. Although separated by an ocean, these girls have found several issues to work together to address.
Being off the beaten path sometimes means spotty wifi. A temporary problem for us but a big problem for the girls who live in this remote area.
Thank you, all of you, for making this trip possible. We could not do this without your support.
Thank you to our partners who have helped get this bus rolling:
Pick and Pay
Africa Travel and Co.
Inhouse Brand Architects
Cape Town Tourism
Cari Gray and Co.
Lord Milner Hotel
Tswalu Nature Reserve
Western Cape and Northern Cape Departments of Justice
Children’s Radio Foundation