From 12-16 June 2015, fourteen high school girls from the Cape Flats travelled from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and back to find out what it is like to be a girl in South Africa. Trained as youth reporters and photographers by the Children’s Radio Foundation and Iliso Labantu Photography Cooperative, the girls interviewed their peers along the way, visited innovative programs, and explored their own country.
The Rock Girls arrived home this week, bringing back stories of girls from across South Africa who face gang violence, rape, physical abuse, hunger, and lack of education. They met girls in New Brighton who are too afraid to walk to school, girls in Helenvale who were raped on their way to school, girls in Smartsville who don’t even have a high school, so often drop out after grade 7.
They also swapped ideas on how to overcome these challenges, from taking self defense course to creating after school groups like Rock Girl to using social media to being human rights observers in their own communities. Technology is a powerful tool. Rock Girl is using it to keep girls safe, warning them by whats app about gang shootings and dangerous streets and comforting them when the gun shots ring out at night. We plan on expanding this virtual support network to include girls we meet on our Road Trips and girls across South Africa. And we will use this to share the Rock Girl Charter, setting forth what it means to be a Rock Girl.
This week the Rock Girls are writing exams, back to being high school girls. But for a few days, they were youth reporters, documenting the very real and very difficult challenges that so many young women face across South Africa. They saw elephants, they overcame their fears, they swam in the Indian Ocean, but most importantly, they broadened the circle of sisterhood, creating opportunities for girls from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape to become Rock Girls and make their own communities safer for all. Rock Girl groups are being formed in Helenvale, New Brighton, Smartsville, and Bredasdorp as a result of their visits.
These girls are brave, they are resilient, and they want their voices to be heard. Rock Girl is embarking on our second road trip to the Northern Cape in October to meet more girls, train more youth reporters, and continue to explore our own country. We will visit the telescope at Sutherland, learn about the Xhoisan culture, and raft down the Orange River. We will invite girls to get on our bus, to share their stories, and to sleep over with us under the stars.
Let the adventure continue.
We are grateful for your support of this test drive and hope you can continue to support our efforts and that you will share with your friends, family, and colleagues. They can make a donation by going to our website, www.rockgirlsa.org.