Friday, March 18, 2011

Mother Bear Project and SA's Human Rights Day

I think I intuitively knew I’d be discouraged by my February project with the college, and had the forethought to plan something easy and fun for March. The great thing about the Mother Bear Project is Amy B, the woman that organizes the shipping of the bears, is a dream to work with.

I met these powerhouses of women that run this awesome day care center last year at the crèche graduation. I worked with these women this year to distribute the toy bears to their orphans and vulnerable children. We timed our event to honor South Africa’s national holiday: Human Rights Day.

The photos speak for themselves; the kids are darlings!

Of course, these little ones don’t yet understand the history behind their nation’s holiday, Human Rights Day, and the HIV/AIDS connection is that it is a human right for all to live in a world affected by HIV/AIDS to have the right to treatment if infected, and education for prevention if not.

Human Rights Day, in South Africa, however, marks a very significant historical event. The apartheid government darkened South Africa’s nation in 1948. Tensions regarding such a brutal separatism challenged the government almost immediately. In 1959, the tensions were worsening and national demonstrations were staged by protestors. On March 21, 1960, one such demonstration was planned for township of Sharpeville and sadly, police opened fire on the protesters and killed 67 and wounded 187 demonstrators. It is said that most were shot in the back. Eighteen thousand protesters were arrested.

Nelson Mandela, along with several other powerful, African leaders would be arrested only four years later and apartheid only later dismantled in 1994. However, the Sharpeville Massacre, which is remembered annually and renamed Human Rights Day, marked the turning point for the fall of apartheid in South Africa.

Heavy stuff, I know, for toddlers and toy bears—but hey, I’m an education volunteer!


PS. For more pictures of our Mother Bear Project and SA Human Rights Day, see my public Facebook page (click on the link). You need not be a FB member to see the photos:

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