Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tree Ceremony

 During my time in Cape Town, I was working with the Zimele Project. The Zimele Project has many different facets to it, so specifically I was working with the Women of Worth side of the Zimele Project. Working with the Women of Worth (WOW) project was an experience that I never would have gotten the chance to do if I was not part of this program. To be a part of such a large project, that is impacting change on such a large scale was unbelievable and I am so happy that I was able to be a part of that. There were many different roles that I worked on during the internship. Whether it was logistics, mapping, content building, methods and evaluation, or even setting up sessions and observing, there was always something new I could do and learn from it.  

      The WOW project works with women 19-24 and the general idea is to empower these women through 12 monthly empowerment sessions each with a different focus and essentially these sessions will lead women to engage in less risky behavior. These sessions provide these women with resources and concepts with regards to mental health, reproductive health, CV building, interview prep, and many other things. The 1st of the 12 sessions is called The Tree Building Ceremony. The beginning of The Tree Ceremony gives an overview of the project and what these women will be learning and the different resources the program will provide. After they are led outside to plant the tree. Essentially the tree represents the start of these women's journey and how they will continue to grow throughout the sessions. This is my favorite part, because this is when the singing and dancing begins. Music is an important part of many different African traditions, and it was beautiful to get to see it in the Xhosa culture. It was really powerful to see one person start a song and have every single person know the song and begin singing and dancing along. After they planted the tree, they make a pledge to stick with the 12 sessions throughout the year and make a commitment “to empower others and be empowered”. Honestly it was so beautiful just to be allowed in that space and witness the collective strength and happiness coming from these women. I find it hard to write what the tree ceremony is about, but I feel that pictures and videos capture the moment better.

- Jasmine Okafor

Gliding into Cape Town

      Part of the Public Health Cape Town Trip for me was to try different things that I have never done before, whether it was eating new foods or going to new places. Just coming to Cape Town was an adventure because I had only been outside of the United States once. In the first few days we were trying to decide what cool things we wanted to do while in Cape Town, a few of the things that were discussed included: shark cage diving, paragliding, bungee jumping, and sky diving. All of these possibililities sounded pretty terrible to me. I love trying new things, but I tend to stay away from activities where I think my life can be put in danger. But, as the weeks went along I felt that maybe I should put myself outside of my comfort zone and attempt one of these “thrilling" activities. A few of us who were up for it, decided to go paragliding off of Signal Hill and then we would land in Sea Point and get brunch there post glide.

To be honest, the scariest part of the whole thing was the waiting and anticipation. I was truly panicking, I swear I checked my pulse about five times beforehand. As you go through the other posts, you will see a picture from Karina and and it clearly depicts "the fear in our eyes". They told us we had to literally sprint off a cliff and if you weren’t fast enough you could fall and hurt yourself or if you hesitated, you could hurt yourself. I was very close to not doing it, but I saw my friends who went before me and they all did it just fine so I thought I didn’t come all the way here to chicken out  and if they could do it then I can probably do it too. Next thing you know, they are telling me to run and at that point it was too late to back out so I just ran off that cliff and I was in the air gliding above Cape Town. In hindsight, I am so glad that I did it. It was an absolutely amazing experience. I can’t even truly describe it, it was so much fun and the views were breathtaking to say the least. I’m just happy I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something that I would never have done in the states. Who knows maybe I’ll try skydiving next.

- Jasmine Okafor