Reconciliation: Lessons from South Africa

By Jessica Burkard — How many of us in the United States know what “reconciliation” actually means?

Does it really mean much to any of us in America?

“Reconciliation” is not uselessly tossed around here, it touches the lives of each South African and it is practically drilled into our minds as students here. Prior to coming to South Africa, I had not ever thought about what reconciliation means and it’s importance. I knew that it had a place in church and that overall it was a good thing, but being here, I experience and witness reconciliation in action.

Reconciliation is in every nook and cranny of this country, and the foundations of my service site, the Amy Biehl Foundation, are built upon its definition. Amy Biehl was a young woman from the United States who came to Cape Town to help with women’s rights, constitutional law, and protest against the oppressive Apartheid regime, but was tragically killed by four men in a political outcry, days before leaving to return to the United States.

Amy Biehl died because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. In her honor, her mother, Linda Biehl, created the foundation to continue Amy’s legacy. Personally, I think the most amazing thing about this story is that the men sought amnesty through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and they were all released from prison and two currently work for the foundation, and one I have met. It is such an honor to work for such a remarkable organization.

In working for a site based upon reconciliation, I find myself deeply influenced by the power it holds. It can bring not only an individual, but an entire nation to a state of inner peace. Perhaps we can all learn a little from South Africans and place a greater emphasis on reconciliation, for its influence is invaluable.

1 Response to “Reconciliation: Lessons from South Africa”

  1. 1 Lucy August 27, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    I loved this blog! Makes me think about the word and if I really atleast try and live it. Great job! 🙂


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