Hanging on to hope
When I arrived in Durban I heard a few of the team members say something like “she could be another Stella” two or three times about different people.
I wasn’t sure what they were talking about.
As the bus rolled in to Cape Town someone said “Oh Cool Stella is here”.
I still didn’t know who they were talking about until a biggish older lady squeezed into the minibus next to me and introduced herself after the tour of Robben Island.
I discovered a very special person.
When I asked her how she enjoyed the tour it took very little time to learn she had lived in the township of Alexandra (near JoBurg) all her life and had never been to Cape Town or even on a boat.
She spoke about being involved in the 1979 uprising and what it meant as a teenager to be thrown in gaol and tortured.
She spoke about the uprising in the 80’s and receiving a phonecall to tell her that her brother had been shot and killed by the police. She spoke of her grief at being locked up without any charge on the day of her brothers funeral, only to be let out the next day.
Stella has been on the list for Government housing for many years. She is about 50 years old. She has been running a kids club in Alex for the past 6 months or more. She loves the people of Alex.
Alexadra is one of the roughest townships in one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
When I asked her why she had got involved in Fusion she said “Fusion brings hope”.
She is worried that with all the festivals Fusion runs it makes a promise of hope and she reminded me today just how important it is that it doesn’t end there.
As she said it though she said “Fusion doesn’t have to worry about Alex. I’m there and I will keep it going. I have the next festival planned for the 9th August”.
This week she went to the Cape Town township of Atlantis. When they were complaining about not knowing how to move forward she said “talk to me.” Apparently she sat them down and spoke about Kids clubs and festivals and hope – and now they are saying “if Stella can do it we can do it”.
Today in debriefing the pilgrimage Stella said “For a long time I have wondered why I survived when so many didn’t. I knew God must have had a purpose but I didn’t know what it was. I have discovered that my purpose is to bring love to my people.”
Next week I will fly back to Australia.
Stella will go back to Alex.
Sometimes I can make things more complicated than they need to be. For Stella, in Alexandra, people need hope. They find hope when you love them.
I have been challenged to pray for and stand with Stella. She for me is a symbol of the heroic people who are fighting to make South Africa a better place.