“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
Mandela Day 18 July: a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact. The Mandela Day campaign message is, ‘Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.’
On the first day of my internship with Rape Crisis, I was presented with a list of things that I was to accomplish during my time here. One of the most important was the planning of the Rape Crisis Mandela Day event, which I would play a significant role in. I was in charge of booking the venue and creating a planning document that would set the pace for the entire event. I was overwhelmed to say the least. I had no idea what Mandela Day was, I’m not familiar with the Cape Town area or venues, and I had no idea what the event would entail. And to top it off, I could barely send an email because I was paralyzed in fear that I would spell a word with a “z” when, in South Africa, it is supposed to be spelled with an “s”. Curse you, American spelling.
I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do what was asked of me and that I disappoint Rape Crisis, and myself. Fast forward to today, 56 days later. Rape Crisis hosted our Mandela Day Care Pack Drive on Saturday, now known as #RCMandelaDay, and it was a complete success.
What is a care pack? When reporting a rape, rape survivors are advised not to shower before a forensic medical exam is performed, as it can make the collection of evidence more challenging. The medical exam can be invasive and traumatizing. Care packs are bags filled with soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and other essential toiletries, along with a Rape Crisis booklet, and are crucial in the support and comfort of survivors. Most of them are desperate to wash after the medical examination is over, especially if they still need to give a detailed statement to police before they go home.
For our Mandela Day event, Rape Crisis asked the community to spend their 67 minutes packing a care pack for a rape survivor. Event attendees could also make donations, decorate a card to put in their care pack, and get more information about Rape Crisis and the work we do.
It was rewarding to see the event in action after weeks and weeks of planning. Our goal was to pack 800 care packs between 11:00 and 3:00. By 1:00 we had already reached our goal.
The planning of #RCMandelaDay event is representative of my entire internship experience. Overwhelming and stressful in the beginning, chaotic (at times), educational, fulfilling and (in my opnion) a wild success. There were times when completing my internship seemed impossible. Times when I questioned myself for deciding to travel so far from home. Times that I wanted to give up and go home to Pandora and a Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito. I didn’t, and I’m so glad for that. My internship is nearly done, and in less than three weeks I will be back in the States. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish during my short time here, and eternally grateful for the opportunities that Rape Crisis has given me. I may not have changed the world, but once again the world changed me.
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” -Nelson Mandela