Through their 21-day outreach in Southern Africa, members of Disaster Shakti, together with other students, faculty, and mental health professionals from the University of Florida, University of Missouri – St. Louis, Mississippi State University, and Governor’s State University, Chicago, as well as a retired fire fighter from New York City, began to unpack the sociopolitical history that underlies South Africa’s forgiveness of apartheid and its people’s resilience and fortitude to bring relief to poverty and to HIV/AIDS -infected and -affected mothers and children.
Their trip began in Cape Town where they came in direct connection with South Africa’s beautiful landscape and painful past and present. In Cape Town, they spent time with the Philani Nutrition Project, a women’s empowerment group and its day care center. In Soweto, at the Care Project, they trained volunteers involved in community work with children and also provided emotional and psychosocial support to orphans. Again in Soweto, they interacted with community counselors and social workers at an outreach post of the Parents and Children’s Counseling Center.
In Cape Town and Johannesburg, they engaged in dialogues with university health officials about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and their very impressive efforts to provide resources and support for college students. In Johannesburg, they attended the AMCD International Conference entitled, Extending Advocacy: Global Outreach, Critical Consciousness, and Praxis where Dr. Gargi Roysircar was the keynote speaker. In Gabarone, Botswana, Disaster Shakti and their partners did outreach in a crisis center, called the Life Line Ekuphileni Counseling Center, a women’s shelter, and in elementary, middle, and high schools. At the University of Botswana, they formed lasting relationships with faculty, students, librarians, and counseling center professionals.
To learn more about Disaster Shakti’s involvement locally and globally, visit the Disaster Shakti of the Multicultural Center. Here you will find more information, including Disaster Shakti’s mission statement, goals, activities, and disaster outreach work.