Rock girls find peace away from a hard place

18 June 2015 - 02:02 By Jerome Cornelius

Rashieda Nolan had to travel more than 750km for her lightbulb moment. The 15-year-old Manenberg pupil finally found it in a conversation with a rape survivor in Port Elizabeth, who told her that forgiving her rapist had taken away his power over her.Rashieda was one of 14 teenage girls who took part in a four-day road trip, organised by the NGO Rock Girl, to the Eastern Cape to raise awareness about violence in the gang-ravaged area of Manenberg.Rock Girl, founded five years ago to provide a safe space for girls, took their members on the road trip, which they documented through writing exercises, photographs and video.Rashieda, from Manenberg High, learnt from the rape victim how she had overcome her situation."You must forgive them. Don't let them take your goals from you," she said.The teens returned this week from the trip that included stopovers in Bredasdorp, Oudtshoorn and Port Elizabeth.Rock Girl founder India Baird, a human rights lawyer and activist, said the trip was about the girls being tourists in their own country."They did things that tourists always do, like a game drive," she said."We also wanted to help them gain skills in writing and photography."On the organisation's Facebook page, Baird wrote yesterday: "For a few days, they were youth reporters, documenting the very real and very difficult challenges that so many young women face across South Africa."They saw elephants, they overcame their fears, they swam in the Indian Ocean."It's been a long-awaited dream to get these girls on a game drive. None of them have ever seen an elephant or lion, despite living in Africa."The girls' photographs will be displayed at a pop-up exhibition in Woodstock tonight, with a bigger display planned for August.

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