August 10th 2016: Volunteer Lea Hinnen shares an emotional story from her time On-Field with CAC ASK for Choice partner training4changeS based in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This program was supported by the Games 4 Good Foundation. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved.
In my last six weeks of volunteering with Coaches Across Continents I have heard so many stories. Crazy stories, sad stories, amazing stories and sometimes even funny stories. I’ve heard stories from participants and children stories of gangsters and gangs, orphans, discrimination and the lives in poverty. But no stories would get to me like the stories of rape.
In our second week with training4changeS we were located in the Football for Hope Center in Khayelitsha. We ran an ASK for Choice program with the male t4c staff and women from t4c partner organizations. It was a smaller group than planned, which ended up being the best thing that could have happened – and that proved on the very last day.
The participants prepared discussions they find important to address within their communities. One of them ended up being the issue of rape within the townships and all over South Africa. And that’s where the stories began…One of our female participants, let’s call her Nare, shares the story of when she was about 12 years old. She grew up in Khayelitsha and had a best friend, let’s call her Sara. Sara and Nare were like sisters. One day, however, Sara suddenly put her hand under her friend’s skirt… Nare was confused, didn’t quite know what was going on and asked Sara what she was doing. Sara said it was ‘normal’, her stepfather would do things like that to her all the time, he would even sleep with her. ‘That’s rape, Sara! He cannot and should not do that to you!’, protests Nare.
She tells her mother, who called social workers and Sara’s family. The stepfather denied he ever touched Sara, told everyone they were just two little girls making up stupid stories. Nothing happens and the abuse and rape goes on. Until one day Nare goes over to Sara’s place where no one answers the door. Nare hears Sara whimper and decides to burst into the house: She finds the stepfather on top of her best friend, in the middle of raping her. She cries, tries to get him off her, but he just threatens her in response: ‘When I’m done with her, you will be next!’ – that’s when Nare takes the knife and stabs him, grabs Sara by the hand and they run off.
Fast-forward a couple of months: Sara’s stepfather survived and ended up in jail for some time. When he gets released, he goes back to the house, rapes Sara and kills her. End of story.
Everyone is quiet. Nare is not the only one around the table struggling to hold back the tears – me and some other participants are right there with her. No one knows what to say. Everyone knows that there are too many stories like hers out there. Then Keke, a male t4c coach takes parole: ‘We as coaches can make a difference here. We have the responsibility to address that with our young, male players. We have to try to change this ‘boy-talk-culture’: A guy has two or more girls at the same time: everyone applauds. A guy says he didn’t use a condom: everyone applauds. A guy rapes a girl: everyone applauds. We, as coaches, as leaders, we can stop this. We can show them that these things are nothing to applaud for. Nothing any decent man should be proud of. We can make a difference here, and we have to.”
So I want to thank you, Keke, for turning the moment of a terribly sad story into a new, amazing story. And thank you for creating the chance to improve the stories of so many people we encounter everyday.