Letters, Dec. 11, 2013

A great loss

Re: Nelson Mandela

 

The news of Nelson Mandela’s passing touched hearts around the globe, including mine. As a Director of Training and Development for World Vision U.S. & then WV International for more than 13 years, I traveled to South Africa four times to teach Master’s level courses offered by Eastern University, as well as other leadership and coach training, to World Vision country leaders.

On three of the trips to South Africa, I spent time in Johannesburg and witnessed the sardine can distribution of tin housing in Soweto, where Mandela grew up.

On my last trip to Cape Town, a group of leaders from 15 countries piled into a motorized rubber raft, bounced over a turbulent water, and visited Robben Island, where we toured the prison and sat in Nelson Mandela’s cell.

I couldn’t help but think of the years he spent with little hope of returning home across a short skiff of water. We met many locals who told stories of their experience with apartheid, as well as the blessings of freedom, when it ceased.

Nelson Mandela was the hero of that victory.

A second, somewhat unrelated experience broadened my understanding of the hidden impact of this great breakthrough.

When I welcomed a new senior manager of our WV leadership team, I realized we had met before. Both he and I had spoken at a national conference of the American Society of Training and Development a decade ago.

Serving as a pastor at the time, he told a poignant story of witnessing the end of apartheid in South Africa and sharing the privilege of carrying the first ballot box of free elections to the designated location for counting.

His story reminded me that “freedom isn’t free,” which someone else has said; it is costly.

Nelson Mandela paid the price and will continue to stand out in history for his courage and perseverance in very difficult periods of South African history. The many people he impacted included some like my manager (in BC, Canada) and like me (back home in Sheridan), who have never met him personally. How fitting that these 10 days of honor and tribute to Nelson Mandela’s leadership, remain a witness to people around the globe!

 

Dr. Anita Schamber

Sheridan

 

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