“I’m Sorry. Goodbye.”
Defining Family for Lesedi
Defining Family for Lesedi
We first met Lesedi on a Sunday afternoon in a cramped, humid van. We were riding with other youth from the St. Martin parish to a local Mass for the youth of Soweto and found ourselves sitting next to Lesedi. During this van ride, we learned that Lesedi loves to sing and that she is a member of the church choir at St. Martin.
Throughout our first few weeks in Soweto, we would often run into Lesedi around the parish grounds. To her, St. Martin was a second home. We always found her singing and laughing with her friends, and whenever she saw us, she would run up to us and greet us with a loud “sawubona” and a warm hug. One day, she decided to sing for us in the church’s music room. After leaving us in awe of the beauty of her voice, Michael decided to play the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams on piano while Lesedi sang along. Upon finishing the song, we asked Lesedi, “Are you happy?” Without any hesitation, she responded, “Yes, I’m always happy!” This proved to be true, for every time we met Lesedi, she was always smiling and singing her favorite Gospel songs.
The next week, we saw Lesedi walking to St. Martin to attend the weekly morning Mass. She did not look happy. Tears were running down her face, she walked with her hood up, and she couldn’t gather any words to greet us. Upon asking how she was doing, she cried even louder, as she covered her face with her hands. Eventually, the tears stopped and she wrapped her arms around us in a supportive hug. We asked her what was causing her pain, and she told us this . . .
The Simunye Team is composed of Michael Bakan and Drew Descourouez.
Michael Bakan is a first-year student at Georgetown University, where he plans to study International Business and Marketing. Over the past two summers, he has traveled to Soweto, South Africa on an immersion trip through his former high school, Bellarmine College Preparatory. During these trips, Michael developed a passion for using graphic design and other forms of artwork to share the stories of his friends in Soweto, as they strive to create a better South Africa in a post-apartheid, post-Mandela world. He is excited to return to Soweto to strengthen the bonds of kinship with his South African friends and to share the voices of those who are not often heard but will play an integral role in our future.
Drew Descourouez is a first-year student at Santa Clara University. Drew traveled to Soweto, South Africa in 2014, on Bellarmine College Preparatory Immersion trip. He has since traveled to nine other countries around the world and developed a deep desire to connect cultures through storytelling and personal relationships. Drew is also passionate about youth empowerment and hopes to learn more from his friends in Soweto about how young people can take responsibility for a shared future in a globalized world.
Learn more about The Simunye Project at www.ignatiansolidarity.net/the-simunye-project