Amy Biehl Memorial

Amy Biehl was a young American Fulbright Scholarship exchange student who studied at the University of the Western Cape in 1993. That same year, she was tragically stoned and stabbed to death in Gugulethu township by young supporters of the Pan African Congress who were later granted amnesty through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In remembrance of Biehl, a non-profit organisation, the Amy Biehl Foundation, was founded in 1997. Its mission is to “weave a barrier against violence” by focusing on social, cultural and economic empowerment through its many programmes and, in so doing, restore hope and dignity to disadvantaged communities.

The foundation empowers youngsters to become future leaders and entrepreneurs in society by providing educational and cultural activities that offer them healthy alternatives to crime, drugs, sex and negative influences by unlocking their creative talent.

Testament to the success of the foundation’s work are two of the young men who were convicted of Biehl’s murder and granted amnesty. They now work for the foundation and represent a living embodiment of values such as forgiveness, reconciliation and tolerance, which the foundation strives to teach the youth of Cape Town through its work.

The foundation’s mission is to curb violence among the youth through a holistic approach to community development in socio-economically disadvantaged communities in and around Cape Town. The foundation believes that empowered youths are not likely to commit violent acts that rob others of their human rights.

The Amy Biehl Foundation offers visitors the opportunity of taking part in cultural township tours. The half-day tour starts from the Amy Biehl offices, 7th floor, 1 Plein Street, Cape Town, at 12h00 (including a traditional Xhosa lunch) or 14h00 (excluding lunch). Guests are informed about the Amy Biehl story, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, apartheid and more, before seeing some of the foundation’s work. A drive to the township ensues, passing the Amy Biehl Memorial site, and on to the schools where Amy Biehl programmes – creative and fine art, drama, marimba, brass instruments, violin, guitar, recorder, choral singing, HIV/AIDS peer education and prevention, traditional, modern and contemporary dance, ballet, beading and sport – are taught. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the children and their teachers and participate in the various activities. The half-day tour costs R250 per person.

The full-day tour starts at 09h30 at the Amy Biehl Foundation in Cape Town. Visitors hear Biehl’s story, learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and see some of the work done by the foundation. A trip to the township follows, passing the Amy Biehl Memorial site and other places of interest en route. In the heart of the township the tour visits organisations that promote fair trade of African crafts, before moving on to the only golfing facility in a South African township, the Amy Biehl Golf Driving Range. After a light lunch, visitors are taken to the Amy Biehl Greening and Environmental Sites and schools that teach Amy Biehl Foundation programmes. Interaction with teachers and children is encouraged. The full-day tour costs R360 per person.

Many Guguletu residents live in makeshift homes. One of the aims of the Amy Biehl Foundation is to restore hope and dignity. Photo courtesy of teachandlearn

The Foundation works with children who live Gugulethu, many of them go through life with little opportunity to further their education and job prospects. Photo courtesy of Andreaffm

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