“I thought, ‘You can feel God’s spirit here,’” says Davies, who returned to South Africa to serve her summer 2007 field education placement. Her time was spent with the AIDS Ministry and Trinity Methodist Church in Linden, where Dyantji worships.

Photo by Elisabeth Stagg
Carol Dyantji (l), founder and project coordinator, Ikageng Itireleng AIDS Ministry, and friend.

“The kids received me with open arms,” says Davies, who worked with small groups of girls ages 10-17. They discussed questions about gender, including what it means to be a woman and a leader.

Davies was approached one day by a teen, who with tears in her eyes, said, “My family is suffering. I’m a Christian. I pray every day. Why are we suffering?”

“I opened up the Book of Psalms and shared some of the psalms of lamentation,” says Davies. “I asked her to write a letter to God, and we did that together. And then we cried together. She was able to come to a place of remembering that God was with her, even as she suffered.”

It is important to move these children out of their pasts and “into the future,” says Dyantji . “That’s what Dionne helped them do.”

Not long before, when Dyantji took two children who had been abandoned by their grandmother to register for school, she was told that they were too late and would have to wait until the next term. But “Ma Carol” refused to accept that.

“You are late. I am late. Everyone is late,” Dyantji told the administrator. “The only ones who are not late are these two kids.”

The children registered for school.

For more information about the AIDS ministry, visit Ikageng Itireleng AIDS Ministry or e-mail Carol Dyantji .

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