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We'll Meet At The Lucky Bean Café

6 October 2017

South Africa

On the evening of the 24th June this year, a group of twenty-seven teenage girls gathered in the coffee bar of The Lucky Bean Café in Melville – a suburb of Johannesburg.

What made this group different from any other group of young people meeting at a local coffee bar on a cold winter evening? This group were all Mercy students from three continents. Fifteen attend school at Our Lady of Mercy College, Heidelberg in Sydney, Australia, four were from Assumption High School – a Mercy school in Kentucky, USA and eight were the hostesses who are students at St. Teresa’s Mercy High School in Johannesburg, South Africa. They were joined by five teachers (from three continents) and two Principals.

The girls from Australia were on an immersion experience in South Africa. Their teacher, Mrs Kate Garrone, had organised visits to various areas of South Africa – poor and wealthy – to help the students grow in their awareness of justice issues.

The four girls from Kentucky were in South Africa as part of the Mercy Ambassadors’ Exchange Programme.
                     


But that evening they were just teenagers – chatting, taking selfies, exchanging stories of their experiences in South Africa and laughing loudly.

During the evening they were given a chance to tell the others how they are involved in Mercy work back in their own countries. This was most inspiring.

The girls shared their experience in their own words.

Megan Sturgeon from Kentucky:
“The Sisters of Mercy field trip was an amazing opportunity to see what the Sisters of Mercy do. On our first stop we went to a shelter for women and children who have experienced domestic violence and human trafficking. I loved seeing the women and all their hard work through their craft making and other skills.

At the next stop it was amazing to see the community that has been developed with the help of the Sisters of Mercy. It was so cool to see the farming taking place there and it was amazing that they allowed us to take home some of the fruits and vegetables. It was also amazing to see the children’s crèche, the bakery and the dentist’s rooms that serve the people of the Winterveldt. I am so glad we had this opportunity to visit and I had a great day!”

                  

Mia and Sam from Sydney:
“We were lucky enough to visit and go to Mass at Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, which was an extremely symbolic place in the rebellion against Apartheid and the fight for freedom. Regina Mundi was a meeting place for the ANC which is the political party that Nelson Mandela belonged to. One of the most significant aspects of the church are the bullet holes in the roof and walls from police opening fire on members of the community; a stark reminder of the violence that tore South Africa apart, and a memorial to those who died fighting to empower the South African people. It was powerful to see the community singing and dancing together under the bullet holes, illustrating the strength of a community that had fought the Apartheid laws.

On this same day we were accompanied by some students from St. Matthew’s, a Mercy school in Soweto, to the Hector Pieterson Museum. Hector Pieterson was the first student known to be killed by the police when the students were protesting against the Apartheid rules in 1976. Listening to the students of St. Matthew’s share their history, their pride and their gratitude towards these students of 40 years ago, was incredible. It was a privilege to be there.” 

Sarah Terry – St. Teresa’s Mercy School, Johannesburg
Kate Garrone – Our Lady of Mercy College, Sydney
Educators

Colleen Wilkinson
South African Province

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