SInce I am in the midst of sharing stories from this month’s edition of Washington Window (see one item down) I must pass on this tale of the girls from a South African township who went to tea at the White House. It begins:
Sheila Radebe sat on the edge of the bed in Northwest Washington, D.C., staring at the photograph of herself standing with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office. That morning she and six fellow South Africans had been invited to the White House, where they had tea with First Lady Laura Bush and met with the President. Radebe, a teacher at a township preprimary school near Johannesburg, had a hard time believing it had really happened.
“People back home asked me to make sure and get a picture of the White House,” she said. “I never dreamed I would actually be inside the White House, talking with the President, having tea with Mrs. Bush. Now they’ll have to believe me.
“This was a God-given gift to be a delegate for Kwasa.”
For St. John’s, Lafayette Square, the God-given gift was the week-long presence of Radebe and her fellow travelers at the end of January. Since 2004, St. John’s has enjoyed an ongoing partnership with the Diocese of Highveld, South Africa, with an emphasis on the Kwasa Centre, where Radebe teaches. The partnership is multi-layered. In addition to providing financial support for Kwasa, groups of St. John’s parishioners have traveled twice to South Africa, and two groups of South Africans have visited Washington, D.C. St. John’s Sunday school classes have raised money to buy soccer goals for Kwasa, and this year collected soccer clothes and shoes to send back with the South African visitors.