Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Lend Your Voice–Help STOP “Corrective Rape” in South Africa

I’m going to South Africa in a couple of weeks, and will be blessed with amazing opportunities to experience some of the best safari experiences I can imagine while traveling around–it is a ridiculous and amazing part of my job that something like this is “work” and I am extraordinarily lucky and excited. What does not excite me, about South Africa, is this horrific example of misunderstanding, ignorance, and brutality that is not being appropriately addressed. “Corrective Rape” is when a male rapes a lesbian with the intention of “turning her” heterosexual…and it happens in South African townships more than you would believe. Women are brutalized and beaten, tortured, assaulted, sometimes murdered, all in a woefully wrongheaded attempt to condone power imbalance and “normalcy.” Men who are caught and prosecuted are released on criminally low bail, and justice is NOT served.

According to activist organization Lulekwi Sizwe, in the last 10 years:
*31 lesbian women have been murdered because of their sexuality
*More than 10 lesbians a week are raped or gang raped in Cape Town alone
*150 women are raped every day in South Africa
*For every 25 men accused of rape in South Africa, 24 walk free

Please join in advocating for the implementation of hate crime laws and appropriate penalties–the system, through inaction, cannot continue to condone or even tolerate this human rights violation. South Africa has one of the world’s newest (since the abolition of apartheid) and most progressive constitutions anywhere–and this turning a blind eye to such abomination is not in any way aligned with the magnificence of that nation. has posed an online petition for international concerned citizens to put pressure on the government of South Africa. Sign here and pass the word on to the people you know. Pressure from the international community can be a powerful tool. Please help.


Travel for Good: Humane Society International

You’ve long known about the good work being done at animal shelters in your home town and across the US, but may not have been aware of the global reach of the Humane Society International. Confronting cruelty in countries around the world, the Humane Society is the premier advocate for animals…and now they are sponsoring travel programs. Launched today, Humane Travels gives you a chance to tour international sites where important animal protection programs are going on. Your travel fees help support the local animal protection groups while your vacation experience creates for you, memories that will last a lifetime. The inaugural trip is to South Africa in January, celebrating wildlife and spotlighting grassroots programs dedicated to the animal kingdom. Travelers will voyage to the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary, home to hundreds of rescued animals, including lions, wild dogs, hippos, giraffes, elephants, warthogs, zebras, ostriches and many, many more, during a six night/seven day vacation. Other safari experiences and game drives round out the vacation at pretty high end tent camps and lodges, including visits to nearby Kruger National Park. Once you’ve got the Big 5 under your belt, future Humane Travels world excursions are planned for Bhutan, Canada, and Guatemala, where HSI is working hard.

Journey for Change

Earlier this month, on September 3, lots of families welcomed home their inspiring, and inspired, kids from a volunteer vacation and learning service trip to South Africa. These 30 young people from Brooklyn were brought to Africa by the Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service program, a part of Malaak Compton-Rock’s Angelrock Project.

Malaak is pretty phenomenal, inspiring kids and adults to find ways to integrate service into their lives. She and her husband, comedian Chris Rock, have done more for more charities and NGOs than they let on, and make it a priority to instill the same values in their kids and the kids with whom they work. You can follow Malaak’s inspiring lifetime history of service in her book If It Takes a Village, Build One: How I Found Meaning Through a Life of Service—and 100+ Ways You Can Too. One of the premier programs she details in the pages, is Angelrock and the Journey for Change trips they take annually.

A group of teens and college-aged mentors from a Brooklyn community center travels to South Africa to see firsthand the township communities and to work on projects to improve and empower those difficult regions. Throughout the year, Angelrock serves as a trust that provides assistance to orphaned and vulnerable children, granny-led households, and people living with HIV/AIDS in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. When the kids come for two weeks, community projects are energized and enlivened by their enthusiasm and sometimes truly difficult discoveries—about the world and about themselves. In addition to the educational/volunteer time, they also tour and see a lot more: Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, a cultural village, and safari.

The kids come home with a new commitment to service in their own communities, and that spirit spreads like wildfire through their families and friends, transforming the lives of participants and so many more.

Poachers Slaughter Last White Rhino in South African Park

The last rhinoceros cow in Krugersdorp park, South Africa, bled to death on Wednesday after poachers hacked off her horn. Photograph: Reuters

It goes something like this…you are fumbling with the dosage of tranquilizer you are trying to load into a dart, but know you don’t need to be careful. Err on the heavy side–tranquilizer is expensive, but soon you will have plenty of money, and better too much of the drug than too little. Waking up is not part of the plan, so there is no such thing as an overdose…or there is such a thing, it’s just not a worry of yours. More worrisome is getting this loaded and into the high powered rifle, in the dark with only your headlamp, and the helicopter banking, throwing you off balance. It is a short helicopter ride–you were just here this afternoon, spotting the animals grazing at a few remote clumps of grass in an open plain, just a few trees around and lots of scrub, but it is July, high winter, so most of the grasses have died back. Besides, the elephants have taken down so many of the tall trees it makes tracking much easier. The pilot signals you are nearing the area where you saw her earlier today, and the spotters who are helping you take only a few seconds more to find her now, almost exactly where she was. Her calf is only a couple of yards away from her side, and both are spooked now from the rotor blades in your copter. They try to run a bit, but of course their lumbering gate is like slow motion, and the baby can only go a few steps at a time. You take aim, and it is like shooting fish in a barrel. The dart lands clean in her side, just below the shoulder. You know it’s a good shot, so the pilot pulls back a bit and finds a spot to land a few hundred feet away. By the time the copter is down, so is the rhino. It takes less than seven minutes for her to fall into unconsciousness. It is not graceful. She stumbles against the lethal dose of drugs you’ve pumped into her, struggling to try and protect her calf. She is a beauty. You and the men who help are out of the aircraft, and as you approach the gray, panting heap, one watches your back for other animals and potential threats…and especially for headlights or other signs of game rangers or police…and the other pulls the ripcord to start the chainsaw rumbling to life. The copter blades haven’t even slowed–this won’t take long. She has fallen on her left side, her eyes still open. You take the growling saw and step in, bending down to take your quarry. Her horn is made of keratin, really just stiffened hair, so the chain blade cuts through it with no effort at all. You take it as close to her face as possible–the horn will fetch a great price sold to those who supply the demand for Chinese medicine–rhinoceros horn is in incredible demand for impotent men. You thought Viagra was going to gut the market, but no, rhino horn still pays handsomely. The horn falls into the dust and you flip off the saw, one of the helpers grabs the horn and drops it into a canvas bag where a stain of blood begins to spread, but not as quickly as the blood in the sand. Another wrenches the dart from the side of the immobile animal as her breath is slowing–darts cost too. You turn back to the chopper, surveying the night in the bush, making sure no authorities are headed your way, so you move quickly but not in a panic–you’ve had close calls before and are relieved tonight there is no threat. Not even a sign of the baby rhino…it must be hiding behind that brush heap, or have run into the dark. Back up in the air and you are headed toward the house where you’ll stay the night before heading to the airport in the morning, and you flip open your sattelite phone to call the client. “It’s done.”

It went something like that. The last female white rhino in a South African park was slaughtered by poachers last week, for her horn. Her horn was cut from her face by a chainsaw and she was left to bleed to death. Her orphaned baby was found the next day and transferred to a nearby estate where it joined two other orphaned rhino calves. It is only mid-July and 136 endangered rhinos have been killed this year by poachers, for their single horns. Horns that Chinese men (and other consumers of Chinese medicine) think will help them with a lack of virility. Maybe this horn is for a fancy knife handle in Yemen and won’t be powdered into “medicine.”

This last rhino cow was nine years old and a new mother.

The Guardian UK reports: “The committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (C.I.T.E.S.) warned last year that rhino poaching had reached an all-time high. The CITES conference in Geneva in July 2009 heard that Asia’s economic expansion had fueled the market in rhino horns. The horns are also used in the Middle East to make handles for ornamental daggers. Cites said demand for them had begun to soar in recent years. In the five years up to 2005, an average of only 36 rhinos had been killed each year.”

Whatever makes you passionate or pissed, take some action. Today.

Planet-friendly Planeterra

The start of this New Year is a time for new beginnings for all of us—travel planning companies included.

Planeterra is a global provider of volunteer vacations, mixing service work in fantastic locales along with some insider exploration of the regions you visit, so your experience with the community runs both deep and wide.

2010 has new offerings, including volunteering in Sichuan, China at the world’s largest panda preserve and also visiting the Great Wall, X’ian, Beijing, and Shanghai. Or you could opt for the new family-friendly volunteer adventure pitching in at a kid-friendly organic farm in Ecuador. There are eleven new projects in the Americas, Asia, and Africa, plus previous client favorites that are still available, some as group trips and some as private arrangements. Your housing (double rooms, shared accommodation, or sometimes living with a local family), most meals, ground transportation, training and equipment, orientation, and escorted adventure exploration tours are all included, and most volunteer vacations with Planeterra average about $85 per day.

Argentina, Peru, El Salvador, Galapagos, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, South Africa—each provides a new opportunity to help in community improvement programs, education, building projects, animal and habitat conservation, trail building, and more. Planeterra’s Director, Richard G. Edwards, said that more than ever “community development, environmental and wildlife conservation projects around the world need the support of active travelers who are willing to take the time to understand what is needed and how they can help. Our programs are designed with great care, so that everyone genuinely benefits while having fun learning about each other’s cultures.”

X-Files for Charity

It has been next-to-impossible for me to access the Internet while here in the Maldives, so apologies for the lack of posts. One of the amazing things about being “unplugged” is how much time seems to stretch and proceed at a much more luxurious pace (in spite of a lot of very un-luxurious rain). We haven’t turned on a TV once–a huge thing for us. So often while traveling, the TV is just a reach out for familiarity–and you end up watching re-runs of some show you didn’t care enough about to tune in for the first time.

One show that fans tend to watch over and over and over again, is The X-Files. Former cast members and creators of the David Duchovny/Gillian Anderson supernatural/sci-fi/freaky deaky show (sometimes as campy and absurd as anything on the air) are reunitinf for a November 14 event to raise money for their chosen charities. gI_0_FTF1993small

Actress Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully), actor Mitch Pileggi (Walter Skinner), executive producer/writer Frank Spotnitz, and executive producer/director Rob Bowman (currently executive producer and director on ABC’s hit “Castle”) reunite to talk all things “X-Files” and answer questions from fans (like the rumors about an X-Files 3 movie and the 2012 mythology that could make a whole new series). This is a rare opportunity for fans and filmmakers to get together to explore and discuss the process of making this iconic television series, ask questions about the panelists’ new projects, and raise money for some very worthy causes.

Tickets for the Q&A event are now available at Proceeds will be donated in support of the participants’ chosen charities, including The Santa Monica-UCLA Rape Treatment Center, Off the Street Kids (aiding yung, marginalized people of South Africa), Fezeka, and Children of the Night (rescuing American children from prostitution). Check out those links to find some truly important charities.


buccosglobeAre you ready to fall in love? Seriously, the work of this organization gets it right on every single level and is inspiring in such a refreshing and deeply important way.’s mission is to provide a global cultural experience through film and multimedia materials aimed at fostering the next generation of global citizens.’s award-winning online video series, photos, travel blogs, and encyclopedia-style research are provided free-of-charge to kids and classrooms around the world and these programs cover multiple subject areas that cultivate cross-cultural understanding.

You want to go there (here’s the link) and check it out—make sure you’ve got some time set aside because you’ll get lost in the world they’ve created. I feel so lucky to have recently had them cross my path and I look forward to our worlds intersecting again, soon and often.

Jenny M Buccos is the Director, Producer, and Founder of In 2003, she founded as a way to educate youth about the world’s cultures, histories, and people. In 2005, she directed/produced’s first multimedia program, Shakespeare’s England. In 2007/2008, she directed/produced’s South Africa series; working with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. John Kani, the Apartheid Museum, Robben Island, The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, photojournalist Greg Marinovich, and musician Sipho Mabuse. In fall 2008, she directed/produced’s third series, Cultural Crossroads: Jordan. In 2009, Jenny received a GOLD Parents’ Choice Award for Excellence in Educational Programming.

She makes it seem effortless, and what she has done is the kind of thing you and I need to figure out how to do as well—making the world, and the stewardship of the world—accessible…

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