“I Was Shot in Joburg”

“I Was Shot in Joburg”

“Seek, and You Shall Find”

This is the first of several reflections written by parishioners who have recently traveled or live in foreign countries. They were asked to write what their experience has meant for their faith.

“Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

One Saturday in September while being a tourist in Johannesburg, South Africa, with my brother visiting from California, we stumbled upon a store called “I Was Shot in Joburg” that pulled us inside like a magnet.

The store was created by a local photographer who turned his photography skills into building a community service project with 15 students from a local shelter into an income generating resource for these new “entrepreneurs” from the urban Hillbrow area east of downtown Johannesburg.

As our father worked as a professional jazz photographer for several years (outside of his “day job”), it was ironic that that we encountered this store as well as the young man that happened to be working inside on this sunny Saturday morning. We questioned him in the format of a “Barbara Walters Special.” He mentioned initially he was skeptical of not only the “messenger,” but the overall objective and manner they were going to be taught.
“(The instructor) said we were going to have to use disposable cameras. Did he think we (young boys that lived in a shelter) were not good enough for real cameras?”
But trust developed between the teacher and the students. These young men mastered the craft to become self sufficient for themselves and their families.

With these new skills, the landscape of their community near the downtown area became filled with sights and scenes to photograph. These pictures appear on notebooks, T-shirts, framed art, and cell phone covers for sale in multiple “I Was Shot in Joburg” outlets.

The Catholic Social Teaching principle of “Rights and Responsibilities” states: “Human dignity can only be protected if all human rights are protected and responsibilities of all human beings are met.
“Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to the basic needs of life. The Catholic Church teaches that every person has a duty and responsibility to help fulfill these rights for one another, for our families, and for the larger society.”

Take a moment to reflect on your own talent(s) and think of ways that you can make the time to assist a youth in our parish community to develop a skill to generate income to help pay for school tuition, books, public transportation, or a nutritional meal.

Sybil Robinson – Outreach Ministry
Ms. Robinson is on a work assignment to South Africa.


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