Injustice: Lack of fairness or justice; An unjust act or occurrence; failure of government to protect or defend what they need to.
While living in South Africa the organization I was working with gave me the assignment of looking into “what are the options for the children at the school after they finish grade 9?” At the moment the school only goes to grade nine, and other schools don’t want to accept our kids due to the fact that they’re disabled and they have such horrible stigmas about them, or that the school’s standard of education isn’t as high as they would like for a mainstream school.
I learned that over 90% of disabled children in South Africa will never go to school. Of the 10% that are able to go to some kind of school, 71% will never graduate grade 12 due to a lack of capacity at the LSEN schools or lack of acceptance of main stream schools. This leaves us with 2% of disabled children in South Africa finishing high school. A mere 0.5% will have a job at some point in their life…which leaves us with 99.5% unemployment rate of disabled individuals, leaving them to lives of either begging or crime to survive. This is just disgusting. I had an interesting revelation spoken so clearly to me that challenged my heart with a simple, yet profound question:
“What about the ones that aren’t in Cape Town?”
What about them? Well, the saddest thing is that while the kids in Cape Town DO need so much more help, they’re actually the lucky ones. In tribal communities there are still many tribal religions practiced which view disabled children as cursed, and the easiest solution to avoid shame and the entire family being ostracized is to either throw the child away in a public dump as an infant, or physically restrain and chain them to the back of their homes. These children are neglected, starved and abused. They have over 75% chance of being raped due to the fact that there’s a common folk belief that raping a virgin will rid one of their HIV/AIDS positive status, and they have NO chance of running away.
So, what about them? What do we do? What can we do? Well, to be completely transparent with you I had no idea initially. I didn’t know what I was doing. Nope, no clue. Like any modern, 21st century woman I turned to the source of all knowledge to try to gain some insight on how to tackle this huge, seemingly hopeless issue: google. Whilst trying various combinations of words like “justice, organization, team, help, Africa, international, hope etc” a funny result came up into my browser: “The Justice League” by DC Comics. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern. Yes, that “Justice League”.
As ridiculous as it sounds, I realized THAT is what these children need. They need the Justice League and I dare to believe that they can have it. We can be their Justice League. Similar to the comic series, the need and injustice that these children face is far too great for one person to handle on their own. I simply cannot do it. I need a team of fellow superheroes to help me. The different members of the Justice League all had different strengths and weaknesses, but when they worked together they always saved the day—even when situations looked like the grimmest they could possibly be.
This should make you sick. In case it isn’t real for you yet, think about this: If I had been born on a different continent, this would be MY reality. Yes, your favorite quirky, rapping, nugget-loving, African wanna be. This would be how I would be treated simply because the birth defect that I was born with is more visible than a simple mole. This would be my reality. I think the worst thing that I noticed when researching this all was that the difference between the 2001 and 2011 census reports from the UN have next to no change in the statistics surrounding the realities that these children face. The possibility of hope for these kids is still non-existent. I like to believe that this wouldn’t be the case if people knew–I just think that no one was aware. I haven’t reminded you of this to make you sad or upset, but rather to make you aware. The thing about awareness is that once you are aware, you can never be unaware again. You cannot ignore this and pretend you didn’t know. By spreading awareness we begin lift the oppressive weight of injustice that has held these children captive to the darkness of injustice for thousands of years. As we collectively lift that weight it no longer becomes a weight, but a responsibility that we share as humans to help others that takes shape as the hugest adventure we could embark on.
This isn’t an inspirational writing, my friend. I’m serious about this. If we don’t who will? Let’s be their justice league. Your childhood dream just came true: you get to be a superhero.