CHOSA is excited to welcome our new CHOSA Fellow, Elena Echevarria, to Cape Town! After a wonderful year with our first Fellow, Abbie Heffelfinger, Elena joined our Project Coordinator, Solitude Dasie, and Community Coordinators Jared Sacks and Zukie Mabuya to contribute to CHOSA’s important work.

Elena is a human rights advocate from Mexico City. She has volunteered for many organizations in Mexico and New York and is currently getting involved with community projects in South Africa.  Ethnography and participatory video are among her short-term pursuits. She believes that engaging communities to tell their stories is a very powerful way to empower people to advocate on their own behalf and improve their lives. She wants to venture through many learning paths and commit her life to improve the world in any way she can. Elena shares her initial reflections here:

“What can I say about Cape Town? What can I really say about what motivates me? Cape Town has been amazing. Aside from its breathtaking natural beauty and its array of different activities, it is the people whom I’ve come to meet and work with that have made it a beautiful experience. Sometimes it has been challenging, especially because of the language barrier, but I am learning so much it humbles me. Working as a fellow for CHOSA has already been a privilege, and engaging with various communities has given me an insight into how people live and what moves them. It has been an invaluable experience.

I am motivated by an endless list of people, ideas and experiences, summarized in the following:

·         Strong women who are resilient in the face of adversity and still find a way to provide a home to orphaned and vulnerable children;

·         Men and women who put other people first and believe in making a difference;

·         Working in a democratic environment where everyone’s voice matters;

·         Learning and embracing different cultures;

·         Children’s willingness to learn and play;

·         The possibility of being a positive role model;

·         Unconditional love;

·         Sharing culture, ideas, and life experiences;

·         Last but not least: if I can inspire a kid to be passionate about something then I will know it was all worth it.

 I am off to a great start and looking forward to experiencing as much as possible about Cape Town and its people during my time with CHOSA.”