In August of 2007, I embarked on a trip to Zimbabwe to help film a documentary on the Girl Child Network, an organization that empowers thousands of girls who are raped and abused every year. At 23, I had no idea what Zimbabwe was like; it was just another country in the vast land of Africa. However, after a week of incredible interviews, eye-opening road trips, and encountering the tremendous warmth of the people, I came to realize Zimbabwe was much more.
The landscape of rolling hills with flat branched trees dotting the grassy planes and the occasional sighting of a wild Zebra was jaw dropping. The girls of the GCN were even more incredible; girls my age and younger who’d been raped and abused were more opportunistic about life than I’d ever been- I found myself wanting to spend more and more time with their positive energy.
However, that time was cut short. On our 9th day, we returned from breakfast with 15 Central Intelligence Agents waiting for us at our home base. This was not a welcoming, instead, we were forced to go to the Harare Central Station for questioning about why were in Zimbabwe with cameras.
Two days of 12-hour interrogation, fingerprinting, a freezing night in a cramped, run-down jail, and an unofficial deportation later, my boss and I found ourselves in South Africa 4 days too early, with no goodbye to our new friends, but all of our film in hand. It ended in a way I’d never imagine but I don’t regret it for a second; we came away with an incredible understanding of the very highs and lows of Zimbabwe and a newfound passion to spread the word about this country and people that cannot be forgotten.
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