GapBuster Alumni and Friends Remember 
Nelson Mandela

On behalf of GapBuster, Inc., I send condolences to our South African family and colleagues.  


In 2004, members of GapBuster, Inc., also known as GapBuster Learning Center and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, had the privilege of visiting The Republic of South Africa. Had it not been for this GREAT MAN, we would have never been able to step foot in the country peacefully. 


Since that time, GapBuster, Inc. has had the opportunity to travel and work in South Africa on seven separate occasions. Our mission was "to expose our American teens to the global fight against HIV/AIDS; to illustrate the common barriers to prevention and de-stigmatization on both sides of the ocean; and more importantly to link together a common bond of cultural awareness and understanding."


From a personal standpoint, I feel a real kinship to both to Mr. Mandela and to the people of South Africa.  My initial visit to the MOTHERLAND was to this beautiful country.


As a college student in the 1980's, I joined the effort to demand that the Universities of California divest their interest in South Africa. We anti-apartheid protesters at the UC Berkeley campus blocked the front of the administrative buildings day after day and had bonfires during the chilly evenings to keep us warm. We won the fight and a Hero was freed.


Little did I know after getting to meet Mr. Mandela in Oakland, California and again in New York,  that I would be able to visit South Africa and take students to Robben Island and step inside his jail cell, or his rented room in the Alexandra Township and his first home in Soweto.


At last I was able to walk on the land where the man who I spent endless days and nights advocating for his freedom lived. I finally felt my ancestors' spirits move within me and tears of joy flowed as I thought to myself - what took me so long to get here!


Nelson Rolihlahia (Madiba) Mandela, thank you for allowing me to be part of your life and sharing your people with us - You will truly be MISSED - 


Rest in Peace. 


We will keep your memory alive...


-Yvette Butler, MD and Executive Director of GapBuster, Inc.

Before I traveled to South Africa with GapBuster, I was fascinated by the history of their country. One of the most prominent leaders in the world, president Nelson Mandela proudly started a movement that forever changed not only his country but the whole world. My condolences go out to the Mandela family and all denizens of South Africa. It was a pleasure learning about his influential life story, as it will forever live on.
-Daniela Velasquez

My experiences in South Africa will forever be engraved in my mind and in my soul. This beautiful nation derives its strength from forgiveness, its vivacious spirit from its rainbow of cultures, and grandeur from its humbling landscapes and bustling cities.  Despite their troubled past, South Africans are moving forward due to the sacrifices and strides made by their anti-apartheid leader and global icon in the fight against oppression, the late Nelson Mandela.  I am forever grateful for Dr. Butler and the GapBuster Learning Center for affording me the opportunity to travel, not once but twice, to such a glorious country.

- Cara Miller
We all knew his age and his failing health, but who wants to live in a world where there's no Nelson we let him go, let's all thank God for his life and legacy, an Honored Elder and now beloved Ancestor. To my South African friends and colleagues, we mourn with you, a great man's passing. Surely, he was the Father of a Nation and embodied the truest meaning of Unbuntu. 
- Sheila Clyburn
Nelson Mandela was a great leader. He was a powerful man who left his mark on the world with peace and integrity, forgiving those who unjustly imprisoned him for 27 years. When I visited South Africa, seeing his impact even after his presidency was over was amazing. The citizens idolized him for his compassion and pride. We have lost a great man, but by honoring his memory, his voice will never die. Rest in paradise Mr. Mandela. We thank you for your strength and determination. We will keep your vision alive. 
Ilham-Nesreen Butler-Hill

Mandela changed the world! After serving over 27 years in jail under an unjust government, Mandela left jail without any hate in his heart and continued to lead a revolution that will forever go down in history. He was a fearless leader that was ready to give his life in order to create the change he felt South Africa was due.  His strength has not only empowered me but people all across the world and his legacy will forever live on.

- Vivian Yohannes




My trip to South Africa with GapBuster Learning Center was enlightening to say the least. I had never been outside of the United States prior to the trip and to have the three week experience in a different country opened my eyes to some of the beauties of a totally new environment. Being able to travel freely from city to city while in South Africa really made me appreciate the late president Nelson Mandela's efforts; and I am beyond thankful for his accomplishments.

- Michael Campbell, Jr.




I was blessed to travel to South Africa as part of the GapBuster team in June of 2005. I still consider this one of my most life changing experiences to date.  South Africa exemplifies beauty in its landscape, people, and culture. Every single Black South African we encountered invited us home to dinner!


Most strikingly, our trip was only 11 years after the country's first Democratic elections. At that time Black, Colored, and White South Africans had far surpassed the U.S. in efforts towards healthy race relations. In my opinion, this is one of the most significant testaments to the extraordinary leader Nelson Mandela was.

- Kinisha Campbell

During my visits to South Africa my knowledge of Nelson Mandela and his struggles against Apartheid was magnified. My thoughts of Nelson Mandela as a man are hard for me to put into words, however I am positive that there are only a handful of people in the history of the world that could have mentally endured his imprisonment and suffering. While imprisoned, he organized a Government Cabinet, was eventually freed, and become president of that same country that was taught to hate and fear him. Upon release, the first words from his lips were filled with forgiveness. I am without doubt that Mr. Nelson Mandela is not one of us. Mr Mandela was brought here from God to teach for those who can learn.

- Edwin Jacobs

To all of my friends in South Africa, today you mourn the physical loss of a true leader, role model and great man. However, his legacy, his example and his spirit live on forever. Having experiences I will never forget in South Africa, such as visiting his home, seeing memorials and walking on the same soil he did, I can say I wouldn't be the man I am today without him. Today we have gained a great ancestor and may we celebrate his legacy for years to come. Rest easy Nelson Mandela.

 - Eugene Jones

May my greatest condolences be with my good friends from South Africa. Mandela's spirit will forever live in the hearts of those who his effervescent words of peace and the oneness of mankind have touched. RIP Madiba. 

- Malcolm Clyburn




One can only hope to impact the world in a manner as positive and powerful as Nelson Mandela.  He will be missed.

- Jason Starks




You are an outstanding example and an incredible hero. Words cannot express your excellence and we cannot count the number of people you have influenced. Hearing yours, as well as others' first-hand accounts of the anti-Apartheid movement has taught me the importance of unity and to always fight for justice no matter the circumstance. You have inspired me to one day make a global impact by constantly committing "a better life for all."


We will forever appreciate your greatness. May you rest in peace and continue to shine from above. Thank you, Madiba. Your time was well-spent.

-Sayi Lindeire



We have lost one of our greatest defenders of peace and freedom in our history. He will forever be remembered and missed and may we all live by his example of what it means to be a compassionate human being.
- Haleema Cheeks
 Rest with the Angels Mr. Mandela. I'll never forget my experiences in South Africa...visiting Robin Island where you were imprisoned standing inside the very cell you were in...I am so thankful for what you've done for our people and people in all aspects of this life. We Love You Nelson Mandela!
Lauren Ashley


My experience to South Africa has changed my life dramatically. My entire perspective has changed since then on not only global issues, but my personal morals and values as well. The highlight of my trip would have to be visiting Nelson Mandela's home, in addition to peer educating. Getting a chance to really see how he became the man he was was priceless.
- Albert Ramey-Speed
Nelson Mandela gave so much to fight the injustice around him. We all should be prepared to fight injustice around us, and ready to stand up for what we believe in, as he was. 
- Malik Smith 
I traveled in June of 2006. I really enjoyed my trip. While in South Africa, we toured Mandela's prison cell. This experience was very was moving. There were people from all over the world, that came to see it. Having this short experience showed me how much of an influence he was and a world leader.
- Cherrelle (Coleman) Lawrence


It is stated that when one visits the motherland they will leave forever changed. A feeling of re-birth of new-found friendships is what we experienced throughout our trip to South Africa.  From our visit with Nokutula Mazibuko, our friend from South Africa, who took us to the Nelson Mandela Square where we had the opportunity to tour and hear the story of such a great man and all the work he had done and the leadership he had provided to the people of South Africa; to the open doors of the Ipelegeng Youth Center and the warm reception and hunger for information was rewarding to us all.  Thank you GapBuster for the opportunity to accompany such a well-versed group of young leaders and to explore Soweto-"The land of hope" and humble beginnings.
-Patricia Williams 
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Thank you again for your continued support. 


Yvette Butler, MD

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