In life, Amy Biehl, a young Fulbright scholar from Newport Beach, worked to make liberty a reality as South Africa moved toward democracy. But before the nation's first all-race elections, she was killed there, caught up in racial violence. Biehl, who was in South Africa studying women's rights and working in voter education, became a symbol for the sacrifices many paid to keep a troubled country on course. Her murder renewed the resolve of those seeking to minimize racial hatred and foster harmony and understanding as South Africa stood at a crossroads.
To keep that legacy alive, her parents have established the Amy Biehl Foundation, which is pledged to continue Biehl's grass-roots efforts to help poor and disenfranchised people, and which recently received tax-exempt status. Her father, Peter Biehl, said: "Everything she did was from the ground up. Each of us is highly committed to seeing that her work is continued."
The foundation has fund-raising projects under way and has given two small gifts to a community center named for Biehl in South Africa's Happy Valley township, where she did much of her work, and to a food program for the poor in Guguletu, where she was killed.
Biehl's endeavors for voter education will be remembered in efforts to work with those who suffer from severe economic and social hardship, especially women. The foundation also will support projects in the United States, such as battered women's shelters.
Through these laudable efforts, Biehl's life will continue to inspire others.