Launch of the Youth Innovation Lab in South Africa

Africa Unite in partnership with AYANA International held a 4-day workshop from 10,11, 12, and 17th of October 2017 with 15 learners who are part of the Masibambane Secondary School AU Club in Cape Town South Africa. The workshop titled Youth Innovation Lab sought to ignite the creative, problem-solving potential of these youth! This project is about informing the youth on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they can develop innovative projects in order to realise these goals in their respective schools and communities.

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Youth Innovation Lab Poster

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are part of the Global Agenda designed in 2015 by the United Nations’ 193-member states. They replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed in 2000 to reduce world poverty, which mainly focused only on the less developed countries. In contrast, the SDGs involve all the countries of the United Nations at the same level as they tackle many issues (poverty, socio-economic inequalities, gender issues, access to healthcare, education and climate change).

During the first 3 days, the learners had time to discuss some of the challenges they face in their schools and communities in relation to the SDG’s. Below are some of the topics which emerged;

  • High rate of school drop-outs, especially in township schools,
  • Lack of equipment and inadequate capacity of teachers to deliver quality education in township schools,
  • Marginalisation of the learners on all levels of decision making,
  • Majority of the underprivileged communities are characterised by poor service delivery and lack of access to basic socio-economic services that are necessary for survival

Following this the learners were divided into three groups then given the opportunity to identify solutions and develop projects that can address some of these issues. On the last day the learners were tasked to give a presentation on their project plan and budget. These presentations were done in the presence of African Monitor, one of the leading Pan African organisation championing youth participation on SDGs.

Below are the three projects which were identified by the learners;

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One of the the 3 groups presenting their project

Group #1: Youth Taking Charge (YTC)

To reduce inequalities that are still existing in the post-apartheid South Africa and give young people a voice, YTC seeks to create a platform for learners to engage various stakeholders and decision makers in all levels of society for their voices to be heard (i.e. school, community, local and provincial government). The group will also inform other youth on good governance – how the local government works and how the public can participate in the decision, implementation and monitoring processes.

Group #2: School drop outs

The current school curriculum in most townships does not provide for creative and extramural opportunities such as music, art and sports. In these schools the focus is mainly on theoretical subjects’ contrary to suburb schools. As a result, some of the learners in township schools lack motivation, drive and interest thereby increasing the chances of dropping out of school. The group seeks to advocate and lobby provincial and national government to provide more resources to underprivileged schools for the above activities can take place.

Group #3: Creating a Safer School Environment

According to University of South Africa (UNISA) about 34% of learners have been bullied and 23% of the learners admitted being bullies, this has been a huge challenge in schools for the past years.  The learners have discovered that their school did not even have an anti-bulling policy. The group intends to schedule meetings with various stakeholders so that such a policy can be developed in various schools. Furthermore, the group would like to launch a campaign with the aim of raising awareness against bullying through various activities.

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The group following one of the presentations with their lunch

The learners are currently developing the budget for each of the above thematic areas which will be submitted to AYANA International. Africa Unite would like to thank AYANA for this collaboration and also African Monitor for their technical support.

 For more pictures click here.

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Mandela High School Club Senior Thanksgiving Luncheon

In celebration of Nelson Mandela Month on July 28th Mandela High’s Africa Unite School Club visited Ikhaya Loxolo, a home for the elderly in Gugulethu. This event was initiated by Mandela High learners in order to show respect for elders in their community. Learners served a delicious meal of chicken, rice, and salad prepared by the family of Alice Dolan, an Africa Unite employee. Instead of celebrating her birthday with family and friends, Alice asked that her family donate this meal. Over 120 people were fed including the elderly residents, school learners, and Ikhaya Loxolo staff members. During lunch learners served in the dining hall and fed residents who were not physically able to leave their rooms. They even sang and danced with residents and care takers throughout the meal. Others washed dishes or assisted the Ikhaya Loxolo cooks in peeling potatoes for the next meal.

The Mandela High President began the speaking portion of the event by introducing the AU School Club to residents. He was followed by Bombvana Ntswaki’s passionate poem on the frustrations of poverty “poverty I am not your property,” that moved many in the crowd. Alice Dolan spoke emotionally on behalf of Africa Unite and was recognized for her family’s generous gift. Cllr. Siyabulela Mamkeli was the keynote speaker and used his teenage experiences to encourage the learners to continue serving their community and invest themselves in the political process. He noted that the new management of Ikhaya Loxolo had made vast improvements to the building and well-being of its residents since his last visit. He then commended the Africa Unite School Club for uniting the community and taking the initiative to appreciate our elders as they fought for the freedom we now enjoy. Next, learners presented Ikhaya Loxolo with gifts of vegetables and rice to be served at future meals. The manager Nandi Diamini spoke warmly to her residents and then directly to the School Club. She advised the learners that it is important to know who they are so they always know where they are going. Ms. Diamini closed her speech with, “keep it up, you are the best.” To close the event, an elderly woman spoke on behalf of Ikhaya Loxolo community members and was brought to tears in thankfulness for the learner’s enthusiasm and entertainment.

*** Africa Unite would like to thank the Dolan family for their generous contribution and hard work. In addition, we thank Nandi Diamini and her staff for welcoming us at Ikhaya Loxolo. Finally, Mayoral Committee Cllr. Siyabulela Mamkeli for his kind words and presence at the event.

 

 

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AU School Clubs extended to Johannesburg

From the 28th to the 29th of July 2017 Africa Unite in partnership with Chrystal Horizon Youth Center conducted a workshop with over 20 learners from Fons Luminis High School and New Gate College from Soweto and Hillbrow respectively  in Johannesburg. The workshop was meant to capacitate the newly elected cabinet leaders and parliamentarians from the two schools on their roles and responsibilities within the Africa Unite school Clubs.  The session was also attended by 4 teachers from the two schools and 6 learners who are part of the Braamfisher Youth Club in Soweto.

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Learners following the presentation on Human Rights Friendly Schools by Amnesty International South Africa.

During the two days, the learners had an opportunity to discuss some topics on human rights facilitated by Africa Unite and Chrystal Horizon. They also had a presentation on how to successfully lobby and advocate on various issues affecting them from CIVICUS which is a global network of civil society organisations and activists working to strengthen citizen action and civil society around the world.

The learners also learnt on how they can create human rights friendly schools which was facilitated by Amnesty International,  a global movement  dedicated to ending grave abuses of human rights and getting justice for those whose rights have been violated.

The learners were then tasked to develop their 3-month plan of activities which they will implement in their respective schools and communities. After the workshop, the learners and teachers thanked Africa Unite and Chrystal Horizon for the training and opportunity given to them to officially establish school clubs in Johannesburg. They were also excited to see what other school clubs are doing in Cape town and Durban and vowed that they

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Group photo with the cabinet members, their teachers and members of Africa Unite and Chrystal Horizon.

are more than ready to join the movement of young active learners. Africa Unite will be running these school clubs in Johannesburg in Partnership with Chrystal Horizon Youth Center.

For more pictures click here

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Soap making in Nyanga

Hygiene is a very important topic that a lot of children do not know enough about. For instance, some of them are not used to washing their hands when necessary. That’s why we – Africa Unite and our Singamakhalipha Team – decided to address this topic and organised a workshop in Gugulethu. We invited kids from different townships we cooperate with to join.

After arriving at the Nyanga Open Library, the kids watched an informational video about germs and bacteria, teaching them in a fun way the importance of hand washing.

While the first group started to make their own soap, the others attended a quiz about hygiene.

We asked the kids to tell us why they should wash their hands, what hygiene means to them, and why it is important to clean the toilet before using it.

Nowadays, soap is affordable, but it is either missing, or not properly used in many households. Making soap and bringing something self-made home is a first step to convincing the kids on the importance of hand washing. Moreover, deciding which colour and fragrance their own soap should have, made them the workshop more enjoyable, and many wanted to take more soap home for family and friends.

While everybody was excitedly waiting for the soap to firm up, the day ended with some singing, playing, and refreshments.

It was a successful event. Learning and having fun don’t always need to be separated.

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Gender Based Violence Workshops

Gender based violence (GBV) includes sexual, domestic, economic, structural, and intimate partner violence. Recent statistics indicate how profound and widespread the problem of GBV is in South Africa. The country ranks first in the world for the number of sexual violence cases with 500,000 people raped every year. It is also estimated that one woman is killed every eight hours. Africa Unite is therefore deeply committed to finding ways to tackle this problem. So far, our efforts have included a workshop, silent marches, and a social media campaign. The central element has been our workshop, that we have been conducting with learners from different high schools, as well as with young people in community meetings in the Western Cape region.

The workshop aims to raise awareness on GBV, and giving young people a heightened understanding of gender, its power structures, and the ways this may lead to violence, thus allowing them to become partners in ending GBV. So far, the workshop has reached nearly 400 young people.

This is a snapshot of what young people have been discussing so far.

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Community Dialogue in Hermanus

On the 12th of July 2017 Africa Unite partnered with the community of Hermanus (10 km away from Cape Town) and conducted a community dialogue at Zwelihle Hall (kwa Meneer). The purpose was to create a peaceful and progressive platform to allow community members to engage with, and develop recommendations to some of their daily challenges. The dialogue came as a follow up to two earlier sessions, which were a water and sanitation clean-up campaign, and gender based violence awareness session. The discussion was attended by leaders from different community structures, with the majority of them being youth leaders. Two local councillors, Mr. Macotha of Ward 12 and Mrs Pungu Pungu of Ward 5, were also present.

To start the dialogue, Cllr. Pungu Pungu welcomed everyone, spoke briefly about how she got in contact with Africa Unite, and expressed her hope that the dialogue would yield fruitful recommendations.  Africa Unite’s facilitator then opened the floor for the community to raise some of their challenges and share some success stories. Below are the issues which were raised:

  • Young people with registered businesses complained about the processes used by government institutions such as National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and SEDA, saying that they are not easily accessible to assist needy youth
  • Inadequate space for small and medium enterprises to operate their businesses in the area
  • There are limited facilities to train young people for them to acquire necessary skills that can make them easily employable or for them to launch their own businesses
  • Inequality is prominent, as an extremely rich area that is close to an extremely poor area
  • Some youth do not have identity documents and have to pay huge amounts of transport fee to access the nearby offices
  • Lack of important service providers offices such as SASSA, SARS, and Home Affairs
  • Lack of information about existing education, employment and business opportunities
  • Youth chose to spend time in taverns as they have a lot of talent, but there is little support provided for them to succeed with their abilities
  • Some NGO’s go there and speak about assisting the community, but vanish and never come back

Councillor Macotha also made a lengthy contribution where he raised the following concerns:

  • Lack of a reading culture, making it difficult for youth to get some of the opportunities available
  • Most parents fail to support and involve themselves in the lives of their children and they do not see education as an important tool of success
  • He complained of many young people are lazy and lack motivation, but want to get somewhere without putting in any effort

He also mentioned that he liked the dialogue because it also gave the audience the space to speak about some of the successes and opportunities of community which he identified as follows:

  • The Economic Development office is assisting people to register their businesses
  • The Department of Home Affairs might be established soon in the area to help people with their identity documents, but there are still negotiations taking place
  • Rural Development is rolling out plans for a youth centre, and engagements with Overstrand Municipality are already taking place.

The facilitator then challenged the audience to come up with recommendations that could be implemented to address these problems. The following strategies were raised:

  • Small businesses must make use of existing facilities to mobilise resources for their businesses.
  • The community needs to make use of LED and SETA.
  • The community needs to take part in programmes not because they are called by certain people, but because of the value they add in their lives and the people surrounding them
  • Big companies around Hermanus need to sponsor and hand out bursaries to deserving learners
  • Organisations and businesses should also focus on nurturing natural talents, and sport should be taken seriously
  • All participants agreed that they should not wait, but act now and take initiative.
  • More community dialogues of this nature should be conducted in the community in order to get the voices of different people, even those who are extremely marginalised.

In order to  ignite a youth movement and embrace a culture of active citizenship, it was agreed that Africa Unite will train a group of 20 – 30 youth from various townships surrounding Hermanus as human rights peer educators. They will be tasked to run human rights awareness sessions and campaigns in their respective communities, as well as lobby various stakeholders to promote accountability, and improve the lives of young people and the community at large.

To reiterate the dialogue, Cllr. Pungu Pungu thanked everyone who participated, and mentioned that her office was eager to assist in the implementation of the recommendations made. After the dialogue, the Africa Unite team was invited for lunch by one of our former peer educators living in the area. We are proud to announce that he has manged to open his own Youth Café, which is a one-stop hub where young people across the social divide can come together and access services, opportunities, and support provided by the public and private sectors.

Africa Unite is now busy organizing a human rights training camp for the young people in the area.

 

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Mandela Day Football

On the 18th July 2017, Africa Unite partnered with Ajax Cape Town to celebrate Mandela day, which is an international day in honour of Nelson Mandela’s fight for social justice. This day brings together people around the world to fight for social injustice, but also promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity.

Together, Africa Unite and the Ajax Training Facility organized friendly soccer matches for children coming from the underprivileged communities of Delft, Belhar, Gugulethu and Nyanga.

The purpose was to give these children the opportunity to play at the Ajax Cape Town training facility, and engage with soccer players they see as role models.

The  children from the informal settlements came together to play friendly matches in either the under 13 or under 18 years category. They were treated like professional soccer players, and got an opportunity to prepare in the official Ajax changing rooms in the morning, and were each provided with Ajax soccer kits for that day.

PSL player were also there to show support. In the morning they had a meet and greet session with the children, and in the afternoon they gave each child an Ajax gift bag. The day ended with a fun-filled photo shoot with the children raising their flags and smiles all around.

 

 

 

 

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