‘DENIED’ : Khayelitsha Human Rights Training

On this past Tuesday, 30 October, Africa Unite was invited to Khayelitsha, Site C, to facilitate a community workshop on the topic of human rights. The focus of the workshop was the question: ‘What is a migrant?’. The workshop started with a simple question, ‘Who is originally from Cape Town?’. Upon being asked this question, the participants of the workshop looked around, and after a quiet moment, two women raised their hands. In a group of 35 participants, only two people were originally from Cape Town … so that means we can call the others immigrants, right? The participants were mainly members of the Khayelitsha Peace Building Team, a community based NGO in that area that protects the rights of vulnerable people in the community.

In order to get a better understanding of the migrants living in our communities, we first discussed in the workshop what reasons one might have to migrate. The participants explained that it could be employment, opportunities, civil war or other conflicts – mostly negative reasons.

In order to bring this discussion to a practical level and to force participants to consider the plight of refugees and immigrants, we then facilitated a small exercise to put the participants in the shoes of asylum seekers that look for asylum at the border of South Africa:

The participants look at each other all confused. ‘What language is this?’, ‘Maybe it is French?’. They get 10 minutes to fill in the form that was handed to them. The confusion grows, nobody is sure what to do with the form, why it is necessary to fill it in, and why it is in a language they don’t understand. When they think they are done they have to hand the form in, and wait for the result: DENIED. The confusion keeps growing, because how can you get denied when you don’t even understand the questions?

With this small, but powerful exercise, participants were forced to consider the realities of asylum seekers and the confusion, anger, powerlessness and sadness that the process can cause – all emotions that the participants reported feeling. The participants admitted that this exercise gave them a better understanding of how refugees feel when they come to the border of South Africa. However, what really is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee? The discussion that followed showed that people are not aware of the differences. Participants stated that these two classifications are the same, because they are both looking for protection. In the end, they concluded that the difference is that an asylum seeker is someone coming to a country asking for asylum/protection/formal documents. As a refugee, you have received documents and you’re allowed by the government to stay and live under the constitution of that country.

The topic of stereotypes surrounding immigrant communities were also discussed and dissected in the workshop. Participants were open and honest about stereotypes and generalisations that they had heard surrounding immigrants, and we openly discussed these stereotypes as a group:

They smell’. Everybody laughs. ‘They take women’. Everybody laughs again. ‘No size in condoms’. Now everybody is starting to name stereotypical ideas about the immigrants in their community … ‘They bring diseases’, ‘human trafficking’, and ‘they forge documents’.

Unfortunately, stereotypes define most of our ideas about the immigrants in our communities. The lively discussion that followed on stereotypes made the participants realise that these stereotypes are actually what they are: stereotypes and generalisations. They don’t apply to every immigrant, just like the stereotypical ideas immigrants have of the local South Africans are not applicable to all South Africans. However, those stereotypical ideas do affect our way of approaching immigrants in our neighbourhoods, and are the cause of the violence and xenophobia. People die as a result those stereotypes, which are sadly rooted in many false generalisations and hatred.

At the end of the workshop, the participants explained that this workshop helped to make them aware of the stereotypes that define the way they think of immigrants, and their lack of knowledge about the reasons why people migrate. They argued that more education – like this workshop – is needed in their communities, because all of the ideas about immigrants are in peoples’ minds, and not necessarily reality. This workshop made them realise that stereotypes are a societally dominant way of thinking, while there is no evidence that they are even remotely true.

In all, this Human Rights training was an incredible success and really allowed us at Africa Unite, as well as participants from Khayelitsha, to expand our perspectives and views considering refugees and immigrants in our communities, as well as our rhetoric and attitudes about them. Together, through increased understanding and celebrations of human dignity; we can eradicate senseless xenophobia and build a stronger South Africa.

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Whose Day Zero?

On Saturday, 13th of October, we hosted our Whose Day Zero feedback event, the culmination of a year’s worth of work and dialogues. We worked with Africa Unite’s School Clubs to enable young learners to conduct baseline research with a population group of their peers by administering a survey about water restrictions and the impact on their communities.
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Africa Unite interns, Kathy and Kate, starting off the day with an overview of the agenda

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Africa Unite’s Brilliant, doing an ice-breaker with the learners

At this event, we presented the findings from this learner-collected data.  The surveys were intended to enable the learners to gain a better understanding and awareness of the water crisis, the challenges our School Clubs face during water restrictions, and if these challenges vary in different parts of Cape Town.
The media has latched onto the concept of “Day Zero”, the day the municipal water source will be turned off to all domestic dwellings. The reporting of the water crisis has left the rest of the world wondering how an entire coastal city has run out of water, in what feels like overnight. Cape Town has been under threat of drought, poor consumption patterns, and reduced rainfall since 2015, so why is the media only this year reporting on the water crisis? This is the question that Africa Unite hoped to uncover with the surveys that our School Clubs conducted. Cape Town has experienced 3 low rainfall years in a row; rainfall in 2017 was the lowest rainfall recorded in the last 100 years.

Dam storage capacity has almost doubled since this time in 2017. Cape Town’s supply dams have just moved beyond the City’s defined “danger zone“ (65%) as the recent rains and continued efforts to save water have raised the combined water level to 76.2% of storage capacity as of the 8th of October 2018.

There are 6 main dams supplying the Western Cape, and Theewaterskloof (the main source of Cape Town’s water) is one of the most affected dams. Climate change experts predict that this is not a once-off occurrence, and that this is not the first Day Zero for Cape Town. Although we have avoided running out of water for now, there are fewer wetter years and more drier years awaiting us in Cape Town.

20181013_133354_resizedThe learners enjoying CityVarsity’s pool table during lunch

We were thrilled to have Edmond Tiku and Donavan Williams from The City of Cape Town’s Department of Water and Sanitation at the event, to tell the learners more about the Water Crisis and how to move beyond the shortage in a sustainable manner.

There was enthusiastic engagement in the dialogue between Africa Unite, the City of Cape Town’s Department of Water & Sanitation and the learners. We would also like to thank our generous funders, Wakefield Rotary USA, for the opportunity to host this event. It was an enriching day for all involved.

 

For more photos from the day, see our album on our Facebook page here.

 

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Donavan Williams of the Dept of Water & Sanitation, with the water-saving mascot Manzi

 

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Heritage Month Educational Tour

On the 29th of September 2018, Africa Unite School club in partnership with South African National Parks and Mergence Investment Managers celebrated the end of heritage month through an educational tour of the Table Mountain. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate heritage month by educating, exposing and giving an opportunity to learners from disadvantaged communities to access national touristic and heritage sites which they usually just see from a distance or hear about.  Africa Unite felt it was necessary to include nature as part of the heritage celebration to reconnect our cultures with the environment. Our surroundings impact the way in which we perceive the world, and they impact the way we interact with each other as well as people’s imagination. With this in mind, it was necessary for the learners to experience these sites in a way they would not otherwise have access to.

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Learners in the bus to Table Mountain

SAN Parks provided us with a bus for the day, and our driver was the wonderful Mezbah. Mezbah picked us at the Slave Lodge Museum in the city centre. From there we embarked towards Table Mountain. The day was beautiful and bright for Cape Town weather and all of the learners were very excited to go on top of the mountain as it was the first time for all of them. The day began with breakfast at Africa Unite’s office (6 Spin Street). The learners seemed to be pleased and excited to start the tour.  It was fortunate that we had a patient and understanding chaperone for the day.

The learners had to wait in a very long queue for almost two hours to get in the cable car, this gave an opportunity for the leaners to get to know each other, socialize and enjoy each other’s company. While in the line, some learners started to share their anxiety and excitement with each other, as it was their first time going up the cable car and it would their first time being on to of Table Mountain. By the time we arrived in front of the line, the learners started giving each other words of encouragement, some even prayed with each other. This was an incredible thing to witness.

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Some of the learners praying before they get into the cable car.

Aslam made the tour educational and interesting for the learners. They learnt about the 7 wonders of nature, the different species that live on Table Mountain and the different plants found on Table Mountain. Along the ‘hike’, Aslam managed to squeeze in a few historical facts about Table Mountain, from its discovery to when it was classified as a Heritage Site. Furthermore, the learners got an opportunity to ask questions. From their questions surrounding the reservoirs to questions about Devil’s Peak and the origin of the name; the ranger was amazed by the insightful questions that came up. When we arrived at the top, the learners, along with everyone, were amazed by the breathtaking view of Cape Town, the view of the ocean and the sheer beauty of Mother Nature. We met our Ranger for the day, Aslam Levy, who was travelling with two other rangers. He began by explaining to the youth the safety regulations and from there we began our ‘hike’ on the mountain.

Due to time constraints, we could not continue the tour as it was starting to get late. Though the tour was supposed to continue with visits to Signal Hill and Ouderkraal, the learners were very pleased about the Table Mountain tour and the group decided to return to Africa Unite’s office to enjoy a scrumptious lunch.

The tour was a great success and we are looking forward to organizing another like it. We are most looking forward to exposing other learners to experiences such as this, and, though the event could have been better if all the learners had arrived at the same time in the morning, as it would have eliminated the processes of having to wait for other learners to arrive; the day went smoothly and all the participants seemed satisfied.

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Some of the school club members on top of Table Mountain

We would like to thank South African National Parks for providing us with transportation for the day and access to Table Mountain. We would also like to thank Mergence Investment Company for generously providing us with funds for Breakfast and lunch. Moreover, we would like to thank Mezbah for being our wonderful and patient chaperone for the day. We would also like to thank Aslam and his group of rangers for providing us with such a fruitful tour of Table Mountain. Lastly, we would like to thank all the learners who got a chance to experience this with us and their teachers who were very helpful throughout the day.

Some remarks from the learners

“Everything was on point…. There are no complaints, there’s nothing more I can say” Alulutho from Masibane Secondary School

 

“The trip was great, we learnt a lot of things… we learnt a lot of things that I didn’t know about Table Mountain, the dams and the stuff that was actually kind of unexpected. Yeah it was fun and I enjoyed it a lot” Bennedette from Portland High School

 

“Today was amazing because I met new people and I learnt stuff about them and about the AU club and Table Mountain as well. We went to a place that I have never been before. It was a nice experience and I would love to do it again, and I would definitely do it again with AU as well” Shereen Gordan from Portland High school

As a newcomer at AU we really enjoyed it and we would like to join the AU club. We feel so welcomed here” Nicole from Portland High School

For more pictures of the event click here

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INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ACTS OF KINDNESS CAMPAIGN LAUNCH

Africa Unite, in partnership with Activate! Change Drivers and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization / Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (UNESCO – MGIEP), Western Cape

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Participants busy at various SDGs exhibitions stations in the morning

Provincial Government and City of Cape Town launched the International Youth Campaign on Kindness for the Sustainable Development Goals on the 2nd of October 2018 at the Cape Town City Hall.

Celebrated in commemoration of the International Day of Non-Violence, 100 years centenary for Mandela and the 149th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi himself, this global “kick-off” was launched concurrently with YESPeace partners in New Delhi (India), Islamabad (Pakistan) and Monterrey (Mexico). In South Africa, the launch took place at the iconic Cape Town City Hall where Nelson Mandela made his first public speech after being freed in 1990.

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Hon. F. Mbombo, Minister of Health in the Western Cape Province welcoming everyone.

The event attracted more than 500 young people from urban and rural areas of the Western Cape Province, civil society and different government departments. The Launch began with NGOs/CBOs and various government departments exhibiting their

contributions to the drive towards the 17 SDGs. The exhibition allowed young people to learn more about how SDGs can be achieved through various transformative acts of kindness. Some of the organisations that exhibited their work included Greenpop, SHAWCO, Amy Biehl Foundation, Born to Be Free, MES Cape Town, Peninsula School Feeding Association, Ikamva Youth, Learn to Earn, World Merit, Red Cross South Africa, Activate as well as the Provincial Department of Community Safety and Department of Agriculture.

The welcome speech was given by Hon. N. Mbombo, the Minister of Health in the Western Cape Province, on behalf of the Premier of Western Cape. This was followed by one of the keynote speakers, the Indian High Commissioner to South Africa, Hon.

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Indian High Commissionar who was part of panel replying to some of the questions

Ruchira Kamboj, speaking on the role the youth can play to achieve the SDGs in South Africa and India. Cllr. Ronel Viljeon, spoke on behalf of the City of Cape Town where she highlighted the plan of the City in achieving the SDGs. Director of African Monitor, Ms. Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, roused the audience with her passionate speech arguing that Acts of Kindness are not a new phenomenon to Africa: it is the founding principle of our South African concept of Ubuntu. Namhla implored young people to demand justice and accountability from their government and communities around the continent. Dr. Zahid Badroodein a councillor and also youngest member of the City of Cape Town council spoke last; Dr Badroodein motivated young people to become active citizens based on his own experience as a medical doctor and now a councillor.

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One of the youth asking questions to the panel

After these inspiring speeches, a panel of discussion was oppened where young people in the audience were also given the opportunity to comment and pose questions to the speakers. Following this interactive session, a group of six young people from different NGOs including SHAWCO and FaceUp Manenberg were invited on stage to share their daily kindness work in promoting the SDGs.  Africa Unite, Activate and UNESCO – MGIEP representatives explained how young people can upload their stories of kindness on the UNESCO website. Four young Kindness Ambassadors were announced to represent the nation in this campaign, namely Dr. Cllr. Z. Badroodien, Ms. N Mniki-Mnagaliso and Ms. P. Fielies (2017 South African Idols winner).

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Selected 3 ambassadors of the campaign pose for a photo with their certificates and flowers flanked by the team from, Africa Unite, Activate and UNESCO-MGIEP

The announcement led to the ultimate launch itself – in which South Africa connected over skype with UNESCO YESPeace partners in India, Pakistan and Mexico to formally launch the campaign. Throughout he day artists such as Liso Sindo, Joy Fam, Paxton Fielies, the Ballistic Brass Band and DJ Aux Womdantso entertained all in attendance and contributed to the lively celebrations.

 The Campaign consists of two phases. The first phase from 2018 to 2019 will focus on building youth momentum on kindness by generating 250,000 stories on acts of kindness by young people. The second phase from the year 2020 onwards will mobilize United Nations Member States to declare an International Decade on Acts of Kindness.

Africa Unite and Activate would like to thank all our partners, UNESCO – MGIEP, Western Cape Government, City of Cape Town and the civil society for making this historical event possible.

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2017 South African Idols winner Paxton mesmerising the audience with her new single

To make this campaign successful in Africa,organisations, community partners, individual youth of South Africa and the rest of the continent are encouraged to be a part of this global campaign by:

For more pictures click here.

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Africa Unite & IEC Interhigh Quiz

On the 16th of August 2018, Africa Unite and the South African Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), partnered up to host a democracy and good governance inter-high school quiz, with the theme “My South Africa, My Pride”. The quiz was held at the Artscape Theatre and five schools from the townships in and around Cape Town participated: Portlands High School (Mitchell’s Plein), Masibambane Secondary School (Kraaifontein), Heideveld High School (Heideveld), Dr. Nelson Mandela High (Nyanga) and Rosendaal High School (Delft).

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The purpose of the quiz was to expand the youth’s knowledge on South Africa’s constitution, governance, historical and current affairs, and to understand the importance of participating in a democratic society. 80 questions were asked within three thematic areas in South Africa: human rights; democracy; and good governance. Three learners from each of the five schools were selected by their peers to represent their school in the inter-high quiz.

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A student from Dr Nelson Mandela High performs some poetry for the crowd

The quiz ran successfully, with an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm and involvement from the learners. Not only were 75 learners involved and interactive among themselves, providing an encouraging teamwork mindset, but they were also passionate about engaging with the IEC (whose representatives were at the quiz), by embracing the opportunity to be educated on their rights to vote and how South African democracy works. We were also treated to an array of performances by the talented students, who performed poetry, raps, dances and more.

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Rosendaal students enthusiastically answering questions

While we waited for the judges to calculate the final scores for each school, the IEC did a short presentation on how voting in South Africa works. They focused on educating the learners on the voting process; beginning from basics (the age at which you can start the registration process), to informing the learners on how votes are counted and correspond to governmental election.

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Portlands High at the quiz

During this, questions were posed by the learners to the IEC, such as “After how long can non-South Africans acquire the right to vote?” and “where and when one can register to vote?”  This presentation by the IEC is anticipated to make a big impact in the traditionally low turnout of youth voters in national elections, especially with the anticipation of elections coming up next year.

Moreover, the learners blew the judges away with their knowledge on South African Politics and the manner in which the IEC operates.  After 5 Rounds of 15 questions each and bonus questions to even out the score, the results were: Dr Nelson Mandela in 5th place; Portlands High School in 4th place; Masibambane Secondary School in 3rd place; Rosendale High School in 2nd place; and the victors of the day being Heideveld High School who took home the 1st place cup and had us all in awe of how intelligent the youth really is. The IEC provided trophies for the top 3 schools who participated, and these will be engraved with each school’s name for them to keep.

 

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Winners of the quiz, Heideveld High

 

Efforts like these are an attempt to bridge the gap in their knowledge about their human rights and the mechanisms of democracy, which the national education system largely neglects. With this realization, Africa Unite and the IEC propose that the quiz be an annual event.

Nonetheless, the quiz proved to be a successful event, which the learners seemed to enjoy immensely. By the end of the day, there was an overwhelming positive energy, from everyone involved, with the students expressing their enthusiasm for the next quiz.

Africa Unite would like to thank the IEC for such an initiative and the Artscape for welcoming us into their space. Further, we’d like to thank the matrons and patrons who accompanied the learners, ensuring that they arrived and left safely.

We at Africa Unite are looking forward to next quiz, in 2019.

20180818_111022_resizedClick here for more photos from the event and click here to like our Facebook page.

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#TotalShutDown: A Powerful Start To Women’s Month

The women of Africa Unite were proud to join the intersectional women’s march to end gender-based violence against women and gender non-conforming people. The march began at 09:30 at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and concluded with rousing songs, speeches and testimonies, at the parliament building in central Cape Town. The memorandum, which was read to the crowd before being delivered to parliament, was a crowd-sourced call to change policies and implementation of policies concerning women and gender non-conforming individuals. There were strong and laudable demands, to eradicate gender-based violence in 2018. This is the biggest march in South Africa since the Women’s march on 9th August 1956.

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Women were dressed in black and red, despite their organisational affiliations, in support of the initiative and in solidarity of the women. The Africa Unite placard read “Don’t Rape”, in light of our upcoming gender-based violence workshops which will run throughout Women’s month in an effort to spread awareness in our communities. South Africa has earned its title as a rape capital of the world, with 1 in 3 women nationally experiencing rape within their lifetime. A rape occurs in South Africa every 17 seconds. 27 people in the Western Cape alone are raped daily.

This is a gross human rights violation, which is why here at Africa Unite we take gender-based violence very seriously. We are proud to be hosting several events during Women’s month which emphasise this commitment to human rights and women’s rights, please follow our social media for more details closer to the time.

See our social media accounts for more information about our upcoming events. Click here for more photos from the march,  click here for our Facebook page and here for our Instagram page.

 

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“ALL IN”- Africa Unite Mandela month 2018 celebration

To celebrate Mandela Month 2018, Africa Unite in partnership with University of Cape Town Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) , Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) South African Red Cross Society, Western Cape Community Safety and Bush Radio held a Mandela Day “All-In” celebration.  The purpose of this event was to bring various stakeholders under the same roof to promote access to services as a gesture of celebrating 67 minutes of Mandela Day. This is to reflect the fact that all human beings should have access to basic services as mandated by the Constitution and in line with what Tata Nelson Mandela stood for. Twenty-four (24) years after the attainment of freedom, many townships are still experiencing service delivery challenges.

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Some of the community members waiting for their turn to receive health check ups.

The event took place at the Gugulethu Sports Complex on the 28th of July 2018. The gathering attracted many people from Gugulethu and its surrounding townships.  A live broadcast of the event was aired by Bush Radio which conducted interviews with the organisers and played music which attracted more people. During the day, community members had the opportunity to walk in and access different services provided by the above stakeholders.

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One of the youth receives first aid treatment from Red Cross.

SHAWCO provided free health check-ups (from blood pressure, TB, HIV & AIDS, STDs, sugar diabetes, general consultations and referral letters etc). More than 60 patients, women, men and children of all ages were examined, diagnosed and received free medication when needed. As the time went on, the news was spreading around the townships and more people started coming in. We were obliged to stop some of the people from coming in due to the time. One of the female patients mentioned that this is a great initiative for the communities because if they must go to the township clinic you need to leave home before 5am as often the clinics in the townships are always full. The patients must wake up before dawn and queue up all day long, only to get their services in the evening. In case you want to go to a private doctor, it is so expensive – you need to pay a consultation fee between R350 – R400.  She concluded that she hopes that this can be an ongoing initiative.

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Youth registering to vote on the IEC stand.

The Red Cross stand attracted other community members who were informed about disaster management and prevention and Sexual Reproductive Health Education. The Department of Community Safety distributed over 250 first aid kits and their pamphlets about ongoing projects on how to improve safety in Cape Town. Furthermore, the IEC stand also attracted a great number of young people who had a chance to register as voters as the country is preparing for the 2019 general elections.  .

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Africa Unite and SHAWCO team pause for a group photo after a successful event.

Africa Unite would like to thank all its partner organisations, who made this day special for the community of Gugulethu and all surrounding under serviced communities. This event was also covered by City Vision a local newspaper.

 

For more pictures click here

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