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Projects Abroad Human Rights Office - Cape town - Monthly reports - July 2011
Bonnytoun – This month Bonnytoun relocated to new premises. It is now much further away and volunteers must take time to travel there. The new premises are much more 'prison like' with the boys being placed in cells rather than dorms like the old building. They are now a lot further away from their families who are unable to visit as regularly because of the distance and many of the organisations that were also working with the boys have dropped out due to the distance. Despite this long journey we have decided to continue our work with them and have had a successful month with the boys showing a great willingness to learn. The boys have really started to open up and expressed to volunteers their fear of returning to their communities and being sucked back into the life they used to lead. These boys posses a real drive to change and know that there is no future in the life they came from, but they also know the difficulty of escaping a life of gangsterism, drugs and violence. Some even expressed a fear that they knew their lives would be in danger when they left Bonnytoun as there were people who would be looking for revenge.
The Women's Shelters: Sisters Incorporated and St' Anne's – This month there have been a number of different sessions planned with the women. Some of our American volunteers planned a cultural food exchange where they introduced the women to the typical American dish 'Sloppy Joe's'. Topics which were discussed this month include domestic workers rights and the Bill of rights with volunteers also getting some ideas of what other topics the women would like to discuss. At Sisters Incorporated, the women are introduced to jewellery making as a way of making income and they took time to share this skill and their work with the volunteers.
Free Gender – PAHRO are still assisting Free Gender with their upcoming conference at the beginning of August. Volunteers will be able to take part in discussions over the two days and many volunteers are excited about this opportunity.
Manenberg Girls – At Manenberg, volunteers organised a baking session with the girls. They also discussed relationships, basic women's health and sex education with them and spent a lot of time focussing on individual and group goals that the girls could set themselves for the future. The outcome of this goal setting seemed to focus around education and so we are now looking into organising further education for the girls. Some have not completed their high school studies so would benefit from being able to complete that and those that have finished would like to study something further which will give them a skill and enable them to get a job. There was also a trip this month for the women and their children to the aquarium in Cape Town, a place that none of them had been able to visit before. Volunteers have also been visiting schools and just speaking to the community in an effort to spread the word and recruit further girls for the groups.
YEP Clan – This month a number of activities took place with volunteers leading a discussion on health and feminine hygiene after which the girls taught the volunteers some traditional song and dance. A fashion show was also organised in which the girls were set a challenge of working in teams to create outfits from newspaper and other supplies. They were then to model these outfits in front of the rest of the groups. This allowed them to express themselves freely whilst also improving their ability to work together as a team with others.
Mock Trial/Debating Workshop – It was decided that the mock trial would need to be put on hold and it soon became a long term goal after meeting the children and realising that they were not comfortable and had never done any public speaking before. So the focus shifted to getting the group comfortable with speaking aloud and discussion regarding human rights topics were used in this respect. The group then did a debate in a TV format which was filmed by the volunteers. When this project began the children were on holiday from school and so time with them was more readily available. The children have now however gone back to school and so sessions with them have had to shift to a bit later in the day once they have finished school.
Sobambisana – Crossroads – This is a new project with focus placed on the youth and finding them careers. When this project first began, volunteers went door to door within the community to find out what it is that the community needs the most. It was found that the biggest need of the residents was employment and so volunteers have since been assisting with setting up a careers clinic. We are looking into a number of options to assist this community, one of which includes 'learnerships'. This is an initiative for workplace learning programmes, which allow young people to work whilst studying towards a nationally recognised qualification. As well as this, volunteers have spent much time with the youth at crossroads, even organising a day trip out to the zoo. This was a place that none of the children had been able to visit before and so they were greatly appreciative of the opportunity.
Communicare – Ruyterwacht – This is another new project and is based in a poor white community here in Cape Town. This month has involved getting to know the project partner and the community and the ways in which we are able to benefit them. Similar to the work taking place in Crossroads, we have found that a big problem is lack of employment and so we are again looking into a career clinic to assist the community in gaining employment to improve their standard of living.
Lavender Hill – This month volunteers have continued to attend Lavender Hill to provide legal assistance and advice to those who need it most in the community. We have taken on some interesting cases and volunteers are working hard to ensure that these clients are assisted.
Sobambisana Legal Clinic in Crossroads – This month saw the beginning of our process of getting a legal clinic set up in Crossroads. Our Legal Services Coordinator visited the community to meet with the organisation and discuss the next steps for implementing the clinic and ensuring that the community are made aware that this service will be available.