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Projects Abroad Human Rights Office - Cape town - Monthly reports - November 2011
November has been a busy month for PAHRO with a huge change around in staff after losing two of our staff members, Lyndon Metembo and Tiffani Wesley and gaining Shuan Solomons as the new Social Justice Coordinator. Volunteer numbers are starting to die down now as we approach Christmas with many volunteers leaving and heading home for the holidays or continuing with their travels. We still have a good number within the office though and a few whom will be staying right through Christmas and New Years with us. Here are some of November’s highlights.
Bonnytoun is still a favourite and seems to get the most attention from volunteers. This month we have held a number of workshops including a music workshop in which our new Social Justice Coordinator, Shuan Solomons, organised a band to play to the boys and get them up and moving. A volunteer was also successful in getting the go ahead from Bonnytoun to organise a graffiti project for the boys. She spent time driving around Cape Town taking photographs of graffiti to show as examples and ultimately we want the boys to design some of their own. We are now looking at the best way to move forward with this project.
The Women’s Shelters
Sisters Incorporated – There are currently no women at Sisters Incorporated to visit as they have all managed to get jobs or move out and become independent. This is great news but means that workshops here will not resume until a new influx of women arrive at the shelter.
St Anne’s – Volunteers have been working hard at St Anne’s shelter to encourage the women residing there to open up and discuss important issues. Volunteers have been enjoying the relationships they develop with the women here and many important topics are being raised, broadening the minds of both the women there and our volunteers who get to experience a different culture and view point to what they may be used to in their home countries.
This month volunteers have been arranging and preparing a high tea for the girls and their mothers in Manenberg. Each week volunteers have been visiting the girls and getting to know them and what it is that they themselves want to be doing. Our plan is to assist them in organising certain activities and get them interested so that eventually they will be able to organise their own activities and get their own community involved without our assistance. They seemed to be very excited for the high tea which is due to take place at the beginning of December. The girls even asked some of our volunteers to judge a fashion show for them which will also be held in December.
Things have been going well throughout November with the Soccer project progressing well. This month we were able to find someone who agreed to cut the grass on the field for free. This field is a great open space for the soccer to take place and for the boys to play and practice, it just needed some maintaining before any soccer could be played there. We are also hoping to be successful in sourcing coaches to coach the boys from a coaching school here in Cape Town. There is a plan in place to have a fun day on the field in January where we can invite all of the boys, the local paper and the soccer foundation who are willing to donate some soccers to the project. The volunteer in charge of this project also managed to get his local team in York who are willing to provide some soccer kits and gather donations of old soccer stuff.
Mock Trial/Debating Workshop
This month the volunteers have been rounding up the final few workshops before they present the mock trial in an actual court room at the beginning of December. The children have been writing exams this month so there have not been as many sessions with the children. They all seem excited to be heading to a real court room and we are preparing certificates to present to them once they have completed it. Once this mock trial has been completed, we are planning to have the children work on creating their own case rather than using a case which has already been prepared. This will be an even bigger challenge for the children and something we are looking forward to.
Recently, we have cases where clients have signed documents that have precluded them from further legal recourse. In one case, the client originally came to us concerned about his unfair dismissal from a supermarket. He lost his job due to false accusations, namely that he had not turned up for work one day when he had, in fact, been present. At a meeting arranged by his employers between himself and two lawyers acting on behalf of the supermarket, he had been encouraged to sign a Mutual Termination of Employment Agreement. Even though he had signed this under false pretences, having been told that he would subsequently be allowed to speak to his boss who would consider reinstating him to his former position, this contract was binding. Due to caveat subscriptor, which assumes that the signatory has a full understanding of any document to which he puts his name, and the nature of the contract which he signed, this case could no longer even be considered a dismissal; it was a mutual agreement, leaving him no recourse.
Lavender Hill We are currently visiting Lavender Hill every other week but volunteers are learning a lot and enjoying the experience. New clients are still arriving to request advice and assistance on a number of issues and we are managing to make a real difference to the lives of some of these people