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Projects Abroad Human Rights Office - Cape town - Monthly reports - March 2012
This month saw the South African public holiday ‘Human Rights Day’. The 21st March is a day in which we remember the massacres in Sharpeville and other parts of South Africa. On this day in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid pass laws. Although the apartheid laws have been abolished there are still many human rights violations taking place within South Africa every day. We as a human rights office come in to contact with just some of these people on a daily basis and know the importance of the work we do here. Below is an idea of the work we’ve been up to this month.
This month we were given a whole day to dedicate to the Bonnytoun boys in which we shut down the office and took all our volunteers and staff to the facility. The boys were free for the full day and so we were asked to prepare something to keep them occupied for the day. We decided to make our theme ‘fun’ and revolved our plan for the day around that. The morning involved a soccer tournament in which the boys from each dorm competed and we then had an awards ceremony where all the boys received some sort of medal. After lunch we ran three activities. A drama group, dance competition and some ‘sports day’ style games (such as the three legged race, egg and spoon and the wheelbarrow race). All of the activities went really well with just some of the highlights being a water balloon fight and a dance off from the boys at the end of the day to win a soccer. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, the boys, volunteers and staff alike.
Ruyterwacht Mock Trial
This month we only visited the mock trial a couple of times as we had to put it on hold due to the Easter holidays beginning in the schools. We are also keen to gain more interest in the project and get more children involved as most of those participating now took the program last year and so have already done it once. Once Easter is over our challenge will be to up our numbers and then really get the ball rolling with the mock trial program.
We are still going strong with the computer workshops at St Anne’s. The women are really enjoying themselves, even though the work is very basic some of these women have never even switched on a computer before let alone used one to type up a letter or search the internet. These are skills which are invaluable to them.
This social justice project has just begun again after the New Year and we have had a few meetings with the girls. It is the same group as before and is has been nice to reunite with them. The challenge now is to come up with some activities which will engage the girls. We are looking to arrange a dance competition in the near future as this is something which the girls enjoy and can relate to.
Lavender Hill Legal Clinic
Clients are continuing to come to Lavender Hill for updates on their cases and volunteers continue to assist them. Much of the work on behalf of the client takes place at the office and the visits to Lavender Hill just involve reporting back to the clients, gaining further information or consulting with new clients. It is a great opportunity for volunteers to get out into the disadvantaged communities and see the clients in the own communities.
Manenberg Legal Clinic
We are getting more and more clients attend the Manenberg Clinic giving volunteers lots to work on back at the office. Some of the cases have been very intense and sometimes hard for volunteers and staff to hear. Some of these clients have horrifying stories and it can shock volunteers and really open their eyes as to the dire situations some people live in. We do as much as we can to assist these clients though and hope that the little involvement that we do have with their lives can make a huge difference.
Kraaifontein Legal Clinic
This is another legal clinic which began at the beginning of the month. As the other two legal clinics are based in ‘coloured areas’ we wanted to open one in a predominantly black area. So far client numbers have been quite low and we are still in the early days of getting the word out to people. As the clinic is quite a distance from our office, we are hoping that interest in the clinic grows in the following few weeks, otherwise we may have to look to set up in a new area.
Case file’s within the office
Volunteers have been working hard on cases with new clients walking into the office all the time. This month has seen some interesting refugee cases and clients who are struggling with Home Affairs for one reason or another.