Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

A Thank You Note from a Saturday School Student

Every Saturday, a group of volunteers goes to Litha Primary in Gugulethu to help teach maths to grade 6 and 7 students. Here’s what one of these students had to say… 🙂

What are you grateful for this year?

5 Ideas for World Aids Day

What are you planning for World Aids Day this Saturday, 1 Dec? If you don’t have any ideas yet, here are a couple of ways you can get involved.

1. Host a video screening. There are some amazing movies out there that highlight the personal impact of the Aids pandemic in SA. We recommend Yesterday or Themba. (Do you have any other movie suggestions?)

2. Organise a visit to a children’s home where some of the children have been infected or affected by HIV/Aids. Spend time with the children at ThembaCare or Christine Revell Children’s Home, both in Athlone, giving the kids some much needed love and personal attention.

3. Get up-to-date on the latest news and statistics on HIV/Aids. We found this article on the UN’s latest report very interesting. (Click here to download the UNAIDS Global Report 2012)

4. Pray for those impacted by the Aids crisis. Gather a group of friends to spend a dedicated time in prayer or put aside some quiet time on your own to pray this Saturday. Click here for World Vision’s prayer points for World Aids Day.

5. Get tested! Tests nowadays only take a couple of minutes and most pharmacies or clinics do them without an appointment, but probably best to phone ahead in case.

Do you have any other ideas? We’d love to hear them!

Why teaching a child to read is about so much more than A,B,C

Literacy programme volunteer, Anneke Jagau, gives us a glimpse into the life of the little boy she’s teaching to read every week. 

The school in Kewtown that I visit every Tuesday for the literacy programme is not very far away but it always feels as though I’m driving into a completely different world. Kewtown is one of the poorest areas in Athlone. Out the window of my car, I see rows of badly maintained houses, grey blocks of flats and deteriorated playgrounds. Even during ‘school hours’, many youngsters of school going age hang around on the streets and at the shops. Names of the different gangs are spray painted on the walls to indicate territory. Sadly, the police have very little presence in this area; the gangs often have the last word.

My heart breaks when I hear the stories of the children. They grow up in a world that exposes them to too much too young. The little seven-year-old boy who I always read with is a cute little chap but he finds it hard to concentrate. He is very restless. In his eyes you can read the pain and the sadness, caused by the things that have happened in his life. Last week, he was wearing a little bracelet which he told me proudly he’d made himself. I asked him how he’d done it and he said, “Oh, very easy, I made it from a condom. They are always behind our flat. They throw them their when they are done. I just washed it and burned the soft plastic. Do you like it?”

Read more…

Volunteer Q&A – Izandla Zethemba Fun Days

Full name: Jessica Granger

Congregation: Rondebosch PM

Occupation: Graphic designer/ photographer

How long have you been a volunteer at Izandla Zethemba? About seven months

When do you go and for how long? We have a kids or teens fun day on a Saturday, every six to eight weeks from 9-3pm.

Can you explain what you do while you’re there? We take some time before to prepare what has to be done (e.g. making sure the food for the day is sorted, transport sorted, there are enough volunteers etc) Then on the actual day, we take the kids or teens out somewhere fun. A few months ago, we took the kids to the aquarium, which was really nice. Last week, we also combined the kids and teens and took them to Muizenberg beach. We played games with them, built sand castles, played soccer, swam in the sea and had loads of fun! I also help take some of the photos for the fun days. (Click here for pics from the latest one!)

Can you tell us a bit about IZ? Izandla Zethemba is an organization that has various initiatives to help kids, teens and adults who have been affected or infected by HIV/Aids. Its based in Thambo Village (near Gugalethu). IZ runs quite a few different projects including the Izandla Zethemba AIDS project, a second hand clothing store, educational projects and also the kids and teens fun days. They are an amazing organization to work with and are very committed to reaching out to poorer communities. They bring hope and joy to many people in these communities. (I have seen this especially  in the lives of the children and teens.)

Many of the children in the programme come from very different, and often difficult, backgrounds. How do you connect with them? I think that by just showing them that you love them (building friendships with them) and care is a good way to connect with them. I try to be very enthusiastic and energetic during the activities (many of the activities involve teams/ groups) and encourage them to work together. It helps to build self-confidence and feeling like they are part of a team. By chatting to them and encouraging them to take part and work together, they feel more connected and more motivated to realize they can achieve things and be successful.

What are some of the challenges you face in volunteering? What keeps you going? I think sometimes the fact that some of the kids/ teens come from very difficult upbringings/ home situations, which makes it tough to really connect with some of them at times. For example, if some of the kids misbehave, its difficult to know how to handle those situations. Just knowing that I can be a part of making a difference in their lives by showing them love and care, and building friendships with them keeps me going, I would say. And also because this is what Jesus calls us to. Jesus said: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10).

What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer experience? I think that realising my call to “live social justice” and responding to it, by volunteering for IZ, has been very fulfilling. Also realising that even though I am volunteering to be an influence in the lives of the kids at IZ, I myself have learnt so much, and they in fact, have influenced me as well. By being part of something bigger than myself where God is so evidently at work has been very fulfilling.

Why not share your feedback or encouragement with Jessica by posting a comment to her below?

-To find out when the next Izandla Zethemba Fun Day is taking place, email

Let’s talk about toilets

Did you know it’s World Toilet Day today? With more than 2.5 billion people not having access to a toilet, we think it’s about time we talked about them. 

Regardless of whether you call it the loo, the cloakroom, the lav or, excuse us but we’re going to say it, ‘the bog’, we all need to have access to a toilet, right? We might not want to talk about ‘them’, but can you imagine the chaos if we didn’t have any toilets? With seven billion people on the planet, this is not a pleasant thought to dwell on.

If you’re blessed to have a private toilet in your home (or maybe even more than one), you’re part of a select few who have access to such a luxury. More than 2.5 billion people do not have access to any kind of toilet at all, let alone one in the privacy of their home. That means that one in three people do not have a safe, clean and private toilet.

Many of us take the humble toilet for granted. After all, in the developed world there’s always one around the corner, even if you’re at the shops, a restaurant, or on the beach. And heaven forbid if it happens to be missing toilet paper, soap and an automatic hand dryer! But try and imagine for a moment if your only access to a toilet of any kind was a hole in the ground, where other people had also done ‘their business’, and for toilet paper all you had was a handful of leaves or some newspaper, if you were lucky.

Having access to adequate sanitation should be a basic human right, and it’s one that could prevent the unnecessary illness and even death of millions every year. According to the World Toilet Day website, “diarrhoeal diseases are the second most common cause of death of young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined, and resulting in 1 death every 20 seconds.”

Read more…

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