Living Social Justice

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

Archive for the tag “children”

Give Hope with Izandla Zethemba Fun Days

This Christmas, don’t just give another box of chocolates; instead purchase a Give Hope card and enable a child to attend a fun day… Here’s more about Izandla Zethemba and why these days out are the real gift.

Enjoying the thrills of chilly waves at an Izandla Zethemba beach day

Enjoying the thrills of chilly waves at an Izandla Zethemba beach day

It’s a sunny Saturday morning in Cape Town and a group of children are ready for a day at the beach. Flip flops, hats and swimming costumes are on; towels and spare clothes are packed. The anticipation of sunshine and ice cream is visible on almost every single one of the 60 faces as the big bus pulls into the Muizenberg beach parking lot.

Most children love a day at the beach but this day is made all the more special by the reality that, for many of these children, days like this don’t come around all too often. For some, this will be their first trip to the beach, for others it will be a rare chance to forget the challenges of home and enjoy a moment of carefree childhood – jumping in waves, building sandcastles and eating hot dogs.

A sand castle building competition under way

A sand castle building competition under way

These children are all a part of Izandla Zethemba (IZ), a community-driven HIV/Aids programme based in Thambo Village, Gugulethu, which provides care to families affected by the pandemic. This care includes weekly support groups for both adults and children, counselling sessions, home visits, and nutritional support. The children’s support groups also go on recreational outings once every six to eight weeks.

These fun days are a highlight on the calendar for both the 120 younger children, who form the aged 5-11 group, and the 40 teens, who are in the aged 12-18 group. Past outings have included trips to the aquarium, the snake park, the ice rink, up the Table Mountain cable car, and, of course, the beach!

A trip to the petting zoo

A trip to the petting zoo

“These days are great for them to explore their country and take a break from the hardships at home,” says Xolile Makutoana, the teens support group coordinator. “After a fun day, when we do a home visit. the parents tell us how much they appreciate it and that the children keep talking about it. For some of them, the next time they go outside [the community] will be the next fun day.”

“Some of the children are HIV positive or a family member is positive,” explains Lucy Joseph, who oversees the younger children. “And some of their parents have died and they’re now living with grannies, aunts or siblings. When we go on the home visits, we asses their living situation to find out who is employed, how many people are staying in the house, how well they’re being taken care of and if there’s enough food.”

Learning how to skate on ice with the help of friends

Learning how to skate on ice with the help of friends

In cases where it’s needed, IZ will provide stationary, school uniforms and monthly food parcels. For the teens, much of a week the week is focused on discussing life skills topics. The staff also build close a relationship with the clinic to ensure that those on medication are taking their medicine correctly.

“Some of the environments where the children are living is not healthy,” says Lucy. “The fun days give relief to the caregivers and the children always come back happy and with lots of stories. For some of the kids they don’t have outings with their family so it gives them something to experience outside of their community.”

“I enjoyed everything about the outing… It was good to bond with my sisters, to go out and be just our selves,” says Nokuthula, 15.

“When we go out we forget our problems and worries that we have back home,” says Abongile, 17. “Everyone is treated equal and special. You feel you belong to a loving family.”

For more on how you can get involved with Izandla Zethemba, email us. Read further for info on how you can support through Give Hope…

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Show loveShow Love This Christmas: Enable a child to attend a fun day

This festive season you can enable a child to attend a fun-filled day outing. How? Purchase an Izandla Zethemba Give Hope card for R50. There are also other cards available which all support Common Good initiatives. Click here for more info. On sale at Common Good Involvement Desks (Sundays) and at the Common Ground café.

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A Day of Fun & Family-Building

Common Good intern Emily Oppenheimer shares her experience of  the Arise Family Fun Day, which took place on Saturday, 2 March.

A Common Good volunteer lends her hand to face painting

A Common Good volunteer lends her hand to face painting

Standing in the midst of gravel and sand in an old parking lot for the Arise Family Fun Day, I felt momentarily paralyzed by all the excitement. I was lost in the middle of food stalls and bouncing castles, until I felt a small hand squeeze mine. I looked down to see a little girl with big brown eyes that peaked through the butterfly painted across her face. I smiled and received one in return.

Arise is an organization that promotes adoption, but on that day in that moment I realized I was the one being adopted. This little girl decided to invite me into her world and see things from her view. Sometimes it takes getting on your knees, but mostly it starts with a connection. When smiles were exchanged and I realized sharing God’s love really is that simple.

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More face painting in action

The Arise Family Fun Day is a day dedicated to the community of Heideveld. Families are invited to come and stock up on food, clothing, books, and other necessities. At this Fun Day over R12,000 was raised for Arise. All proceeds will ensure the children of Heideveld have the opportunity to attend camps centered on Christian education.

Read more…

Domestic Violence: It All Starts With The Child

David Harrison, the Chief Executive Officer of The DG Murray Trust, shares how he believes we can break the cycle of violence in South Africa. And how we can get involved in the solution.

Photo Credit: horrigans via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: horrigans via Compfight cc

Do you remember that horrific picture in the Cape Times last year, of a terrified man kneeling in front of a crowd in Khayelitsha preparing to necklace him?  As if that scene wasn’t bad enough, the really bone-chilling stuff was happening behind him, where mothers stood holding the hands of their toddlers as they too watched a man screaming to death.  Those flames must have burnt into the psyche of those children.

We won’t break the cycle of violence in South Africa through a better justice system.  Yes, we desperately need that.  Without trust in the system, women and children won’t report abuse and perpetrators will do it again and again.  But a better system is not enough.  And we won’t break the cycle of violence through campaigns – important though they are in keeping the issue in the public consciousness.  We will only break the cycle of violence if we can stop it in the home, way before the man lifts his hand against his partner.  You see, it must start with the child.

In the past decade, scientists like Jack Shonkoff have shown the relationship between chronic stress in children and dysfunctional and dangerous adulthood.  “The active ingredient in the environment…”, says Shonkoff,  “is the quality of the relationships that children have with the important people in their lives. That’s what it’s all about.”  Where mothers are constantly moving from home to home looking for food or a bit of money; where fathers are absent or only around binge-drinking over the weekends; where children of three or four wander around on streets instead of being part of early learning centres – then societies turn on themselves, and turn violent.

So what can be done?

Let’s start by focusing more on the child – and let’s start with what WE can do.  The child psychologist Alice Miller describes the “essential role of an enlightened witness” in the lives of children.  People who can be there with the child – understand his or her hurt, even if they can’t take it away.  Miller’s view is that the role of a witness enables a child to unload the pain – externalise the anger and prevent it becoming bottled up in our very genes.  There are about 35 000 children born in the City of Cape Town each year who are at particular risk – whose lives will be stressful and insecure.  Will you reach out to just one of them and be their witness as they grow up?

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 info@commongood.org.za

How to get your kids to be generous this Christmas

Preferably without bribing them! Here are some of our suggestions.

For many kids, Christmas is the ultimate highlight ofthe year, so much so that advent calendars counting down to Christmas Day start selling in shops as early as October! Shiny decorations, piles of presents, and sweets galore – it’s easy to see the appeal. But if you have kids, it’s often hard to get them to see beyond the presents and decorations, to the real meaning of Christmas. That Christ came down from the glory of Heaven and was born into literal straw poverty in a manger. All because he loves us.

A good place to start is by asking your kids how they think Jesus would be celebrating Christmas if he was living in Cape Town. Would he be playing with his new presents, or would he be loving the people who maybe don’t have family to celebrate with? Would he be eating lots of sweets or would he be giving generously to those who don’t even have money to buy food for their family?

Read more…

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