“May 15 is celebrated as the International Day of the Family. This day highlights the importance of families. It aims at fostering equality, bringing about a fuller sharing of domestic responsibilities and employment opportunities. The programmes undertaken to commemorate the day, work towards supporting families in the discharge of their functions. They tend to promote the inherent strengths of families, including their great capacity of self-reliance, and stimulate self-sustaining activities.

Family constitutes the basic unit of society. Hence, the widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to families so that they fully assume their responsibilities within the community to the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration on Social Progress and Developments and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women”

However, within the context of many marginalised communities such as Rooigrond, ‘family’ goes beyond its’ usual mother, father and children definition. Due to the large number of single-parent families; child-headed families; migration to seek access to opportunity; family refers more to the community as a whole; as the community looks out for each others well-being. So, in celebrating the International Day of the Family, we decided to celebrate it with the community as a whole and with activities that empower each member of it.

The day was celebrated on Saturday, the 21st May 2011, to ensure that the majority of the community could participate in what turned out to be a great day of fun and empowerment for all in Rooigrond. The Department of Home Affairs, SASSA and SAPS once more assisted us greatly in ensuring that members of our community could apply for IDs, birth certificates and social grants, all things which are greatly difficult to access for those in marginalised communities. The Department of Health, on the other hand, provided HCT services, giving those in the community- which has neither a clinic nor hospital, an opportunity to know their status. Apart from this, health talks were conducted between different little groups amongst the crowd. These health talks were done in Setswana to ensure that community members could understand and focused on matters which are problem areas within the Rooigrond context. FAMSA and the Department of Social Development, along with the Department of Correctional Services were also a part of the day’s activities each discussing the services they offer, as well as having presentations on matters which tear families or in our instance, communities apart. Topics included domestic violence, substance abuse and the consequences of crime, amongst many more. To ensure the day appealed to all, both young and old alike, great performances came from our very own cultural dancers too- with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture offering fun, games and exercise to all present.

What a day it was and it only served to bring together the community in a beautiful way, as men, women, old and young came out to celebrate this very important day with each other…

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