Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

“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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Operation: ROOIGROND does more than facilitate positive change in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement, we are also advocates of social justice for this often forgotten community. We seek not only to break the cycle of poverty in the community, but also to break the cycle of social exclusion- which plays a huge part in the many injustices suffered by the community members.

As such, we were quick to accept a request from the Commission for Gender Equality to form a partnership for the hosting of a public hearing on women, poverty and energy, in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area. After the successful hosting of our ‘Human Rights Day’ event, the Commission found us to be in an ideal position to successfully co-ordinate a public hearing on their behalf.

Our acceptance of this request, was based entirely on the knowledge that, the community itself is fully aware of the challenges it faces, with regards to women, poverty and energy and as such, they themselves also have ideas on how these challenges can be overcome. Unfortunately, due to the social exclusion suffered by the community, never have they ever had a chance to share their views and actively participate in the overcoming of these challenges.

On the 29th March 2011, over 100 community members were mobilised, to participate in what would be a historic occasion in the settlement. The community members were joined by, members of the Commission for Gender Equality; the North-West University and the Department of Health, amongst others. Vibrant and necessary discourse about the various challenges faced by women due to poverty and a lack of energy followed. The community identified their problems and also proposed solutions to these problems, citing the various means that could be used to assist them solve these problems.

The Public Hearing, which was ended with a late lunch courtesy of the Commission for Gender Equality, was a huge success- not only because an environment encouraging participation was created, but also the psychological benefits of having a socially excluded community having their voices heard.

“Children often pay the highest price when many negative attributes are prevalent in families, communities and nations. As such, we are morally obligated to ensure the eradication of attributes, which create environments that are risk factors for our children…” Koketso Moeti

Without a doubt, there is no single cause that can be named for child neglect/abuse. We also cannot deny that child neglect/abuse occurs across socio-economic, religious, cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. Despite this, there is no doubt that certain factors within families, communities and nations put children at a higher risk of being neglected and/or abused. However, it should be noted that this does not mean that the presence of these factors will always result in child abuse and neglect. The factors that may contribute to neglect or abuse in one family may not result in child abuse and neglect in another family.

These factors include:

– Substance Abuse, as it can interfere with a parent’s mental functioning, judgment, inhibitions, and protective capacity. Parents significantly affected by the use of drugs and alcohol may neglect the needs of their children, spend money on drugs instead of household expenses, or get involved in criminal activities that jeopardise their children’s health or safety. Also, studies suggest that substance abuse can influence parental discipline choices and child-rearing styles;

– Lack of knowledge about normal child development, which can result in unrealistic expectations;

– Domestic Violence, as children in violent homes may witness parental violence; may be victims of physical abuse themselves and may be neglected by parents who are focused on their partners or unresponsive to their children due to their own fears and

– Poverty and unemployment, which when interacting with other risk factors such as depression, substance abuse, and social isolation—can increase the likelihood of both child neglect and child abuse.

With all these factors being rife in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area and with cases of neglect and abuse being on the rise, we realised that intervention was necessary.

On the 22nd March 2011, the day after Human Rights Day, we hosted a ‘Child Protection’ themed Human Rights Day information sharing centre in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area. Stakeholders involved in the protection of children, were invited to provide the community with information about child abuse and neglect, as well as their various roles in eradicating it; assisting with it and where they are based. The information sharing session also allowed the community to learn how to access services provided by the state at no cost, with the aim of protecting children. Stakeholders who assist in the eradication of some risk factors for children were also invited to participate in the event.

The session which was attended by, The Office of the Family Advocate; the Child Protection Unit; the Commission for Gender Equality, as well as the Independent Complaints Directorate. It was the first time ever in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement, that so many stakeholders got together in a united, concerted effort to secure the protection of children. The community came out in numbers, eager to be a part of the process of empowerment.

Through empowerment and access to information, we ensured to bring the rights, safety and protection of our children to the fore. With children being our greatest resource, we will continue to build partnerships that ensure they are protected.

Madiba Combined School in Rooigrond where, in association with the North West University, we successfully hosted a Career Exhibition on the 4th March 2011.

We believe that even learners from backgrounds of poverty, should be empowered with the information they need to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty and make their dreams come true. And to make this happen, we turned Madiba Combined School into a centre of hope, a place where disadvantaged learners can also receive the information required to make things happen.

“Education and empowerment are our greatest tool in the war against poverty…” Koketso Moeti

There is no doubt that education is a powerful means of breaking the cycle of poverty, however, many living in the cycle do not have access to it and those who do, do not have access to information about how to take it further. With empowerment and education being the main tools with which we seek to create positive change in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement, it became necessary to empower the learners at the Rooigrond local school, about opportunities available to them.

We partnered with the North-West University, through Mr. Ivan Gontsana, their school liasion officer and successfully hosted a career exhibition at Madiba-Combined School in Rooigrond. During this career exhibition, all the matriculants were provided with application forms for various institutions of higher learning; various bursary application forms and received information, which they have no access to about admission requirements and such. Learners we’re also provided with information about viable alternatives for higher learning such as long distance learning and other options available to them.

Once more we empowered a community, through their children- who are the future.

The Lutheran Ladies of Lomanyaneng who assisted in our relief efforts in Rooigrond earlier in the year. They have helped live up to our motto, “Together, we can overcome…”

Golden Stars F.C. turned a year old on the 29th November 2010. What finer way to honour these fine young men, than to publicly acknowledge the positive impact they had made in the community, as well as their dedication and loyalty to the team, despite difficult circumstances.

An Award Ceremony and 1st Year Anniversary Celebration was hosted on the 27th November 2010. This served to encourage the team and to let them know that their great efforts were not unnoticed.

Through the kindness and generosity of On Point Graphics, ABI (Rustenburg), Mafikeng Spar, Carrot King, members of the Rooigrond community and Nadia Petersen, as well as Waseema Petersen and Samantha Smith, who once more gave up their time to celebrate with us and make the day even more special.

This event went a long way in ensuring that the team’s great efforts are recognised and the sense of achievement, that came along with it, left the team ready to continue their journey of creating a legacy for the youth of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area.

The ‘Rooigrond Early Learning Centre’ class of 2010, on the 24th November 2010 in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement Area.

“How beautiful a day can be
When kindness touches it”~ George Elliston

The 24th of November 2010, was a day that not only clothed 30 children, but ensured that also proved that kindness does indeed have far reaching consequences, that go beyond what words could ever possibly describe. It was a day of nothing but joy, in the village of Rooigrond.

Project: LAYLA, which aims to get people to donate an item of clothing personalised with a note, has the motto, “…A little kindness goes a long way…”, under the administration of Operation Blanket, a Mafikeng based NGO lived up to it’s motto on this special day.

It was on this day, Project: LAYLA’s 2nd Anniversary that, 30 learners at the Rooigrond Early Learning Centre received ‘kindness parcels’ and had what would turn out to be a very enjoyable day.

The day started off with the kiddies playing party games with Samantha Smith and Waseema Petersen, two youths who kindly gave up their time to make the day extra special for the kiddies. This was followed by lunch, courtesy of MeatSA (Mafikeng) which the kiddies enjoyed tremendously, before cake cutting time, all thanks to the Project: LAYLA Project Co-ordinator- Nadia Petersen.

The highlight of the day, however, was when Tolamoetlile Kgobokoe, handed out ‘kindness parcels’ to all. Each child received a parcel filled with clothes, to ensure that not being clothed was not a hindrance to them receiving an early education. The Rooigrond Early Learning Centre itself, was also a benefactor. With the teacher, Maserame Setlhoko, accepting a goody bag-with things meant to make the kiddies day more pleasant.

The day was blessed indeed, all because of the kindness of others. Project: LAYLA and Operation Blanket ensured that the kindness of others, reached those who need it most, the innocents of this world- children.

All South Africans have a right to be registered and no-one can refuse that right. However, for those in poverty, exercising that right often poses serious challenges, due to the costs involved. As such, many who are poor are not registered, which denies them access to many services. Unregistered children have no access to healthcare and schooling, adults too are denied many rights, if without this documentation.

As part of our path to empower the community, we realised that enabling them to access services denied to them was necessary. Many of the community members, particularly the elderly and children were without registration documents. The Department of Home Affairs was reached out to. An out-reach was co-ordinated and Mafikeng SAPS kindly assisted by availing members to assist with the required affidavits, as well as the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) to assist those in need of social grants.

The people came in their numbers to apply for IDs, birth certificates and social grants. Children were given the opportunity to access some of the rights denied to them and as a whole, the community was empowered in a very sustainable way, as being registered opened so many doors to services previously denied…