Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Rooigrond Conversations

Posted: September 24, 2013 in General
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A video by Matakutso and Gontse, to whom the community are grateful.

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A Community With No Borders…

Posted: January 31, 2012 in General
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“We must make the paradigm shift from a culture of consumption to one based on service. This must be our legacy…” – Murray Ingram

Through the use of social networks, we have come across a number of wonderful, inspirational people who have made an impact in what we do in various ways. One of our earliest online friends was Murray Ingram.

With his wise words, he inspired our work in many ways and helped us persevere despite the tough times we occasionally face. What fascinated us most about him though is that in a world full of talkers, he is quite a doer and believes that doing is one’s way of talking. We kept on communicating with him, still do and his message is has always been the same; compassion, service, humility and humanity and like Ghandi, he believes that ‘one’s life should be one’s message’.

In 2011, we were pleasantly surprised when he offered to come all the way from Cape Town to see what our humble community initiative was about. Despite the surprise, we gladly accepted, looking forward to his visit. It would be the first time that we meet any of our ‘online friends’ and being believers that “together, we can overcome”, we are always keen to extend our community beyond the confinements of Rooigrond. He came, bringing with him quite an impressive storm- which eventually followed him back and we were honoured to show him around, with our centre being the first stop. He met with members of the community; was shown around and even had the time to teach us a few lessons on meditation and its’ value.

A splendid day we had, shared with a man who has become not only a pillar of wisdom and support, but a friend we hold near and dear- working together towards a common goal, the creation of a better world…

Without a doubt, a lack of access to information remains a serious problem in rural and marginalised communities. This is because it affects people’s ability to claim their rights and it is a barrier to access to opportunity, amongst many more negative attributes that go along with it.

 

As part of our efforts to raise awareness about this community initiative we have going in Rooigrond, we started dabbling in ICTs, which we found to be a powerful tool in many ways. This started us thinking about mobile phones and the possibilities they hold- particularly with the issue of access to information-, as even the most basic of phones lately are WAP enabled. However, not being very ‘tech-savvy’ ourselves, we had all these ideas and questions, but were unable to discuss them and get any direction on which path to take. This changed however upon our meeting David Bernard, CEO of SANGONeT- an organisation aimed at empowering non-profits through the ICTs, at the North-West University.

 After listening to Mr. Bernard’s presentation on the potential role social media can play in non-profits, amongst many other uses of technology in communities such as ours. We finally were given a chance to share our thoughts on the matter, especially our concerns about the lack of information in the North-West province, which have prevented organisations and communities from exploiting the potential of ICTs. Having shared our views and finally having our many questions answered enabled us to really get going on our plans of enabling the community to access information; which has the potential to assist not only in allowing residents to claim their rights, but also to develop themselves and the community as a whole.

We have since been on a learning journey, in an effort to seek out ways to fully maximise the manner in which we utilise ICTs for the better of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement. Though not always easy, there is no doubt that progress has been made in many ways, with some great tales coming from residents about the difference that has been made due to the opportunity to access information. We have also discovered great innovation within the community, as people share their own ideas on ways in which the ICTs can be used. No doubt that it is a journey we will see through…

As much as we are passionate about what we do, we know that we cannot create positive change on our own, hence our motto, “together, we can overcome”- a motto that reflects our belief that positive change and social transformation can only happen if we all join hands and work together to make it happen.

However, without a doubt there is a serious lack of cooperation amongst communities and organisations in the North-West province. This is caused by a number of factors, with the most notable being that organisations and community initiatives in the province are unaware of each others’ existence. A lack of adequate communication resources and initiatives bringing forces of positive change together has been severely lacking and in many ways it affects the ability of organisations and initiatives to fulfil their mandates as when approached with a matter beyond their scope, they are unable to refer a beneficiary elsewhere, where the person or peope can be assisted.

As such, we were very excited when Connie Legodi-Bogatsu, the community services coordinator of the Mafikeng campus of the North West University, invited us over for a workshop aimed at empowering non-profits and community initiatives. The workshop, organised by Beatrix Bouman- the North West University’s Director of Community Engagement,  saw organisations and initiatives from all over the North-West come together and we saw this not only as an opportunity to be empowered to better service our community- but also to network with others fighting for positive change.

The workshop saw to it that we were all educated on the need and importance of maintaining proper administration systems amongst many other important lessons. It was a great day where we learned a lot which would allow us to better fulfil our respective mandates and also provided us with information which could assist many others. We greatly applaud the university for its contributions to empowering organisations and community initiatives, as many of us- despite our passions are not adequately skilled on the behind the scenes processes inolved. Also, we hope to see many more such workshops happening in the province, as it could go a long way in ensuring that barriers are crossed to allow various forces of positive change in the province to come together- thereby widening the circle of positive change…

It has been said that “love is temporary madness”, but for Rre Segwedi and MmaNaledi of Rooigrond, love has seen them through the worst and the best years of their lives. This elderly couple, also residents in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement have had a dream of being married officially for many years and with time passing by, their dream of doing so never dimished. However, like many other members of rural,marginalised communities- their chances of doing this were rather slim due to an inability to access the Department of Home Affairs and by virtue of not being registered citizens.

Unlike many other such love stories, theirs had quite a happy ending. Upon us having the Department of Home Affairs over to register our people, not only did the couple apply for their IDs, but they were also legally wed- a dream come true for this couple. Two children and four grandchildren later, they finally officially became Mr. and Mrs. Segwedi to the great delight of the rest of the community.

This happy ending could become a reality for many others in rural, marginalised communities if more such out-reaches could take place and we hope that in time they will, making such services accessible to all…

A scathing slap across the face, followed by another. As she falls, she tries to protect the child on her back. The man kicks her, over and over again. He walks away and she’s relieved that her routine beating is over- little did she know that this time, it would be different. As she stands up, preparing to take the screaming baby off her back, she hears him approaching her- which is odd, as he always leaves after beating her. She looks up and without realising what is happening, her baby let’s out a piercing scream; which would be his last. Her partner had returned with a hosepipe to finish what he had started and had accidentally hit the child on his partner’s back- a child who was his flesh and blood, a child who died at his hands. This is just one of the many realities in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement, where Domestic Violence is rife. Many scenes like these play themselves out on a daily basis and unfortunately, the end result is always tragedy.

Despite this endless occurrence of tragedy, the silence about this reality from victims; authorities and every other stakeholder in the matter is quite alarming. As such, we took it upon ourselves to hold all those involved accountable and ensure that our team is adequately empowered to support victims and their families and also to share what could be life saving information with the community. On the 5th April 2011, when POWA hosted a Domestic Violence Imbizo in Lonely Park, Mafikeng, with all stakeholders participating, we ensured that members of our team participated; sharing the problems experienced in Rooigrond; alerting SAPS to the lack of response at their end; pointing out the lack of social support for victims and starting a move for co-operation with all present, to ensure the eradication of this evil lurking in our society. It was a great day and all information gathered is continuously ploughed back into the community.

Considering that, “many women are still unaware of their rights when reporting abuse and even informed women traumatised by an assault are unlikely to be assertive and insist on their rights. Many women are afraid of further violence from the perpetrator if they attempt legal action. This is even more compounded by the introduction of the new Domestic Violence Act which a lot of women have not yet grasped…”, we hope that through our continuous efforts to support and share information with the community, in time this too shall be overcome.

“I am because you are” is a saying that many of us are familiar with. Yet very few live it the way Golden Stars F.C. does.

There is no doubt that the team would not be where it is, if it was not for the continuous support of their loyal fans. The way the community of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement goes all out to support the team, gives great hope that it will continue to grow in every imaginable way…

We salute every fan who has walked long distances to support the team during outside games. We salute every fan who braves the scorching sun or unbearable cold to support the team. We salute each and every fan who has in anyway supported the team since it came into existence. Without their support, Golden Stars F.C, would find it so much harder to continue this journey…

The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running. ~Author unknown, in reference to Ecclesiastes 9:11

Golden Stars F.C., a team started not only to break the cycle of youth substance abuse and crime, but also to nurture talent has indeed kept in the race and continue to make us proud.

Despite a severe lack of resources, the fine young men continue on their journey to creating positive change in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement. Their efforts are never more evident than when they are playing on the field- their passion for the game; their love for their fans and above all, their commitment and dedication are felt by all who flock to watch them play.

And in this continuing journey, the team has even created a second division, the Golden Stars F.C under 18 team has joined this move to encourage the youth. We hope to ensure that the team continues to grow and that in time, poverty will not be a hindrance to the vast talent available in this community.

No-one should ever have their dreams taken away from them, due to circumstances out of their hands, especially as no-one chooses to be born to poverty.

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.

“No one should have to live without hope, and we can make sure that they don’t. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live lives of comfort and prosperity are the ones that can provide lifesaving relief to millions. It is our obligation to take the necessary action to offer hope where there is none. It is our responsibility to create opportunity that will transform lives. We must focus our efforts to offer possibilities that do not currently exist for a billion human beings in extreme poverty. To not use our abilities to their fullest in the effort to end suffering is disgraceful. We must use our time and talents to extend hope to those who need it most. To do any less is immoral.” Michael Crawley

There is no doubt that hope is the only thing that can keep people going when surrounded constantly by poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence and a host of other negative situations often experienced in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area. In such conditions, hope is as necessary as the air one breathes.

All our efforts are geared at providing hope for this community. Through empowering them; through educating the children and all our operations, we seek to give them hope that change will come- that in time the cycle of poverty will be broken and that they too will rise and go beyond their circumstances.