“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…

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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.

The Rooigrond Informal Settlement is characterised with poverty, something which can change through education and empowerment. However, education and empowerment require resources, resources which the community has no access to at this point in time.

These resources can be gained through the establishment of a library in the Informal Settlement, something which sounds like a monumental task, but can become a reality of we all work together. The children, youth and community as a whole require access to books and the benefits that go along with them, information and education.

Becoming a part of making this a reality is not difficult at all, anyone can. Start a book collection for our library; help us create networks with potential partners; connect us with people, companies and organisations who could assist with building material, equipment and the furniture required. The means are so many, all u have to do is select that which is most convenient for you, it’s that simple.

The possibilities are endless, if we all work together and a library in the Informal Settlement would not only go a long way in providing a centre of education for the community, but would also create hope- hope for a better future for all.

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.

“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.

“A child must learn early to believe that she is somebody worthwhile, and that she can do many praiseworthy things…” ~ Benjamin Mays

Education is an important tool for breaking the cycle of poverty. However, the Rooigrond Early Learning Centre not only ensures that the children receive access to early education; but through the lifeskills element in the curriculum, it also ensures that they learn their value. They are encouraged to believe in their dreams, in themselves and their abilities. This serves to create a sense of self-determination in them from a young age, allowing them to know that their respective circumstances do not make them any less valuable.

All too often we see many young adults in Rooigrond who allow poverty to undermine their sense of worth, something we are changing.

The Rooigrond Early Learning Centre’s learners represent a new generation of Rooigrond, the generation that knows they can rise above any circumstance to pursue their dreams- a generation that knows that, despite their poverty they are just as valuable and important as every other human being…

Losing one’s home is a painful experience, but losing it at the hand of someone you love, is much more worse. This was what a family of eight went through, earlier this year.

It all started with a pair of sneakers requested by one of the children, his parents assured him that he would receive a pair on Friday, when his father- a farm worker would receive his wages. Alas, the farmer for whom he worked did not pay his workers that day, but assured his workers that they would be paid the following day. Little did anyone know what horror would come from his inability to pay his workers that day.

The young man asked for money for his sneakers that very evening. His father explained the situation to him, but reassured him that he would receive the money the following day. The young man stormed out livid and did not go home that night. Upon his return, the following day, the young man found the family home empty. He poured paraffin all over and set the house alight. In that single moment, the family lost not only their home, but everything they possessed, even their Identity Documents, school uniforms, everything.

The young man was arrested for arson, which caused further stress for the family. No parent wants their child in jail, especially not at their hand.

Upon hearing about the family’s situation, we acted to solve the immediate problem, shelter. An entire family, more so with such young children in the household, could not be left homeless. The Local Municipality heeded our pleas and provided a ‘disaster shelter’ for the family to use for six months. With the most immediate problem solved, we could now step to the next, clothing.

Operation Blanket, a Mafikeng based NPO and Project: LAYLA, a programme under their administration were informed of the situation and opened their doors to us. Members of our team, along with Operation Blanket staff sorted clothing for the family, making sure to male their parcels as suitable as possible, including uniforms, school shoes, jerseys and so much more. These parcels were handed to the family, who received so much comfort from the kindness shown to them.

Once more, generosity and kindness, brought hope in what seemed to be a hopeless situation.

“Working together, ordinary people can perform extraordinary feats…”~ Unknown

On the 6th of January 2011, the community of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement once more united and for our Project: Clean-up.

The roads used by learners to go to school are filled with bushes and trees which make the area unsafe for them, as they can’t be seen, when walking through there. To combat this, we mobilised the community for what we call, Project: Clean-up. This project would ensure that the bushes, trees and everything else considered to be hazardous would be cleaned up.

The entire community assisted with this and entire families came out in their numbers. Women, children and men all played their part and so much was done. The local school, Madiba Combined School, was also cleaned up.

Parents came in their numbers and the school yard, toilets and classrooms, were also cleaned as part of Project: Clean-up. The entire project was a great success due to the unified effort of the community. Once more, they showed the power of unity and the safety of our children was the reward.

Very often interventions in areas like the Rooigrond Informal Settlement are unsuccessful, due to a failure to take into account the contexts of such areas.

The challenges faced there are very different from what the average person faces daily. Overcrowding, going long distances for water; poor, if any, sanitation; amongst many more are the reality of many people in rural contexts. We meet these realities daily, but never has one hit home like the ‘cow incident’ earlier this year.

One evening, shortly after midnight, a knock came to our door and we were informed that a cow had fallen into a toilet. The Fire Brigade was called and believing it to be a hoax, they failed to act. The police had no interest in assisting, which left it up to the community to ensure that this animal was safely removed. Fearing broken limbs, a plan was made to dig a trench around the cow , so as to not have to pull it, thereby causing it more distress. This was successfully done.

The above scenario is something that many, if any person in an urban situation would ever go through. It’s such challenges that need to be understood, in order to understand the rural contexts. Some things we never dream possible, are the daily realities of others.

Instead of judging too harshly, let us remember, we don’t understand what another may be facing that makes them the way they are…