Posts Tagged ‘Rooigrond’

Rising Above Circumstances

Posted: March 22, 2011 in General
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The Rooigrond Informal Settlement in which our operations run is 17kms away from the nearest town, Mafikeng. It has no clinic, police station and even a need as basic as water is a problem. The entire settlement has only two Engine run water pumps, meaning that some are forced to go long distances for water.

However, despite all the difficulties and hardships faced by the community, they are active participants in the move for positive change. Volunteers gladly assist with the collection of the water required to cook for our Daily Feeding Program and often assist our team with the cleaning of the centre. The hope they have within, despite the circumstances they face on a daily basis, is enough inspiration to overcome challenges we meet daily. This community, with their hopes, dreams and willingness to be empowered embody everything we stand for- overcoming.

They truly live up to our motto, “Together, we can overcome…”

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With the fine young men making up the Golden Stars F.C team honoured, their journey in inspiring and creating a legacy for the youth of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement continued.

Challenges continued to be bravely faced, till light showed itself in the form of an act of kindness from Bonds Sports and Leisure, in the form of sponsorship for a new kit and ball. Through this act of kindness, our boys were once more ready to face the world and continue their journey of creating a legacy for the youth of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement Area.

The hope that a single act of kindness and generosity can bring, is very remarkable, hence the ability of kindness to change the world.

As Cicero said, “It is our special duty, that if anyone needs our help, we should give him such help to the utmost of our power.” When doing this, let us especially help children, who are our greatest resource.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has left behind many orphans and vulnerable children in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement Area. Kids are left to care for their younger siblings and some more fortunate are taken in by relatives who cannot afford to maintain them.

In light of this situation, we once more joined hands with Project: LAYLA, who kindly extended the number of their 2nd Anniversary beneficiaries, to include 16 of the worst off Orphans and vulnerable children in the village.

There were lots of tears, as some of these children had never in their life worn their own clothes or as some recalled how they had never received clothes since their parents death. One little girl even changed right there and then.

HIV/AIDS is something that affects us all, as it tears lives apart. In our aim to create a better world, let us not forget these children, the worst victims of this pandemic.

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.

The youth who had participated in the HIV/AIDS and Life-skills training went forth as ambassadors to the youth of Rooigrond. They eagerly shared what they had learnt with others and continue trying to apply it to their own lives as well. This coupled with the sense of achievement stirred up in them at the ‘Graduation’ ceremony, in which they received their certificates, created the need to do it again.

Once more, the Southern Cross Capacitating Corporation heeded our call and trained 30 more youths, who also passed the training course with flying colours and were awarded their certificates in a beautiful ceremony on the 12th December 2010. Once again, youth had been empowered not only with knowledge, but also with a sense of achievement and self-determination. It was wonderful to witness how this empowerment effort affected so much more than teaching the youth about responsible behaviour, it reached right to their self-esteem and had a general positive effect on the community, also inspiring the youth to get more active in community affairs.

The training course was a worthwhile endeavour, but we never even imagined what would come out of it in months to come- the extent to which the youth had been inspired…

“No one can lead our lives for us. We are responsible for our actions. So people -especially the younger generation- need to be very careful especially where safe sex is concerned.”~ Salman Ahmad

The HIV/AIDS rate in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area is very alarming and has had an impact that reaches beyond the infected’s family. The community has a large number of child-headed homes and some family’s have overcrowded their shacks due to taking in their relatives children- the children who get left behind. This deadly phenomenon is perpetuated by ignorance about the disease and years of wrong learning.

Amongst the youth, particularly the males, one often the old excuse that one “can’t eat a sweet with a wrapper on”, in reference to condoms. It’s taken as a sign of cowardice to use them- a sign of unmanliness. This plus the a long list of sex-related myths, only serves to perpetuate the problems this cycle of careless about sex has brought. Young males need to be taught that, there’s nothing manly about digging your own grave.

With their female counterparts, however, the reasons more commonly given for a lack of condom usage are more often than not, “he doesn’t like them”; “he’ll leave me” and “I love him”. It’s of utmost importance that we teach our young ladies that sex isn’t a tool to be used to keep a man, especially unsafe sex. Is it worth your life to prove to another how much you love them?

It is with this in mind, that we decided to seek out partnerships that would assist in the eradication of this problem. Southern Cross Capacitating Corporation, was quick to respond to our calls and provided HIV/AIDS and Lifeskills training (over a period of 5 days) to thirty youths. It was very interactive, informative and dispelled many of the sex-related myths within the community. On the 5th day, the participants of the training were assessed and on the 20th November 2010, a ‘graduation ceremony’ was hosted in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement. The training participants, who all passed the assessment, received certificates during this beautiful event.

The sense of achievement this brought to the youth, has been very beautiful to witness. This coupled with their keenness to share the knowledge they gained with others, has had quite an positive impact on the youth as a whole. More evidence that indeed, “together, we can overcome…”

There is nothing worse, than looking a hungry child in the eye and not being able to feed them. It kills a part of the soul and no-one should ever have to experience that. However, in October 2010, we did. As a part of our operations, we run a Daily Feeding Program in Rooigrond- which at the time catered for 483 children.

The village has two engine enabled water pumps, which serve the entire village. In October 2010, the engines broke down, with fruitless attempts in fixing it. The village was distraught, as this meant there was no water to drink, wash and even to cook for their families. Over and above that, we had no water with which to cook for the beneficiaries of our Daily Feeding Program, we were devastated.

However, means were made to communicate our problem with an associate, Nadia Petersen, who responded to this by sending out a public SOS. Within a short time, Marius Du Toit, the owner of a property in the vicinity responded with a generous offer of water. Such kindness and generosity was very welcome and that same day, 110 litres of water were collected from his property. The children could eat once more.

It is unthinkable that out here in the world, we still have people going hungry due to a lack of what is a ‘natural resource’. A very sad reality that we have come face to face with on more than one occasion. As sad as this is, it has to be said that the kindness through which this can be overcome, is beautiful to witness. We’ve been shown this kindness on more than one occasion by the very same Marius Du Toit and the generous folk of Westgate. It goes beyond what words could ever express and imprints itself deeply to the soul.

This kindness, shows the truth in our motto, indeed “together, we can overcome…”

“Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.”~Maria Montessori

At Operation: ROOIGROND, we believe in the use of education and empowerment as a means of creating positive change. In April 2010, after seeing the potential in the children of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement, the idea of establishing an Early Learning Centre came about.

The Early Learning Centre would seek to nourish that potential in the children and would also aim to develop their self-determination from a young age, in an effort to ensure that they know and believe that their circumstances do not have to dictate what they become. However, bringing this idea to life wouldn’t be easy. Many thought it an over-ambitious dream and shot it down, we never gave up on the belief that it would happen and each day, whilst stepping through the village and seeing the little children, the belief we had in what we were doing just kept growing.

In May 2010, whilst discussing the plan with a local farmer’s wife, our belief and faith was vindicated. Her husband who happened to overhear our topic of discussion offered to buy building equipment so that an Early Learning Centre could be built. From that moment forth, blessing after blessing poured forth and through partnerships formed with others, the Rooigrond Early Learning Centre was built by the community.

On Monday, the 6th September 2010, the Rooigrond Early Learning Centre opened its doors to 30 learners from the Informal Settlement. It was welcomed with great joy and goes beyond educating the children of the community. The Rooigrond Early Learning Centre has become a symbol of hope to the community, a symbol of how faith coupled with hard work can make things happen…