Natalie Agboeze is the Director of Restless Development South Africa. On South Africa’s National Women’s Day she met with Civil Society partners.
As I travelled to our community event in Bizana to celebrate the success of the Towards A More Accountable South Africa project and commemorate South Africa’s Women’s Day, I visited some of our civil society partners in Mount Frere.
First, we went to Ubuntu Care and Development and met Gadaffi, the Programme Manager. Ubuntu is a Community Based Organisation that provides a holistic approach to the challenges that affect children and young people in Mount Frere. Their focus is on orphans and vulnerable children, young people living with HIV/AIDS and those who are terminally ill. They offer care, support and advice, and their interventions focus on reducing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and raising self-esteem and leadership skills. As well as education and guidance about health and HIV, they support young people with food security and income generation, and they have established a bakery and a craft centre to generate funds and provide employment.
At just 27, Gadaffi is proving himself as a passionate and driven Manager, with ambitious aims to expand and develop the organisation. We spoke about how donor income can ebb and flow – affecting the capacity of the organisation – and the urgent need to ensure sustainability and continuity. He told me that one of the most helpful elements of our ‘Towards a More Accountable South Africa’ project, funded by the EU, is that we have focused on the formation of coalitions and working groups with local civil society and community based organisations. This has strengthened the relationships and opportunities for everyone to work together, and as the TAMASA project draws to a close there is a sense of optimism that the partnerships and networks will continue to flourish and provide a more sustainable basis for youth-led change and development.
Programme manager Gadaffi at Ubuntu Care and Development
Next we went to see Mount Frere Paralegal Advice Centre. The legal centre, led by the charismatic Mrs Kakaza, is a human rights organisation focusing on the reduction of incidences of domestic and generalized violence against women. Working with young girls, boys and women, they provide basic legal services and access to legal institutions for survivors of Gender Based Violence. Their interventions include human rights education in schools, community dialogues about GBV and HIV/AIDS prevention, legal advice, and linkage to care and support for GBV survivors.
We talked about the challenges that face young people in Mount Frere and the Alfred Ndzo District. Unemployment, drug and alcohol dependency and teenage pregnancy are the main topics.the team showed me pictures of knives and drugs collected from school pupils during recent raids.
As part of the TAMASA project, Mount Frere Paralegal Advice Centre have joined forces with other local civil society organisations, High School Principles and Police, and participated in organised searches and events at schools to collect weapons, highlight the dangers and legal repercussions to the students, and to work with young people to find alternatives and solutions. We discussed some of the root causes of these challenges, and Mrs Kakaza raised the issue of child-headed households – families led by young people after the death or migration of their parents. Her team are keen to promote the integrated approaches that Restless Development focus on under the four goal areas of voice, living, leadership and sexual reproductive health.
As we reach the end of our Towards A More Accountable South Africa project we will be keen to see how the civil society and community based organisations we have partnered with sustain the positive work they are doing with young people, and deepen the impact of the tremendous results we have seen over the past two years.