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Projects Abroad Human Rights Office – Cape Town, South Africa – Monthly Reports

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Projects Abroad Human Rights Office - Cape town - Monthly reports - August 2011

This month has been another busy one for PAHO with lots of new volunteers arriving and with that new ideas and dynamics are brought to the work we are doing. Some put all their energy and efforts into organising and pulling off a very successful soccer tournament in Manenberg, others made huge progress in terms of the work we do with the women’s shelters; not forgetting the request from Bonnytoun themselves for us to spend more time with the boys each week because of the great work our volunteers have been doing there. Here’s a round up of the progress being made in each of our projects.

Social Justice

Bonnytoun

Things at Bonnytoun have been progressing well with volunteers making a great impression. We are now working with two groups of boys, and have been asked to take on another day a week as well as organise 4 a 10 day program in September for when the teachers are on holiday. This month there has been a huge focus on ‘perception’ and how the boys perceive issues such as race, homosexuality and disability as well as how they perceive themselves. One of the boys prepared a speech, which a volunteer read to the whole group, about his aspirations and hopes for the future and this was very encouraging. Volunteers managed to bond with the boys through fun games and activities with encouraged them to open up and volunteers were able to learn a lot about the boys and their past, as well as their current frustrations in terms of the justice system in South Africa and how their sentencing is constantly being postponed. There is so much work that still needs to be done in places such as Bonnytoun but volunteers have shown that by giving these boys time and respect we are able to make a difference to their lives and there is a hope that we can effect their future in a positive way.

The Women’s Shelters

Sisters Incorporated – The volunteers working with the women at Sisters this month have worked extremely hard. They have been empowering the women at this shelter to build up their self confidence and belief in themselves again. They have been discussing jobs and interview techniques with the women and this is highly beneficial as all of the women are keen to find jobs. The women were asked to compliment each other and discuss each others best attributes. Many women were surprised what was said about them and this proved to be a great way to build up their confidence and encourage them to pick out their best characteristics which they can focus on during a job interview.

St Anne’s

Work at this women’s shelter has also been progressing brilliantly with dedicated volunteers spending the time to get to know the women and putting effort into their workshops. This month volunteers began working through the Constitutional Rights within South Africa and have found there to be many more regular attendees to the sessions than there used to be. Feedback from the women has been great, stating that the PAHO volunteers’ workshops are their favourite. They enjoy the lively discussion and that they are all encouraged to speak and get involved. Another new initiative with work at St Anne’s has included giving the women resources to study after the volunteers leave. These have proved to be successful as the women always return the following week with questions for the volunteers about what they have been reading.

Free Gender

A two day conference held by Free Gender took place in Khayelitsha at the beginning of this month. The conference addressed the issue of corrective rape and the South African police with the aim of sharing stories of those affected by corrective rape and to raise awareness of this with the police. Many of our volunteers attended and the conference was something for the organisation to be proud of. The first day was well attended with many police and officials in attendance. However the majority of it was spoken in Xhosa and our volunteers were unable to follow much of what was going on. Day two saw fewer people in attendance but victims shared their experiences and it was a great atmosphere with everyone learning a lot.

Manenberg Girls

This month volunteers managed to secure some free tickets to Robben Island for the girls. They had never before had the opportunity to go and so they were extremely grateful for the trip. It was also a great way for the volunteers to bond with the girls and build up trust amongst the group. On occasions this month we encouraged the girls to take on the role of preparing a workshop for our volunteers, to teach them something for a change. This was a great way to encourage these girls and build up their confidence and self-esteem and the idea seemed to work really well. Other activities this month included 5 spending a day in Manenberg with the group, shopping and braaing (South Africa’s take on a BBQ) whilst also building up relationships through singing and dancing.

Manenberg Boys

This month a few of our volunteers worked extremely hard to set up a soccer tournament for the boys in Manenberg. The idea was to create teams by mixing up those from different gangs within Manenberg so that they had to work together as a team and play soccer. Despite the awful weather and the apprehension of the boys in the beginning about having to mix with others, the day was a great success with eight teams participating. The whole community came out to show their support, coming together and chatting with others. Even one of the locals invited everyone into their home as the soccer finished to have an awards ceremony for the winning two teams and allow people a place out of the cold to enjoy snacks and drinks. The volunteers involved in this did a great job organising such an event and we hope to be able to continue organising many similar events as it is a great way of bringing a community together.

Mock Trial/Debating Workshop

There has been great progress with the group taking part in this program with things moving on from just debating to now preparing these youths for the mock trial. Volunteers have been discussing with them the process within court, the role of each person as well as the set up and how arguments are presented from either side. The group were then put to the test with a simple case for role play which they responded to brilliantly. We are now aiming to organise a court trip to for them to see a real trial in action which will give them a better understanding of the system before it comes to their time to present theirs.

Sobambisana – Crossroads

The youth in Crossroads are looking for a way to build a brighter future and many of them lack the necessary skills to find employment. Volunteers researched and found out about an employment/training initiative in South Africa, these are known as learnerships. They consist of employers taking people on, allowing them to work whilst also studying so that they become trained up and gain a qualification in a certain area. Volunteers discussed these with the youth at Crossroads and assisted them with filling in the application forms. This is a great learning opportunity for these youths and we are hopeful that many will be successful with their applications.

Communicare – Ruyterwacht

The community we are working with in Ruyterwacht was created by the government during apartheid to house all of the poor whites, away from view. The idea was to have these people find jobs and finally move from these free houses which were provided by the government. However they began expecting free handouts and ended up staying in these free houses for generations. Volunteers are currently preparing proposals and research questionnaires which will be used to gather as much information from the community as possible so that we can tackle the issues that are most prevalent.

Legal Services

Lavender Hill

Many new cases have come to us through Lavender Hill this month with not only women now coming for advice. We have begun opening cases for a handful of men and are encouraging anyone who needs assistance to come to us.

Parliamentary Monitoring

Parliament has been getting busy this month with a variety of Committee Meetings which volunteers have been attending. Parliamentary monitoring is becoming highly popular with the volunteers with many of them wanting to visit Parliament to experience the committee meetings. One popular topic that was discussed this month was the Protection of Information Bill and the discussions surrounding it including national security fears which were being addressed in the committee meetings. Another popular discussion in Parliament this month included South Africa’s contribution to Libya; their plans post Gadaffi and whether their level of support will change?

South Africa Human Rights Management Plan

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