In post-Apartheid South Africa, girls are in real need of support. Particularly in Cape Town, issues surrounding access to and staying in education, restricted access to healthcare, high abuse rates and a patriarchal system where men hold primary authority all mean that girls are often left behind. Through the Girl Impact project in Cape Town our aim is to leave no girl behind.
Buyelekhaya Community Development is a registered non-profit organization (NPO) situated in Khayelitsha. Originally beginning in 2007, and formally registering as an NPO in 2010, Buyelekhaya seeks to work with vulnerable children and youth to learn about their own culture and backgrounds through dance.
The afterschool hours are especially hazardous for these vulnerable children and youth in this area. The group aims to provide the children with a safe environment and teaches values promoting a safe and healthy lifestyle. In creating a positive after school environment and engaging in the positive outlet of dance, the youth are less susceptible to substance abuse and gangsterism, while staying involved in school and working to achieve academic success. Buyelekhaya is an extremely intimate atmosphere to be a part of as the group practices within their leader’s home.
African Impact was first introduced to Buyelekhaya in the second half of 2015, and began meeting with the youth late in 2015.
African Impact’s role is to run aftercare sessions each Friday afternoon as a source of support for the group, helping them to work through any issues they may have with school or at home. Programming is now centring around the pillars of the Girl Impact: education, health, early pregnancy, safety, making a living and confidence in self.
• Just over half of girls in South Africa will leave education before completing Grade 12
• 39% of girls aged 15 – 24 years have given birth, with 28% having never married or lived with the father of the child
• Only 1 third of clinics in South Africa provide contraception options to people seeking contraception aged 13 -19 years
• 45% of girls aged 14 – 24 years describe their first sexual experience as coerced by their male partner
The low standard of living in the surrounding area means parents often don’t have the means to support their children by providing essential items such as food. As African Impact programming continues, this is becoming increasingly apparent. This is evident with the group’s leader feeding the children when she has an occasional surplus of money and hunger affecting the concentration of the children/youth during sessions on a Friday afternoon.
African Impact’s volunteer programs in Cape Town have been working in the township community of Khayelitsha, among others, for many years. While their continuing programming touches on key issues such as early childhood development, health and nutrition, as well as education, they saw a need to provide a more targeted initiative towards their 11 – 18-year-old male and female participants that focused on gender equality.
Their relationships with existing community partners and the children and adolescents in their care soon served as a platform for launching a gender empowerment program, hand in hand with the team at The Girl Impact.
EDUCATION – We help reduce the barriers to education for girls, enabling them to stay in school for longer and improve their ability to earn a living.
HEALTH – We help educate boys and girls about health risks, prevention and treatment, as well as providing support for those living with health issues such as HIV, AIDs or malaria.
SAFETY – We aim to change attitudes of whole communities on violence against girls and women, as well as providing support to those who have been the victim of violence or do not live in a safe environment.
EARLY PREGNANCY – We provide education to girls, boys and communities which aims to reduce the rates of early pregnancy in young girls, avoid unwanted pregnancy and support girls who are dealing with teenage pregnancy and early parenthood.
INCOME GENERATION – Our program prepares girls to make a living as they get older by discussing their options, teaching skills and supporting their efforts.
SELF-CONFIDENCE – We give girls a platform to value asking questions, be challenged and supported in their opinions as a means of building up girls’ self-esteem and confidence so they can take more responsibility for their future.
Introduce a relief feeding program whereby children receive healthy and fulfilling food once a week, prior to African Impact sessions. This will be at an approximate cost of R250-R300 per week for the whole group.
A structure put in place incorporating the following:
• Sourcing of partners who can fund the program / provide food directly to Buyelekhaya
• Integration of income generation activities to make the group more self-sufficient
• Possible creation of a food garden at Buyelekhaya so that they can grow their own food
• Ongoing support of African Impact volunteers in shaping a bright future for the youth where they feel empowered to finish school and seek employment, thus funding their own futures.
The Girl Impact was established in 2015 to offer gender equality workshops and income generating activities to focus on the gender equality gap across our East and Southern African programmes. Launching in 2015, one of Cape Town’s first partners included working with Buyelekhaya Dance group, a dance group programme which served as an after-school programme to provide a safe space and for genuine connection through the medium of dance. The Foundation provided a feeding scheme for 3 years; however, this came to an end in 2018, as the teenagers had aged out of our programme
- 2018: We welcomed our new partner, Masibonisane, a women-led initiative and income generating group where we support through health advice, income generation skills and English lessons. Funds spent through the year were used to provide income-generating resources to groups. Finally, through our other partner, GAPA, we host Girls’ and Boys’ Talks which consist of bi-weekly gender equality workshops and a reading club. We fundraised for a mobile library which is used in a structured reading programme every Monday. Students can also check out books to read outside of the classroom.
- 2019: We want to expand the programme with our new partners to increase our impact and reach.