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The Girl Impact

The Girl Impact, Cape Town

By October 10, 2016 No Comments
In post-Apartheid South Africa, girls are in real need of support, facing issues with access to education and healthcare and high abuse rates.
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.

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.

6 PILLARS

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.

Short term:
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.

Long term:
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.

Khayelitsha is a partially informal township in Western Cape, South Africa. Located in the Cape Flats area in the City of Cape Town, Khayelitsha means ‘New Home’ in Xhosa. It is noted to be the largest and fastest growing township in South Africa. Today Khayelitsha has an estimated official population of over 500,000 people but the unofficial number counts just under two million people including informal settlement areas as well. The ethnic makeup of Khayelitsha consists mainly of Black African residents, who predominantly speak Xhosa. Khayelitsha has a very young population with over 40% of residents being under the age of 19. As with other settlement communities, residents in Khayelitsha have limited access to basic utilities such as water, sewage, electricity and health care.