Thursday, May 22, 2014

Changing Lives...

‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’ 
Nelson Mandela

This story takes us into the heart of the Philippi Township, to the Lutheran Community centre, iThemba Labantu, which translates to ‘Hope for the People’. Here, 12 young men and women are working as facilitators leading an after-care programme with pre-schoolers. Their primary function is to play with the little ones, to teach them some life skills, but mainly just to speak to them - in English! This is a lot harder than it sounds, especially when your mother-tongue is not English.
So, to begin at the beginning…

Mduduzi and Jehaan, with students

Just a few weeks ago, I received an email from a young, German volunteer who was looking for a way to bring free, quality education to the Philippi community, one of Cape Town’s poorest townships. He began with an internet search that led him to The Knowledge Workshop. Our previous community initiatives in the Langa and Mfuleni townships gave him hope that perhaps his vision was indeed possible.  Dominik told me about iThemba Labantu, about their mission to improve the social and economic conditions of this largely impoverished community, by offering free access to education, nutrition and health care. Dominik also told me about the 12 facilitators who were giving back to the community from which they came, and their need to improve their English communication skills. I was humbled by the selflessness of the individuals who fueled this mission, and was eager to get involved. TKW, through its teacher-training programme has trained literally hundreds of teachers over the years. To gain experience, these teachers, on completion of their theory training, volunteer their time in a classroom. Out of this comes an obvious win-win for all – our teachers hone their skills, students improve their English, and lives are changed for the better, forever!

Jarryd and Amourelle, lead a role play
The story so far…

We began our work at Ithemba Labantu last week, with the help of four conscientious, young volunteers, our most recent TEFL/TESOL graduates. The volunteers were amazing and the 12 young facilitators who stood to benefit, were fully present and engaged. There is no substitute for passion, enthusiasm and a desire to do more and be better. This was evident on both sides, from the teachers and the willing and enthused learners. Our communicative and fun approach to teaching and learning, brought laughter and excitement to the classroom, enough to motivate the students to come back for more! Today, 8 hours and 4 days later, the future of the project at iThemba Labantu looks destined to continue for some time. Change is on the horizon for the young facilitators at iThemba Labantu and the catalyst for that change is education.

Amourelle, leads activity
Jehaan leading class
 In the next few weeks we will update you on the progress of the students and teachers at iThemba Labantu.  If you would like to get involved or become a volunteer, it is as easy as sending us an email or contacting us through our website.

Students at iThmeba Labantu

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