Thabo Khomane, Songezo Gulwa

Personal History:

82I was nominated by the owner of the building where the youth centre is. The reason for my nomination was that there was no one to take charge of the youth centre. So I volunteered to take charge. I was very excited about it because to work with the youth was always my passion. It was not my first time working with the youth. I had a choir, soccer club, and dance group in the Eastern Cape. I had done the same thing in Johannesburg. So I am very excited to work with the youth.

What do you do in MWP?

I am not just working with the youth, but I am also a community developer. I have tried to meet with the community leaders and ask for their assistance in finding same organization that can give food parcels. Those can be given those really in need or poor families in Monwabisi Park. We are also planning to help build a Monwabisi Park garden so that we can grow vegetables. We want to assist HIV and AIDS patients with their treatment. We want to distribute ARVs and other medicine. We are also planning to give TB patients some treatment also. Everything will be done by the youth using their own time.

83We do gumboots dance, traditional dance. We do Tango. And we got a choir. It’s Drama. Everybody must bring their own homework otherwise it’s not happening.

Whenever we come in I first come in with what we’re going to do. I write it down for them. It’s there on the board. Then we discuss how we are going to do it so it’s not just what I want. Then we always start with traditional dance and then we always practice our drama then, because the drama takes longer. Then we’ve got scripts now of the little drama or something that we do. But it’s an HIV and AIDS thing. We wanted to put it in a video cassette, but we’re going to do it properly because it starts with doctors in hospitals. But it’s no way. How did it start? We must start at the beginning and go with the story line. They need to die, there needs to be a funeral. We wanted to actually act it, so I went in the hospital and ask them if you can do that, they said no it’s fine. We need to have a real doctor. We need to have someone dying. I want it to be real. And then they can say, oh that’s my child. How did they do that? With Bob’s Camera.

We actually going, we actually want to do a film either about crime, how we can prevent it, either about the way of improving how we live. How we can close the tap water when it is just flowing for free. How we can take care of the children, but more in a movie.

84Then we do drama. Then before we end our day, we always all sit down and we always have a talk of the day. It could be anything. It’s not just anything though. I always tell them, being a child is an advantage. I always encourage them, it’s always an advantage, because if you want something you go to your parents and ask them but what are you going to do for them.

The things they must do, how to behave, how to treat each other in the group equally. I always tell them it’s a bad idea to be anywhere near the shebeen. They should stay away from the shebeens or anyone doing drugs.

I always tell them graduation is the best tool. Get some examples get some people who are more educated. Get some examples of people who were good and went high up and then went down.

HIV, TB, those are the things that I think we can do for the community of Monwabisi Park, because I think if we can have better communication with the Department of Health. They can give us the ARVS and medication for TB then the  people don’t have to go all the way to get the medication. Last week I worked on a program where there are clothes in Moses’ office and we go into the community and give them to the poor people.

The kids, I have one girl there who is doing a poem. I wanted to have it on video but I think I deleted it because it was too sensitive. She was saying my father you still call me your child but you rape me and she cried while she read the poem and I felt for her.

I’ve organized some counseling for them. There’s a guy I know from Harare, they are going in the church, there are social workers who are trained counselors so I am organizing with them so the kids can get counseling because it is very difficult for the kids to let these things go without taking to anybody.

What current challenges do you face?

85I have a lot of people trying to tell me all the things I want to do can not happen. To me that means I am doing very well and I am getting there. Because of not having a place to hold the youth centre. I only have a company building which means where ever they have conflicts it always affects the youth centre. I will be happy if there was a community based hall so that the youth will always function very well. So my only challenge is that I don’t have my own place to run the youth centre in.

How are you trying at this point to address these challenges?

I have spoken to the City of Cape Town, but they refuse to accommodate me saying they can not do that much for the youth centre. Now I am still busy trying to find the place at Shaster Foundation so that I can use it in the advantage of the youth of Monwabisi Park. We might get the place or not get it. That’s the big challenge by now. I held continuous meetings with the ownership, but one of them refuses to talk to me. We can either get our own place or have a community centre that is not private. That the whole community can benefit from it. The hall can give back to the community, instead of feeding the rich and making the poor more poor.

How do you see your group changing in a year’s time?

The youth group must help the most in the community. I want to see the people of Monwabisi Park help each other. I want to see better communication. I want people to help each other. I want the children to be the tool of the people of Monwabisi Park. I mean by that the children must be willing to help the parents when ever they request. With the Xhosa culture you always respect the parents. I want all the parents to be proud of their children. What I have heard and seen is worse. The children have no respect for the elders. I want that to change. I want the parents to be proud of their children. I encourage them to study well and get all the necessary education they can get while the time is on their side.