Branching Out in Vygieskraal: Meeting the Committee

The WPI Team hard at work in the Vygieskraal Stadium Boardroom

The WPI Team hard at work in the Vygieskraal Stadium Boardroom













Our team and Camelita spent the day in several meetings as we tried to gather more information on the way Vygieskraal residents communicate, and to make new connections with important stakeholders. We met with Shahied, the manager of the Vygieskraal Stadium, at 9am, and four Vygieskraal committee members at 10am. Our biggest concern as we approached the end of the second full week was emphasizing the urgency to find and establish people from Vygieskraal to work closely with throughout the next few weeks.

Setting: Vygieskraal Stadium

Cast of Characters:

Vygieskraal Residents: Sydwell, Bongani, Luvuyo, Nokwanda, Grant
FCW: Camelita
WPI Team

Meeting with Shahied:

Upon arrival at the stadium, Camelita and our team went upstairs to the boardroom to meet with Shahied, the stadium manager. We were eager to finally meet with him, and our hopes were high that he would be able to help us get into contact with people from the community and volunteers at the stadium. We introduced ourselves to him, and Camelita explained what FCW’s morning programmes have been trying to accomplish. Shahied was enthusiastic about holding the programmes in the stadium, but emphasized that the stadium is part of the Cape Town Department of Sport and Recreation, and their goal is to provide physical activities and recreational programmes. He said that he would be interested in combining some of his programmes, such as his Wednesday aerobics session, with the parenting programmes as an added incentive for people to come. We also proposed the idea of placing a shipping container somewhere in the stadium parking lot as a resource hub. While he seemed interested in the concept, he was hesitant to give immediate support for it, explaining that he would get back to us after discussing the idea with his superiors.

We then asked Shahied if he knew of anyone who would be interested in working with us on the project. He said that Grant, a staff member at the stadium who has been living in Vygieskraal for about twenty years, might be able to put us in contact with people in the settlement. Shahied ran downstairs to get Grant and returned with him minutes later. Immediately after we introduced ourselves to Grant and asked him if he knew anyone who would be willing to work with us, he offered to go into Vygieskraal right then and ask committee members if they would be able to meet us. As Grant went across the canal to gather the community committee, we wrapped up our meeting with Shahied and he left the stadium to go to another meeting.

Meeting with Committee:

As we sat in the boardroom of the stadium mulling over our discussion with the stadium manager, we were very excited about the progress that had been made in such a short time. A few of us stood up and looked out the windows at the settlement. Within minutes, we saw Grant leading four people across the field towards the stadium. We planned out a rough guideline for what we wanted to say, and sat waiting for them to enter the boardroom.

In no time at all, Grant and the committee members walked into the room and greeted all of us with a handshake and smiles. They introduced themselves as Sydwell, Bongani, Luvuyo, and Nokwanda. The team was excited, but also nervous and anxious, about starting the meeting. Without hesitation, Camelita started up the conversation and talked about who we were, the project, our team’s role, and what the committee could do to help us. After her introduction, we went into more detail, explaining that we wanted to build a connection between FCW’s many resources and Vygieskraal in order to build an ECD outreach effort. All four of the committee members seemed excited and curious about our project, asking questions when they needed more clarification and expressing their overall interest. Many of them thanked us, and Bongani, Sydwell, and Nokwanda said that they were available and willing to help us! We looked around at all of their faces and their eyes; a few of them had tears of joy welling up and the room was filled with emotion. Camelita then stressed that attendance at the next parenting programme at the stadium was crucial. She said that we needed the committee members to round up the target audience for the programmes and get them to the stadium so that they could see what FCW has to offer. The committee members all nodded their heads in agreement.

While we were with them, we wanted to ask more about the settlement, including their leadership roles as committee members and what the people in the settlement struggle with. Sydwell, who had taken the lead in the majority of the conversation, spoke with a heavy heart. He spoke about how drugs and gangs are very prominent in the area, and that it creates a sense of laziness, which causes the children to stop going to school and pursing a better life. He expressed that the young people tend to live life day to day, with little to no thought for the future. He went on to talk about political issues, indicating his view that Vygieskraal had often been persuaded by politicians and their promises, only to be disappointed.


These meetings were crucial as they got us past the mini roadblock we had been experiencing with our project. It was the first time we truly connected with members of the Vygieskraal settlement, and it was a chance occurrence that we hadn’t planned for. We had finally found people who are excited and willing to help us and who actually live in the settlement, which allowed us to hear some of the voices of the community. This was an incredible morale booster, because for the last few weeks the team had been struggling with discouragement while trying to figure out the project direction and to get a real footing in the settlement. We made substantial progress and were excited about the new possibilities!