Earlier this summer, I visited the Institute for Healing of Memories. On the morning of the my visit, Charl, one of the lead youth workers, picked me up and took me to the center's headquarters, which is just north of Cape Town.
IHM's building is located in a nice neighborhood, surrounded by enough nature to make you feel as though you may be entering a resort. But inside, their space is practical; offices for staff (including the founder who I met briefly), meetings and conferences, including a few of the youth workshops.
At their headquarters, I spent a little over an hour speaking with and getting to know passionate youth facilitators -- Charl, Sandile, Babalwl, and Liso, who all raved about the organization's efforts, the support they receive as youth workers, and even some of the challenges they face working in township communities.
For instance, I learned that the institute's positive and holistic approach to post-apartheid community (re)building, healing, and development really does resonate with young people, who appreciate learning about their histories. Through art workshops, they learn about and discuss important political milestones and moements, share their experiences with trauma and/or hardships (as many of the youth are dealing with a wide range of social issues).
Later, I got to to accompany the youth workers to a high school workshop. In an exercise intended to drive home the idea of empathy, identity, and humanity, the students were split into three groups, and given large white posterboard on which they were to trace with a pen the outline of a human (one of the students!) After that, they each wrote in words that they believed "made us human."
Before the workshop I began, I had spoken with a teacher who remarked of IHM, "The learners are taught what to think, not how. Their workshops are interactive. The learners like that." As I watched the workshop unfold, I better understood what he meant. The spirit in the room was infectious, and the dedication (love, even) that the youth workers have for working with young people was so evident.
Here's some of what they said about working with young people in the townships:
The Institute of Healing Memories is undoubtedly making a positive impact on the lives of youth -- both in the city and in the rural townships.
The youth are affirmed via the institute's positive and holistic approach to post-apartheid community (re)building, healing, and development; they participate in art workshops during which they can explore their histories, share their experiences with trauma and/or hardships (as many of the youth are dealing with a wide range of social issues), go on day trips to cultural preserves in order to learn more about their histories, and participate in the planning and execution of a bi-annual festival of over 300 youth. Needless to say, the team that implements the programs being funded by GlobalGiving is doing incredible work.
On the morning of the visit, Charl picked me up and took me to the center's headquarters, which is just north of Cape Town. Their building is located in a nice neighborhood, surrounded by enough nature to make you feel as though you may be entering a resort. But inside, their space is practical; offices for staff (including the founder who I met briefly), meetings and conferences, including a few of the youth workshops. The staff had cleared their schedule for the morning, so I spent about an hour speaking with the youth facilitators -- Charl, Sandile, Babalwl, and Liso -- and learning more about their various programs: Youth Art Development, Day Trips, School Diversity Programs, and Community Outreach (in the townships).
After our chat -- and a sunny photo shoot outside in their gardens -- I accompanied them to a school workshop where I spoke with a teacher who had never had his class participate but spoke highly of their program. He remarked, "The learners are taught what to think, not how. Their workshops are interactive. The learners like that." In an exercise intended to drive home the idea of empathy, identity, and humanity, the students were split into three groups, and given large white posterboard on which they were to trace with a pen the outline of a human (one of the students!) After tracing the human outline, they each wrote in words that they believed "made us human." I didn't get to stay till the end to see the finished product, but it was clear that the students were enjoying the exercise when I left.
The spirit in the room was infectious, and I could understand better the comments from the youth leaders about why they love what they do:
"You never expect what you hear from youth. They speak their mind. They say what is there."
"[Our workshops] give people a platform to speak, meet young people from different townships. Even if they don't always speak the same language. They understand and support each other."
"They come to rely on you. They tell you things. It is hard to listen sometimes, because they go through things. But where else will they go?"
The youth development programs of the Institute for Healing Memories is absolutely making a positive impact on the lives of marginalized youth in Cape Town. Check out the fun pictures I took from the visit!
Institute for the Healing of Memories
Restoring Humanity project 2012
Activities for January – March 2012
Most of January and February was spent recruiting and mobilising new areas to join the project and putting in place
the plans for the rest of the year. After some difficulties we now have a group of youth from Bishop Lavis participating. Numerous meetings have taken place with the Principal of Inkwenkwezi High School in Du Noon to get them on Board. We will know in the second school term if they are on board.
Meetings were scheduled in all communities with participating youth and new recruits attending to share plans
for RH this year and share the values and code of conduct of the project.
The Restoring Humanity project is thus scheduled for implementation in Athlone, Atlanits, Bishop Lavis (and Elsies
River), De Noon, Mamre and Masiphumelele. We have also started the process of visiting schools to implement a RH schools project. 15 schools have so far been visited.
and development of youth facilitators
Eleven new youth facilitators have been recruited to the project. A youth facilitators training took place at the Lutheran Centre on 16 – 17th February 2012. The training was used to introduce the organisation and the project to the new recruits. Develop the content of the Africa Unite schools workshops, and assess the skills level of the participants.
With more training and practice the majority of the participants have the potential to become competent youth
facilitators. Regular meetings are scheduled with facilitators to prepare them for project implementation. Individual
facilitators have also been brought in to assist with some of the logistical tasks related to the newsletter, Human Rights day programme and the Holiday programme.
Africa Unite – schools project
The IHOM in partnership with Scalibrini Centre will be conducting three workshops in twelve schools on
cultural diversity as part of the Africa Unite campaign. The identified schools are:
This is a six month project from March – August 2012. We have also conducted a workshop for the peace ambassadors as part of the project on Monday 26 March at the Scalabrini Centre.
Non Racialism Forum
The Strategic Planning workshop to discuss a co-ordinated strategy among organisations who work with youth and
children took place on 21 – 22 February 2012 at the Children Resource Centre. Attached find the report of the
workshop, a second meeting has taken place and implementation is taking place in the very day work of the organisations. The District 6 Museum and the Khoi movement have also joined the project. Work is also being done in Gauteng.
Human Rights Day Celebration
The activity bringing the different communities together took place on 21 March Human Rights Day at the District 6
Homecoming Centre in Cape Town. The more than 70 participants come from Athlone, Atlantis, Khayelitsha, Mamre and Masiphumelele. (programme attached). The programme dealt with Human Rights and Human responsibility. Fr. Michael very briefly spoke to the young people. The feedback has been very positive.
Holiday programme – Focus on Cultural diversity.
During the first week of the Easter school holiday we run a 3 day programme at the Ibuyambu Cultural Centre in Cape Town. This was done in partnership with YARD (Youth Art Development) Co-op. Over the three days we had an average of 80 young people attend per day. They came from Athlone, Atlantis, Khayelitsha, Mamre, Masiphumelele and Bishop Lavis. Issues discussed included, our common humanity and diversity,
stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and how to build solidarity. Participants also attend workshops on creative writing, cartoon drawing and photography. It is important to note that more than 80% of the participants attended all three days. (programme attached)
The second youth newsletter was completed the second week in March. 300 copies were printed, most has already
been distributed and we are in process to have additional copies printed. A youth editorial team has been established and will be meeting in the coming weeks. The 3rd newsletter is scheduled for end of May 2012.
Restoring Humanity Project in the Western Cape
The Youth Development Programme in the Western Cape focused on the implementation of the “Restoring
Humanity” which brought together young people from three diverse communities (Atlantis, Athlone and Masiphumelele). The project aims is to equip young people with the capacity and skills to address actions and attitudes that harm or destroy human dignity in their community, and to re-draw damaging
patterns of behaviour.
Participants assess the individual, social, economic and political factors that undermine equal worth, and contribute to destructive feelings of inferiority and alienation in the neighbourhoods where they live. They work together to
identify and implement solutions that restore dignity, purpose and hope at individual and community level, and produce case studies of their observations and interventions. Learning processes included workshops, youth platforms, story-telling circles and ‘remembering’ visits and walks.
Whilst the young people from the three areas came together on a regular basis, they were also tasked with establishing “Restoring Humanity groups in their communities. In Atlantis and Mamre these local groups exceeded 30 members as they managed their own local programmes with support from IHOM.
Community festivals hosted in the three communities attracted more than three hundred participants at a time, parents, children and grandparents participated. These festivals were important to
introduce the project to the communities.
4.1. Youth and Healing
The core of the project is starting young people on their own healing journeys- many young people have already been damaged by social violence and dysfunctional family life. During the process they link their own story to the story of their community, to the stories of their peers in other communities and begin to see the similarities that exist
between youth coming from diverse backgrounds.
Three Healing of Memories workshops for youth were offered during this period. Participants on these workshops where drawn from the “Restoring Humanity” as well as from other youth organizations and schools. An
intergeneration workshop was also piloted. This was received very positively by youth and adults. It pointed to a need to create a space where parents and children listen each other’s story.
Exploring ancient, old and past wounds of the community and country we live is a fundamental to the process for ensuring that we do not repeat the same mistakes of the past. This interrogation is also important for young people to better understand the current socio-political situation that they find themselves in. Through the project, young people managed to visit different historical places that are connected to the slave history of the Cape, the colonial past and apartheid.
4.2. Youth voice
Participants come together in workshops, youth focused platforms, storytelling circles to discuss and explore issues of identity, community, human rights, the South African Constitution and Bills of rights, working with conflict and transformational leadership. The aim of these activities is to develop their leadership skill and share experiences on how social, economic, political and spiritual situations past and present affect their human dignity and that of their communities.
Making it possible for them to put forward solutions to problems facing themselves and their communities, that can
contribute to building a more humane and non-violent society and respect for the human rights of all.
• Baluleka Youth Project of the
District Six Museum
• Beacon Hill Church (Atlantis)
• Khoisan Coloured Reformation
• Fusion- South Africa (Athlone)
Restoring Humanity Youth Project
The engagement and participation of the four communities continues to be good. Fusion the Athlone partner has appointed a new youth leader to assist in bringing the area up to speed with the other communities. The leadership team continues to meet on a regular basis.
Memories Newsletter: The project has successfully participated in the completion of the newsletter and distributed 100 A3 full color copies of the youth focused Memories newsletter to the four communities. A further 100 copies is being printed for distribution. This in kind donation to the IHOM is estimated at R 6500-00(US$834). An offer has been made that we could have 200 copies of the newsletter done once every two months. The response to the newsletter has been very positive. It has been suggested by the young people that we produce a regular youth newsletter that will take the contributions from young people.
Ten youth members from each of the communities(Athlone, Masiphumelele and Atlantis)attended the Healing of Memories workshop on the 17-19 June.Youth participants begin to acknowledge and own their own stories.
Writing and radio workshop: 18 participants of the project interested in writing representing the four areas participated in a learning process to develop their skills in writing and editing as a tool for healing and how to write for radio. Participants wrote pieces for radio that was recorded and edited ready for distribution to community radios. The other activity that took place with the youth from three areas was the leadership workshop for introducing leadership and communication skills to the group.
Networking meetings: The project continues to meet with various organizations that can further the work of the project. We jointly with District Six meseum, the WP provincial legislature and Freedom Park hosted a programme on the SA constitution and Bill of Rights and the role of Freedom Park in memorializing the history of SA.
The Institute decided to implement the Restoring Humanity project in KZN since July 2011. Three communities were identified according to economic and ethnic diversity;one predominantly black community from a squatter camp, a mixed community but of average economic standing and a mixed community but predominantly white and above average economic standing.
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