The Kliptown Youth Project
As an East Cape person, visiting Johannesburg is something I like to avoid like the plague. I ask my relatives who live there why they are still there. Especially after they have recounted the latest displeasures of living in Johannesburg. The displeasures range from drug using youth scenes, to muggings, to traffic congestion. All the more worrying it is to get in a car and head to Soweto - a good thing to liven up a conference!
A good thing that Neo is on the end of line - guiding a nervous Soweto-first-timer to Freedom Square in Kliptown. The place that the Freedom Charter was signed at on the 26th of June 1955. Now it is a huge brick edifice - a freedom mall apparently - taxis and traffic mill with music blaring... Just down a side-road here is Neo's place.
From there we head of West accross the railway tracks to the Kliptown Youth Project. This is a really squalid township scene, and I would not go in here without Neo. And definitely not at night. In the rural areas, people tend to smile more, and the poverty is somehow easier to bear. But just half an hour walk from this desperately poor place, sports cars and limousines worth millions of rands each (Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, etc.) ferry impatient business people around. They don't make the traffic jams move any faster.
The Kliptown Youth Project is about hands, minds and hearts. It is about winning the youth over to hope! By occupying the minds and hands with useful activites the hearts of these youth are filled with hope, confidence and a will to achieve more. A group of youth are in the yard kicking a ball around. Another couple are stting in the office working on their CVs. During school, there are 100 children with OLPC laptops creating digital artefacts in a classroom which is also used for remedial work. Teachers come to give after hours assistance to learners - mainly matrics to help them go further. They have a great role model in Thulani Madondo. Quietly confident, he has travelled far afield to gain experience and he knows that there is something important about what he is doing here at KYP. It is a real pleasure to speak to him and I hope to go on a Kliptown tour with him one day soon.
The great thing about KYP is that the momentum of this project comes from the participants. What a lesson this is to other projects, that aim for the same hands, minds and hearts effect but bring in impetus from outside (see my next blog post about Andrew Summer's project at St Matthews school near Keiskammahoek).
This is a very worthy project for the OLPC and it is great to see them using the technology so ably.
By now Neo has taken another 150 OLPCs to an installation in Natal at a rural school (Esibonisweni Primary School). I see some photos of the school and it looks quite well off compared to the schools we are working at. I am sure that they will also make good use of the laptops under Neo's tutelage. And what a good export product for KYP. Performing OLPC training and installs. I hope that all goes well with that and that the DoE and Municipality finally pay this project the attention it deserves.
October 20th 2008 09:05