Once the Youth Committees were formed and had developed a sense of understanding of their roles both as individuals and as a collective, it was time to start working with them to organise advocacy events. These events would form the basis of an advocacy campaign that would engage with the safe parks as well as their wider communities. Our discussions with the youths about the issues that they faced within their safe parks, revealed that each event would have to take a very different form, as each safe park had very different needs. Two of the youth committees also noted that although they felt that film had been useful in exploring certain issues, they did not feel that they needed to create new films for their events. Instead, they wanted to screen the films that they had already made, but then also use other art forms, such as poetry and role play and dance, in order to deliver their message. By bringing in these other items, the youths were demonstrating the wide range of activities that are co-ordinated within their Safe Parks and also making their events more culturally relevant. The two Safe Parks that decided to utilise film in their advocacy events, decided to take a different approach and create films that were styled as documentaries. They felt that this approach would be more useful in raising awareness about the Safe Parks, the work that they do and the issues that they face. Scroll down to read about each of the events.
Ncedo Thuso's youth committee were the first to host their event. They wanted to direct their campaign towards other youths, within their safe park as well as at their schools. The focus of the event was the issue of teenage pregnancy, which is very widespread throughout South African townships. Teenage girls who fall pregnant are often unable to finish school as they struggle to find extra support for their babies. This leads to a higher likeliness of teenage mothers, and subsequently their children, living in poverty. Teenage pregnancy has been linked to a variety of other social issues, such as that of "blessers" (as shown in the film 'The Journey of my Life') and the spread of HIV/Aids. The following links are to articles that proved historical and contemporary contexts for teenage pregnancy in South African townships, as well as linking it to other issues:
Ncedo Thuso's youth committee therefore wanted to host an event that would educate other young girls about the risks of teenage pregnancy. They decided that their event would be more engaging if they used a variety of activities to convey their message, so they only screened their films, as well as Leth'iThemba's film, "The Journey of my Life". They also used traditional dance, singing, role play and poetry as alternate means of delivering their message.
The majority of children who are supported by Leth'iThemba Safe Park live in extreme poverty, many of them are orphaned and have lived on the streets at some point in their lives. A lot of these children also do not have birth certificates or other documentation that would entitle them to social grants, as they were born in a different country, or their parents are foreign. Therefore the youth committee of Leth'iThemba wanted to host an event that would raise awareness of their work in their community in order to gain more support in aiding these children. For their event, they created a film (see below) that provides more information about their Safe Park, who it caters for and the work that it does. They also included items of poetry, contemporary and traditional dance and singing as further demonstration of other activities that they do there.
Bonisiwe was by far the least developed Safe Park we were working with. The Safe Park itself is situated on land that once belonged to a church, whose Pastor had allowed the Safe Park to run on the land before she passed away. She had also started the construction of a new Church building on the land, which she had promised could be used by Safe Park when it was completed. However, since her passing the construction has stopped, leaving a half completed building with no roof and the Safe Park operating out of a shack and a repurposed shipping container. Therefore the youth committee decided to host an event that would introduce their Safe Park to their community as well as their local Ward Councillor in order to gain donations and support for the building to be completed. In the lead up to the event, they created a short film that would provide this introduction which was screened alongside performances of traditional dance and singing. Amazingly, after being made aware of the Safe Park's existence, the Ward Councillor decided to grant a small piece of land that Bonisiwe can call it's own, and his support towards the construction of a new Safe Park in that space. This means that the children who attend Bonisiwe will have a safe place to go to after schools to do their homework and get a meal. It also means that Patricia, the Safe Park manager, no longer has to worry about the Church shutting the Safe Park down as they want to reclaim their land.
Our final event was held on Heritage Day at Repheleng. We had an amazing turnout of guests from the different communities and other Safe Parks. The youths from all four of the Safe Parks that we had been working with, all delivered a number of items that held relevant to the theme of Heritage as well as the event theme of "Unity is Divine". We saw incredible performances of song, traditional dance and poetry, which were delivered fearlessly infront of the audience. All of the films that were produced during the project were also screened. They were met with much acclaim from the communities, as a youth representative from each Safe Park spoke to the audience about which issues their films dealt with and why it was so important. It was in this way that the event provided the means to showcase the work of the project so far, in order to gain additional buy in from other Safe Parks. The amazing work and impact of the project so far, can now be carried on by the team from Themba Interactive.