Connecting local responses around the world
Nontobeko Sithole, Coordinator for Pastoral Care Unit-Catholic Institute of Education shared her experience on how the passionate have influenced change in their community.
The Passionate is a group of high school children from St Paul’s High School that was formed at the beginning of 2009. St Paul’s School is situated in Luckau village, a rural community in Limpopo province.
This group is linked to the Caring Schools Programme which encourages school communities to provide a community wide safety net for orphans and vulnerable children. The group is named “The Passionates”. Its composed of Learners from Grade 8 to Grade 12 (25 members in total). They are supported at school level by their life orientation teacher, Ms Stephy Dikgale who in turn is accompanied and supported by CIE national office through their Caring Schools Programme.
They are passionate about change in their community. They are involved in classroom to classroom campaigns around HIV prevention which is a major concern in their village (for instance, sick people are highly stigmatized, Orphans are left to fend for themselves, young ladies are fall prey of sexual abuse)They are proud of themselves in creating a more caring school environment.
The Passionates group was formed to provide care and support of vulnerable children in their school, to act as mentors and help other children with school and community activities.
As part of their own outreach to the community, they decided to help the Khayalethu center which looks after children with disabilities. They realised that they could be a benefit to their own community, and that help does not only come from adults or rich people. Even though they themselves are vulnerable, they could help others.
Khayalethu Centre do not have adequate staff or few are trained to look after children with special needs competently. They do not have government support and run short of toiletries and food during the month.
The Passionates decided to visit the centre with their life orientation teacher to see how they could help. They were moved by the situation they saw there and went back to their school and collected monetary donations and clothing from both teachers and students.
With this donation they were able to purchase some equipment such as balls and food. They then went to the centre and spent time with the children.
The Passionates are committed to their outreach work and continue to visit and support the children there even though their teachers had initially viewed them as the vulnerable ones. They have proved that they can also make a contribution.
The Passionates have approached the local municipality to address the needs of Khayalethu to see on how they can become involved. They also continue their fundraising with other partners in the community.
The Passionate have inspired many people and organizations in the community and have stood out as true agent of change. The school life orientation teacher shared his learning linked to the process that, “children needed to be encouraged and told that they are powerful beyond their own understanding and that they can direct their future. They too can be agents of change in their own and other’s lives.”