This week, photographer Anita Reed volunteered her time to document the work by Projekt Ubuntu, a community project run in Masiphumelele, a township on outskirts of Cape Town. Our interns Alberto and Chiara joined her. Here is an account of the day, and a selection of Anita’s images.
– By Alberto Giamattei and Chiara Bonvento
This week, we had the opportunity to join photographer Anita Reed in visiting Projekt Ubuntu, and hearing the stories of some of the kids who play in the Ubuntu Centre every day. Getting inside the Masiphumelele community can really open up your eyes and make you see the world from a different perspective. Meeting those kids can do it even more. With us there was Anita Reed, a professional photographer committed to humanitarian causes. Her pictures will help the community to raise funds and awareness around the issues Ubuntu is tackling.
Ubuntu is Humanity
Ubuntu Centre was created in 2008, by a group of Capetonians, amongst them Nyameka and Mama Pathiswa. It’s based in Masiphumelele, a township area that deals with a large number of social ailments, such as crime, violence, and excessive alcohol and drug use. Ubuntu, which means ‘humanity’, is a social development organisation that directs resources to the community and cares for between 60 and 100 children every day. The children are from families that lack the resources to provide them with day-care, and the centre offers a safe and educative space on a daily basis. They also offer the children healthy and nutritious meals. Many of the children have experienced traumas and receive as much emotional support as possible at the centre. The organisation also gives its contribution to a number of day-care centres in the township that are run by the grandmothers and mothers of the community.
As Mama Pathiswa explained, “We saw that in our community lot of things were happening to the kids: rapes, kidnapping, drug abuse and teenage pregnancies. We started the project in order for these kids to move away from the difficult situation at home and simply be the children they are supposed to be in the space we have here. We help them with their homework, we play with them, we cook for them and we laugh with them, a lot. Our mission is to spread kindness, within our means and capacity, and to keep a space for ordinary and extra-ordinary conversations about Ubuntu.”
The centre runs every afternoon during the week, and kids range in ages between 5 and 12 years old. “When they are so young,” explains Mama Pathiswa, “they are more vulnerable to the threats coming from outside. They do not know the difference between right and wrong and we try to educate them on it. We have five rules: no swearing, no bullying, no eating, no fighting and respect.”
In order keep up their work and to grow their impact, Projekt Ubuntu needs financial support. “Our wish for the future is to build a bigger space for the kids,” says Mama Pathiswa. “Some of them are HIV positive and some have experienced rape abuse, and it’s hard to talk about these issues in public. Therefore, we would like to have offices as counselling rooms, for them to be able to openly talk without fear of being judged. We are working to make things nice for them, and to create a loving and warm home where they can feel safe.”