This week we had the pleasure of visiting Projekt Ubuntu, a nonprofit organisation in Masiphumelele. Photographer Eveline Gerritsen volunteered her time to document the program’s work. Our interns Wantong and Liselotte joined Eveline, and share their experience of the day. — Text by Liselotte Tieman, images by Eveline Gerritsen
This week we had the opportunity to join Eveline and visit a township for the first time. We got to meet the founders of Projekt Ubuntu, see their different projects in the community, and play with the kids that come to the Ubuntu Centre everyday. Visiting this project has opened our eyes on many different levels and it made us see every day life from a different perspective. Eveline Gerritsen, the photographer that came with us, had the chance to photograph this project from close by. Her images which will be used to help raise awareness and funds for the project and thus the kids in the community.
We started off the morning by visiting the different projects that are supported by Projekt Ubuntu. The Ubuntu Projektis a project ran by Capetonians, created in 2008. The project is based in Masiphumelele, a township in Cape Town that deals with a great number of social issues. This has led to many children not being able to grow up in a safe and happy environment. Many kids have already experienced traumas, like rape, kidnapping and drug abuse. While many parents work during the days or simply emphasize the need of social interaction for their kids, a high need of daycares and after-school care grew in Masiphumelele.
Projekt Ubuntu offers kids from families that lack resources to provide their children with everyday day-care a safe and happy place to eat, learn and play. Projekt Ubuntu provides volunteers for a number of schools and day-cares in the community that are run by local “Mamas”, and after school they have their own project in the Ubuntu Centre, ran by Mama Patishwa. This way most kids in the township are offered a safe and friendly place to go to and prevented from being exposed to the difficult situations at home. Children are taught to live together in peace by following the five rules: no swearing, no bullying, no eating, no fighting and respect.
A face behind the project
After a heartwarming, educative and fun morning and afternoon in Masiphumelele, we went to meet Candi, the founder of Projekt Ubuntu. Candi is an inspiring woman, who had been a yoga teacher for 12 years. Connecting with the earth and giving guidance is something that describes Candi very well. She explained how Project Ubuntu was created, “while we brought in volunteers to help out in Oceanview, a township very close by, we decided we should open a space where volunteers can have lunch in a relaxed setting and provide them with facilities”. After they created such a place, a special thing happened, she tells “after we opened the door of the Ubuntu Centre, guess what happened? The kids ran inside, and started to play together. As we started talking to the children, we realized the high need of healthy and nutritious meals for children in Masiphumelele.” Candi and her husband, Sydney, decided to open the Ubuntu Centre, which initially started out with a food program.
Their success grew, and they realized the high need of not only food, but also of shelter, a safe environment, and a place where there is room to play, smile and have fun. “These children mostly don’t have the opportunity to get in touch with the rest of the world, so it is amazing to see how we can bring the world to the kids. We teach them about the rest of the world, and put them in contact with volunteers from all over the world. The kids absolutely love it, and are proud whenever they learn or meet something or someone new.” Candi emphasizes her strong need of giving guidance “I have always been someone that likes to take care of other people. I like to talk to them, discover their passion deep down inside and figure out a way how to achieve this”. Her inspiring and guiding character has led her to taking in over 3000 volunteers already. In her cosy lodge she welcomes each and everyone with open arms, she explains: “Ubuntu is humanity. We have to develop as human beings, we need each other. Let’s be there for each other. Together we can build a better place”.
So far the Ubuntu Projekt has achieved many goals, and has provided hundreds of children with healthy meals and safe and friendly places to play. However, according to Candi and Mama Patishwa, there is a lack of continuity; “funds are needed in order to provide an even more solid basis, we need to be able to get help from other people to work in the centers, with solid positions”. With a more solid basis and more continuity, Projekt Ubuntu will be able build up an even bigger and better community for the children. Additionally, resources are needed in order to keep providing children with healthy meals, to teach them new things and to keep them safe.
As interns, this day has been very inspiring and opened both of our eyes. With Wantong being from China and studying in Italy, and Liselotte from The Netherlands, we both realized there are many things in the world going on which we don’t know a lot about in the rest of the world. The impact that these townships have on small children can be very underestimated. On the other hand, the energy and love that these children can give, should not be underestimated either. We had never seen such inspiring and warm kids before. In every daycare or school we visited, we got welcomed by the most happy and thankful children you could ever imagine. The impact of Projekt Ubuntu is truly amazing, the kids appreciate every moment of playing, eating, being safe and learning new things.
For any updates or more information on Projekt Ubuntu, check out their Facebook page, or reach out to Candi: firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested to learn more about Eveline’s photography? Please visit her website. For more nonprofit photography read our articles on African Tails, Mdzananda Clinic, Teacher’s Conference, and Red Hill Health & Nutrition Project.