In South Africa’s incredibly unequal society the poorest and greatest disadvantaged suffer most often and needlessly.
Over 20 years after Apartheid ended and the installation of Constitutional government, the country still has appalling slums, youth unemployment of over 70%, a failed education system and recession.
Corruption is rampant at every level – best described as a foot on the neck of the citizens.
All this has been made very much worse by the Covid-19 virus, the resultant lockdowns and even more unemployment.
Levels of frustration and despair build up – many people seeing violent protest as the only way to get their voices heard.
We believe that the extreme levels of violence are driven by continuing and inter-generational poverty and inequality.
Change will not come from the authorities. It must come from within, both communities and individuals.
The approach of the Peace Centre is by increasing personal responsibility, self-respect and efforts to help oneself.
The advent of the Covid pandemic and the hard lockdowns which prevented almost any gatherings have shown the need for remote learning. The Peace Centre has explored ways in which to use IT as one of the vehicles for its training, and has employed a part time IT specialist. However, target communities are poor and the cost of data on South African cell phone networks is high.
A Covid monitoring project involved working with the Human Rights Commission to train and deploy peace monitors to watch the actions of authorities in their Covid response. The monitors focussed on reporting any violent behaviour by the authorities to ensure they did not abuse the human rights of the community. South African Quakers put up part of the money to support this project.
In 2020, over 1000 township youth were trained to use their cell phones so that, in effect, they could use them as mini laptops. This was a joint project with the University of the Western Cape and Hilltop.
The Peace Centre believes it is important to involve the community as directly as possible. In 2019, an information “hub” was opened in Khayelitsha to help people access information, advice and networking as well as basic computer training. Despite fulfilling a real need, it was not possible to attract sponsorship. The landlord proposed to increase the rent. Then Covid struck. The Khayelitsha Hub was forced to close but there is the possibility that it can relocate in an adjacent township of Mfuleni. However, while Covid remains such a problem, it is not prudent to reopen the Hub.
The Peace Centre is acutely aware that monitoring, evaluation and reporting on its projects is essential both as a guide to us (asking questions such as, are the strategic aims being met?) and as a guide to our supporters.
We are working with Knowledge Co-Op of the University of Cape Town to have our work evaluated.
Are you looking for assistance or wanting to find out more about how you can help the community? Fill out the form below and a member of our team will get in touch with you.