|Children saving children|
Jackson Mokoena from Save the Children has been inspiring children from local communities in the Free State to become involved in assisting other children through motivational speeches, music, art and training. This is the remarkable story of the results of this work.
As a result of Jackson's participatory community interventions, children from across the Free State formed "Children's Committees". These committees were established by the children themselves in order to respond to the needs of their peers facing difficulties as a result of HIV, AIDS and poverty. To date there are over 100 Children's Committees with an average membership of 50 reaching across seven different wards in the province.
These Committees undertake a number of different activities including: door-to-door campaigns to identify children in need; collecting food, clothes, blankets, toys and toiletries for distribution; providing peer support and counselling on social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, school drop out; providing homework support; supporting the special needs of children with disabilities or learning difficulties; creating play groups using indigenous games; and running workshops in the community to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.
The Committees also undertake a number of activities to raise funds for their projects. These include: growing and selling vegetables; hosting cultural and sporting events such as talent shows and poetry readings; selling handmade crafts; recycling old glass, plastic and paper; working with local churches and radio stations; and going door-to-door to collect food, blankets and old clothes for children in need.
Many of the children who participate in these groups have expressed a desire to continue making a contribution to society beyond their involvement in the Committees. A number of children said they would like to become social workers or child rights champions in the future. The Children's Committees are a shining example of how children themselves are becoming involved to ensure lasting and meaningful change in the lives of children made vulnerable by HIV, AIDS and poverty.
Here are some of their stories:
Thabiso Mokebe and Moorosi Moketsi are involved in the Thusanang Children's Committee. Both boys said that they saw there were children who desperately needed help and they were not going to be the ones standing by and watching them suffer.
Mpho Makhotsa is part of a Children's Committee in Rosendaal. Her group tries to address children's material and social needs. She says, "We give children clothes and food and also provide arts and sports activities or simply our time and support."