A non-profit organisation and university students have been creating awareness among Manenberg’s children about violence, bullying, rape and abuse.
Social Work students from the University of the Western Cape are working with the Guardian Angel Educational Environmental Entrepreneurial Intrapreneurial Network (GAEEEIN) on the project.
Gaeeein has been working in Manenberg since 2013.
Its Tunnel Project was piloted at Saambou Primary School in Manenberg in 2017 and last year moved to Easter Peak and Silverstream Primary schools.
This year, 20 pupils (60 from each school) were enrolled in the Tunnel Project, which runs from March to October.
The students work on the Tunnel Project as part of their fieldwork, and Gaeeein supervises them.
On Wednesday October 23, the students based at Easter Peak listened to pupils speak about bullying, rape and abuse. The four students and the pupils made posters and walked around the school grounds to promote the theme: “Unsilence the Violence”.
Christol Moses, the founder of Gaeeein, said: “The pupils expressed themselves through art, doing a role-play on rape and recording a video where the pupils involved, shared their experience on violence.
“They also invited the parents and caregivers to discuss the parenting challenges and had a Western Cape Education Department speaker share the impact of corporal punishment and its consequences.”
The week before, the four students based at Silverstream dealt with gender-based violence, the impact of the army deployment in their community, and violence. Their theme was “Creative Expressions”.
The students said there were some mixed reactions among the children about the army’s presence in their community.
“Some of them are scared of the army. They are scared that the army might hurt children or innocent people, while others felt it was good having them there, because the gang violence went down,” said student Chemondre Prinsloo.
Their lecturer, Redau Safodien, said despite some of them fearing the presence of the army, about 90% of the children said they would like to join the army or SAPS.
The students also had to do therapeutic work with the children.
Nicolene Marcus said they offered the therapeutic service for eight hours every Wednesday.
“We can definitely see some positive changes among the children. The more time they spent with us, the more they opened up to us. However, it took us months to get there,” she said.
Her fellow student, Jamie Cummings, said they had a lot of “challenging clients”.
“At the beginning, it was difficult, but as time went on, they opened up and started displaying a different attitude. Their behavioural traits definitely improved.”
Caregiver Samantha Jantjies said she had seen positive changes in her child’s behaviour and school work.
“Since the people came into her life, things have changed for the better. I was also taught that if you want your child to respect you, you must also respect your child,” she said.
Parent Shavonne Pieterse said the project had had a big impact.
“It opened my eyes about how my child looks to me and how I handle stressful situations. Sometimes we shout at our children but expect them not to do the same. They taught us how to control ourselves, so that, in turn, our children can learn from us how to control their emotions.”