The ACTIVATE! Network responds to Covid-19 - We are who we've been waiting for

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The Activate! Network responds to COVID-19 We are who we’ve been waiting for


ACTIVATE!

CHANGE

DRIVERS

YOUTH

VOICES

ON

COVID-19

Acknowledgements This book is dedicated to the courageous men and women in the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network who continue to spread their message of hope and resilience throughout the country. Thank you to the Activator freelancers who captured the stories of their fellow Activators. A special thanks to all the Activators mentioned below for sharing their inspiring stories with us - we are grateful your story is part of this book: Sinazo Peter, Nkosinathi Ndlovu, Liza Mfana, Bongeka Qhanga, Setjhaba Mokeko, Phathuxolo Nofotho, Relotegile Malepe, Rejoyce Legodi, Nkosikhona “Uzzi” Mpungose, Menzi Qwabe, Nyiko Lovemore Manganyi, Lesedi Senamele Matlala, Mojalefa Mokhosi, Lebohang Matlabe, Alexander Mpaga, L. Gobozi, Ntombifuthi Sangweni, Prince Charles, Elcardo Chulu, Kamogelo Themba, Paul Mabote,Tlotliso May, Mzwakhe Ziqubu, Bongekile Filana, Monti Montsha, Jean Motsepe, Lesedi Meza, David Lekgwathi, Sipho Mnisi, Lesego Masethe, Alfred Moletsane, Lebogang Ditsebe and Phumzile Motloung.

And in the end, our stories are all we have – Karen Fisher


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ACTIVATE! Change Driver launches campaign to inspire the country

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The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers COVID-19 relief fund

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Remembering the pride of a girl child

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Our Community – Our responsibility

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Don’t tell us about no Covid, boy

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Above all else, education remains instrumental

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Using WhatsApp to read to the elderly during Covid-19

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Unwavering loyalty to serve

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Activator working at KWIKSPAR shares his experience during Covid-19

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The plight of street vendors during lockdown Covid-19

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YES! To the call of A!ction

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Each one teach one

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The biggest battle we face apart from Covid-19 is poverty

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Activator donates food parcels and starts online talk show during Covid-19 crisis

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African Independent Churches must come to the party

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Covid-19: We are the human race

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The fight against poverty: Kamogelo’s Story

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A little help goes a long way

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Activators use the power of knowledge to help their community during Lockdown

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How the youth should exercise their power during the health crisis

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Committed to a cause – Our people can count on us

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How lockdown has affected young people in business

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Alexandra township: Covid-19 poses unique risk to the homeless and Nyaope addicts

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Let us understand one another

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Waves of positivity

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Turning trash into treasure

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Teach and learn

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Activator leaves the world of gangsterism and uses his efforts to better the world

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A soup kitchen for the community WWW.ACTIVATELEADERSHIP.CO.ZA


ACTIVATE!

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COVID-19

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO INSPIRE THE COUNTRY ACTIVATE! Change Drivers (ACD) has launched the Youth

Activators leave their families so we can be safe with ours.

Voices on Covid-19 campaign to inspire young people

Check out our social media pages as we honour them over

across the country by showcasing youth voices and

the next few weeks.

shining the spotlight on the inspiring initiatives that youth in the country have undertaken during the lockdown.

Another aspect of the Youth Voices on Covid-19 campaign

Boasting a youth network of over 4000 young people –

is the 21 Poems of Encouragement for 21 days of lockdown

affectionately known as ‘Activators,’ the youth network of

which is an Activator-led project that seeks to inspire and

social change drivers and citizen journalists have heeded

encourage the nation during lockdown. The online poetry

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to come up with solutions

project is headed up by Activator Xolane Ngobozana and

that will move the country forward. Activator, Relotegile

uses spoken word to make South Africans conscious of

Malepe, and her peers have started a campaign called

Covid-19 while offering some encouragement. You can

“School Your Elder” in their community. Malepe and other

watch ‘21 Poems of Encouragement’ on the ACTIVATE!

young people have taken the pledge to read to the elderly

YouTube channel.

in an attempt to decrease anxiety and panic around the pandemic. Malepe initiated this campaign from Malaysia

ACTIVATE! has also created a resource guide around the

where she currently resides, because she knew that people

Coronavirus that has been distributed to young people in

from her village in South Africa needed someone to teach

the network and is available for download on our website,

them about the seriousness of the virus. Another Activator,

www.activateleadership.co.za

Monti Montsha has taken it upon himself to encourage the

Youtube: Activate Change Drivers

Municipality of Alexandra to reach out and provide aid for the homeless and the nyaope addicts who are roaming the streets of Alexandra as they are most at risk during this time. Part of the campaign will celebrate young people who work in essential services during lockdown. These

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ACTIVATE!

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YOUTH

VOICES

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COVID-19

The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers COVID-19 relief fund 2020 has proven to be a year for the history books, where the novel Coronavirus caused havoc globally. The ACTIVATE! Network has also been impacted, some Activators lost their jobs and some initiatives came to a grinding halt. Activators have proven that they are brave, have ingenuity and tenacity working as essential service providers and running food drive campaigns in their communities. Because of their tenacity, the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Organisation initiated a once-off Covid-19 Relief Fund that sought to provide personal, project and youth hub support to Activators from across the country to the total value of R200 000. This initiative aimed to provide the necessary aid needed so that Activators can continue with their various initiatives and projects. To date, the organisation received a total of 501 applications from the ACTIVATE! Network with 7 staff members (Anele Gcwabe, Bongiwe Ndlovu, Cephas Mutami, Darrian Smith, Malusi Mazibuko, Nelvia Rawheath and Thamsanqa Masingi) from different portfolios responsible for approving applications. This ensured that the final selection process was transparent and fair.

Activators, Kholofelo Mamarimbe 2014 and Daniel Mashita 2015 from Limpopo

Currently the team is in the process of disseminating vouchers and paying invoices to Activators who are in desperate need of assistance. Kuvonkala Mavunda 2019 Activator from Limpopo

Thandokazi Maguga 2019 Activator from WC

“I would like to thank ACTIVATE! for the continued support towards the community work and programmes done by Born to Shine Youth Development Agency. We appreciate the recent Covid-19 grant support which has ensured we continue to offer our beneficiaries the services when they need them. Thank you to the staff at ACTIVATE! for their guidance, advice and support for our initiative. I am proud to be a part of such a network.” -2017 EC Activator, Hlubikazi Sanqela

Daniel Mashita 2015 Activator from Limpopo

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ACTIVATE!

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COVID-19

Remembering the pride of a girl child by some organisations would result in limited access to hygiene products. The Mkhulise Youth Hub took this plight to heart, and decided to find assistance for these young girls.

Young girls in the community of Phillipi Sinazo Peter woke up one rainy Cape Town morning to drive young girls to the traffic department so that they could be on time to write their tests for their learner driver’s licenses. These young girls that she is helping are the beneficiaries of the Mkhulise Youth Hub that she and her team run in Phillipi, Cape Town. It is also an extension of the organisation, Mkhulise, which she started in an effort to help young girls succeed. This drive is just one of the many things that this youth hub does to help empower the young girls of Phillipi. Peter and her team have always had the dream to see the young girls in her community rise to success. This dream is what motivated them to open and run this youth hub. It is the ability to create a safe space for young girls to access basic services, and would not be required to pay, that motivates her wake up every morning. Growing up in Phillipi, Sinazo Peter also faced the challenges that are faced by many young girls in the community of Phillipi. Access to the internet, resources and other basic services was always a challenge, “even the library was too far,” explains Sinazo Peter. “Allowing things to continue that way, and leaving these young people to struggle the way that I did would mean that we are defeating these young people in their success,” she adds. So, when the horror of Covid-19 hit South African shores, Mkhulise Youth Hub was ready to stand against the struggles that would befall these young people in the face of the pandemic. The dilemma facing many young girls in South Africa is their inability to access basic hygiene products. It has been widely reported that some are unable to fully attend school because they do not have the basic toiletries, which includes sanitary towels. In the midst of a lockdown, it was clear that the lack of income and the halting of operations

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The help was provided through a group effort with other stakeholders. The beneficiaries received the products they desperately need, at a time when it was unclear to them if they would receive any type of help at all. Activators are known to be inventive people and the training provided by the network cultivates leaders who are able to analyse a problem and brainstorm solutions from different angles. It is with this thinking that they put together a package that not only provides the necessary hygiene products for the girls, but also provides pride for the girl child during such uncertain times. “It pleases and motivates me to be able to help someone and put a smile on a young girl’s face even though I don’t have much myself,” says Peter. “As a symbol of success in my community, I see it as my responsibility to help the young people of Phillipi because Phillipi raised me and I know what their struggle is,” she adds. The positive response towards this initiative has indicated that, even though it was an idea stemming from an urgent need for the country to assist those in need during the pandemic, this need is one that is constant. As a nation, we need to put in place systems that will afford all young girls the luxury of permanent access to hygiene products.

To get in touch with Sinazo please email: cynazo@gmail.com

Sinazo assists young girls in Phillipi


Bongekile Filana


ACTIVATE!

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COVID-19

Our Community – Our responsibility It is said that uncertain times require exceptional actions. At a time when the country is at a standstill, it falls on those who believe they have a duty to serve the nation, to take a stand and fight for those who are unable to fight for themselves. The nationwide lockdown deprived many families of their income. The civic duty of those who have the capacity is to provide assistance in the form of food parcels to the poor and destitute in our country, which only offers temporary relief. However, Activators from Clau-Clau Youth Club in Mpumalanga, under the leadership of Nkosinathi Ndlovu, have not only adopted a modus operandi of sustainability, but are also conscious of the fact that there is an imminent need for food parcels in the interim. The Activators who are a part of the Clau-Clau Youth Hub have resolved to assist underprivileged community members by collecting donations and food suitable to be packaged as food parcels. Their main objective during this process was to offer some solace to the people of their community, and to ensure that the food provided was wholesome and nutritious. The challenge that came with the collection and distribution of the food parcels was determining the criteria to be used to decide who will receive

a parcel. This was due to the fact that some community members were in more dire straits than others who, even though they still had an income stream, insisted on receiving food parcels. This negatively impacted the community members who actually needed the food parcels as there wasn’t enough to go around. The question of poverty and hunger is one that ought to be addressed urgently; we can start doing this by providing emergency assistance and ensuring sufficient capacity for those in

Activators and other stakeholders repackaging. need. To this end, Nkosinathi Ndlovu, decided to venture into educating community members on creating this sustainability for themselves: he taught them how to create a home garden and how to use it as subsistence farming in order to purchase other items that are not part of their home garden. “It is important that we teach our people about subsistence farming because people can sell some of the items they grow in order to purchase bread,” says Ndlovu.

To get in touch with Nkosinathi please email: riccar.gideni@gmail.com A centre where food arrived for repackaging.

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Don’t tell us about no Covid, boy In addition to this unfortunate lack of readiness, my experiences have exposed that I also do not even have the necessary knowledge to properly manage my protective gear. Wearing a mask and gloves has become such a daunting task. It has made the execution of basic daily tasks, extremely difficult to achieve. Things like eating a packet of snacks – biscuits, chips, sweets, etc. – have become much more complex. “Do I take off the gloves? Take off the mask? Do I wait to get home before eating anything? A range of questions that have become the preamble of snacking on anything. The pandemic has definitely become a serious determinant of how we go about our daily lives.

My name is Liza Mfana, I’m from a village in Centani in the Eastern Cape called, Gobe. The first few weeks since the Covid-19 virus hit our shores have been very interesting for me. Through this pandemic, I have realised a lot about our country and its citizens. “You like drama my man, this thing is not necessary.”; “You have money to waste on these things, Liza? This disease is for rich people.” These are a few of the statements I have received from people in the streets for draping my face in a mask and burying my hands in gloves - in addition to the looks of disbelief and occasional chuckles as I walk past. People are actually convinced that we do not need protection from the virus, and this is a clear indication of the lack of understanding among our people – poor people in particular. It also points to a fundamental unpreparedness by the country to manage and deal with a national crisis, let alone a health one. It is an extremely worrying reality that we find ourselves in, one that requires urgent intervention from all willing and capable parties.

Lockdown regulations have not made things any easier on our need to adjust to the crisis. With multiple bans being imposed on the exercise of certain rights, the pandemic has shown us just how vulnerable we are as people. For me, a poor, black, African man from the rural parts of South Africa, the impact of this virus on livelihoods has been very evident. Our people are prohibited from selling anything and rendering services, prohibited from making a living. I believe that the government of the country has not done enough, to ensure that this battle is collectively waged. Simply making a declaration on national television and deploying state machinery – SANDF and SAPS – is simply not enough. The Health department must be at the forefront of community based dissemination of information about Covid-19, because our people simply don’t know about it. The government must provide protective gear to every citizen at its cost. The government must set up community based mobile testing points, to ensure the testing, identification and treatment process is accelerated.

To get in touch with Liza please email: mfanala.lm@gmail.com

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Liza Mfana


ACTIVATE!

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DRIVERS

YOUTH

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above all ELSE, Education remains instrumental Meet Bongeka Qhanga, a Cape Town based Activator whose remarkable efforts helped guarantee that the young people in her community had access to educational material during the Covid-19 lockdown period. The strict regulations of lockdown put a halt on most everyday activities including regular schooling, which meant that millions of young people around the country would unfortunately fall back on their academic learning. The challenges that most learners in our communities face are numerous. The lack of academic learning material such as textbooks and past exam question papers, the inability to get assistance with their school work because they are from homes where parents are not adequately educated, limited access to the internet as well as the lack of tutoring activities are some of the hindering obstacles. The difference maker Qhanga, who has been running a youth development organisation since 2016, forged very strategic partnerships with several stakeholders to acquire donations of books and other learning materials, which they then made freely available to young members of her community in Cape Town. Qhanga, who is a 2019 Activator, says that it was back when she began conducting afterschool classes that she discovered the deep passion she had for literacy. “Shortly after I had been conducting the afterschool classes, I started a community book club and from there I was motivated to start a home library. With a lot of help, I proceeded to collect books from willing

A picture of the recepients of the study material by the youth hub.

friends and family and I am currently running the home library I envisioned.” Bongeka says it is at this home library that young scholars, tertiary students and pleasure readers are accommodated on a daily basis, most of them to prepare for when normal schooling resumes. The inspiration “Since I have been working with young people, I felt the need to promote reading by making academic and non-academic books available to them,” she says. What inspired her to begin this journey was the desire to continually support students with their school work, as well as her vision of a safe hub where young people can connect, share books and offer each other mutual assistance regarding their studying, reading and writing. Qhanga says that her home library currently has over 60 regular users. The challenges What are some of the challenges you faced while implementing this project? Qhanga: “Shortage of relevant academic books, shortage of shelves to properly store the books as well as not having enough space to accommodate the number of students and young people we would like to accommodate.” The vision What changes would you like to see in your community going forward? Qhanga: “I would like to see more young and old people getting into the culture of reading, less young people dropping out of school and more support being given to students. I would like to see more career expos for both primary and secondary school learners. I would also like to see more people using our library and visiting bigger libraries for further reading, study and research.” The collection of study material and textbooks has proven to be a vital contribution to the fight against the effects of Covid-19. While the country is battling a frightening pandemic and adjusting to life in lockdown, Activators such as Qhanga saw it fit to not only preserve, but also enhance the education of fellow young people by providing them with a gift of mentorship and education for their future! Bongeka, we support you!

To get in touch with Bongeka please email: qhanga91@gmail.com

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VOICES

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COVID-19

Using WhatsApp to Read to the Elderly During Covid-19 My name is Relotegile Malepe. I am experiencing Covid-19 with the rest of the world but currently in a country that is foreign to me, Malaysia. It has always been a personal goal to travel the world and observe how others are thriving because of education. For me, as an education and community development enthusiast, I feel this is the best way to learn about how I can pave different ways to better the education system of my home country, South Africa. I panicked because I am constantly thinking about who is teaching the children in my village about the seriousness of this disease. What about the elderly in my village? Who is informing them? What makes it worse is that information hardly reaches villages in the same way that it reaches urban areas. It is limited (due to lack of resources, gadgets and data), filtered and sometimes not delivered at all. What my mentees have resorted to is reading with each other through WhatsApp and, those with grandparents, disseminate the information to them in their homes. We perform what we call “School Your Elder,” which is a reading session where a young person pledges to read

Relotegile Malepe is an Activator, writer and founder of Sunshine Children’s Book Club, a non profit organisation in education

with an elderly person to help them become less anxious about the pandemic, while acknowledging its severity.

people listen. I literally commit to sing with people; some,

This is helping many grandparents and people over the

I’ve never seen; most, I don’t even know their names; but

age of 50.

we are a community and that is what matters; teamwork. I’ve learnt that being compassionate and empathetic

I am in my second week of Malaysia’s lockdown. My daily

is more important than anything else. To be willing to

coping mechanism while in Kuala Lumpur is reaching

bring about the spirit of active participation is a need in

out to a few friends and family to make sense of how the

society. This crisis comes with so much uncertainty that

situation is unfolding back home. It is not easy being away

one can feel out of control. I have learnt that the activities

from home, yet it is beautiful and insightful. However this

I participate in, such as the singing with the community,

gives one an opportunity to teach, learn, ask and observe.

is what is in my control at this moment. With so many

I love to engage with people and traveling grants me

unknowns, I have taught myself to learn what I can control

that chance; the pandemic has taught me to think about

and what I can’t. So, there is still a positive side to this; it

a crisis as an opportunity to observe and stay calm, and

has brought about a sense of community.

not just listen to respond. Covid-19 has taught me to bring back my voice for the public good.

To get in touch with Relotegile please email: relotegilet@gmail.com

I continue reading biographies and autobiographies, watching less TV, making videos for my younger brother, who is in his matric year, as I try to assist with his schoolwork. In addition, every day at 6pm, I gather to sing with the community I reside in; some from their windows, balconies and doorways. The message is: one is never alone. People are calm and obeying the guidance given by the experts here in Malaysia; it is good to see

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Menzi Qwabe


ACTIVATE!

CHANGE

DRIVERS

YOUTH

VOICES

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COVID-19

Unwavering loyalty to serve In a situation like the one in South Africa, it is imperative that a response towards ending a pandemic is a coordinated effort, and not just relegated to the government and other agencies. The fight against the pandemic requires many sacrifices from all citizens of the country. To this end, Activators volunteered their time along with other stakeholders in order to deliver tracking and testing services for Covid-19 infections in their respective communities.

Briefing foot soliders on the daily activities ahead

Activators in Atteridgeville from the Pheli Youth Hub led by Activator Phathuxolo Nofotho, volunteered their time and skills, and collaborated with the Department of Health to test and track Covid-19 infections in their respective communities. The Pheli Youth Hub was started after Nofotho saw a gap between health care workers in local clinics and young people accessing health care services that should be provided in local clinics. “Our main objective was to bridge this gap. We are the voice that says youth health matters, especially in a society where teenage pregnancy and HIV

Activator Phathuxolo Nofotho gearing up for a day of volunteering.

infections are very high,” explains Nofotho. Seeing young people in the streets without a safe space to meet and have meaningful conversations about health, is what moved Nofotho to open the Pheli Youth Hub. Seeing these young people who are part of the hub overcome challenges and reach success is what motivates Nofotho to keep pushing. “We’ve been working with organisations like ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Youth Capital, Youth lab and local schools,” he explains. “We were also very surprised by the amount of support we’ve received from the local taxi association and the local people in general,” says Nofotho. “Covid-19 is another health matter, and we continue to bridge the gap between the local health sector and the youth in our community,” he concludes.

To get in touch with Pathuxolo please email: princenofoto@gmail.com

A community screening process underway.

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Activator Working at KWIKSPAR Shares his Experience During Covid-19 It is true that everything happens for a reason and no one can change fate. However, it had never occurred to me, or anyone else, that I would one day work at a supermarket, much less a butchery for that matter as I knew absolutely nothing about meat, other than it’s eaten by most people (except the vegans). My parents named me Setjhaba as they were convinced that I would one day grow up to be an important individual to society, or a nation as a whole. I too had always had great aspirations to be someone of importance to other people. I had always been resilient and steadfast in my quest to better serve my people, whether the circumstances are favourable or not. In the midst of the high graduate unemployment rate in the country, I found myself part of the statistics. However, as a headstrong individual, I managed to secure employment at KWIKSPAR in the butchery department at the beginning of 2020. As I was still celebrating my newfound employment, I sadly learnt of the outbreak of the fast-spreading Coronavirus in the city of Wuhan, China. Word spread about the virus all across the world and, within a few months, the virus itself had spread all over the world, toppling and crippling every economy, big and small. Asian and European countries where the virus had spread initiated lockdowns and the people had to stay indoors for a certain period of time. On 16 March 2020, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa is also initiating a lockdown in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. In his speech, the president said that the lockdown will have a negative impact on many people’s livelihoods and that even the economy will suffer greatly. He announced that workers who provide essential services to the public will be exempt from the lockdown, the likes of which are healthcare workers, soldiers, police and, last but definitely not least, those who work in supermarkets. He urged citizens to avoid social gatherings of any form and, for the first time in

Activator Setjhaba Ernest Mokeko standing in front of his place of work

world history, social distancing became the new norm. After his announcement of the lockdown, business boomed like never before at my workplace. We ran crazily this way and that, trying to get customers everything they needed and more. Products flew off the shelves and, no matter how hard my colleagues and I tried to fill the fridges with meat, it seemed all our efforts were futile. People continued to stockpile everything, all in the hopes of never coming out of their houses during lockdown. Though the president’s announcement of the lockdown was for everyone’s safety, it made me feel rather ambivalent. One part of me felt very fortunate that I will be one of the few people who will still have a job in these tumultuous times. I feel very proud that I am one of the chosen people to serve my fellow South Africans during this global Covid-19 pandemic. Another part of me feels very frightened about possible exposure to the virus, as I go to work during the lockdown. However, I remain confident in the victory of good over evil until the bitter end. I BELIEVE with all my heart that God never gives His people more than what they can bear! This, too, shall pass!

To get in touch with Setjhaba please email: setjhaba2@gmail.com

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Mojalefa Mokhosi


ACTIVATE!

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DRIVERS

YOUTH

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COVID-19

The Plight of Street Vendors During Lockdown We did not choose to be born where we are living today. My name is Nyiko Lovemore Manganyi, I was born and raised in Limpopo, Vhembe District, in one of the small villages called Shikundu Mountain Rockers, led by Chief Shikundu. My mother is a self-employed single woman. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a very negative impact on my family and I. My mother is a street vendor; we fear that every day when she goes out to the market for work, she might come back infected with the virus, and when her life is in danger we are also in danger. Every day, when she gets ready to leave for the market, I pray that she comes back safely. Her business is at risk because she doesn’t get as many customers as before. People are afraid of the virus and they no longer trust the products that are sold on the streets. They believe that these products might also be infected by the virus which is threatening the lives of many. These days, people prefer to go to the bigger retail stores for their fruit and vegetables, as these are supposed to be checked and tested before they are sold. This means that my mother will not be able to provide for my siblings and I. Our academic careers have suddenly been put

on hold. This causes me a lot of anxiety because this also means that my years of struggle have also been prolonged. This whole situation feels like lost time to me and when time is lost, it is lost forever. There was a bit of relief when some of my mother’s customers bought her hand sanitiser so that she could help the people who buy from her avoid getting infected. She has since managed to package some of her products and is selling again. The people from my village have come together to encourage young children to continue to read and write, so that it will be easier to go back to school when the time comes. I think that now is the time for all South Africans to take a stand and not rely solely on the government to provide solutions. We need to be conscious and work hand-in-hand with our leaders, in an effort to minimise the spread of this virus.

To get in touch with Nyiko please email: lovemorenyiko@gmail.com

Nyiko at the Provincial stakeholder workshop

Activator Nyiko Lovemore Manganyi and his mother

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YES! To the call of A!ction It is an indisputable fact that desperate times call for desperate measures. Whenever we are faced with a problem of any magnitude, our response needs to be appropriate and of equal proportion to the predicament at hand. The Coronavirus pandemic has proven to be a severe crisis, one which has left our county’s health system exhausted and struggling to cope with the staggering number of infections and loss of precious lives. At face value, the Covid-19 pandemic can be seen as an issue to be handled by the Department of Health. However, as the virus and its inherent lockdown continue to sour and claim the lives of multitudes in our country, it is clear that to become triumphant, we all need to invest collective effort. To this end, a brave group of Activators in rural KwaZuluNatal, under the leadership of 2015 Activator Menzi Qwabe, decided to help fight the spread of Covid-19 in their community. The young change drivers, who are based in the Umhlabuyalingana area, went on a mission to assist the staff at local clinics in making sure that the nationwide lockdown regulations were adhered to. They also spent time helping the employees of the Department of Health with the overwhelming workload by providing administrative assistance. “We saw and read stories about people in other communities receiving aid in the form of food parcels.” Menzi Qwabe says. “We would have liked to provide the same for our community but since we were not readily able to, we decided to give our time instead.”

Activator Menzi Qwabe enforcing lockdown regulations by ensuring that a member of the public uses sanitisor before entering a public place The help that these Activators provided also included the screening of community members on behalf of the clinic staff, and making sure that their members were protected at all times by sourcing personal protective equipment. This was especially important since the nature of their assistance meant that they got in contact with a number of people. Menzi says “We realised that our community members did not understand the urgency and seriousness of the pandemic so we took to the streets to try and sansitise them. We went to all places, particularly where people gather, and dispensed information on how they can protect themselves and their loved ones.” Menzi is the manager of Umhlabuyalingana MMQ Youth Hub and he is also a volunteer at Zethembe Wenze Umehluko Youth Organsation. He says that it was particularly difficult to convince young people playing sports to adhere to the lockdown safety regulations, as they would simply move from one playground to another to avoid being reprimanded. Menzi says that he and his colleagues also went to local supermarkets to encourage merchants to adhere to the lockdown regulations by insisting that customers wore face masks and sanitised their hands when entering the stores.

Youth Hub leader Menzi Qwabe gearing up for his daily activities.

“A good thing about this time is that a lot of people took time to focus on themselves and started doing things like micro gardening and other technical projects. I was impressed to see a young man in our community spending the lockdown period making wire cars and selling them to young children,” Menzi concluded.

To get in touch with Menzi please email: menziqwabezwu03@gmail.com

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Lebohang Matlabe


ACTIVATE!

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COVID-19

Each one teach one In a time where a person’s knowledge might save them,

area, hence I reached out to other Activators and my

we need to shy away from regarding ignorance as bliss. It

colleagues to help me fulfil this mission.”

is important that the general public is educated on what

The general public struggled with understanding some of

might save them and what might be harmful to them.

the measures they had to take in order to avoid getting

Part of the lockdown regulations involved using police

in contact with the virus. The duty of this dedicated

and military reinforcement to discourage the public from

group was to make sure that they outline the lockdown

leaving their homes, unless for essential reasons. Most

regulations set by the government, as well as explain why

people were scared because of the military and police

it was important to adhere to these regulations.

presence in their communities. In collaboration with the Department of Health and Activators from KwaMashu in KwaZulu-Natal took a

Social Development, they managed to tally over 11 000

decision to educate the general public about the virus

face-to-face conversations with general public members. In the same vein, they communicated via social media and the local radio station, and were able to reach over 350 000 people. They also managed to test and screen over 8 000 people. One of the most valuable duties they performed was ensuring elderly people were given first preference when it came to the long queues. In addition, they protected the public by evaluating the standards of food that was being sold at local supermarkets. Their mission was full of challenges, says Mpungose, noting transportation, airtime and limited personal protective equipment as some of the stumbling blocks they encountered along the way. Mpungose says that the project added to their experience as community workers. He says, “It added growth and increased the department of health and other stakeholders’ level of trust and credibility towards us as a collective. We made sure that our footprints left a mark of best service wherever we went to render our services. My hope for my community moving forward is that they continue to adhere to the updated lockdown regulations and also that the love and support that was shown to us during this project has

Activators screen the public.

brought us and our people closer together.”

that had the world on its knees. KwaMashu Youth Hub, headed

by

2014

Activator

Nkosikhona

Mpungose,

partnered with an organisation called Youth Interaction

To get in touch with Nkosikhona please email: MpungoseNW@outlook.com

to achieve their goal. When the lockdown began, both organisations joined the National Development Agency in an effort to bring together enough resources to be able to educate the general public about Covid-19. Mpungose says, “Our Covid-19 awareness campaign has been the key priority in our partnership for the past several months. We were inspired and motivated to start it after noticing the gap that existed in our communities as far as information was concerned. I had a mission to collaborate and educate my community and my networks about the dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic, so that we become young leaders who are difference makers in our

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Collaboration between Activator and law enforcement .


ACTIVATE!

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DRIVERS

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COVID-19

The Biggest Battle We Face Apart from Covid-19 is Poverty Covid-19 (Coronavirus) continues to change the lifestyles of people and communities around the world. Every day, rapid outbreaks have left individuals and organisations relying on information and actions that can be taken to stay safe and healthy, in completely new and uncertain circumstances. My name is Rejoyce Legodi from a small village in Limpopo. The outbreak of the Coronavirus became news to most of my community members, but fun was made out of the pandemic and life continued. Reality set in when social media platforms informed them about how serious the pandemic is, and precautionary measures were taken. Earlier, I decided to roam the streets of Mmotong/Ga-Mokgokong in Limpopo and found elders, youth and children informing one another about the pandemic. Now it all seems different; a true indication that lockdown is taken seriously – empty sports grounds, and closed schools and spaza shops. The water shortage Water plays a big role in the lives of my community; every day, we go and fetch water. Due to the outbreak of the virus, most communities were never prepared to spend more and more money on such services, with the constant washing of hands and consuming warmer liquids. For many households, getting water continues to stretch budgets and create stress – R20 used to cover more than a week’s supply of water (2025 litre bucket cost over R20), but with the growing anxiety of municipal trucks unable to deliver water

daily, the struggle seems to continue. Most families are fortunate because they were able to save from the last rain; others will have to use the little they have just to pull through the next few days, hoping that the municipal truck will deliver soon enough. Since our government introduced the lockdown, my community won’t participate actively in it since the need for water is in high demand. As a community, we are battling with how to care for ourselves and each other. Our municipality has been made aware of the challenge and we are hopeful water will be delivered to us soon. Livelihoods are constantly changing and informal businesses continue to suffer I spoke to some of my community members; one of them is a carwash and spaza shop owner, Magagula. He does not sell much, but he was able to provide for himself and his family. He had to close down the spaza shop due to Covid-19. This was before the Limpopo Chamber of Commerce and Industry made a call for spaza shop owners to obtain permits so they could continue to operate. Before schools closed down, he was providing us with dikota (bunny chows), airtime, and even car wash services; but business started running at a loss. The downturn of his business has been an unexpected event for him. Magagula is taking the situation one day at a time; he believes that once the schools start operating, things will go back to normal and his business will take off again.

To get in touch With Rejoyce please email: rejoycelegodi@gmail.com

Young people from Legodi’s community

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Monti Montsha


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Activator Donates Food Parcels and Starts Online Talk Show During Covid-19 Crisis Elcardo Chulu is an Activator from Upington in the Northern Cape, who is passionate about developing and uplifting the people of his community. He is the founder of Masakhane Arts Centre, an organisation that recently took it upon itself to donate food parcels to less fortunate members of the community who have been affected by the Coronavirus lockdown. Why did you decide to get involved in the donation of food parcels and how did you manage to accomplish it? Elcardo Chulu: We saw the need to donate food to some of the less fortunate families who were unable to access the food parcels provided by government. Chulu says that they decided to repurpose a portion of their organisational funds to finance the generous intervention. He and his fellow colleagues managed to identify and assist 30 families through their project. Chulu says that in future they hope to be able to assist more but that will obviously be informed by the availability of resources. Chulu and his fellow comrades have also started an online talk show. Chulu: We titled our show #Covid19 #Lockdown talks with Mntaka Chuls. We picked up that there are many people who are uninformed in our community about what is happening in and around South Africa when it comes to Covid-19. We basically started the talk show to inform and educate our community about the dangers of the virus and how they can best protect themselves.�

Chulu says that the show began as an informal conversation on Facebook and, the more people engaged, the more he realised the need to utilise the platform to disseminate useful information and spark more conversations. What are some of the topics you cover in your talk show? Chulu: Firstly, we discuss the latest Covid-19 statistics. We also cover safety measures like what to do when one is in quarantine, as well as what is safe and unsafe to do during lockdown. Something that I have been privileged to do is to conduct an interview on our show with a guest who has fully recovered from the Covid-19 virus. Chulu says that they cover a broad range of topics on the show, and they always try to invite and interview an expert or someone who has more knowledge on a given topic, to make sure that they share legitimate, informed and reliable information with their audience. What is the general reaction and attitude of your audience and fellow community members to the Covid-19 pandemic? Chulu: A number of the people seem afraid and wary of the virus. Most, however, seem to look at the virus with indifference, and they inaccurately believe that it is a foreign sickness which only infects a certain group of people. I am hoping that hearing interviews with people who have been directly affected by the sickness might change the beliefs and attitudes of my fellow community members. Chulu hopes to see his organisation growing in size to reach and assist more people in and around his hometown of Upington. He hopes for his talk show to continue to bring useful facts to people who need them the most, and for it to evolve into a trusted and reliable source of news and information in his community.

To get in touch with Elcardo please email: elcardochulu@gmail.com

Essential food distribution

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African Independent Churches Must Come to the Party vital role that these institutions have in South Africa’s social make up. Suddenly, South Africans who never cared about Bishop Baranabas Lekganyane’s Zion Christian Church or Isaiah Shembe’s Nazareth Baptist Church, took a keen interest in the views of these institutions and whether they would cancel their massive gatherings or not. At the same time, it is Covid-19 that has also given a brief scope to some of the deep-rooted structural problems that these institutions have, and how we as young people can tackle these to make sure that such institutions continue to give greater and valuable meaning to society.

Activator Prince Charles shares his opinions on the role of Independant Africn churches Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Nehemiah 2, verse 17 Independent African churches in South Africa have a following that is estimated to be over one third of the nation’s population and have played an important transformative role in the lives of many in the last 80 years. They have done this through institutional imagination, where they were able to infuse African values with Christian values. This form of cultural and religious innovation in turn produced a purely African form of black liberation theology, which reinterpreted the gospel of Jesus Christ, and tailored it to speak to African realities and culture. As a result of this reconfiguration of the gospel, African independent churches attracted millions of adherents throughout the sub-continent because their message resonated and spoke to their lived reality and therefore made it easy for them to find expression within these institutions. Due to decades of ridicule, partly at the hands of “mainstream churches,” African independent churches shunned public discourse, and carried on with their affairs in seclusion and on the periphery. This contextualisation is important because South African society has always seen, and continues to see, African independent churches merely as conservative spiritual institutions on the outskirts of mainstream society, steeped in patriarchy and traditionalism. However, the onset of Covid-19 has demonstrated the

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From observation, there appeared to be a lacklustre response to Covid-19 by African independent churches. Even after their meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa about a possible lockdown, churches issued feeble statements calling off Easter gatherings. These statements had no vigour or conviction. One would have thought religious figures would show greater enthusiasm because this particular virus posed a direct threat to their flock and the future of belief systems. There are two possible reasons for this. One can argue that African independent churches now function more like businesses, and care first and foremost about revenue rather than the livelihoods of their individual members. However, such an argument would be a generally unfair statement to make. Another view would be that African Independent churches genuinely do not know how to react to such epidemics, and are unwilling to, the same way they still cannot preach about the HIV/ Aids virus from their pulpits; yet, the virus continues to infect many of their members. This might appear to be a veiled attack on the institution but it is, in fact, a call to action. Particularly, for young people who are part of these churches. African independent churches are grappling with the challenge of a lack of institutional imagination – which is the ability of an institution to take its values and norms, and reinterpret them into existing and possible future reality for the benefit of its members. This is where young people are crucial, because they are able to reshape and challenge power structures which do not assist them in finding meaning in society. Therefore, young people must not only challenge political elites in society, but church power structures as well because, as actor Jude Law argues in his portrayal of The Young Pope, “If the gospel cannot embody institutional imagination, it runs the risk of becoming mere exhibitionism.”

To get in touch Prince please email: pcharles812@gmail.com


Prince Charles


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Covid-19: We Are the Human Race

Street vendor in Johannesburg

My name is Ntombifuthi Sangweni and from the time I was little, I never saw the need to get my vegetables at known retailers, like Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay. My mom used to send me to uMam’khozi to get a bag full of a variety of vegetables for R30. This was the norm where I grew up, and we all knew where to go to get our fruits and vegetables. As much as love has always been there, a few days before the lockdown I witnessed something beautiful in the streets of Johannesburg. On my way back from work, while walking around Johannesburg CBD, I was in awe and proud to be South African when I saw people standing in queues to buy vegetables from street vendors. Most of their stock was sold out, which is something that hardly happens. Yes, they probably fell into the trap of panic buying after hearing news about the lockdown that was pending. It all started on social media a few days before the Covid-19 lockdown. Hashtags such as #Supportstreetvendors and local celebrities, like King Monanda and Somizi, committed themselves to this cause, encouraging South Africans to buy from street vendors. The one important takeaway from the effect of this virus is that it reminded us of what it means to be human, it has brought us together, and further reminded us that we are a collective and much more connected than we think. It has now been several weeks into the lockdown and the government has made a decision to let street vendors back onto the street to sell their goods. However, it is not the same. A question arises: who are they supposed to sell to when people are locked down in their homes? This seems to be more of a loss to street vendors because they cannot generate an income now. People are also less trusting of the goods on the streets at the moment because they fear that the food may be

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contaminated with the virus. It is clear that this is more than just a battle with the pandemic, but also a battle between the livelihoods of every individual in South Africa and the healthcare system. Both these factors are important and have dire consequences if any of them are ignored. This, indeed, is the time for us to work together with the government, so that we can come out of this chaotic time victorious and ready for the reconstruction of our country. It is up to us all to make sacrifices in our small spaces and endure as the trying journey to flatten the curve continues.

To get in touch with Ntombifuthi please email: ntomfuthi20@gmail.com


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A Fight Against Poverty: Kamogelo’s Story Growing up in poverty might have subjected a lesser person to a life of crime and drugs, not Kamogelo. His struggle while growing up motivated him to stand firm in the fight against poverty. 2019 Activator, Kamogelo Themba, started his organisation, Compassion Foundation, in 2010. His objective was to minimise the struggle for his community. The Compassion Foundation is a non-profit organisation that is divided into four sectors - social, health and wellness, education and literacy, they also use their platform to fight against drugs and substance abuse. The social sector of Compassion Foundation deals with collecting old clothes from generous donors and food donations. These are then distributed to those who need them within the community. This part of the organisation has been extremely helpful to Kamogelo Themba’s community in the time of Covid-19. The Compassion Foundation has also partnered with big retailers like Woolworths and Shoprite who donate food to Kamogelo’s community. In his quest to end poverty, Themba and his foundation have made food distributiion a priority during this time. The Health and Wellness sector is aimed at minimising the struggle for the elderly while still making sure that they get their monthly medication, even when healthcare facilities are too far away for them. The Compassion Foundation collects the clinic cards of all the elderly people in the community, then go and stand in the long clinic queues on their behalf. Once they’ve collected the medication, they take it to the owners and return the clinic cards. This is another area that assists with minimising the number of people on the streets during the pandemic.

home work. This sector is responsible for school aftercare programmes too. During lockdown, to make sure that young people don’t lose their morale, the Compassion Foundation has been downloading school work from the previous three years and teaching the youth in the community. To conform to the regulations of lockdown, they never have more than 10 pupils per session. This initiative is very useful to those students who don’t have access to the internet, but would like to keep up with their education. The final sector, Fighting Drugs and Substance Abuse, focuses mainly on community awareness campaigns that address the dangers of drugs and substance abuse. This sector has become inactive since the beginning of lockdown in an attempt to comply with the lockdown regulations. Themba says that he and four of his peers started the foundation in 2010, but it was not until 2019, after attending the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme, that he got more clarity on how to get his organisation registered and more structured. Themba heard about ACTIVATE! from a friend who is also an Activator who graduated in 2018. He says that his background has been the main motivation for him to make a difference in his community. Themba has helped a lot of people in his community of Atteridgeville and he hopes to do much more. “ACTIVATE! must get ready for a lot of applications from young people in my community after lockdown,” says Themba. “I hope that ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is ready for these dynamic young individuals who are here to drive change.”

To get in touch with Kamogelo please email: kamogelo971@outlook.com

The education and literacy sectors deal mostly with assisting young people with their school work, projects and

Kamogelo Themba with his peers in Attriudgeville

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Relotegile Molepe


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COVID-19

A little help goes a long way without the generous help of their sponsors and that since its inception, they have managed to help serve approximately 300 people. “Everyday a Happy Meal” is what they have named their project and Mpaga says “We want to do everything in our power to prevent the distasteful reality of a child or any other vulnerable person going to bed on an empty stomach.” Shukushukuma Youth Hub has a dedicated team of 12 young people and the organisation’s main pillars of focus are poverty alleviation, skills development and employment placement. They also facilitate various sports and recreational activities and occasionally host sporting tournaments. With their “Everyday a Happy Meal” project, Mpaga says that they hope to help curb hunger and poverty, which are potential catalysts to other social ills such as crime and prostitution. The plague of Covid-19 will go down in history as one of the biggest tests of our generation - and our contribution toward fighting for our communities during these fragile times are the measure by which we will be judged by future generations. There is a myriad of things to be considered when it comes to providing assistance to fellow community members who are in relative need; and the type of assistance that is provided often needs to be carefully customised and tailor made. It was this thinking that led West Rand based Activator Alexander Mpaga and his colleagues to start a much needed community feeding programme, where members of their community in Mohlakeng could have access to wholesome daily meals, since most were out of work and had lost their income due to the pandemic.

The West Rand region was at some point flagged as one of the hotspots for Covid-19 infections in the Gauteng Province, which could explain why the area might have had one of the heaviest blows as far as economic activity is concerned. Still, through all adversities, this team of young people stepped up to make a difference. The group of young people at Shukushukuma Youth Hub are heroes. These are the kind of young people who respond with a resounding “YES!” when they are called upon to act selflessly for the interest of the greater good. We salute you!

With understanding their fellow community members situation, the team came up with a plan to try and assist their neighbours through the lockdown period. Mpaga and his helpful team at Shukushukuma Youth Hub reached out to different bodies and secured sponsorship of non-perishable food items. This, in an effort to ensure that they are able to assist the people of their community until such time that they are able to provide for themselves and their families. Mpaga says that their efforts were met with huge gratitude by the recipients, which drove up their motivation and gave them even more reason to continue to be in service of their community. He says that the project would not have been possible

To get in touch with Alexander please email: shukushukumayouthmovement6011@gmail.com Text

Text

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ACTIVATE!

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COVID-19

Activators use the power of knowledge to help their community during Lockdown The announcement to extend the national lockdown came with promises from the government to help soften the blow on citizens by providing comprehensive assistance in the form of financial grants, food parcels and other subsidies. The intervention would help ensure that South Africans remain afloat in the midst of extreme poverty and hunger. While assistance is available, it unfortunately remains a challenge for many people to navigate through the necessary processes to obtain this assistance. This often is due to a range of factors including limited internet access and limited know-how. A group of Activators in Bloemfontein, having recognised a level of anxiety building up amongst their fellow community members, particularly regarding the process of applying for the government’s social relief grants, decided to dedicate their time, hearts and efforts to the cause. The team led by Activators Mojalefa Mokhosi and Lebohang Matlabe ventured into assisting the people around their community of Mangaung to not only apply for the social relief grants, but to also make sure that those who have been stopped from going to work, are able to apply for their UIF benefits. The assistance they provided was vital, as the community, like many others in South Africa, was in distress and found themselves between a rock and a hard place. How they utilised the power of the network for the greater good “I am an active member of the Mangaung Youth Unit, we assist matriculants with tertiary education applications – we also offer them free internet access. During level 5 of the lockdown, we were not working so I decided to approach the Mangaung Youth Centre to use their venue and I also recruited a few

of my Activator friends to bring along their laptops to assist with the applications. Later on we received the support of the National Development Agency (NDA), who came on board thanks to a referral by a good friend of mine who is also an Activator, Action Setaka. As time went on, we were also able to get the support of the Mangaung Local Government,” says Mokhosi. He says the combined assistance enabled them to extend the reach of their efforts and help larger numbers of their fellow residents with carrying out the applications.

Recipients waiting to get assistance Sacrifice and resilience Together, they gave people a sense of comfort and relief by taking away the stressful prospect of going through the arduous application process, but Mokhosi says the road for them was not without rocks and ditches either. “The challenges that came with such an initiative was ensuring that the Covid-19 safety precautions were at all times observed, and that the public always remained safe and reassured. Another challenge, particularly in the beginning, was the fact that the project was self-funded, mainly by myself, towards internet data, transportation and catering,” he says. Mojalefa says it became increasingly hard to maintain the operational part of the project as it grew and he sometimes had to approach friends and family for assistance. That was until NDA came on board and they were able to achieve much, much more. “It is important to note that some people do not know how to access such opportunities. It then becomes the duty of those who are more technologically inclined to assist those who can barely afford the technology needed to apply for the available grants.” Mokhosi concluded.

Text

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Activators processing applications.

To get in touch with Mojalefa please email: mjmokhosi95@gmail.com


Jean Motsepe


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How the Youth Should Exercise Their Power During the Health Crisis 1976 who exercised theirs to lead the way against an unfair system. Indeed, the youth of 1976 fought an unjust system; thus, it is binding upon the youth of 2020 to work together to fight and conquer the invisible pandemic. Here are just some of the ways that demonstrate how the youth around the country should step up, lead, and take action against the outbreak and shape the socioeconomic landscape of the country: •

The youth must exercise their power to influence their peers, governments and communities to change behaviour, and end the spread of this pandemic.

They must also step up the fight against misinformation around the pandemic by policing fake news on all social media platforms and begin to share correct information to save lives. Moreover, the youth can also engage on platforms to collect insights on how communities are responding to and coping with Covid-19, and learn from each other using social media networks.

Youth-led organisations and movements such as (ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, YALI, YOUTHLEAD, Woman Lead Movement, NYDA, CEA and TearStearl, etc.) should be at the forefront of acting to support youth to overcome challenges to their livelihoods, education and sexual rights, the prospect of poverty, and to counter violence in communities.

Last, but not least, youth must continue to engage on platforms that are created to keep solving the biggest issues of our day, from climate change, to youth unemployment, to gender equality, many of which will be made worse by Covid-19.

Lesedi Senamele Matlala speaking to young people during a workshop As the world faces unparalleled challenges because of Covid-19, the youth is currently demonstrating their continued leadership in their communities and countries. Not only are the youth on the frontlines as health workers, but they are also advancing health and safety in their roles as researchers, activists, innovators, communicators, etc. As such, decision-makers must commit to ensuring youth voices are part of the solutions for a healthier, safer, and gender-equal world. This can be done by supporting young people who work with communities, governments and health workers to plan, prevent and respond to the pandemic. In South Africa, the month of June is dedicated to the youth of 1976, who stood up against the Apartheid government and laid down their lives fighting for freedom and the right to equal education. This year marks 44 years since the uprising in which many children lost their lives, while standing up against a system that sought to strip them of their identity and break their spirit. For the first time in 26 years of South African democracy, the nation is forced to commemorate the 2020 National Youth Month with restrictions, as the country and the world battle with the global outbreak of Covid-19. Despite the hardships and challenges brought by the pandemic, it is important for youth to remain determined and work with the relevant stakeholders (government, NGOs, Civil Societies, etc.) to overcome threats brought about by the outbreak. Most outstandingly, it is of importance for the youth of 2020 to exercise their power to lead the way against Covid-19, just like the youth of

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During the Apartheid era, the youth of the 1970s had contributed positively against racist oppression and segregation policies, that subjected marginalised people to indignity and inferior status. It is now up to us, the youth of 2020, to be immensely positive and continue making an invaluable contribution to our society and to our identity as an emerging nation, by helping the international agencies, governments, the private sector, NGOs, academia, etc. to combat this pandemic.

To get in touch with Lesedi please email: lesedi@jet.org.za


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Committed to a cause – Our People can count on us When people join ACTIVATE! Change Drivers they do so because they are already involved in a community project or seek to be a part of a solution. Activators affect small changes in their communities which, at the end of the day, end up creating greater change on a larger scale. The Covid-19 pandemic requires a nationwide response. Activators from Bafenyi Youth Club started an online reading club where they used WhatsApp to carry out the duties of the book club whilst staying at home. Their project focused not only on keeping people at home, but also on educating people by distributing awareness pamphlets about the virus. “We took advantage of this education drive and also ventured towards teaching people about safe sex through interactive conversations, where we informed the general public about measures they can take to benefit their health and well-being,” says hub leader, Lesedi Meza.

Activator Lesedi Meza with the condoms they were handing out

This group also went as far as collecting old but usable shoes, fixing them where needed, and distributing them to those in need. Meza, notes that there are plans in place to continuously assist

the community even beyond the lockdown because “this lockdown has opened our eyes to the many needs of our communities,” she explains.

To get in touch with Lesedi please email: lucritiameza@gmail.com

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Rejoyce Kgabo Legodi


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How Lockdown has Affected Young people in Business The Coronavirus has not only changed our way of life, it has radically changed the operations within the business sector. This change has brought so much frustration to Activators and young people who are in the Youth Economic Sector. Regardless of the new reports by Business Tech that there has been unusual growth of online retailers between 25% and 50% due to lockdown, Activators believe that moving a business into a digital space is not that easy. Such transformation requires resources and digital systems in place. Rethinking and remodelling their business plans, as well as formulating new operational strategies, are not the biggest issues. A lack of resources and financial support are the main hurdles. Activators in the Youth Economic Sector have voiced their frustration around how lockdown has affected their businesses, especially because there is a speedy transformation into the digital space and working remotely has become the new norm. “Accessing business markets has been a struggle even before the lockdown. Penetrating digital ecosystems for business purposes is not as easy as everyone thinks. A digital-based business plan needs resources. If you are a start-up, it is really hard to thrive in the changing trends,” says KZN Activator, MbaleZulu Dlamini.

Drivers, an entrepreneur and an Activator based in Gauteng, has shared her views around digital transformation in the business sector: “Operating businesses online makes life easier. However, it is expensive in terms of data. Lockdown left us with no choice but to adapt to the digital space in order to maintain our competitive edge. Many people are still sceptical about buying and selling online but I don’t blame them. The security around ecommerce has been an issue, and not just in South Africa but in the continent at large. It remains something we must all pay attention to,” she says. Eastern Cape Activator, Vuyokazi Ntlebi, says, “I run a fitness club, lockdown has caused economical distress to my business. I can’t commence with training even under Level three regulations. People pay only for services rendered; if there is no service, there is no payment. Yes, I thank smartphones because I am able to communicate with my clients to check their psychosocial wellness and send them demos of exercises, but I really can’t expect them to pay.” Lockdown has tormented our societies and caused socio-economic distress. Entrepreneurs and start-ups are finding it hard to sustain their businesses during this time but solutions are on the horizon.

In our interaction within the Youth Economic Sector, we engaged with Kgabo Legodi, who is a high-tech entrepreneur and Activator based in Limpopo province. Legodi believes that start-ups are the backbone of every thriving economy because they are contributing immensely to the socio-economic development. She also believes that they are challenge-driven and underpinned by creative and innovative thinking. Access to funding start-ups shouldn’t be this difficult. Even now during lockdown, no one speaks about funding for start-ups. Khulile Mazimba, an Activator based in the Eastern Cape, says, “As a social entrepreneur based in the rural areas, my impediment is connectivity. We note and appreciate the efforts of our government in connecting the unconnected but the process seems to be moving slowly. Bridging the digital divide should be a priority of our government. We can’t go digital if we remain disconnected to the world. Our businesses have suffered severely during this period of lockdown as we can’t even do business online.” Nathacia Oliver, who is the coordinator of the Youth Economic Participation Sector at ACTIVATE! Change

To get in touch with Bongekile please email: fbongekile@gmail.com

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David Lekgwathi


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YOUTH

While the rest of the Alexandra population – nearly 395,000 people - stay at home during lockdown, the

VOICES

ON

COVID-19

Monti Montsha hits joburg streets to get the views of homelss people and drug addicts

vulnerable, the homeless and nyaope addicts have no choice but to sleep on the streets, and this has become a

announced that they would open their doors for those

major concern.

in need of social care. All activities are postponed in community halls due to the Coronavirus, as the pandemic

Nyaope addicts and the homeless people of Alexandra

spreads in Johannesburg.

Township are at particular risk of contracting the coronavirus. Covid-19 hits people over 60 years of age and

One of the homeless Nyaope addicts accused the

those with pre-existing health conditions the hardest.

government of failing to include them in the strict national lockdown to halt the spread of the Coronavirus.

The virus is easily spread through touching and by lack of proper hygiene. People experiencing drug addiction and

‘’Bosso I think the skop and donor is going to be applied

the homeless are increasingly becoming ill. Many in the

to us, because we can’t stay at home. As you can see, our

streets of Alex and Johannesburg have underlying health

home is literally the streets. We must be on the streets

conditions, government- in my view- fails to give them

hustling for the next fix because the cravings are vicious;

access to primary care. They struggle to access public

they are so painful that one will be forced to go out,” said

bathrooms to maintain basic hygiene.

the homeless man. No soldier can stop us from doing that when a fix is needed in the system, I must go get one.

Proper hygiene practices can prevent transmission, health

Maybe the government should have made plans for us to

experts say, but that is likely to be a challenge for homeless

get some sort of medication from rehabilitation centers to

people. Some of them are mentally challenged and do not

calm us down or make as quit if ever that is possible,” he

have the capacity to help themselves get access to basic

added.

housing and shelter. “We as the municipality have been going to taxi ranks, churches, malls, clinics, hostels, and

Some of the community members try to help the homeless

schools - before they were closed, to offer sanitisers and

and nyaope addicts by giving them bars of soap and food,

dust masks. Unfortunately, we didn’t go as far as to reach

but instead they take them and sell them for other use. For

out to the homeless and Nyaope addicts, but we thank you

the 21 day lockdown period, people on the streets say it

for alerting us about that part of our community puzzle,”

is their human right to demand tents or any other type of

- Machoga (municipality representative) told me.

shelter to keep their distance from others or self-isolate if they show any symptoms. (Names have been omitted to

An anonymous source from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), said that they promise to deal

protect the identity of the individuals)

with the issue appropriately and in the spirit of protecting

To get in touch with Monti please email:

every citizen in the country. Some of the NGO’S also

masekela.montsha@gmail.com

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ACTIVATE!

CHANGE

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YOUTH

VOICES

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COVID-19

Let us understand one another “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” goes a popular

saying. The saying holds some truth when we see the spike in the number of contact crimes which were committed in our country throughout lockdown. The nature of most of these recorded crimes was genderbased violence, a fact which perhaps highlights the depth of our people’s lack of mutual acceptance, respect and understanding. The horrific train of our discrimination goes beyond the borders of gender – it also extends beyond the borders of sexuality, race, tribal descent and even social and economic class. Like a divided family in distress, it is clear that within our circles, big and small, within our networks, within our families and within our communities, we need to talk. 2017 Activator Sipho Mnisi clearly resonated with this notion and took it upon himself to get the conversation started in his part of the world. Mnisi is from Soshanguve in Pretoria and he sits as an LGBTIQA+ sector representative at the City of Tshwane Municipality, under the Multi-sectoral AIDS Management Unit. He recently helped organise and conduct a community workshop in Lebanon, north of Pretoria, to sensitise the members of the public about issues faced by the LGBTIQA+ community and to advocate for the observance of human rights. Mnisi says that the workshop was also an induction for social and auxiliary workers on the basic understanding of LGBTIQA+ concepts, advocacy, stigma and discrimination as well as victim care and the implementation of programmes. We usually do not see the sense and significance of such initiatives until we put ourselves in the shoes of the families who lose their loved ones because of such destructive mentalities and hateful deeds. Homophobia is responsible for many acts of discrimination and

hurtful actions in our country and communities and that is due to the lack of understanding that we have for each other’s choices. “We received positive feedback from the attendees of the workshop and other members of the community and they even asked for follow up sessions to be held in other parts of the community.” Mnisi says. He is the founder of an organisation called “Words in Town Youth Movement” and they focus on literature, youth

2017 Activator Sipho Mnisi and community development. Mnisi is also the cofounder of Regaugetswe Information Centre which focuses on human rights services, community safety and prevention. Mnisi says that the challenges they face is developing content and convincing the male sector to collaborate with the LGBTIQA+ sector due to the cultural background and education of men. “Men are very reluctant and not so open minded when it comes to matters of sexuality. It is important that they realise that as people we do not choose the kind of person we become and no one can control their sexuality. He says that he had to gather information using different platforms such as surveys, individual interviews, research and manuals. Mnisi states that one of the life lessons he learnt along the journey of his project is that being selfless is everything and that human rights need to be observed and practiced daily.

To get in touch with Sipho please email: Text

Community workshop in Pretoria

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sipboy.boy@gmail.com


Setjhaba Ernest


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Waves of Positivity Lesego Masethe is a 2019 Activator and Science Communicator from Mamelodi in Pretoria. She is the founder of Brain Waves Development, an educational initiative in service to the previously disadvantaged learners in the public schooling sector. “This affords them the opportunity to engage and interact with the field of science and also helps put the classroom curriculum into perspective relative to socioeconomic challenges faced in different communities,� she says. Please tell us about your recent tutoring programme. What inspired its inception and which group did you target during lockdown? Masethe: Brain Waves Development recognised the impact of Covid-19 on learners in under-resourced communities and decided, with the help of relevant organisations and mentors, to conduct tutoring classes that ran for six months (April to September). This effort was to assist learners catch up and keep up to date with their school work until their final year exams. The target group were learners in grades 10 and 11, focusing on Mathematics, Physical Science, Accounting and English. Who did you work with and what kind of help did they provide? Masethe: We partnered with SNT Tutors, a private tutoring company ran by Nomalungelo Maphanga, who is also a project manager for Brain Waves Development. SNT Tutors focused on Science and Mathematics subjects while we focused on English and Accounting. Capitec Bank sponsored most of the funds to run the programme and we collaborated with a community development organisation called Ranyaka, who assisted us with data so that we could conduct classes with learners on days that we did not have contact sessions.

Lesego and the beneficiaries GaRankua. This initiative was also sponsored by Capitec Bank. In addition to that, we are establishing a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths school of excellence, that will target young people from under-resourced communities with 70% of those students being female. How was your assistance with the tutoring programme received by the members of your community? Masethe: Because parents knew of the work our organisation does, it was easy for them to trust us with their children, knowing that we would take all safety measures to ensure that their kids would not contract the virus and more importantly, they knew that we had nothing but the best interest of the learners in mind when we started this initiative. The programme was free and none of us got paid for it; we were simply trying to be part of the solution. Parents made sure that their children attended, they dropped them at my house and on some days, they called to find out about the progress their child was making, and asked if there was anything they could do to assist their child/children. It was those calls that gave us the strength to carry this programme to the finish line.

What are some of the hindrances you encountered while implementing your project and how did you overcome them? Masethe: We used the double garage at my home for contact sessions and due to the social distancing regulations, we only had 15 out of 45 learners per session in one space, which meant that we had to repeat the same lesson more than twice for each group. Another challenge was the roadblock protests that took place during lockdown around the Mamelodi area. The protest forced us to postpone classes on some days because learners and their mentors were unable to get to class. What is the other initiative you implemented to assist the people of your community and what was the scale of it? Masethe: Well, we also created a food parcel initiative for 400 families in Mamelodi, Attridgeville, Hamanskraal and

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To get in touch with Lesego, please email: lsmasethe30@gmail.com


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Turning Trash into treasure Alfred Moletsane is a young man with a true heart of gold. He is a 2018 Activator from a rural town called Winburg in the Free State, whose commendable efforts tell the inspiring story of a local hero; one who has turned regular trash into treasure. For a few years Moletsane has been building a waste collection and recycling company, and when he witnessed the Covid-19 lockdown tightening the economic rope around the necks of his fellow community members, he voluntarily transfered funds from his business to try and defend the most vulnerable. It is worth noting that through the project, Moletsane and his collaborators recently made the generous gesture of purchasing and donating school uniforms and shoes to more than 120 learners in their community who came from indigent families. This is a good ending to a story which began with a certain realisation that Moletsane once made, necessity is the mother of all invention. “I was moved when I saw the amount of illegal dumping sites that existed in and around our area, not only did these dumping sites limit space for human settlement, but they also posed a danger to the health of the surrounding residents,” he says. The realisation gave birth to an intervention in the form of Shelela Waste, a company Moletsane started in the beginning of 2018. Through most of the journey, Moletsane had the assistance of his friend George Mabote, although physically disabled, Moletsane says is as strong as an elephant. “We used to go around our town and location collecting cardboards, glass and plastic bottles from taverns, shops and restaurants. During our struggles we met a very kind hearted lady by the name of Miss Rossouw, who was a teacher at Winburg High School. She helped us with transport

and sometimes gave us money to buy refuse bags,” he shares. Rise one, rise all. According to Moletsane , it was after they had sold some of their collected waste for recycling earlier this year that they realised that they could do more with their efforts to help their neighbours and loved ones.

Learners collecting the donations

“My community was so happy to see that there will no longer be such a big problem of horrible smells and that there will now be more open space for everyone to live in a clean environment, as is our constitutional right. We are also pleased that we were able to assist orphans and vulnerable children, including those who come from childheaded households, with school uniforms and stationery.” Moletsane says that they also helped by collecting and distributing unused clothes from local residents to families who needed them more. They also organise and host occasional chess and netball tournaments to keep the young people occupied and off the streets. Growth plans Moletsane says that he wants to grow his business into a prominent waste collection company to help his local municipality as they have a big problem when it comes to waste collection. He hopes that his company will help by providing employment to members of his community. Shelela Waste currently has a total of 10 active employees.

To get in touch with Alfred, please email: moletsanemokhele89@gmail.com

Text Learners from the local school playing chess

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Lebogang Ditsebe


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Teach and learn Time is believed to be the most valuable commodity under the sun. It is able to bring about favourable results when it is invested in the right place, and it can bring even better results when it is invested toward the empowerment and upliftment of greater society. Tutoring is the benevolent art of surrendering one’s time to facilitate learning. To 2019 Activator Phumzile Motloung, this particular art is a calling, one which she had to bravely respond to and embody, at a time when her community needed it the most. Motloung is from Standerton in Mpumalanga and during the lockdown period, she dedicated her time and effort to conduct tutoring sessions to help learners in her community catch up with their school work. “My belief in education and my love for kids inspired me. Most of all, my eagerness to drive change in my community with the skills I have led me to step up when I got the opportunity. I was operating from a local primary school but recently, since the situation with the lockdown, I have been doing home tutoring sessions,” she adds. Balancing the scale Motloung, a tertiary student herself, has been able to consistently assist seven learners since the beginning of lockdown. “Since we have reopened at college and I have had to resume my classes, I have lately been able to assist only two of my

learners; one three times a week and the other one on Saturdays,” she says. “Each one teach one” goes the saying, and sometimes the educator, through a variation of challenges along their path of educating, is placed in a position to learn and add to their current experience. Motloung is in a similar situation, “I have been faced with the challenge of having to learn and adapt to different personalities, coming up with strategies of how to deal with each learner and to ensure that they understand what they are studying,” she says. “Lockdown has limited the vision of reaching out to as many learners as I would have liked,” she admits, Positive action Motloung says that she has since began working with a team of five other young people to improve the consistency of the work and to extend their assistance to more young people. She says that they mainly assist learners in grades four to seven with English and mathematics. Motloung has always been passionate about the development of young people. Earlier in the year she began a thoughtful project of reading stories to children in local hospitals. She has also been part of a team that hosted poetry and comedy sessions which were aimed at motivating the youth and getting them off the streets. Many communities are faced with many different kinds of adversities, and it falls upon the shoulders of the heroes within those communities to make a difference toward the betterment of those communities. “My community of Standerton is faced with a high rate of school drop outs, especially in high schools, and we unfortunately see the majority of the youth falling into drugs. I have a mission of bringing together relevant stakeholders and starting a project of helping young people around my area get back to school and find other options for those who are not as academically inclined,” she concludes.

To get in touch with Phumzile, please email: phumzilemotloung12@gmail.com Phumzile and one of her students

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Activator leaves the world of gangsterism to better his community 2013 Activator Mzwakhe Ziqubu tells the following story: “I come from a location called Evaton in the Vaal, East Rand; a place very rich in history. Be that as it may, my area is one that is undeveloped, has a shortage of opportunities and high rates of unemployment and teenage pregnancy. To be known, one must belong to a certain group or gang, mainly through the culture of initiation schools. Once they join one of these groups, it is very likely that a young person will drop out of school.” Ziqubu says that he fell into that treacherous trap due to peer pressure and went to an initiation school without the knowledge and consent of his parents. His ways and behaviour began to change to the point where he says he realised that he was going to lose his life in the streets unless he mended his ways. “I began to make to make positive changes in my life and in my community,” he says. He began to gather young people in his area and formed debate clubs which he coordinated and implemented at local schools. He says he also helped form soccer and frisbee teams and host sporting tournaments. Change Driver Equipped with such drive to enhance the quality of not only his own life but also those of his fellow community members, Ziqubu stepped up once more during the lockdown period to help his community out of the suffocating grip of the Coronavirus pandemic. “During the Covid-19 national lockdown, myself and my colleagues, in collaboration with our local councillor, assisted our fellow community members with food parcels. We reached approximately 1000 families and managed to keep them fed and secured,” he says. Making government work “Our motivation to undertake this project came from seeing that a lot of people had been stopped from going to work, which increased the level of unemployment that already existed. To prevent the rise of criminal activity and other social ills, we had to come up with a plan and that was to put food on the tables of our community members.” Ziqubu says that local councillors, along with members

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of the ward committee had to give back to the community; so the project was a good opportunity to join ventures and support their people. The distribution of something as valuable as food is bound to present a number of challenges. For instance, Ziqubu says, “Since we could not possibly assist everyone, some members of the community quarrelled that we only helped our own families and that if you were not politically affiliated, you would not get helped. That is untrue because our organisation is not politically involved and we sought to extend the reach of our assistance to as many people as possible.” The future Ziqubu is not deterred by such challenges and says that he will continue to pursue a positive vision for his community. “What I see as possible solutions to the social ills faced by the people of Evaton, are the creation of youth friendly facilities such as play grounds and libraries, hosting of more youth events and closer cooperation with the local police forces. Ziqubu is a member of a community development organisation called Impact and it is based in the Vaal. To get in touch with Mzwakhe, please email: maziqubu213@gmail.com

The Community of Evaton


Alfred Moletsane


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A soup kitchen for the community There are those who are able to see problems and talk about them, and then there are those belonging to the DSM-Club who see problems and are inspired to do something towards alleviating them- we call them the doers. 25-year old Nkosinathi Zwane, a social entrepreneur from Kwa Thema, East of Johannesburg and a recent graduate from the ACTIVATE! Change Driver’s 2019 cohort says he was always destined to end up in a role that would see him serving his community. Zwane is also the brand ambassador for the #Township_Hustler, a brand he holds dear to his heart that seeks to connect people through multimedia. Additional projects that keep Zwane on his toes and out of bed by 4am are Umsindo Innovation Hub, dubbed the “hub of extraordinary ideas” as well as Mwari Pizza House- two local businesses that have now come together to create innovative ideas while giving back to the community. When asked why Mwari Pizza house decided to share some of their proceeds with their community during a time when most small business were barely able to meet their overheads, Zwane says, “There was no other way. The community continues to support us too during this time, and we cannot say thank you enough.” His sentiments are shared by his two partners at Mwari Pizza House- Tshepiso Sibisi (founder) and Kabza Go-Hard (Head Chef)

with Zwane taking care of the PR and marketing on behalf of Umsindo Hub. The three independent contractors say they feed off of each others’ determination, discipline and dedication. The three say because they are aware that only some members of the community have the financial means to support themselves, which is why they came up with the idea to give back in the form of a weekly Soup Kitchen which happens every Monday from 8am until 10am. With the skills and creativity of both Sibisi and Kabza, it’s not too hard to imagine what flavour and nutrients the soup will be packing. Zwane further adds that the soup is accompanied by servings of bread and fruits and is also makes it clear that the plan is to go continue with the soup kitchen in the long-term with hopes of attracting corporates who will help grow the initiative. We look forward to hearing about Zwane doing even more for his community and reaching greater heights of leadership and social change.

to get in touch with Nkosinathi, please email: nattynyc57@gmail.com

Kabelo Ngomane helping his community

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Lesego masethe



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