Periodic Newsletter of the Quaker Peace Centre
Vol. 5, no. 1
South Africans had their fourth democratic national and provincial elections in April this year. After the stabbing of a political leader, tensions around the formation of a new political party, disruptions of meetings, threats to political leaders and hate speech, civil society organisations came together and formed an Election Monitoring Network. The Quaker Peace Centre was one of several organisations on its National Steering Committee.
Thanks to generous funding from the Open Society Foundation for South Africa and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Network could support election monitoring structures in all of South Africa's 9 provinces and train 500 monitors altogether.
South Africans enthusiastically turned out in great numbers to vote. There were isolated incidents of intolerance, intimidation, misuse of state resources for obtaining votes, violence, non-compliance with election regulations and irregularities during the voting process, but there were no larger organised attempts to undermine the elections. This bodes well for our democracy. The Election Monitoring Network and its members did their part to ensure free and fair elections. They acted as a watch dog and political parties and their supporters knew that they were watched by a strong civil society presence which would point a finger at them and intervene.
Our work is not done with this. South Africa has still one of the highest levels of inequality in the world. Levels of violence are unacceptably high in South Africa. These have very negative effects on the ability of people to develop their full potential. South Africa needs people who have developed to their full potential so that we can overcome the legacy of poverty and inequality. The work of the Quaker Peace Centre is still very much needed.
Peace Buddies we work with
Please read news about our projects below.
This year we recruited 5 new schools to join the existing 6 schools in the Non-Violent Schools Campaign.
Peace Buddies are active in 6 schools.
Maitland High Schoollaunched their own Ambassadors of Peace Campaign, and at they launched the Masibambisane Peace Patrol. The buddies at Masibambisane High School Heideveld High Schoolspent a weekend with Nobel Peace Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu Tum from as well as organising exhibitions and ceremonies and attending conferences. Rhodes High School Peace Club has a mission: “To encourage, support, motivate and sustain positive behaviour amongst the youth…to allow our light to shine so that we can in turn help others to let their light shine…” Guatemala hosted our Peace Buddies Picnic held to commemorate Human Rights Day on 21 March, which was also the day that Peace Buddies published their second newsletter! Rhodes High School
We run a series of Saturday morning Training of Trainers workshops on Peace Education. Sixteen very dedicated teachers from participating schools attend a session one Saturday morning each month. The teachers will be equipped to teach the values of peace across the curriculum, because we believe, that unless we embed the message of peace and non-violence in the curriculum, it will be forgotten.
The Non-Violent Schools Camp takes place in July in Malmesbury and curriculum advisors, Geraldine Goldblatt and Fazeela Hafejee from the Western Cape Education Department will facilitate with us. This will be followed by the annual Non-Violent Schools Indaba to be held in Mitchell’s Plain in August in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department in the south district.
In 2003 we established a working relationship between Paul Cassidy (ARC- Access to Resources and Counselling –Lectures on Behaviour Management continue at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and lobbying and advocacy work is up and running in association with Childline South Africa, RAPCAN (Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Cruelty and Neglect) and Janis Wylie (Academic Programme Manager, Advanced Certificate in Education - School Leadership,
and SARC – South African Resources and Counselling) and the Quaker Peace Centre. Paul is based in UK where he works as a trauma counsellor and a youth counsellor. His methods are simple, unusual and effective, especially with youth. He has been sharing his talents with students, community workers, teachers and learners in London since 2004. In March this year we worked at several high schools in Cape Town . The photograph below shows Paul with a learner demonstrating rapport; the ability to create physical rapport with the client without giving the impression of mimicking or mocking. The photo shows Paul sitting back on the chair with open arms while the learner crosses his arms and balances on the edge of the chair! Cape Town ). Universityof Cape Town
Paul Cassidy and a learner demonstrate physical rapport
Young Women in Leadership
This project is involved in the Non-Violent Schools Campaign. We selected suitable and enthusiastic young women of Peace Clubs and are training them in gender sensitivity in order to develop their self-esteem and assist them in gaining a better understanding of young women in leadership. Our training enables them to identify the needs of young women in their communities and to bring these needs to the attention of the authorities.
The Peace Clubs that we have selected so far are Heideveld High School and Masibambisane High School, which are attended by both black and coloured learners. We have 26 learners at Heideveld and 24 at Masibambisane from the age of 15 to 18 years. These are membes who have shown leadership qualities, and are very keen to participate in this programme.We have conducted 18 workshops so far with different topics, for example “awareness of women’s issues and awareness of women’s rights”. There were lots of challenging issues that came out of these workshops. One strong issue that came out of the workshop was an issue of Lobola (bride price). Young women especially from the black community expessd their concern. Peace Club members made it very clear that, it is one's happiness that comes first, not what the other person wants. In the olden days we had forced marriages, where parents decided who young women would marry and which career she could choose. Now it is time to make one's own decisions and stand up for oneself and say how one feels about the situation even if it means a disagreement with parents. These young women members suggested taking this issue forward and challenging the elders because in some families it’s still in practise.
Heideveld Peace Club members suggested that this topic would be part of their debating programme. This topic is very important as we have recently learnt that very young girls have been promised to widowers who have lost their wives due to AIDS in the Eastern Cape, a province to which black people have strong family links.
Some peace club members have taken up a big role in the community and also in their schools. They have started to attend community meetings and are taking part in activities, particularly the Peace Club at Masibambisane in
We are now conducting workshops on leadership and advocacy and lobbying skills. We will do monitoring programmes after these workshops, where the learners will be writing articles and challenging letters to the media and the authorities. In the second half of this year, we will be working in another two schools doing the same programme.
Some of the young women will attend a Non-Violent Schools Camp in July and the Indaba in August.
Since the beginning of the year, our Diversity Project has been working closely with the Non-Violent Schools Project, of which our Young Women in Leadership Project is also part. Aligning and co-ordinating our previously separate work focuses is proving to be a winning combination that is generating much energy and creativity.Our radio drama, “Carmen and Thando” has been used in the Training of Trainers programme of the Non-Violent Schools Project, who in turn have used it in their classrooms, and it has also been used with learners in the Peace Clubs. It has been very warmly received by teachers and learners alike and has provided a welcome safe space where difficult issues of prejudice and racism can be discussed. One of the teachers said that he had first used the “Carmen and Thando” story with Grade 12 learners; shortly after that the Grade 11 learners had got to hear about it and demanded that they too be allowed to hear it, and most recently the Grade 10 learners have been making their own copies of the CD!
Teachers in our training commented:
“This is an excellent medium to get the learners to express their feelings and views on issues like housing, crime, racial misunderstanding and inter-cultural relationships, amongst others. The learners were very excited because they could relate to it and they even sang along with the characters.”
“Our learners can easily identify with the community portrayed in “Carmen and Thando” because most of them live in the same community set up. Diversity is something they have to live with on a daily basis. This CD teaches them how to deal with issues they face regularly and to look at things from different perspectives.”
racism is mainly viewed between black and white and the story of Carmen and Thando takes this issue out of that mould.” South Africa
Following the spate of horrifically violent attacks on foreigners in May last year, and knowing that xenophobia continues to bubble away just under the surface of everyday life, occasionally surfacing, it was decided to continue with the story of Carmen and Thando, focusing this time on xenophobia and corruption. We are proud to announce that “The Further Adventures of Carmen and Thando” has now been recorded, and has had its first airing with teachers in our Training of Trainers programme.
These were some comments from the teachers:
“As a teacher in
I can associate myself with the story being told. This story can really help teachers and learners at diversified schools to strengthen relationships and show other communities that all of us can live and work together in this Rainbow Nation.” Delft
“Great CD. The issue at hand the learners will relate to. It is like you are with the people in the drama; like you are part of the conversation.”
We are planning a further episode of Carmen and Thando, this time focusing on gender, and we will draw on the experience documented in our Young Women in Leadership Project. We are feeling very excited by the project and the way it has been received!You may listen to "Carmen and Thando" on our website.
Alternatives to Violence Project
We have taken over AVP work in Pollsmoor Correctional Facility which had hitherto been funded with volunteer effort by Phaphama Initiatives. The Pollsmoor Correctional Facility is the largest prison in Cape Town. Currently working in male and female adult prisoners we have been asked by the prison authorities to extend our work to the male youth section.
AVP continues successfully at Pollsmoor Correctional Facility. This year 8 Basic and 8 Advanced AVP workshops have been run and we have a large waiting list for participants. Inmate facilitators run the workshops while we are there in a support role.
A prisoner who participated in our AVP commented:"At first I thought the [AVP] workshop a total waste of time but after the first day it all changed ... and to my surprise I had a lot on my mind and heart. As the days went on I learned so much about myself and others I could literally feel the healing process taking place."We wish to develop AVP Cape as the hub of a network of organisations who want or use AVP methods and AVP facilitators. It is basically a coordinating body with a strong training of facilitators element. While AVP Cape will start life as a QPC project the aim is to transform it into a stand-alone non-governmental organisation within about 3 years. AVP Cape got underway with gatherings of AVP facilitators. These include AVP volunteers of long standing, ex-prisoners who are on parole and a number of “apprentice” facilitators.
It is this sort of response and the opportunity to see the effects of the healing that makes us so determined to spread AVP in the prisons and in the communities.
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