Inspiring aid for children in need

KIDS STUFF: Robyn Brown shares a story with children at the Wavecrest Educare Centre. Photo: Provided

KIDS STUFF: Robyn Brown shares a story with children at the Wavecrest Educare Centre. Photo: Provided

This article first appeared in the Sunday Times on July 14, 2013

NELSON Mandela’s love for children has inspired a Vodacom change the world volunteer to spend Mandela Day this week reading and playing with a group from a poor community.

Robyn Brown has already been doing her bit for charity as one of 20 volunteers in the initiative, in association with Times Media Group, that allows professionals to work with a charity of their choice for a year and be paid for it.

Brown, an outreach programme facilitator at Bright Start, will be reading storybooks and enjoying games with the children at the Wavecrest Educare Centre, which caters for 105 children from an informal settlement near Hout Bay.

Her chosen charity, Bright Start, offers educational support to children from disadvantaged homes. it will help her with a campaign  to encourage Cape Town people to donate books and toys for Wavecrest.

Another volunteer, Norma Young, communication officer for LEAP Science and Maths Schools, said a quiz show called “Are you smarter than a LEAP grader” would put five of their pupils against adult members of various corporations. Other volunteers who are going all out to do their bit for Mandela Day include:

  • Caitlin Longamn has orgainsed massages for elderly residents of Park Care Centre in Johannesburg;
  • Michael Stevens, from Jumping Kids Prosthetic Fund, in association with Avis, will donate chalkboards to rural schools around the country;
  • Kilptown Youth Programme’s Stephanie Venter will organise eye tests for 300 pupils, because poor eyesight might affect their ability to do their homework and study;
  • A five-ton food collection container has been placed at Benmore Gardens shopping centre in northern Johannesburg by the Afrika Tikkun organisation, whose volunteer, Naazneen Tarmohamed, will distribute food to needy people; and,
  • Alta Brown Steenkamp, who works for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, is organising bikers from Gauteng to Limpopo to build a wendy house, playground, vegetable garden and fence for a Limpopo orphanage.

“Mandela once said education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” Brown said. “So I’m happy to be fulfilling the spirit and purpose of Mandela Day.

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The art of afroculture

MAGICAL ILLUSIONS: Phumzile Sitole, BA theatre graduate from UCT in a timeless surreal space of dreams while performing the play Afrocartography at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Prelene Singh

MAGICAL ILLUSIONS: Phumzile Sitole, BA theatre graduate from UCT in a timeless surreal space of dreams while performing the play Afrocartography at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Prelene Singh

A stage performance called Afrocartography: Traces of places and all points in between launched at the Wits Theatre on Friday July 19, as part of its 30th birthday celebrations. Produced in conjunction with the Wits Repertory Company, the piece is billed as an explorative and truly African performance piece.[pullquote align=”right”]“Its new, fresh, exciting and poetic and a seminal work for every South African,”[/pullquote]

The main character is Traveller, who takes the audience on a mystical journey of self-discovery. The play takes its audience through a walking route around the Wits Theatre. “It serves as a walking metaphor to capture the essence of travelling, identity, location” as an African person, said co-director Khayelihle Dom Gumede.

Afrocartography carries overriding themes of migration in Africa. The experiences of black people who were faced with dislocation and its emotional consequences are depicted in the stage performance. The play incorporates issues faced by African people through the decades on this continent.

Phumzile Sitole, a graduate from UCT plays the role of Traveller and Tshego Khutsoane, a Wits graduate, plays the map maker who directs The Traveller in her journeys.

The performance is written by Mwenya B Kabwe. She co-directed the play with Gumede, who won the Emerging Theatres Directors’ bursary from the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts. Liya Gonga choreographed the performance.

Kabwe is a well-travelled, Zambian-born writer who has studied at many institutions in the UK and South Africa, including UCT. Gumede said the play was based on Kabwe’s journey in different parts of the world and it was her experiences that led her to “redirect her identity and her journey as a ‘politan’ of various kinds”.

The performance has been described as “Afropolitan” and as an alternative way of being in the world.

The play was first shown in Barcelona in 2009 and again in Cape Town, said Gumede. However, this was the first time it was having a full run. The play took seven weeks to produce, from rehearsal to performance night, said Gumede.

Audiences can expect a mixture of mystery, curiosity, humour and a suitcase of emotion. “Its new, fresh, exciting and poetic and a seminal work for every South African,” said Gumede.

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