It’s time to get to know our amazing partner, South Africa Volunteer Work Camp Association (SAVWA) better! We had the chance to chat with Enock Pedze, the Chairman and Founder of SAVWA, to learn more about the incredible work they’re doing to support urban and rural communities in South Africa.
Explain the SAVWA ideology to us.
Our main ideology comes from our own background as members of the community at large. From humble beginnings to where we are today, we owe it to our community and country at large. We know South Africa is not best known of much, but we want to share that Ubuntu “love,” which can best be described as an African philosophy that places emphasis on “being self through others.” It is a form of humanism that can be expressed in the phrases “I am because of who we all are,” or Ubuntu ngumuntu ngabantu in the Zulu language.
We live in an unequal society, but SAVWA wants to change that through what little we have. In a short span of time, we want to have an impact on someone’s life that will last forever and empower them to be the change that we envision for all.
What is your main objective this year?
SAVWA’s main objective is to conduct voluntary based work camps and community-driven development programs in South Africa (nationally), regionally, and internationally. We would like more international participants to grace us and see what kind of work we are doing in the local communities. The After School Program is priority number one, so for the next few months we want to raise funds to build up the center for children and volunteers to interact with one another.
Tell us more about the After School Program.
The concept of encouraging self-help income-generating projects is an undeveloped concept, both as a field of practice and subject in the African context. A number of non-governmental organizations and charity organizations have a tendency of concentrating more on disaster projects and issuing of food hand-outs to communities, which has developed a dependency syndrome among many communities.
South Africa Volunteer Work Camp Association seeks to implement a number of projects that are going to empower the most marginalized, socially and economically disadvantaged members of the rural and urban Pretoria communal areas. An all-stakeholder approach to our research has been adopted, which includes child-headed households, women, and youth organizational representatives from various backgrounds. This was thought to be vital in providing sufficient baseline and detailed coverage of the project itself.
Our After School Program activities include academic classes (i.e. homework assistance, one on one assistance with the children), a sports development program, arts and culture program, and a social program.
What inspired you to create the After School Program?
Through our research, we were able to find that young people of school age were not able to read or write, despite being in school and continually upgraded to further grades without concern for their limitations. For example, seventy percent of learners in the Gauteng Province cannot read for meaning and less than half of learners who start in grade one will make it through to complete matric. Even for those who do complete and pass the matric exam, there are concerns about the quality of their passing and whether it actually prepares them for the next stage of their lives. Passing is not only about increasing their chances of securing employment, it’s about being a wholly healthy member of society.
Many of our learners come from under-resourced communities where they have limited quality time with positive adult role models, they seldom go on outings beyond their surroundings, and they have limited access to after school programs. All of these experiences are among those shown to dramatically boost the learners’ academic outcomes. By the time learners who have been afforded such experiences reach grade 12, they are a full four years ahead of those who do not. Unequal access to opportunities and experiences means that children inherit the socio-economic circumstances of their families and communities irrespective of their aspirations.
Research shows that participating in an After School program can help to close this gap. We believe the after school sector is a critical component in increasing opportunities for learners in low and no-fee schools, especially in Soshanguve, and providing support to teachers to deliver on quality academic outcomes. We hope to work on building evidence that supports our research by sharing stories about how After School Programs can offer individuals that critical next step toward becoming active citizens and fulfilling their own potential. Our After School Program seeks to clarify what exactly the “opportunity gap” is, introduces an important category of young people, and highlights the importance of after school programs in engaging the whole learner.
We want our learners to be given huge potential to close the opportunity gap, and offer the “ordinary magic” needed for a young person to thrive. This often involves a caring parent, one other caring adult, and a modest connection to the opportunity at key points in their life. To close this gap, the explicit as well as the more subtle life skills that after school programs provide makes a huge impact on the “whole” child. In this way, they are better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities available to them in their future.
What is the ultimate impact and outcomes of the After School Program?
We are trying to address the holistic needs of the learner, so our holistic youth development program helps to set youth up for life, beyond passing matric. We take care to interact with learners with a full understanding of their home circumstances and life difficulties.
The outcome of SAVWA After School Program is support for young people to get through school, access post-school opportunities, and ultimately become meaningful contributors to society. Many young people, however, do not complete this journey due to a lack of critical life skills to navigate their challenges. Our After School Programs are well placed to instill these critical life skills, including resilience, grit, problem-solving, communication skills, conflict management, and managing relationships with others.