I have had my highlight of the current year: my great friend and wonderful social entrepreneur, Jonas Schuhmacher of Masifunde, invited me to facilitate a group of 50 youth from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Now I am mother of a 16 year old and have worked with youth on many occasions, so I’m aware of the huge energy and potential of working with young people. However, most people I’ve worked with before have had a comfy bed to sleep in at night, with enough to eat and a more or less clear family structure to go home to. That’s not the case with these Port Elizabethans: they’re all from the less than salubrious township you fly over when you enter Port Elizabeth by plane: Walmer Township.
Jonas and Lubabalo, both directors of Masifunde, a committed education organisation with offices in Germany and South Africa, believe in the potential and power of Walmer Township. I was soon to learn why.
You know when a group just simply works. It sticks. It strives. It writhes at the bit and – as soon as let off – runs ahead, jumping hurdles and laughing all the way. That’s what I had the joy of beholding. I was riding the wave of these kids’ enthusiasm, their creativity and their determination. Half of their friends will die of AIDS. Many of their families are already suffering from alcoholism. And yet they hurl themselves into the future with optimism and faith.
After a few hours working with the group I was hooked. We have, in only two days, created a vision for the township, formulated short term goals, found promising projects to reach that vision and virtually built the education centre for Walmer Township that Masifunde is committed to realising next year.
If music be the food of love, play on. Yes, Africa is music. Yes, Africa is dance and movement. And yes, Africa is full of bursting energy, creativity, determination and faith. I thank my participants for their great dedication and love of their cause and their lives. They have given me so much in such a short time. They deserve to achieve anything. And many of them will. I look forward to seeing them lift South Africa out of the unhappiness and despair it has not yet been able to shake off. I’m so proud to have facilitated some of South Africa’s future leaders.
Please lend your support to Jonas and Lubabalo and their wonderful organisation. Believe me, your help can make a difference: www. masifunde.de