Farewell to Cyrildene Primary Seniors

The Outreach Foundation Primary Marimba band will be playing at Cyrildene Primary’s grade 7 farewell on 8th November 2019. Together with the IHD Dance academy, they will entertain the children as grade 7’s enjoy their last hours with their primary school and say their farewells to one another. We are proud to be part of their farewell

Young Artist Award

Congratulations to Jefferson Tshabalala for the well deserved Standard Bank Young Artist Award. Thank you for all your beautiful sharings in our space!
https://youtu.be/oeMvDVQUp0k

Hillbrow Going Global

If you happen to be in Berlin or Bologna in December be sure not to miss the Outreach Foundation Theatre performing our hit play “Hillbrowfication”.

Thank you to Goethe-Institutand and TURN Fonds of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes for their support in making this possible.

In My Mother’s Womb

We are super excited to be presenting the acclaimed, In My Mother’s Womb, at the State Theatre in Pretoria on the 25th November 2019.

In My Mother’s Womb offers an intimate look into what it is like to live with blindness. Drawing from personal stories of the inter-generational cast of youngsters and the elderly, Dlamini challenges the audience to suspend the privilege of sight and use other senses to experience how the blind perceive the world. To awaken one’s spirituality, Dlamini says we all need to crawl back to our mother’s womb and acknowledge our complex existence. She experiments with the womb as the metaphor of darkness and asks the following questions: does one live with generational curses? Does the spirit world exist? Can hope keep one alive? Can tragedy turn into a blessing? Dlamini says “we learn the true meaning of dreams and hope through the blind. They can touch what we cannot. After every rehearsal of this work I ask myself, what kind of world could we inhabit if we all took the time to understand the world’s forgotten senses.” Through the exploration of blindness, this play is an example of the endless possibilities of how one can express oneself differently in the absence of sight.
The performing arts programme of the Outreach Foundation has, over the years, rooted its work thematically, addressing current and relevant social issues that impact our participants and their communities. The programme is committed to using the arts as a tool for positive social change engaging ethical and best practise methodologies.
For the last four years, we have collaborated with Tswelopele Frail Care Centre (Hillbrow), and last year invited Johannesburg Society for the Blind to create devised theatre works with our school-going participants. Themes of belonging and home, identity and music, cultural belief systems and generational curses have inspired the sharing of stories.
• For me it was extraordinary because working with grandmothers and grandfathers they give you knowledge that you have never seen before. You have never ever imagined from what they saw in apartheid and now that has… listening to their personal stories has been quite comforting.
Cast member – young@home 2017
The inter-generational project creates an alternative family. It is also a space to learn from other’s experiences and perceptions of the world we inhabit. It is about inter-generational knowledge sharing.
• I think our country has forgotten our elderly. I think this work did an incredible work in showing on how youth feel how elderly are and how energetic they are. I felt such an energy from the elderly and also such a sense of stillness and peace. I was really wonderful, thank you very much.

• Something that really touched me and I took the time is to look at every single one of the youth. And how in their eyes there is so much potential and I was just thinking that they are writing stories now that when they will be performing as elderly that they are gonna tell. And also thinking to myself that these beautiful mamas and tatas having so many beautiful stories this isn’t even their last story. They still have so many stories to experience. And this is one of them. And I was so moved by the youth

Audience comments from young@home 2017
Gcebile Dlamini, one of the theatre facilitators, has led this project since its inception. She is currently studying towards her Masters in Applied Theatre with a focus on inter-generational and creative ageing processes
Thank you to Rand Merchant Bank, Bread for the World, Ford Foundation for their generous support of our work.

Theatre allowed me to merge my academic and theatrical personas

Nineteen-year-old Sanele Zwane, an Outreach Foundation Performing Arts Alumni, is a student at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg and is studying Biological Sciences. He is an energetic and confident young man who credits Outreach Foundation for a lot of the skills he uses daily at varsity.

Having joined the performing arts project in 2013 after watching a performance with a friend, Sanele fell in love with the stage. Although he had been introduced to the stage when he was in primary school, there was something different about this space. About the people. About the vibe.

“After the play, I joined the Outreach Foundation theatre and came back to the organisation almost every day. It was a safe space, and I recognised that I didn’t get involved in all the risky and stupid things I could have done after school because my time was better spent on stage.

“I also found it to be a place that I could take my troubles to, where the facilitator would listen and help, or I could leave it backstage and take on a different persona. It was a place I could merge my academic persona and my theatrical one.

“I worked hard and performed in many productions. I was with the theatre from grade 8 all the way to grade 12. I miss the stage, but I take all the lessons I’ve learnt on stage and from bra’ Mike – which
was not only about acting I must tell you, but on life – and apply them to what I do at varsity”.

Sanele said that when you take on a character or a new drama project, you have to do a lot of research and you have to be focussed and use your imagination. You become the character and see the world from their eyes or standpoint. You also become patient and listen. You learn to engage, to share and to be more confident.

“As a scientist, I have to concentrate, focus and do research. I also have to communicate, engage and share. All of these skills I got from acting.

“I also notice how the leadership skills we obtained from the theatre has come in handy as we often have to work together and share our findings, and I tend to get right in, get us working on what needs to be done, and then as I’m confident in speaking in front of audiences, present our findings. I
would never have done that before”.

Sanele recalls some of his highlights of being with Outreach Foundation’s theatre including being awarded the best actor in a lead role in his first performance in 2013 where he played an old granny who was blind. The blind grandmother monologue performance was taken to the Roodepoort
Theatre as well. He was also a presenter at the Naledi Awards where he met loads of stars and went to the National Eisteddfod where he went all the way to the semi-finals.

“The Eisteddfod was great. I met many children my age who are very talented. As I’d get back home each night after midnight during the week, my mother was concerned at what I was doing, but after seeing my performances and the talent around me, she was reassured, and she knew how important it was to me”.

He also loved the workshops he did at Outreach Foundation in Hillbrow, with London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2015 and 2016.

“Both workshops were amazing! In 2015 we dealt with gender and sexuality, which was an eye-opener for many people my age. It was such an important topic as it’s normally a taboo topic. One
never talks about this, and it’s something that needs to be spoken about. What I liked about these workshops was that it wasn’t just acting either: we danced too. There were children from other schools there too, so we learnt from them.

“These were just my absolute highlights of the five years I was with Outreach Foundation Theatre. We did so much that I could list so much more.

“It was a great experience. The only thing I would wish for the organisation is that it would expand the programme into the townships. There are a lot of children who aren’t able to get to Hillbrow and who would benefit from the experiences I had. Most children aren’t exposed to the theatre.

“Personally I believe all children have the potential to act and if they are given the opportunity to at a young age, who knows what they would be able to achieve or get through in their lives.

“I will always remember what bra’ Mike told us: ‘It’s about life, not just about acting!’ and we would spend lots of time speaking about life and using our experiences to become better actors and
people.

“So what I’ve learnt from acting doesn’t only help me at varsity, but in everything I do, as even when I watch a movie, I start thinking about what went into planning that movie, the story behind it, the research. It’s made me an inquisitive person. A person who thinks and isn’t afraid to ask or talk.

“I would love it if more children could be introduced to the theatre and the experiences I had. I’m very grateful”.

Black Friday Sales

Black Friday Sale Starts on 1st November at Outreach Foundation and will last until Friday the 7th November.

Buy your hand-crafted items made by our students and staff through the years at incredible prices ranging from R5 to R150. There are beautiful embroidered items like blankets, curtains, bags, scarves, T-Shirts, aprons and squares that can be sewn together to create anything you like. Why not come browse through the store on our premises, or contact us and let us know what you are interested in and we can, if possible, send you photographs of what is available so you can choose what you want.

But hurry, there is limited stock and it’s selling fast!

Hillbrow Tours

Soweto Festivities

Xenophobia! – Not in my school!

New Books

A huge thank you to Gemma Black and Kyanne Smith for the selection of amazing books for the Outreach Foundation! Thank you too to Sophie Bilas, Helen Baldwin, Georgia Mallory and Claudia Martinez for helping raise money to fund this wonderful initiative.
Yay! to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama honours group who did such amazing work with us this year. We were hoping Gemma and Kyanne would return this year to help lead a new partnership with the Speech and Drama College, South Africa – we still hope they will join us next year.
Next year the Outreach Foundation’s performing arts programme with engage published texts for the first time in partnership with the Speech and Drama College. Watch this space!

Vuyani Week

Market Theatre Laboratory 7 year partnership

Coco was born to play piano

I was introduced to Outreach Foundation by a friend in 2009. I wanted to do piano lessons but all the classes were
full so I settled on another instrument, but it really wasn’t what I wanted. I played some other instruments, but my
passion was piano and I hankered for it. Some of the students didn’t pitch for their lessons and so I was given the
opportunity to take their spot behind the piano.
“My teacher,” Amisi (Coco) Mubale recalls, “was Maggie Fletcher and she took me under her wing.
“She told me that she’d teach me in such a way that I would be able to play and then compose. I wasn’t sure what
was happening in the beginning though, it was hard. Piano isn’t easy”.
Coco, a refugee living in South Africa, took his lessons very seriously. He was committed. Although he moved to
Centurion in 2010, he made a plan to get to Hillbrow, come what may.
“It was hard. But I knew how important the lessons and the organisation were to me, so I made a plan. My hard work
paid off, as in 2011, I wrote my first piano exam, then another in 2012. I was told I was too good for the grade 1
exam, so I was to do the grade 2 exam, but as I was about to do it, I was told I needed to do the grade 3 exam. I was
shocked and happy that I had progressed so much.
“In 2013 I did the grade 4 and 5 exams, then in 2014, the University of South Africa (UNISA) changed some of their
qualifications and so I had to wait. I then did grade 4 theory and grade 6 practical and in 2017, I did assessments and
more theory. By 2018, I was told to skip grade 7 theory, and go straight to grade 8 practical and theory. I was
delighted and amazed at my journey”.
But Coco’s journey with music started when he was very young. Where he grew up there was an African folk lore
group that combined a variety of traditional instruments.
“Their music influenced me from when I was a small boy. I was also singing since the age of two. Music was always
inside me. The piano: my choice of instrument, as when my uncle offered me a small keyboard to play as a boy,
although I didn’t know what I was doing, it felt right to me and I knew I wanted to learn more”.
Coco also didn’t know that one could study and obtain a qualification in music until he came to Outreach
Foundation.
“When I left my country due to its history of war, I was desperate. I had no direction. I was looking for help, and I
couldn’t believe that I managed to find an organisation that could help me. I made a promise to myself that for as
long as I was living in South Africa, I’d come to Outreach Foundation, as Maggie was like a mother to me and the
organisation, another home. She told me about UNISA and encouraged me to study.
“She inspired me to work harder. She inspired me to become a teacher. I want to teach others the beauty of music!
Coco completed his grade 8 practical and theory of music exams in December 2018. This is the highest qualification
attainable for the graded examinations by UNISA.
“Music is my life! In addition to teaching, I want to become a composer. I want to experiment. I love mixing
traditional and classic music like Rhythmic guitar and traditional Ngoma music”.
Says Maggie Fletcher, about Coco: “He is my first student to go up to grade 8, and I cannot believe that when he
began, he knew nothing about piano and theory. He is a remarkable young man as in the space of three years; he
has completed his qualification. I and Outreach Foundation are very proud of him, and we can’t wait for him to teach
our students”.

The Power of Theater

Facilitators workshop

The outreach foundation facilitators went away for 3 days to Loskop Damn to share and exchange knowledge and information. It was a very intense and interesting couple of days which saw the facilitators grow as individuals as well as a team.

Discussions at the table

Leader’s Getaway

We recently held a kids week for our staff and youth leaders with the goal of reinventing the program and revitalizing our methods in order to give our children the best experience possible.

What we most spoke about was the fact that Kids Week has been running the same way for 20 years and now we feel like its time for change.

We came up with kids week themes for the coming 3 kids weeks from now and we worked on and discussed the project sustainability of kids week as a whole. Leaders received different topics and we all tackled them with open minds.

The sessions were very progressive and we cant wait for them to be developed and implemented. Watch this space.

International Quilting Festival

Welcome to our new volunteers

The Outreach Foundation is happy to welcome our new volunteers Ben Storjohann and Tim Stoklossa to our team. Ben will be joining our computer team and Tim will be joining our counselling team. We are excited to see what we will achieve together and cannot wait to see the impact we have on our community.

Ben Storjohann
Tim Stoklossa

A message from Tim

My name is Tim Stoklossa and I am from Hannover, Germany. I graduated
High School in June and in August I came to South Africa to work at the
Outreach Foundation and to discover the country and the culture.
In Germany I sang in a choir and played guitar. Also I worked in a youth
group in my church.
In my few days here I got to know a lot of people. They all
were very obliging and were glad to meet me. I am very happy to be here
and I hope to gather many new experiences here.

A message from Ben

My name is Ben Storjohann and I am from Frankfurt, Germany. I just graduated High School and I am now taking a gap year. I’m really grateful to be able to work at the Lutheran Outreach Foundation. The amount of courses and opportunities to grow, that are offered here at the Foundation truly amaze me. I’m loving the country, the culture and the people so far and can’t wait to get to know the area and my colleagues even further. Thank you for being so welcoming and I hope we can create some awesome memories in the next year together.

15th Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival

A huge congratulations to all those who competed in the 15th Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival over the past two weeks. The turnout was amazing and the performances were outstanding. This programme is made possible through funding from City of Johannesburg – Arts Alive Festival, Department of Arts and Culture, Rand Merchant Bank, Ford Foundation, Bread for the World. Our valued partners include the Market Theatre Laboratory, GALA, Drama for Life, Exclusive Books and Assitej South Africa.

In a week that has brought violence and hatred to our neighbourhood the festival persisted to provide a positive and safe space for young people to share their stories. We thank all the schools that joined us after two days of suspending the festival and all those who joined us afterwards. Thank you to the adjudicators, teachers, parents, learners, Drama for Life students and interns, Underground Entertainment and to the festival team and staff who supported us through this week!

Everyone who joined us for the festival is a winner, learners, parents and teachers alike. The following is the list of awards we gave out at the event:

Best Production Award: Barnato Park High School

2nd Best Production: Thuto Lore Comprehensive

3rd Best Production: Bokamoso Secondary School

4th Best Production: E.D. Mashabane Secondary School

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Andani Nnetshifnifhe – Vuwani Secondary School

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Simphiwe Nkosi Lucia – Ikusasa Comprehensive School Greenfield

Best Runner-up Actor in a Lead Role: Ntate Philimon Selolo – Bokamoso Secondary School

Best Runner-up Actress in a Lead Role: Musa Mabena – BASA Tutorial College

Best Actor in a Lead Role: Jackson Mogotlane – Barnato Park High School

Best Actress in a Lead Role: Karabo Kgatle – Barnato Park High School

Best Poster Design: Linda Shabangu – Ikusasa Comprehensive School

Best Technical: “O KAE NGWANA” – Thuto Lore Comprehensive School

Best Costume Design: Uncommon Feelings – Barnato Park High School

Best Set Design: “PARUKA” – Bokamoso Secondary School

Best Cameo Role: Wiseman Mapheto – St Enda’s

Best Ensemble Production: Iskiko – E.D. Mashabane Secondary School

Best Original Script: Uncommon Feelings – Barnato Park High School

School which traveled the Longest Distance: East Rand School of Arts

Special Mention for Consistent Participation: St Edna’s Secondary School, Barnato Park School, Centurion College.

Spirit of the Festival Award: Mr Z Ndlovu from Centurion College – Inner-City Arts Chamion. Cherae Halley – for her dedicated work towards inclusivity at Sizwile School for the Deaf.

Adjudicators Special Mention Award: Sizwile School for the Deaf, Alexandra High School, Selelekeka Secondary School, Rand Tutorial College.

It was wonderful to have John Meletse, queer deaf activist, return to the Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival! Inspiring words as we celebrate Deaf Awareness Week. Thank you to Cherae Halley and Sizwile School for the Deaf for again being part of our festival!

New Pretoria Offices

We are excited to announce the opening of our new Migrant Support offices in Pretoria.

For more information visit our Facebook page here.

Goodbye to our volunteer

Today we bid farewell to our volunteers. 
A big thank you to Christian Niebuhr who played a generous role at the Music Centre; mostly supporting Mubale Amisi, our new theory and piano teacher. Much time printing worksheets, setting up a computer with music software and being a gentle presence in the centre.
All the best for your studies and safe travels home.

Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival 2019

Come and join us for our annual Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival. It will be held in the Hillbrow Theatre between the 30th of August and the 7th of September.

A big thank you to all who are helping to make this event as great as it always is.

Friend, mentor, arts champion, supporter of our Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival for over 8 years! Mpho Molepo will join the adjudication team again this year.

Khutjo Green brings her magic to our 15th Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival. She will be adjudicating 40 original works devised by learners and facilitators and exploring gender and sexuality.

Super excited to announce that Napo Masheane will return to to once again adjudicate at our 15th Inner City High Schools Drama Festival.

… This City and I know each other well
We like two stars residing on the same blanket
But never speak to one another
Day in – day out
Our dreams cling on fragile walls
Leaking roofs
Smelling drains
Stolen wires
Its night air chills tears on both our cheeks
Willing us to play and pray
And in the midst of its reality
This city and I
Dream that each child born of it
Will dream and believe
Beyond the dream it’s self…
From: Jozi by Napo Masheane

To the ambassador of our Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival, Dumisani Dlamini! …to the man who can walk into a school (If we are experiencing an issue – “Why should we do arts” or “that group makes too much noise”) and straight into the headmaster’s office. He smiles… gets the drama group to join them in the principal’s office and then gets the learners to speak about their passion for the arts. The principal is sold!

The Outreach Foundation’s Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival celebrates 15 years of inspiring young learners to share their stories. Our theme this year, Gender and Sexuality, will hopefully give facilitators, teachers and learners the courage to explore the unhealthy silence around these topics that plagues our country, and encourage us all to engage this topic individually and in our communities long after the festival closes. On the journey of re-imagining ourselves, we want to inspire and encourage all who witness the festival to imagine playful alternatives to how we define ourselves.

Thank you to our funders; Rand Merchant Bank, Ford Foundation, Bread for the World, City of Johannesburg – Arts Alive Festival 2019. To our valued partners; Market Theatre Laboratory, Drama for Life, GALA, Assitej South Africa.
Thank you to Underground Entertainment for their support.
15 years of promoting arts in education! Telling our stories!

Maggie Fletcher – A wonderful example of a great music teacher

“Teaching aims to teach independence. We lead, explain and then we encourage our students to do things for themselves. Those who do, achieve. Every step they take is an achievement”.

So says Maggie Fletcher who has been a piano and recorder teacher at Outreach Foundation for the past 17 years. About to retire, Maggie has taught many, many people throughout her years at the organisation.

“I get immense joy out of teaching people and seeing the pleasure they get from the music, especially when they catch on to what they are learning. I have found my years of teaching incredible worthwhile and rewarding”.

Maggie has had an interesting career. She is a workaholic and very loyal. She worked for the SABC for 20 years where, amongst other things she got involved in, she conducted in-house training and was the music programme producer. She then landed up teaching at a high school that provides arts and music training (the school is now known as Pro Arte Alphen Park situated in the East of Pretoria). Her inquisitive mind and willingness to learn more about all the art forms enabled her to gain knowledge about the other focus areas of the school such as dance and drama.

All this experience in so many areas was a welcome addition to Outreach Foundation when she joined it in 2002 as a music teacher. With programmes that included music, drama and other arts, she was well suited to work for the organisation.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career. Everywhere I have been, has been a rewarding experience.

“Teaching in Hillbrow has been gratifying. I am happy. I have come into contact with people who have broadened my world.

“The area has a tremendous buzz to it. It is a complex place filled with people from a variety of countries.

“Our students vary in age and in their musical interests. Many people think music theory is a dead subject, but our students love to learn the facts. They want to know more about it. One such student is Coco, a refugee who came to us with a passion for the piano.

“Coco is the first of my students to go all the way up to Grade 8 in music. He started as someone knowing nothing, but I quickly realised that he had talent. After three years, I had to refresh my knowledge. I had to go back to all the things I had learnt many years before so that I could continue to teach him. He picked things up so quickly.

“He has a fantastic way of focusing and is very intelligent. If I told him to go and do research, he would.

“Coco has been assisting me for a while now, and I hope he will continue to share his music and help others, especially after I have retired. He is one of my biggest success stories. I’m very proud of him.  I’m proud of all my students.

“Music foundation in my opinion, is essential. You need to learn the principles around it first. It teaches discipline. Once you learn the techniques, you can branch out into other music genres.

 “Music is a message on its own. Children gain from learning music. It’s an experience that will last them for a lifetime and has so many important spin-offs.

“It can be challenging with those who don’t ‘get it’ at first, but I learnt an important lesson from a singing teacher many years ago with regard to a hesitant student. She said that when they find their voice, they really find their voice. They just need to believe and have patience. And you, as a teacher, just need to try your best to make lessons an enjoyable experience.

“I have always tried to do that. I try to bring my passion for music into my lessons.”

And it seems she has succeeded in her mission. Her students love her and say she’s more like a mother, not a teacher. Throughout the years she has inspired so many students to continue with music and to love the art.

She has inspired Coco, for one, to become a music teacher and to become a composer.

“We will all miss her once she goes on retirement,” says Gerard Bester, Outreach Foundation’s Performing Arts Manager.

“Maggie has touched so many lives with her passion for music and will certainly leave a legacy of achievement for which she can be enormously proud, and is an example of a great music teacher.

“All of us at Outreach Foundation wish you well as you enter the next phase of your life, and we’d like to thank you for your dedication.

“Congratulations on your retirement!”



Silence is killing us women!

Years of abuse, raped a number of times, physically and emotionally abused, stalked, exploited, deceived, betrayed and penniless are all horrendous things that can happen individually to a person. Add them together, and you have a recipe for depression and suicide.

This is the story of a very brave mother of six, Slindile, who hopes that her story will help other women who are too scared to fight back against abuse. With sheer will and determination and help from the Outreach Foundation, she is taking back her life bit-by-bit, day-by-day.

“Life is hard. I have been traumatised so many times that I have tried to take my life as I saw no way out of the pain and fear.

“I met my husband when I was 18. He paid Lobolo, and I moved in with him with my firstborn. Things were not that bad until we got to our house. When I went to church, the people told me that my husband is not who he says he is. His name and surname aren’t real, and he’s lying to me.

“I never thought about it before, but I knew nothing about him. I had never met his family, and he never spoke of them either. I asked him about the claims that he wasn’t who he said he is, and he got very angry and started fighting with me.

“That was the start of 16 years of abuse.”

Slindile was locked in her house and unable to communicate with anyone for 16 years. During this period, she gave birth to five children and her husband raped her multiple times and emotionally and physically abused her, often with her children nearby or even in the room. He also shouted and cursed both her and the children. The only time she was allowed out was to apply for a SASSA Grant.

“He took my SASSA card and would draw out the money and spend it on himself. My children and I saw nothing. We got nothing. We would be hungry and have nothing to wear. I had one thing to wear, and that was it.

“One day a lady in my street couldn’t stand it anymore and came to help us. She forced her way into our house and gave us some food and clothes. He was very angry, and we paid the price. The same thing happened when my family came and tried to help us.

“I cried all the time. Eventually, my children couldn’t take it anymore. My daughter asked me if I was ok. I tried to hide my sadness, but she said ‘you are not right, tell me! I’m tired of this life, and I will kill myself or do something because I know you are in pain!’

“I was shocked and even more shocked when she told me she knows everything, including what happens in my bed.”

Slindile’s daughter told her that she had had enough and would go on her behalf and report the abuse. She did so, but everyone she spoke to was afraid of her father. But she refused to give up.

“My daughter decided that she’d go to my neighbour and ask her to draw the money out of my SASSA account. She was so brave. She got up before him and stole the card from his hiding place, jumped over the gate and gave it to my neighbour who then quickly withdrew the money and gave my daughter back the card.

“My daughter put the card back in its place. When he woke up, he took the card to get money but found nothing. He came back and shouted and screamed at me.

“I told him that it couldn’t be me because I was right next to him the whole time. That didn’t stop him from being angry at me, and he forced me to go with him to SASSA. My daughter quietly wrote a note for me to show the SASSA people.

“When we sat down with them, I handed the note with the card. They read it, and when he asked them what was happening with our money, they told him that there is nothing they can do and that he would have to wait until the next payment. He was angry and started to shout at them too. He took me to another SASSA branch, and I did the same thing, and thankfully they also told him the same thing after reading the note.

“He was very angry, and when we went home, he left us for a while. I called my children together, and we decided to put that money into an account I had that he didn’t know I had and that we would do this until we had enough money to run away with.

“We did this until December when we ran away from home. But the social worker at the shelter we went to told us we had to go back to him because they didn’t have space for us. We went back to the same abuse for a month until we got space in the shelter.”

One would think that a shelter for abused women and children would do what they could to help them and keep them away from the abuser. But this was not the case.

“The social worker was horrible and made me cry. My daughter said that she wanted to see her dad and the social worker told me that I must send her to him because he is rich and I’m not. But in the time we left, he became a drug dealer, so it wasn’t safe or good for her to go there.

“The social worker wanted him to have custody of my daughter and said that if I didn’t sign the documents, she would. And she did.

“My daughter went back to him. I was scared she would take drugs, and I was right. When I laid a case of abuse against my husband, the social worker and the police didn’t believe me and laughed at me and said they would lock me up for telling lies and wasting their time. She told me we had to leave the shelter by the end of the week.

“I had five children and nowhere to go”.

Slindile eventually found a place for them to stay, but without much money, it was a dump. There was no electricity and no working toilet; they stayed in what would’ve been a bathroom right next to a Tavern. It was all they could afford. When it rained the sewerage from the building would seep through to their area, and the water would come in. The smell was horrendous.

“I managed to find a job sweeping the streets, and I thought things were going to get better. A little while later, I met a man, and he proposed to me. But because I had been hurt before and I have children to worry about, I said no. I didn’t know that he was stalking me. He knew everything about me, where I lived when the children would be there, what I was doing. He knew my every move.

“One day I was ill, and while getting my medicine, I received a call. It was him. He asked me where I was and that he loved me and wanted me. I told him to leave me alone. I got home and there was a knock on my door, it was him. He forced his way in and on me. No one heard my screams.

“When he eventually left, I ran to the police station to lay a charge. While there he called me and told me not to do it. Again he knew where I was. I put the call on the loudspeaker for the police to hear.  He threatened me and then told me he’d pay me R1,000 to keep quiet.

“The police told me to accept that. Police in plain clothes went with me to catch him. He didn’t come. He sent someone else with R500, and other people tried to force me into a car, but luckily I was with the police. I was so scared for my life and my kids’ lives.

“The threats kept coming, and the place I was living in had no security. We were so afraid. We were so lucky as another old man helped us. He asked for a photograph of my attacker so that he could find him and get him away from me.

“He managed to find him at the very same tavern that I stayed next to. The police arrested him, and he is now in jail.

“Meanwhile, I was raped in November, and my daughter who went back to my husband was raped in December and became pregnant.

“But I had nothing, and I was worried about my daughter, so I was forced to go back to my husband. As soon as I returned, he started to rape me all over again. We were stuck there until Jub Jub through his programme Uthando Noxolo, heard my story. He helped me get out.

“We are now in a shelter, except for my daughter, we hope she will get in soon. I’m on medication for depression. I see psychologists and psychiatrists and have many really bad days, but I have to be strong for my children. I’ve got to build up a life for us.

“One of the best things for me has been to come to Outreach Foundation. There’s a safe space for my children when I go to the Foundation’s counselling centre or when I go for training at the Foundation’s Boitumelo.

“The counselling is helping me. Mama Sizwe has helped me a lot especially with me wanting to commit suicide as a way to get rid of all the pain. I know I have to be strong for my children.

Outreach Foundation has made me believe in a future. I want to go to school and get my matric. I have a lot of skills like hairdressing, but I have no papers. I want to be independent, and I want to raise my children with pride. I am learning how to sew at Boitumelo, and I hope I will get a job after. I’m working hard there.

“My goal is to become a traffic officer eventually. I want to make a good future for my children. I want them to see they have a future too and can be what they want to be.”

Slindile wants every woman to speak up for themselves. She is encouraging women to refuse to be a doormat.

“Just because you love him doesn’t mean you need to be his slave or a sex slave. Don’t be afraid to expose him and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“Silence is killing us women. Talk!

“Stress from what we go through is also killing us. Get help!

“And I want us to watch out for the children. They are after money and sugar daddies. We must tell them to love themselves more. They must educate themselves. And they must know that there are many men out there who are monsters and will hurt them. They must be careful and if anything happens to talk and find help.

“I’ve been lucky to come to Outreach Foundation. They are helping my children and me. I ask everyone in the world to be as patient with people going through trauma as they are. It can be the difference between life or death.”

According to Statistics South Africa’s report ‘Crime Against Women in South Africa, an in-depth analysis of the Victims of Crime Survey data 2018 (Report 03-40-05)’,

“…Rape, targeting women and girls, is a serious problem in South Africa. The 2016/17 Victims of Crime statistical release reported that 250 out of every 100 000 women were victims of sexual offences compared to 120 out of every 100 000 men. Using the 2016/17 South African Police Service statistics, in which 80% of the reported sexual offences were rape, together with Statistics South Africa’s estimate that 68,5% of the sexual offences victims were women, we obtain a crude estimate of the number of women raped per 100 000 as 138. This figure is among the highest in the world. For this reason, some have labelled South Africa as the “rape capital of the world”.

In the same report, the question was raised to the respondents as to whether it was acceptable for a husband to hit his wife in various situations. The summary of these results are as follows:

Graph taken from the STATS SA Crime Against Women in South Africa Report

Graph taken from the STATS SA Crime Against Women in South Africa Report

The report highlights many issues surrounding abuse toward women both in the home and externally. It covers topics such as attitudes and perceptions of crime trends, fear of crime, knowledge and access to shelters and the assistance received from them, experience of household crimes, the experience of individual crimes and the reporting of crime to the police and the response victims have had.

*not her real name

Bipolar is an illness that can be treated – don’t discriminate

Imagine not seeing your daughter for seven years primarily because everyone says you are mad, but you are in fact just living with bipolar disorder, an illness that can be controlled with medication and therapy.

*Palesa suffers from the disorder which causes periods of depression and periods of extreme happiness as well as unusual shifts in activity levels and energy. This then affects a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. The illness has destroyed her life because of ignorance about the disorder, and the stigma attached to mental illness.

“I have tried to commit suicide five times over the years. No one has been there for me. I have been so alone,” says Palesa.

“My life was never easy. My father chased me away when my stepmother died. I managed to survive and then I met my husband, who after 16 years of marriage kicked me out of my home and my child’s life because I was ill.

“I have always helped everyone where I can. I gave money and food to those who were hungry. I was always the first to put money in when there was a death.  I would care for those who were sick. But when I became ill, instead of offering me help, I was laughed at.

“They would laugh when I walked down the street and called me a mad woman.

“I quickly discovered that when days are dark, friends are few.”

Palesa found herself completely ostracised and spiralled into a depression that she couldn’t understand.

“I left my home for Gauteng to try to get my life together.  I went to Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria as I was feeling so ill. They diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. They gave me medication which didn’t work.

“I thought that if I went to church again I would find friends and I would be well. But the friends I made there also started avoiding me. Therapy wasn’t working; medication wasn’t working. I started to give up.”

Palesa refused to turn to illegal drugs to ease her pain or make her ‘feel better’. And although broke as she couldn’t find a job to sustain herself because of her disorder, she would also not turn to prostitution.

“I was battling to get up in the morning. I was so depressed. I didn’t know what to do. And then I heard about the Outreach Foundation’s counselling centre.

“I met Sizwe who listened to my story. She didn’t judge me. She didn’t laugh.

“One day she sat me down and pointed at my ID photo and told me that she would like to see the lady that was in the photograph. The one that was well-dressed, well-looked after and smiling. I didn’t know what she was talking about at first.

“Then I realised that I had given up on myself. I didn’t look normal. I would get up in the morning, brush my teeth and come through to see her. I didn’t bother about what I was wearing, or what my hair looked like, or anything else.

“It was as if I had finally woken up after a long sleep. Psychiatrists hadn’t helped, psychologists hadn’t helped. But this one caring lady uplifted me. She made me see myself again after just three weeks.”

Palesa decided to take back her life. The next time she came to the Outreach Foundation’s counselling centre, she had made some changes.

“I walked into the centre and sat next to Sizwe. She was shocked and so happy. I had bathed, put make-up on, dressed nicely and done my hair. It was very hard to do, but I did it.

“It was the first step. There is a lot still to do, but I’m working on it and Sizwe is still there uplifting me.”

Palesa says that people, especially women, are too scared to talk about their issues or to get help.

“We have been told that we need to be quiet and listen to our husbands. So many of us have had no choice but to bury our illnesses and carry on because we have to look after our families.

“But I have discovered that to say what is inside, to the right person, is therapy.

“It is also stressful though if you don’t know who to talk to or how to share. Before the Outreach Foundation, I didn’t know what to do or where to go.

“I had no support, and that’s exactly what you need. I was so confused about my illness. But now, after such a short time coming to the centre, I feel so much more confident and strong.

“After my husband left me and everyone thought I was mad, I would walk in the street and feel like I was naked yet non-existent. But now I feel like I can go back and fight for my child.

“I feel like I’m a human. Like I can do it. Like I’m beautiful and that I can be what I want to be without needing a man to do it for me.”

Palesa believes that more education needs to be done on the disorder not only for others but for those who have the illness.

“I didn’t know who I was, what was happening or why. I was shouting then screaming then crying for absolutely no reason. Even when I was diagnosed, I wasn’t sure about what needed to be done or what I could do if the medication didn’t work. I didn’t know that there was other medication too. I also didn’t know how important therapy and counselling was.

“People need to know that we are not mad. And that we can be treated and that we need help. They need to support the person.”

By sharing her story during women’s month, Palesa hopes to inspire women who are battling with illnesses such as this to not only speak out but to seek help. She also wants to remind others that like her, it is possible to pull yourself together when you feel like it’s the end.

“I know I have a long way to go still, but I am determined to be who I want to be. I want to fight for my child, and I want to go back and study. I used to be a caregiver in hospice and some hospitals, and I have been a midwife, and although I know I will be a good nurse, my goal is to become a doctor.

“I’m going to keep taking my medication, going to counselling and therapy and do whatever I need to do to get what I want. I thank Sizwe for opening my eyes and for listening.

Palesa also feels strongly about the way women allow themselves to be treated.

“Let us not allow men to “play” with us. Don’t tell yourself you are dependent on him. We need to fight for ourselves and to stand up for one another. If you say you want to be like this, go for it. You can do it. Remember that education is important. No one can take it away from you.

“Men abuse us because they know we have nothing to fall back on. No man can undermine you if you educate yourself.”

But she also worries about the youth.

“Children never see far. We need to encourage young girls to be themselves and not to seek ‘sugar daddies’ or to fall pregnant because they think it’s an easy way to get money from grants. Grants do not get you far, education does.

“Also, if you feel depressed or ill, you must seek help. So many young girls are very depressed and are too scared or ashamed to do anything about it because of the stigma that still exists.

“There are so many women out there who don’t know what to. Please do what I did – speak to someone!”

Palesa is a brave woman fighting for survival from an illness with causes that are not clearly understood. According to the Wikipedia entry for the disorder, ‘…both environmental and genetic factors play a role…environmental factors include a history of childhood abuse and long-term stress. About 85% of the risk is attributed to genetics.’

The entry also states that ‘the risk of suicide among those with the illness is high at greater than six per cent in people over 20 years, while self-harm occurs in 30-40 per cent of people.’ In addition, other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders as well as substance use disorder are commonly associated with bipolar disorder.

More than four million South Africans live with bipolar disorder. It is an illness that does not discriminate between social or education class, race, sex or nationality. It is an illness that is treatable.

*Palesa is not her real name. We have changed her name to protect her identity.

Recovery Coaching

Recovery Coaching is about:

  • Rebuilding recovery capital in the physical, mental, emotional, social & spiritual areas of your life.
  • Developing a personalised recovery plan in line with your unique goals, dreams & aspirations.
  • Setting achievable, long-term goals and developing short-term action plans to achieve them within predetermined time frames.
  • Identifying harmful triggers that could result in lapse or relapse, and learning to deal with these issues in daily life with the use of forward-focused and solutions-driven tools and techniques.
  • Learning about the physiological and neurological elements of substance and behavioural abuse disorders, and what the major causes of addiction.
  • Understanding and challenging faulty, habitual thought patterns & behaviours, and replacing them with improved ways of dealing with potentially difficult situations.
  • Establishing realistic, personal boundaries to build strong, interdependent relationships in your personal and professional life.
  • Finding the answers to your personal truth and living an empowered, authentic life.
  • Working in a collaborative, accountable relationship with a coach to achieve a more balanced, holistic approach to long-term wellness.
  • Creating a safe space to explore possibilities and the availability of personal and community resources to aid sustained recovery.

Recovery Coaching is not about:

  • Treating addiction…recovery coaching operates within the wellness paradigm and is not addiction treatment.
  • Revisiting the past and the causes of addiction…it’s about moving forward in a solutions’-driven, goal-orientated way.
  • Being given advice and answers to your questions…you have all the answers you need inside yourself.
  • Being told what to do and how to do it…the long-term goals you choose and short-term plans you make will be your own.
  • Holding onto guilt, shame & anger…it’s about letting go of the past, embracing forgiveness and learning to live in the present.

Well-known musician Madoda Gxabeka is getting children off the street by teaching music

Music has been his life, and it is fitting that Madoda Gxabeka spends most of his free time teaching the children of Hillbrow music through the Performing Arts Department of Outreach Foundation.

Well-known in the music industry as a member of the African Jazz Pioneers, Madoda has performed to large crowds all over the world. The band has a large following overseas and even in South Africa, where they play annually at various festivals around the country.

Soft-spoken Madoda is the kind of mentor every child needs. He is patient and caring and truly loves his craft. Growing up in Lange in the Western Cape, he was surrounded by a multitude of sights, sounds, and music. He knew from a very young age that music was his passion and that he wanted to share his love of it with others. And so he began teaching it to his friends and the other children in the neighbourhood. He was one of the few children who understood and enjoyed the theory of music. He still studies it and teaches it.

Although Madoda is well-known for his jazz, he has always had a love for classical music. He listens to it a lot, and it inspires him. He, therefore, teaches piano as well as drums and tries to include classical elements as much as he can whenever he can. He believes in introducing his students to various sounds as that is what shaped his music and made him a better musician.

Of the artists that influenced him and his music was pianist and composer, Abdullah Ibrahim, saxophonist, Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi and his music teacher, Gideon Ndlebe. Mr Ndlebe taught him to love musical instruments and literally changed his life. This teacher wanted to get the kids of Lange off the streets by teaching them music. Madoda was one of those children.

Instead of getting embroiled in gangs and liquor, he became involved in music. He strongly believes that Mr Ndlebe and music saved his life.

Now, as a music teacher at Outreach Foundation, he gets to do the same for the children of Hillbrow. He gets to offer them a chance to learn music and get off the streets after school and during school holidays. This is what attracted him to the Foundation and why he juggles his music career with teaching in Hillbrow.

Music requires dedication and patience. The children have to practice to get better. This means that they need to play their instruments almost every day which then keeps them off the streets more often. But this kind of dedication is not easy in an environment such as Hillbrow. Madoda has to come up with ways in which to encourage them to come to practice. One such way is for them to perform. The students respond well to performing to audiences. They thrive with that kind of feedback.

But for the students to perform, they need opportunities to do so. Madoda’s plea to donors, companies and government departments is to book Outreach Foundation’s performing arts students for any function they may have. One of his dreams is for his students to perform as part of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra. He believes that the more experience they get, the better their chances will be to do so and the more chances they will have to become professional musicians once they leave school.

And Madoda knows what he is talking about: thanks to exposure through performing to audiences, two of his students from the Outreach Foundation have performed overseas, and two of his past students are famous musicians: McCoy Mrubata, a jazz saxophonist and pianist, Vusi Maseko.

To book Outreach Foundation’s performing arts students, please contact us on 011 720 7011 or email us info@outreachfoundation.co.za

Hillbrow is at the forefront of change

Hillbrow was and is at the forefront of social change in South Africa. Many social issues of South Africa are concentrated here: There is a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, woman abuse, refugee influx, urbanisation and degradation of urban environments, drug dealing, prostitution and crime.

Many of these are related to or aggravated by the lack of social structure, urban socialization of the new residents and unemployment. But it is not only gloom and doom here. There are indications and efforts in place that suggest that a visionary rethinking about the role of Hillbrow is in place.

Local government has plans for the city and is committed to reclaiming Hillbrow as a clean, crime-free and peaceful residential area.

There are many non-government organisations with initiatives to make a change in the inner-city. We are one such organisation.

Contact us to find out how you can help us make a difference.