The focus of the Izizwe Projects are the community and especially the children of the townships of Gqebera, more commonly known as Walmer Township in Port Elizabeth (PE), South Africa.
Walmer is one of few places in South Africa where during Apartheid years a community of mostly Xhosa people remained to exist in the middle of the former white communities. Even though the ruling party tried to evacuate this community it continued to exist through the support of the surrounding white employers. These employers preferred their domestic workers and gardeners living closer by, as an alternative to 30 km outside town where most black communities were forcefully relocated to and that is how this small township nowadays forms the home of approximately 70,000 people.
Different from other townships, Walmer is, because of its location, a relatively calm and easily accessible area. Poverty, child neglect, alcohol abuse and a high unemployment rate are some of the many challenges this community faces on a day-to-day basis. The diversity of needs and great lack of services for this community shows in terms of a shortage of educational institutes with only 2 primary schools and 1 high school available to the children of Walmer.
Izizwe Projects was started in 2009 by Prof Mtyaleka and Martin van der Put who started introducing international guests to this community by organizing township tours and school visits for those who were interested. The interaction with international tourists presented an opportunity to do more substantial things and people started volunteering at some of the crèches and the schools by offering support with shorter or longer periods of time.
The incredible change these international volunteers have brought to this community shows the need to grow further and attract more international visitors willing to make a difference and be part of offering more services to those in need.