South Africa's townships are wrecked with violence. Too many people are bored, have no perspectives, are unemployed and do not believe in themselves. This leads to alcohol and drug abuse, self-hate and violence agains rich people, neighbours and against their own family.
The awarenet programme counters by offering something different to the youth: education, fun in a team, goals. Casually, we teach them how to use computers and the Internet for a better outcome. We work online (on the awarenet platform) and offline on projects that persuade. We are recognized by the local government (Makana Municipality) that also supports us financially.
For one of our awarenet projects, we essentially need additional financial support: a music project, in which several groups of learners write songs to the same backing (a HipHop song) and then rap the song themselves. The only input from our side are the following words: awareness, peace, my life, etc. This offers an opportunity to think and talk about what peace means and what is important for them.
Many volunteers within the community support our project by e.g. donating a backing or training the leaners how to rhyme, rap and perform. During the project, the learners use the awarenet platform to work on the texts and communicate over progress or blog about experiences. They learn how to collaboratively work towards a specific goal and how to use multi-media to enhance outcome. They experience how other people and even the public press become interested in them and gain a lot of self-esteem and confidence. They discuss peace and enhance their English while doing so. On Peace Day, they stand on stage and perform their own song with the possibility of winning a prize - an unforgettable experience, for many of them unheard-off and the beginning of a wonderful personal and social development. During the last project run, more than 100 learners have achieved something seemingly unreachable with fun and team work. This also convinced a lot of school teachers who implemented the awarenet concept into their teaching.
The largest challenge is the logistic coordination of the project. Many people have to work together to train the learners and prepare them for the concert. The concert itself has to be organised. We can't only rely on volunteers, and there are also costs involved for the recording of the songs and the production of the CDs. But it is doable. We have made it once, we can do it again! With your help, the Concert of Peace and Hope in Joza, a township of Grahamstown, will become a tradition!