Joint safety effort

Some of the children who attended the school summer safety programmes in Nyanga.

With the summer school holidays coming to an end, children across the city are preparing to return to – or start – school next week.

And thanks to a number of organisations and government departments which ran holiday programmes, the children who attended these will be starting the year with improved practical and life skills.

The programmes are designed to keep children off the streets and help working parents and those that have no assistance during the busy holidays.

Held over the first week of this month at the Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) Centre in Nyanga by the Genesis Faith Mission, the programmes accommodated more than 100 children, keeping them occupied from 9am to 4pm.

Children as young as five years old participated.

Pastor Ntombekhaya Nyama-Plati said the aim was to teach them useful skills while ensuring they had fun. She said they also aimed to strengthen their relationship with the facilitators in order to build trust.

“We keep them busy so they go back to school ready. We called in people to come speak to them about various issues. We want them to know issues of life while they are young. But most importantly is to keep them safe and away from crime,” she said.

Genesis Faith Mission’s partner in the holiday programme was Thwalisanani Bafazi which also helped to cook for the kids and invited speakers.

Pastor Nyma-Plati also ran a holiday programme in December for kids in Marikana squatter camp, and Gugulethu. She said all the programmes were aimed at keeping children away from crime.

Nyanga resident Nosiphiwo Makhubalo hailed the church for keeping their children happy and safe. She said her 12-year-old daughter had come home with vigour and renewed energy on the first day of the programme.

“You can tell that they were encouraged to have their own opinions and ideas. My daughter became a better and changed person. She has been asking this and that. I am happy to have had an opportunity to send her to the programme,” she said.

Looking ahead to the winter school holiday, she added: “I hope they will do this again in winter. We need more of this. Children need a change of personnel. I am really grateful to the organisers.”The organisers said they wanted to encourage children to exchange opinions and ideas on a wide range of topics.

One of the guest speakers, Pastor Themba Nyama discouraged children from using drugs and advised the young children to always be wary of people they do not know.