Umbiyozo Foundation still going strong

Jason Woolf, founder and chairperson of the Umbiyozo Foundation, talks to Vukani about the aim of the organisation.

Despite the endless challenges that face the Umbiyozo Foundation, the group is still standing strong and striving to uplift youth dance groups in the township.

Started by Jason Woolf in 2011, the foundation assists these groups to get funding by not only having to busk in the dusty streets of Khayelitsha and other areas.

Jason says many of these groups could only manage to raise enough money to cover transport costs for them to attend various shows within the community.

The 25-year-old said when he started the foundation, he was oblivious about the meaningful impact these youth dance groups played in the lives of these children.

He said he decided to bring some of the dance groups together and make a DVD so that they could at least create additional revenue and sustain themselves. He said the aim of the DVD was also to urge these groups to work together and unite.

He said he also learnt that by-laws governing busking made it difficult and the groups were not really keen on it.

Jason said he then made a decision to live in Khayelitsha for a year and half.

He started a dance competition with the core intention of providing a platform for these groups in the hope that they would get proper gigs.

He said over the years the dance competition has been a success and has played a vital role in keeping the groups alive.

He said the foundation works with all the dance groups from Langa, Philippi, Gugulethu and other areas.

He said they then opted to make the foundation an umbrella body for these groups.

He said their role as the foundation was to ensure that whatever funding they got was used appropriately and accounted for.

The aim of this competition was also to up-skill these groups and help them grow their own organisations.

They recently held the dance competition in Langa in June 16 as a way of celebrating Youth Day.

Jason said they also added a new feature to the competition whereby they honoured people who have done a sterling job in community development.

He said the category included heroes in job creation, housing, financial safety, parent partnerships, mentoring, stress therapy, drug and alcohol prevention, sexual health, happiness promotion and troupe innovation.

He said last year they had 17 groups that entered the competition but this year they only had 13 groups.

“We have seen the impact of this organisation and we do not want this project to fade away. We are currently working with 29 groups. This foundations seeks to turn these young people into community leaders and professional dancers. We want these young people to be agents of change in their community and hopefully start their own organisations. But funding remains to be a main challenge. This is not only about dancing and we want to move beyond that,” he said.

Jason said he has just started a tourism company which aims to generate funding for this organisation. He said they were also aiming to start an all-star competition where they would select talented and dedicated young people to take part.

He said currently he uses his own personal money for the project. He called on local business people and the public to help the foundation to keep its doors open.