Last week was an exciting week here in the Schools 4 Schools South Africa camp, in addition to our normal work in schools and numerous other duties we perform, we were faced with the arduous task of hanging out with South African celebrities each day.I know what you are thinking, and no, my boyish good looks did not see me cast in the South African remake of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.Rather, this week was the first week of Collaboration 4 Change (C4C). Collaboration for change is a new program developed by Key Change Music, a non-profit organisation recently established by Nic Mackay and Dawn Mlotshwa.Key Change's purpose is to create positive social change through music.www.keychangemusic.com
Collaboration for change has seen Key Change Music partner with Nelson Mandela's 46664, GOLD(Generation of Leaders Discovered is the program supported by S4S) and Schools 4 Schools. Collaboration 4 Change utilises the power that recognisable young artists and celebrities have to bring the attention of South Africa's youth to issues affecting the country.
Collaboration 4 Change is a massive road show, visiting schools each day over the three week long road trip around KwaZulu Natal. At each school, students are presented with a fun and engaging play produced by 46664. The play tells the true stories of Thabo and Miriam. Both are real people who still live in Soweto today, Thabo's story tells of his history of sleeping around and his trip to the clinic for a HIV test, which he was sure would be negative. Miriam's story examines gender roles and her ultimate rape at the hands of an older man who felt he had the right to sex after buying her gifts and supporting her. The play also encourages civic/political engagement and challenges learners to exersize their right to vote.
During the tour and our time at schools, the learners watch the play and are split into groups where a trained facilitator encourages them to speak openly about the issues presented in the play. After the first week of the program we have already witnessed learners speaking openly challenging each others mindsets. We have seen male students admit to believing that Miriam new what was coming when she accepted the gifts and as such it was her fault she was raped. Our facilitation encourages students to discuss this, and sessions often end with learners deep in thought having discussed the scenario with girls in their group and considered the situation from alternate points of view.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, we have been hanging out with South African celebrities all week.Celebrities are generally not something that impress me, however when they take the time to speak openly with students about issues affecting their communities, taking the time to visit the schools, to see the issues, then they gain much of my respect.Certainly one of the funniest things I have seen is seeing students screaming at a celebrity I don't recognise (we don't see them in Australia).Celebrities also play an important role during small group time, speaking with the students and assisting with facilitation.
Through the testimonies of students, it is clear that the Collaboration 4 Change program has been challenging mindsets in it's own right and on top of this has the added bonus of complementing the GOLD program and bringing issues directly to the attention of entire schools and communities. In schools where S4S works, and the tour has visited, we introduced the peer educators (students undergoing the GOLD program) and GOLD facilitators to the entire student body as a resource if they have further questions or need support, hopefully this will ensure the sustained impact of these visits long into the future.