Johan’s Diary – July 20, 2016
Last night we stayed with a good friend of ours Thandiwe Mazibuko who lives and works in South Africa as the Music Director of Star for Life. We had the pleasure of dining with her parents and friends. They told us stories of the apartheid in South Africa during 1948 – 1994, which was a political and social system under a stricter white minority rule. They told us how they tried to buy a flat in 1989, however they were not allowed to own anything so they found a white woman who bought the flat for them, so it was under her name. This was a huge risk to take because the woman could have cheated them, as they were paying her and had no rights to the flat. At some points they had to dress up as workers to make it look like they did not live in the flat. It was very eye opening and emotional to sit across the table from them and hear their story. I think they were very brave for doing this as they could have been caught. To this day they still own a flat in that apartment building.
This morning Sophie, Thandiwe and I went to Folweni High school that Lööf Foundation supports through Star for Life. When we arrived we met Star for Life coaches including one coach named Busisiwe who holds workshops and teachings at the school every Monday and Wednesday.
Next we had a meeting with the Star for Life staff and met the headmaster of the school. We were updated with what has happened at the school since Lööf Foundation’s last visit. Unfortunately the schedule of Star for Life’s workshops has been delayed due to the upcoming election in the next two weeks. There have been riots and problems such as blocked roads and closed schools, therefore making it difficult for Star for Life to reach the school and have the workshops as planned. The Mobile Clinic has also been delayed due to these issues and has not made as many visits as they had anticipated. However the Mobile Clinic is on its way now. Their new schedule is to hold a workshop in September before graduation and then speed up the workshops in the coming year. A devastating matter that happened on June 6 was the death of a student when another student stabbed him. Star for Life has been very active within the school, providing students and teachers with workshops to allow them to talk, grieve and receive counselling.
In October an expected 192 students will graduate from Folweni High school. The students have chosen a field of study in which they will write their exam on, that being either commerce, engineering, humanities or science. There are currently 1 478 students which is less than the 1 501 students when Star for Life first started the program at Folweni High school.
The decrease in students is mainly attributed to teen pregnancies, which is something the Star for Life program focuses on to decrease. As we walked around the school and said hello to all of the students we understood why Busisiwe was holding a workshop for a grade ten class surrounding the topic of pregnancies. We stayed and listened to the workshop and there were many great discussions surrounding the questions such as, if it’s right for a girl to get child allowance per child (SEK 120:-/month), do love and sex go together or not and if it is good for a girl to become pregnant to show she is fertile. It was very interesting to listen to everyone’s inputs and discussions around these important questions. It was apparent that one of Star for Life’s goals is to get teenagers to think about sex, the consequences and morals surrounding that topic.
In one of the workshops we listened to, they were teaching the students the meaning of the letters in the word “star”.
S – Stop
T – Think
A – Act
R – Re-evaluate
The students had to repeat these words and think about the meaning behind each word. I thought it was very good that they had open discussions around thinking out the consequences of their actions before doing them. Star for Life works hard to delay sexual debut and pregnancies and tries to instil in the students to focus on their education first. I was very impressed by the organization shown throughout the school, as the school only has the bare necessities. After speaking with the headmaster I could really feel his passion towards this school and his drive to see the school succeed. He faces many struggles with getting good teachers, however he is making the very best with what he has and I was very impressed by his ambition.
To end such a great day off at the school, Sophie, Thandiwe and I were treated to a special performance by their music class. They sang different South African songs such as Shosholoza, which sounded wonderful! It was very touching to see and hear them singing with so much passion!
Tomorrow Sophie and I travel back to Sweden. I feel that throughout this trip I have witnessed everything from extreme poverty to extreme wealth. It has given me a well-rounded perspective and representation of how South Africa is. It has been a very busy visit here, however I have been fortunate to meet many new people that were kind, nice and open which makes this experience even more meaningful. We have returned back at Glenda’s for the night and will be going for a celebratory dinner with her, her husband Neil and the Haley family to celebrate Partex’s long partnership with the Haley family in South Africa. Many thanks for today!
Lööf Foundation representative