That’s Cape Town recently made a trip to Ikamva, the home of Ajax Cape Town, to talk with Riyaad Khan about the club’s Community Scheme. Riyaad, who heads up the Scheme, is clearly passionate about what he does. He made it clear that for him, it’s all about the community – being able to give kids from poorer, disadvantaged communities the chance to learn, and have fun at the same time.
The Scheme was started in 2007 by the British High Commission, in partnership with Charlton Athletic Club and the South African Police Service (SAPS). When the concept (already running quite successfully in the UK) was presented to the board at Ajax Cape Town, it was quickly decided that the scheme would become part of the Ajax portfolio. There were 3 reasons for this: 1) it provided a vehicle for the club to give back to the local community; 2) it was something that no other PSL club was doing, which gave Ajax Cape Town a competitive advantage; and 3) the scheme also tied in with the Ajax philosophy/vision of youth development.
Riyaad, who had spent time working for the Charlton Athletic Club community scheme in the UK, happened to be at the right place at the right time, and was given the opportunity to start and establish the scheme here, in Cape Town, as part of the Ajax Cape Town team, as the Community Scheme Administrator.
There are 7 programmes in total running at any given time. Each of these programmes emphasises how Ajax Cape Town is committed to giving back, something not often seen in big-name PSL clubs. And, although the Community Scheme department is part of Ajax Cape Town’s own Corporate Social Investment, it has provided an already existing (and successful) platform for other companies looking for a place to invest in social upliftment.
Two of the Scheme’s programes that really stand out are: Kick ‘n Learn, and Hotspot.
Kick ‘n Learn is a programme that runs in local Primary Schools over 6 weeks. The school identifies 30 children who would benefit from a Life Skills and social development programme, and these learners meet with the Ajax Cape Town Community Scheme team once a week for one hour. The hour is broken into 2, with Life Skills being taught in the first half, and fun being had on the soccer field in the second half. The topics that are covered in the Life Skills component of the programme are varied, and include, Nutrition; Safe Sex/HIV; Smoking; Drugs; Gun Safety; Fire Safety; and Emergency numbers.
Hotspots is a programme that the Community Scheme runs in conjunction with the SAPS. Dressed in Ajax gear, the policemen and Scheme team go to identified areas where young people tend to loiter and are prey to becoming involved in drugs or gangsterism. The team begins setting up physical, ball-skill type games and activities, and watch as the young people come and begin joining in. This happens every week at the same time, on the same day, for 6 weeks. Eventually, when a relationship with the young people is built, it is revealed that some of the team members are policemen. Giving young people a confidence in the SAPS creates community cohesion.
Recently, the Scheme has also begun working into schools in more affluent, privileged areas in Cape Town, as Riyaad feels that young people of all ages are exposed to the same kinds of pressures and temptations. They are just presented differently.
The aim of the Community Scheme, according to Riyaad, is primarily to birth in communities and kids’ lives a hope and love of life, without the need to rely on drugs, alcohol and gangsterism. Secondly, Riyaad hopes that the efforts of his team will result in a generation of South African football lovers, loyal to Ajax Cape Town. That’s Cape Town wishes him and his team all the best.
Being at a celebration with around a hundred people, with good food and good wine; in a great venue can be fun. But when the whole purpose of the function is to aid in the sponsorship of young peoples’ education, the fun comes with the reward of giving…
Since 2005, the Leisure Education Trust has invested in the future of South Africa by pledging to sponsor and help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend school. The key element is that learners are not just assisted with a single cheque or contribution. The Trust, with the help of school-teachers and principals in key schools in Cape Town, identifies children in need. These children are then sponsored for their entire High School career.
By allowing youth access to a higher standard of learning, and regularly monitoring their well-being and progress, the Trust aims to foster a love of learning and a commitment to personal development in the young people, preparing them for tertiary education and the workplace beyond. In 2011, Leisure Education Trust has been committed to a total of 71 learners, including two in their final year of Secondary School (matric).
An annual Auction Dinner was held recently at Strand Tower Hotel, as part of the Trust’s fundraising efforts. At the event, guests were invited to place bids on a variety of donated goods and prizes on offer. Everything from artwork, to jewellery to weekends away was up for grabs. The bidding for each item ended at a particular time, and fun was had by guests trying to outbid one another, knowing that the proceeds were all for a good cause.
The efforts of generous people will allow the Trust to continue it’s noble work in 2012
Recycle Swop Shop has been operating since February this year. They are a community project working into DuNoon informal settlement in Cape Town. Their aim is social upliftment and education, and they are doing this by implementing a rewards-based recycling scheme.
The basics of the project are: people from DuNoon collect recyclable goods from their homes, neighbours and surrounding streets. The recycling is brought to Recycle Swop Shop where the bags are weighed and exchanged for tokens. With the tokens, people are able to ‘buy’ from the Shop, which is stocked with donated daily supplies like toiletries; basic groceries and clothes.
In a community where unemployment and poverty is the root cause of a number of other problems, giving people the opportunity to provide basic necessities for their families goes a long way to boosting morale and imparting hope.
It has been difficult to get the project up-and-running, mostly due to a lack of funding and donations. But the core group of volunteers are passionate and see themselves as serving a community in great need.
Just recently, the efforts of Recycle Swop Shop were noticed by Cape Town International Airport (CTIA). Swop shop was nominated (along with roughly 350 other organisations) to be part of the CTIA Flagship Initiative. This initiative helps organisations by offering support and building relationships over three to five years, with a view to help the organisation become self-sustainable. Recycle Swop Shop was chosen to be one of the four recipients of this year’s Flagship Initiative.
This kind of recognition and support is huge for the Recycle Swop Shop project. They will now have the funds to keep the shop well-stocked; and set systems in place to make sure operations run seamlessly each week. When one model is running successfully, it will be replicated in other informal settlements like Khayelitsha; Joe Slovo; and Nyanga.
Watch this space… This project is going places – and caring for the poor along the way.
Find Recycle Swop Shop on Facebook here, and follow them on Twitter – @swopshop_ct.