News / Africa

South Africa's Soweto Township Celebrates Beacon of Hope

Kliptown is one of the most destitute areas of the large Soweto township, South Africa, November 2012. (S. Honorine/VOA)
Kliptown is one of the most destitute areas of the large Soweto township, South Africa, November 2012. (S. Honorine/VOA)
Solenn Honorine
— In South Africa, more than a half million pupils are busy writing their marathon end of high-school examination, known here as “matric."  This is a decisive time for the youth, as the matric has become a much-needed diploma to get a job in a country where 30 percent of the active population is unemployed - and more than 45 percent of blacks.  But studying for matric is particularly hard in the poorest communities which lack basic amenities. 

At a local non-governmental organization in Kliptown, one of the most destitute areas of Soweto township, one man makes all the difference for the youth. He is Thulani Madondo, a founder of the Kliptown Youth Project, or KYP.

Thulani Madondo, 30, has dedicated his life to improving the fate of the Kliptown youth, Soweto township, South Africa, November 2012. (S. Honorine/VOA)Thulani Madondo, 30, has dedicated his life to improving the fate of the Kliptown youth, Soweto township, South Africa, November 2012. (S. Honorine/VOA)
x
Thulani Madondo, 30, has dedicated his life to improving the fate of the Kliptown youth, Soweto township, South Africa, November 2012. (S. Honorine/VOA)
Thulani Madondo, 30, has dedicated his life to improving the fate of the Kliptown youth, Soweto township, South Africa, November 2012. (S. Honorine/VOA)
"This is our communal tap.  This tap will be shared by 80 to 100 families," he explains. "Kliptown is a community of plus or minus 45 000 people without a lot of basic things like electricity. Our homes are built out of corrugated iron, we call them... it's shacks.  And children walk about 25 to 30 minutes to their respective schools, depending on what language they speak.”

In Africa's richest country, Kliptown is the dark side of the coin.  While the wealthy northern suburbs of Johannesburg remind one of Los Angeles, with their wide, shady avenues and modern parks and shopping malls, desolated Kliptown is simply an undeveloped slum.  Because of a lack of proper sanitation, a thin river of used water snakes between the box-like houses that are burning hot in summer, freezing cold in winter.

Life here can be bleak; but not desperate, thanks in part to people like Thulani Madondo.

​Madondo wears his young age, barely 30, like a badge of pride.  In five years, the organization he created, the Kliptown Youth Project, has become a beacon of hope for the neighborhood youth.

Hope for a brighter future

Andisiwe, one of the young people who attended the after-school program, is now waiting to go and study at the university.  She wants to study humanities. 

"I grew up in a shack," she says. "But in ten years... just a big house.  A big house with a swimming pool and everything in it!"

Nineteen-year-old Lindiwe Manate, whose bubbly personality and optimistic outlook belies the bleak environment she grew up in, says Madondo's program helped her a lot.

"If you know exactly what you want, and you know where you want to be, then you'll come here because you know that's a place where you deal with people who have a dream, people who want to make their future to be successful, people who want to change.  That's my role model.  That's why I'm always with Thulani," she says.

A strong smell of cabbage stew wafts from an empty classroom.  It's 3:00 p.m., time for a warm meal for the 400 children and teens who come every day to KYP, either to get help with their homework, enjoy the only place in the neighborhood with an Internet connection, toss the football or, for the little ones, to climb the jungle gym.

Local involvement

Starting as an informal study-support group led by local volunteers, KYP has become a large organization which now claims the support of a dozen NGOs or corporations.  It is housed in a former Catholic school building.

Madondo says it is up to locals like him, who grew up in Kliptown, to be agents of change.

“Leaving or going away, it would have been a betrayal to this community because I know exactly what it means to go to school with an empty stomach, to go to bed with an empty stomach.  This is another thing that we teach the kids and young people that we work with: if it happens that you succeed, you need to come back and help those that are still struggling," said Madondo.

The preparation for the end of high school exam, the "matric," is particularly important as the exam is a key to escaping Kliptown's dire conditions.  Madondo is proud of the fact that 21 youths he taught have been able to enroll in colleges or universities - a feat that less than 10 percent of black South Africans achieve, according to the 2011 census.

Partnering for training, jobs

KYP also partners with the private sector to try and find training and jobs for the youths.

Kashia Pierce works for a Long Beach, California, based company that provides scholarship and learning to disadvantaged youth.  She says after-school training is essential in modern South Africa to fix the glaring holes in the local education system.  She says the problem is not limited to poor neighborhoods like Kliptown.

"What happens is that the workers out there, when they apply for a position, we as [a] company, we require that they have basic numeracy, but they're not meeting that," she said. "So that means that you can have applicants to jobs in your company, they have matric, but, for all intent and purposes, they can't really count... We see it all over the place. It's heartbreaking.  It honestly is heartbreaking.”

Experts say that because black South Africans have suffered so long from segregation and apartheid, many have developed a sense of entitlement to the state's services.  But through his organization, Madondo hopes to switch this mindset towards a "can do" attitude.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid