Making every day Madiba’s
OTTERY, Cape Town, couple Shaun and Vanessa Warner believe every day should be Mandela Day.
The two artists began their poetry and writing workshop for youth a month ago from their local library, committing their full time and energy to the project despite both being unemployed.
Shaun, who is a carpenter, said they were inspired by Madiba’s love for children and his passion for education and the arts.
He said they started with 18 youngsters and now the programme has 60 active children with more joining every day.
“I am familiar with a lot of these kids and the type of homes they come from through my experience as a Sunday school teacher.
“We soon realised that literacy skills were also in decline in our community, and then shifted our focus to provide basic help in English and mathematics,” Shaun said.
To provide assistance and food for 60-plus children each day was quite a responsibility, he said.
In addition to the three days a week spent at the library after school and during the holidays, two days are spent counselling young boys to help them cope with violence and poverty in their communities.
“We aim to help these kids in more than just their academics but also public etiquette.
“A lot of these kids come from households where there are 12 to 13 in a two-bedroomed flat and they don’t get the necessary attention or guidance that they should,” said Shaun.
He said that they relied on individual contributions.
“In a community like ours, most of the youth drop out by Grade 8 or get involved in heavy gang violence.
“I want to give these kids a different future,” he said.
HELPING HAND: Shaun Warner assisting kids from Ottery with maths and English.