Mak­ing ev­ery day Madiba’s

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - IMAN OMAR

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.

PIC­TURE: CINDY WAXA

HELP­ING HAND: Shaun Warner as­sist­ing kids from Ottery with maths and English.

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