Pos­i­tiv­ity rules the day

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Galoome Shopane

A Com­mU­nITy or­gan­i­sa­tion is show­ing the chil­dren of Bloem­fontein’s Phase 7 that a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and mind­ful choices can lead to a brighter fu­ture.

Apos­i­tive out­look on life is chang­ing the mind­sets of young Bloem­fontein res­i­dents.

The African proverb “It takes a vil­lage to raise a child” is the phi­los­o­phy be­hind the es­tab­lish­ment of Iso­late Iziy­obisi in Phase 7, a com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion that works to up­lift lo­cal chil­dren. Iziy­obisi is the Xhosa word for ‘drugs’ and iso­lat­ing chil­dren from sub­stance abuse and gang vi­o­lence is what prompted the es­tab­lish­ment of the non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Iso­late Iziy­obisi was started by four un­em­ployed friends who, although suf­fer­ing and strug­gling to sur­vive, wanted to break the cy­cle of poverty, crime, drugs and jail.

This is done by ac­tively be­ing in­volved in the lives of vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren through an af­ter-school pro­gramme that helps with home­work and pro­vides guid­ance and men­tor­ship to chil­dren aged six to 17 years; tal­ent shows and soc­cer and net­ball tour­na­ments boost the morale of the com­mu­nity and keep the chil­dren’s minds from idle­ness.

Tak­ing a bet­ter path

One of the found­ing mem­bers, Than­dol­wethu Mbalo, is a for­mer drug ad­dict who uses his ex­pe­ri­ences to show chil­dren a bet­ter path. “We de­cided to do some­thing that will make those who come af­ter us have a dif­fer­ent story to ours. We don’t fight drugs directly; our model looks at the root of drug abuse, which is poverty. So we sup­port poor chil­dren through food and clothes do­nated by peo­ple,” he said.

Retha­bile Mo­qasa, who joined the or­gan­i­sa­tion last year, is sim­i­larly driven to help change the com­mu­nity’s nar­ra­tive. Mo­qasa found her­self preg­nant as a teenager, and now fo­cuses on girl chil­dren to up­lift them. “I joined Iso­late Isiy­obisi be­cause I want to play a part in chang­ing the back­ground and life­style of the chil­dren in Phase 7. I want to bring new hope to the girls, and to en­cour­age them not to make the same mis­takes that I did.”

Nkosi­nathi Mbalo (9) said he used to strug­gle with maths and English. How­ever, af­ter join­ing the af­ter-school pro­gramme, his marks have im­proved.

Fif­teen-year-old Levoyo Jack, who joined the or­gan­i­sa­tion last year, said Iso­late Iziy­obisi had kept him from bad things like gangs and smok­ing. “I’m now fo­cused on good and pos­i­tive things.”

Mbalo con­firms that he has seen pos­i­tive changes. “The big­gest dif­fer­ence I have no­ticed through Iso­late Iziy­obisi so far is that the chil­dren are fo­cused, although gang vi­o­lence still reigns in the com­mu­nity.”

Iso­late Iziy­obisi now has seven mem­bers who men­tor the chil­dren and some of them have even given up their per­sonal lap­tops to teach the chil­dren com­puter skills.

Than­dol­wethu Mbalo is de­ter­mined to make a dif­fer­ence in his com­mu­nity.

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