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One life changing Africa
Philen, tell us about the work you do…
We (my wife and I) found two 21-year-old high school dropouts on the streets of Zandspruit Squatter Camp in 2008. They played soccer with 14 teenage boys in the afternoons. We partnered with them and started the Singcono Masisonke StreetKid Soccer club which today keeps 105 boys aged 9 to 19 off the streets and out of trouble. From Monday to Sunday you can find kids from 7 of the surrounding state funded schools at our club playing, learning and growing.
The two boys, who we partnered with to start the club, have since been trained in childcare work and have been employed by Golang Education Outreach. We have also started a youth club for teenage boys and girls called My Life My Africa Youth. They meet every week to find solutions to the daily problems that they battle with.
What are some of the successes you’ve seen through the actions of ordinary citizens?
Ordinary citizens took a soccer ball, 14 teenage boys and two high school failures, and turned it into a soccer club that saves lives. Another ordinary citizen walked in a few years ago with a tray of sandwiches to feed the children, and she now heads up an AfterCare Program that feeds, educates and looks after approximately 250 children under 14. Ordinary citizens have helped build shacks, paint the community centre, facilitate sports days and so much more. There is no substitute for the willing hands of the South African citizen. Give me people before money any day!
What advice can you give to people wanting to make a difference in SA?
Get started! Opportunities are everywhere. You don't need to be a groundbreaking pioneer, just an honest human being with a heart to serve. Go with no expectation or pressure, just visit. Keep doing this and you will find where your heart is happiest. Passion is contagious, so get connected with the passionate people on the ground.
What is your challenge to South Africans to make this country really great?
We must bridge the cultural and economic gaps that are dividing us. I challenge every South African to examine themselves - see which part of our population you are disconnected from, find an organisation that is serving in this area, and get active with them. Rich, poor, black, white, handicapped, men, women, children ... the opportunities are endless. But we must move out from our comfort zones to relationally engage with those who we view as 'different' from us. "
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