Changing children’s lives

Daryn Wood


ZAMA SA, a nonprofit organisation operating from Red Location in New Brighton, is changing children’s lives by giving them opportunities they have never been afforded before.
 The organisation offers a wide variety of after school programmes for all agegroups, ranging from preschool to highschool pupils.
 Programmes include performing art classes like choirs, dancing and short-term theatre classes. The creative arts programmes include crafts, sewing and drawing. Classes run from 3pm to 6pm, Monday to Thursday.
Maths and English classes are also taught as many of the children are between five and seven years behind in their English, said Zama SA executive director Gail Hawes.
“It is imperative that, if they are to succeed in life, they ‘catch up’ in their English and are able to cope with all subjects at school.”
The Zama after-school programme was started as part of The Oliver Foundation in 2008, with a small group of children at a local creche. It quickly became so popular Hawes found a few women from the area who were interested in crafts to help her teach the children.
“I taught them the crafts, and then they passed on their new skill to the children. Since then we have now grown to having around 250 children per week attending a whole timetable of activities,” said Hawes.
In any week they have up to 18 teachers, teaching between one and four days a week.
Hawes said there was a great deal of focus on creative development of the individual. They believe a person who has developed more creative skills while they are younger will become a more capable problem-solver.
“They will see the world in a completely different way, and are much more likely to look outside the box when looking at life options, whether making a career choice or an important decision in life.”
She said children’s lives were being completely changed as they built confidence and personal skills through “participation”. One very strong lesson they constantly reiterate is that if you participate in life there will be rewards, but if you sit at home, nothing will happen.
Hawes added the children build leadership skills through the various activities. Many of their “young leaders” are children who have gone through the programme, learnt skills, and are now encouraging younger children by passing on their skills.
“It is wonderful to see the responsibility they take, the pride they get in helping younger people, and how they appreciate being looked up to as a leader.”
In addition to their school programmes, the organisation also runs a baby-care and creche facility.
“We want to give children the best possible start in life, by providing quality educare and after-school education and social programmes,” said Hawes.
 “Zama provides a safe-haven for children, ensuring they are fed a good quality meal and can have fun while learning after school.”
Next year they will be launching their Leadership Development Academy for Grades 8 to 12 to allow them to continue to assist older children. Zama’s goal is to create more age appropriate programmes so when the pupils are making choices for after school education or work, they are more prepared for what is on offer.
Crafts teacher Miranda Nbete believes the pupils benefit greatly from the programmes they offer.
“We are giving them something they do not get at school. They are learning new skills and it helps them a lot.”
DA Ward councillor Jeremy Davis said he is 100% in favour of anything that helps previously disadvantaged communities.
“I think it is a wonderful project. The future lies in the hands of our youth.”
Davis added the younger generation growing up now are the ones who will be building up the country.
Zama can be contacted on (041)366-1376.

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