You’ll find a gogo who comes in and before I can say anything she says, “my child, please don’t cheek me, please don’t be harsh to me,” because of experiences at other organizations. At Sophiatown we make a difference in people’s lives by acknowledging them regardless of race, age or history.
The deep work we do has an impact. Striking can have a general impact, but what impact does it have on the individual? I am not saying that marches are useless, it will give a person R100 more in their pocket. This does not compare, however, to a Community Healthcare Worker who did not see the possibility of studying further and is now doing a degree in banking. Generations to come are going to benefit from her having a degree. We work privately and silently; our work has the ability to develop a whole human being, to further develop a family, a community and a nation.
Teenagers are seen in a negative light and everyone complains about them; but if they are with a “different adult” who will correct them from a place of love and will listen to them it makes them feel like they matter.
From my county I learnt that to discipline a child you must beat the child and cut the child’s hair. When I came to South Africa I learnt that a child has rights and a voice to speak out.
As an organization we show love and respect to children and treat them as human beings, no matter how little or young they are. We never ill-treat them and we are also aware of how they feel. Even in our absence they know we love and care for them.
Many of our clients’ experiences have stripped them of their dignity and they are being ill-treated by other organizations that they turn to for help. A part of restoring people’s dignity is the respect we give our clients from the moment they walk through our doors; after interacting with us, they feel that they matter.
Many people ask me how I cope listening to such problems all day and I tell them, “I don’t listen to problems, I listen to people”. The heart of listening to a human is part of being a human rights activist.