Monwabisi Park Heritage Day Festival

We were greeted by an overcast and rather chilly morning as we started preparing the field and the meeting room at the C-Section Facility for the event.

Gazebos were pitched and tables and chairs put out with the very able assistance of some of the VPUU staff and the Leaders of Change crew as well as some eager young people from within the community who had come along to find out what was happening (Tami, Fathima and Collin had gone around the community on the day before with the loudhailer to announce the event. Posters had been placed in strategic areas earlier in the week, and Lucia and Winkie from Sikhula Sonke had been interviewed on Radio Culture on the Wednesday prior to the event).

Our Partners – Sikhula Sonke, LoveLife, Nal’ibali, Mosaic, Harambee, invited organisations – Waves for Change, and our volunteers – Placemakers, the NHW, and netball coaches – all contributed to making the day a great success!

Though the day started off slowly, the C-Section Container Facility and field soon turned into a whirl of activity with breakfast being served to the Early Childhood Development kids and the children playing informal ball games in the sandy kickabout.

Meanwhile, the women were getting set up to play netball on the A-Section courts next to the construction site of the Resource Centre. Little kids played around on the side of the courts with complete abandon – with skipping ropes and general games.

After the festival was officially opened by Melikaya Ntshingwa and VPUU partners, the fun and games commenced in earnest!

• Sikhula Sonke and volunteers organised the kids and adults into a huge circle and got everyone involved in fun activities that got us all laughing and moving around. Later, they continued with various games and activities including ball games and skipping.
• Nal’ibali involved the children in story-telling in and around VPUU’s old Lady (the bus).
• Harambee – A number of young people completed recruitment application forms for Harambee’s local economic development / employment programme. Later in the day the young women were informed about Harambee’s services too – their forms will be available at the VPUU offices for completion.
• LoveLife – information, magazines and games were displayed at their booth. Later in the day they facilitated a ‘Born-free’ dialogue amongst the adults. Sikhula Sonke’s internal Social Worker assisted in inviting family members and teenage moms to join the dialogue.
• Mosaic – general information about their services were on display throughout the day.
• Waves for Change – general information about their services were on display throughout the day, and they engaged the young people to consider joining the lifeguards.

Cultural Activities included:
• Gumboot dancing by young boys
• Drama
• ECD Forum Women danced in beautiful traditional costumes
• Indigenous games
• A DJ was on hand to get everyone jiving throughout the day.
• A Netball tournament was held on the A-Section netball courts – and a fierce final match was played by the seniors at the end of the day, with a close final score. VPUU provided gold and silver medals for the winners and runners-up of the final game.

• Soccer – It looked like we were not going to have a soccer tournament, as the Monwabisi Park Football Association pulled out of the event late on Friday night (due to internal politics). However, around 12 noon a group of young children gathered at the Sandy Kickabout with their coaches. (These were teams who could not afford to join the football association due to lack of funds.) They asked if they could play – and, without hesitation, we agreed! We had our soccer tournament!  Three age groups played against each other and VPUU provided gold medals for the three final teams plus their coaches.

• Lunch was served to 800 children and adults (hotdogs, juice, crisps and a lollipop each for the children) including the netball and soccer teams.
• A medical response team was on board – and they ably assisted one of the netball team players when she twisted her ankle badly.

The day would not have run as smoothly, however, without the background assistance of an incredible VPUU team who pulled off the event with such aplomb: Fathima (you were superb organising a number of last minute important activities – without which the event would not have been as successful!), Tami, Lucia, Collin, Mr Cekiso (the MP General Worker), the Placemakers, the Leaders of Change young men, NHW and Thulani. Thanks to Melikaya for sorting out the medals for the netball and soccer matches and being our speaker at the opening ceremony. Further behind the scenes, thanks to Chris G for lending the pre-finance for the purchasing of the food on Friday, to Thuli for organising the NHWs and the moving of furniture, and to Priscilla and Renata for sorting out payments to the service providers.

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