Education Without Borders and Compassionate Eye give students way out of gang environment
In a place where inspiration and motivation can be as hard to find as bread, the township of Guguletu, South Africa, overrun by gangsters and claims of corruption, Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) and Education Without Borders (EwB) are the "extra hands" that are helping the community, and others like it, see "a hope of a brighter future even if the background is not so stable."
"When you live in Guguletu, you have got two options in life: it's either you are a gangster, or you go to school," the narrator begins, in the video by CEF, above, featuring EwB, a Canadian non-profit foundation which fosters educational opportunities and facilities in disadvantaged regions of the world, and Fezeka High School in Guguletu.
For many, the option is not so clear cut. EwB entered Fezeka High School for an eye-opening look inside of a community in need of more classrooms and hope.
"Our choice is coming to school every day because...gangsters will not take me anywhere. School will take me far away," Mawande Bokweni, a grade nine student, said in the video.
On the outside, they're just like any other student. Except some didn't get to have breakfast, and the trip to school might have been mixed with fear of a violent gangster meeting them at a knife point at the corner near their school. A teacher explains that while some children are fortunate enough to have two parents, many of them have a single parent or no parents at all to support them. Orphaned students don't have anyone to nag them to attend classes -- they come by their own choice.
But complicating their lessons is a constant shortage of equipment.
"Sometimes, we run out of desks and we have to stop for that period and look for desks in the other classes while we are supposed to be studying," said one young student.
"We are lacking furniture in school because sometimes it breaks, because the department doesn't have sufficient funds to give to the schools," said Belinda Manona, a teacher at Fezeka. "Imagine a classroom of 80 learners, not all of them are seated down, some of them have to be standing or seated on the floor."
Last year, there were 24 doors stolen from Fezeka.
"There is a lot of corruption in the community, so gangsters like to come here and take our windows," said Nomtha Daniel, a grade nine student.
"The furniture is being broken, and the doors are being robbed."
Without proper fencing, criminals have easy access to students and teachers, and the property. For now, it's closed off.
"They will rob you whether you're a guy or girl. They just take your stuff. Sometimes they just take your stuff and rape you."
Inside this crime environment, with it can be hard for children to flourish, or even want to try. EwB is building more classrooms, like biology laboratory, for schools that lack proper funding. Fostering the teachers' obvious dedication, keeping their spirit alive.
"People like that make you feel the hope of the future, they help you see a brighter future because once you know there is an extra hand that is there to help you then you have that enthusiasm of wanting to come back to school and teach productively," Manona said.
"Life has got so much. You just have to be patient, so I'll just be patient. There's a lot ahead of me. And I'm ready for it," said Zimasa Mgengo, grade 11 student at the school.