Growing up in the dusty streets of Nyanga made me realise that everyone expected most girl-children to aspire after a profession in the teaching or nursing fields, my outlook on life changed as I grew older. It was largely influenced by what stared me in the face on a daily basis. Social issues such as; substance abuse, high unemployment, debilitating poverty, domestic and gender-based violence, the level of crime and human trafficking, were on the rise and becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. These social ills were more than enough motivation to stir up in me a passion for activism, justice and fairness. At the time, I had very little knowledge on how and where I could make a meaningful difference and thereby bring about a change to the negative narrative and perception of a community I had grown up in and loved so dearly, Nyanga. I knew that the negative statistics only highlighted the bad and very little about the good in the community. Like most communities, there are good and bad elements and sadly the bad tend to overshadow the good.
Joining Justice Desk Africa was a game changer for me; an organisation that sees the good in every human being. An organisation which understood that empowering communities to take control of their own destinies is the best solution to most of the current challenges people face. Through a number of workshops and community engagement initiatives, mindsets are slowly starting to change for the better and this has led to the introduction of Immersions: an initiative designed to showcase the great potential this community has. Visits are arranged for overseas and local guests to explore the sights and sounds of Nyanga for themselves. This includes a mini tour of the area and households where diverse living conditions can be seen. Immersions are a great way to introduce any visitor to the township and thereby offer them first-hand experience of life in Nyanga. This is only but a portion of what is entailed in this Immersions program. Included would be a tour of the Justice Desk Africa offices, the projects (Mbokodo and iNtsika), the Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) and the community at large. This is crowned with us having a scrumptious traditional meal, which is always thoroughly enjoyed by our guests.
Among the guests we welcomed in August were a group from the UK and the British High Commissioner and his team. Spending some time with the kids from the ECDs was the highlight for our guests as this experience reminded them of when they raised their own. I look forward to having more opportunities to showcase our communities and build meaningful future relationships.
Written by Theodora Luthuli