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Fighting crime and poverty through football

By: Ntombekhaya Zibi

Inner City Ambassador (ICA) was found by former cop John Maluleke (55) who’s aim was to remove the children off the streets. 

When he was working as a cop he said he used to see a lot of kids rooming around the unsafe streets of the Johannesburg City with nothing to keep them busy, he then took it upon himself to ask them for reasons as to why they left home which lead him to opening the football club.

“As a police officer working in the Inner city at the time, I believe I was driven by passion and the love of working with the youth, especially disadvantaged children,” said Mr Maluleke, who has served at Alexandra and Johannesburg central police before deciding to retire in 2014 and give his full attention to the ICA.

The club has a membership of more than 160 children within the inner city from ages eight to 18. It has four volunteer coaches and consists of five teams which include the U10, U13, U15, U17 for boys and U18 for girls.

The South African Police Service is working together with the club to help fight crime. They are also teaching the children about substance abuse and violence prevention, but mostly, the club pushes the players to reach their potential as they already have about nine players who are playing for premier soccer league clubs such as Wits University and Highlands Park Football Club.

The ICA is sponsored by the African Housing Company (AFCHO), Staycity hotel and Fifa World Cup Legacy Trust. They hold street soccer once in a while to assist the City of Johannesburg with identifying homeless children and facilitate some with their families. 

In recognition of the Nelson Mandela International Day, the club in partnership with Tata Consultancy Services introduced Mandela Day Cup that has been taking place for the past seven years. From the first of July until the 22nd of the same month this year, they will be hosting their 8th annual tournament at the following cities, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Emfuleni and Ekrhuleni. 

The finals will be held at the University of Johannesburg, 16 Bunting Road Campus Auckland Park, Johannesburg, where the winners will get a trophy, gold medals and winner certificates while runner ups will receive silver medals and runner up certificates.

 

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Jozi farmers score big

Several farming co-operatives that had been assisted by the City of Johannesburg to get their enterprises off the ground received a major boost again when they were afforded the opportunity to sell their produce during the City’s Region F Market Day at Metro Centre in Braamfontein recently.

The small-scale farmers present on Market Day were some of the beneficiaries of the City’s Food Resilience Programme, which is aimed at enabling citizens to have better access to prime agricultural land for better productivity and profitability.

The programme also explores new customers to sell their produce to and ensures that the poor are able to produce their own food. It further seeks to help co-operatives generate their own income and feed their families.

At the event, the City provided the co-operatives with trolleys, banners, tables and chairs to set up their stands to ensure the success of the day.

Thoko Nhlapo, Region F’s Acting Manager: Urban Agriculture, said a survey conducted a few years ago had found that many Johannesburg residents were undernourished and there were some who even went to bed on an empty stomach.

“We started by handing out food parcels to needy residents and encouraged people to start their own gardens in their own back yards. We then realised that many of them were managing their gardens well. We then provided them with bigger spaces so they could plant, produce and sell. Now they are able to generate their own income.”

“We hold Market Days once a month where we try to help them find customers easily. We had realised that even though co-operatives were growing their food, most of them were struggling with finding proper spaces to sell in. This is why each region has a manager who assists them with selling,” Nhlapo added.

Nhlapo said on average each co-operative, consisting of five about members, could generate between R36 000 and R40 000 a month in revenue.

Catherine Khambule, a hydroponic farmer trained by the City last year, sold most of her co-operative’s produce by midday. “And we have only been here for a few hours,” said Khambule.

“Our method of farming is simple. We were trained to tend to the crops in roof gardens. I do not think that we would be where we are today without this knowledge. We are living in the Johannesburg inner city but we are able to produce food without using conventional methods.”

END

 

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Hope for children, one meal at a time

Dedicated staff at non-profit organisations across the country work hard to serve the community’s youth. In a country where hunger and poor nutrition pose a major risk to the health, wellbeing and education of millions of children, the resounding message from people like Lerato Moyo, a lifeskills facilitator for NPO Afrika Tikkun, is clear – hungry children struggle to learn, grow and thrive. 

Afrika Tikkun is one of 137 organisations supported by Add Hope, with funds raised through KFC customer donations as well the company’s own Corporate Social Responsibility contribution to fund sustainable feeding schemes. 

Lerato works at the Afrika Tikkun Uthando Youth Centre in Braamfontein, a centre which provides education, health and social services to children, young adults and their families.

She has been dedicated to this community for the past six years and she is passionate about teaching and changing the lives of young people. 

When children in the Braamfontein area come to the centre after school, they get support, warmth and coaching from facilitators like Lerato – and a meal for the day funded by Add Hope that will make their lives just a little easier. 

 “Hunger is really a huge issue here in our community,” says Lerato. “Most of the children who come here are from disadvantaged families. They live in poverty in Hillbrow and when they do go to school, they don’t get a meal. Their first meal of the day is the one they eat after school, here at Uthando.”

As a teacher at the centre, Lerato is really able to see and experience the benefits of the feeding scheme funded by Add Hope and the impact it has on the lives of these children. 

She says, “When the children arrive hungry, it is very difficult to work with them. Then after lunch, they are able to concentrate so beautifully and fully participate in the activities. A meal does so much more than just fill their tummies,  it builds their self-esteem, it actually builds their confidence and it helps them relate well to other people.”

Another key benefit is that the meal brings the children into a safe environment, keeping them off the streets. “Children know that they will be taken care of when they come here and receive a good meal. 

They then stay on and we can coach and guide them, helping them to achieve more at school and giving them positive activities to help them learn, rather than the negative things they could be exposed to out on the streets.”

Lerato highlights that malnourishment in children has severe consequences for their development and ability to grow and learn.

 “Children are so precious, they are our future, and it’s sad to see young children with so much potential suffer from hunger. 

If we can just work together to take care of their basic needs, we can help them to achieve their potential.  

It is amazing how your R2 donation, made into a nutritious meal, can change a child’s life.” 

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The inner-city Gazette is a Unique Community Newspaper .Most Newspapers are owned by millionaires and reflects the outlook of the rich and powerful.

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