Social Justice & Active Democracy
The Donald Woods Foundation’s primary focus is on the most severely deprived and isolated areas of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province where most of the more than 6.7 million residents survive without potable water, inadequate sanitation, electricity, roads or public transport. In the isolated parts of the region unemployment levels stand at more than 89%, and most people live at or well below subsistence level. Active democracy is an unrealised dream in such areas.
Local people also have to contend with the national epidemic of HIV infection and drug resistant TB, alongside high levels of crime, particularly crimes of sexual violence, without adequate police protection for the vulnerable. Psycho-social services to assist the victims of sexual violence are very limited at best in rural areas. Most areas have no such services and injured people are often referred to towns far away, an impossible burden for most people without means.
How we are investing in people
Training for local people in health programmes
Dozens of local people have received training as Peer Educators and HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Counsellors so that they can support and advise other members of the community who may have, or be at risk of, HIV infection. Peer Educators run Wellness Groups which are critical in helping people maintain their health, make informed decisions and obtain full benefits from medical intervention.
Training for local people in supporting orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)
Many local people have been trained as OVC Supporters so that they can support vulnerable children in their own communities, monitor their needs and extend the reach of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme.
Training camps for local professionals
Weekend-long training camps are held for health and education professionals across the region, to develop their skills, share and exchange their experiences and devise solutions to common challenges.
Increasing confidence through training
HCT Counsellors and OVC Supporters report increased self-esteem from the feeling of being a useful member of their own community. This is an often over-looked aspect of life in rural areas where many are spiritless, often depressed, disinterested and under-utilised, with very few prospects for the future. A fundamental aspect of personal and communal happiness and sense of well-being is to feel connected and of use in one’s community.
Empowering people to look after themselves and their neighbours helps strengthen chronically deprived and shattered communities. The fact that family life was so badly damaged historically by the migrant labour system and that the effects are still being felt today, is often overlooked and forgotten.
The Training and Enterprise Centre at Donald Woods Centre
The Donald Woods Centre at Hobeni is able to provide training in many life skills areas in an effort to develop an active rural citizenry. These include: rights advocacy and active citizenship; adult literacy, numeracy, IT and money management; practical but essential everyday skills in plumbing, electrical maintenance and driving skills; business start-ups and development, planning and project implementation; farming skills in both traditional and modern climate smart agriculture; boosting food garden production and water harvesting; arts and crafts skills and production.