My time with Seven Passes
When my Life Orientation teacher at York High School announced our term project – Community Services – I instantly knew what I wanted to do.
could walk a dog anytime, and I love the fascinating stories the older generation always has to share but no, I wanted to work with children. I wanted to go out into my own community, the Hoekwil/Wilderness area, and interact with the youth – the future of this country on a one-on-one basis. Immediately the Seven Passes Initiative sprung to mind, an NGO based in Touwsranten. With a focus on the youth of the community, they offer homework classes, hold holiday programmes and inter-alia assist with school guidance from their office in the heart of Touwsranten.
Greeted by wide-eyed kids on both occasions, I was lucky enough to be with the Grade R’s and 1’s – sources of endless chatter, jokes, giggles and finger counting. From explaining sums of six and eight on fingers, complimenting some of the coolest abstract expressionistic art and falling totally in love with a charming boy reaching only to about my mid-thigh – it became more than a project for me.
I worked alongside volunteers and immediately felt at easy, largely thanks to everyones warm nature and the jokes being cracked in the office! The environment within the office, and the classrooms, makes one realise that you are part of something bigger than two hours of homework classes. These classes, and the selfless volunteers and facilitators who run them, are changing these childrens’ futures.
By offering these classes, they are helping them with their education, keeping them entertained and off the streets – ultimately changing the path they will take in the future. The meal supplied daily – of which there is never enough – is maybe lunch and dinner for some and is a brilliant incentive to encourage attendance. Not that the kids need encouragement, they willingly attend the Monday to Thursday classes. One only needs to see the tongues sticking out in concentration, the wave of pride when a compliment is bestowed or listen to the happy chattering any one of the classrooms to understand the importance of these classes to the children. Seven Passes has however, extended their involvement beyond the classroom; keeping children entertained through sports in the holidays and making the internet accessible for projects and assignments.
My time at the Initiative broadened my horizons and tugged at my heart. I realised that I need to swallow my groaning about school – I’m fortunate enough to attend one where I receive all the guidance I need – to eat whatever my mom puts in front of me and to never stop giggling. Giggling was a constant, from the boys at my attempts at Afrikaans, to the girls laughing about me and my hair. Because the minute you spend time with those in different circumstances to you, you realise how good you have it, having lunch at home and that things like not walking to school is a luxury – I was questioned on this and more and learned that even girls in Grade 1 want to talk about their matric farewells.
Got two hours free? Or some teddy bears you don’t sleep with anymore? I know some kids in Touwsranten who would love to let you into their lives or gladly adopt old toys. The Initiative always welcomes donations – in any form – or volunteers; it is community involvement that helps to sustain it. Contact them on 044 8501267 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
When asked to write an accompanying article about my experiences, I gladly agreed – my hope is that you, the one who wants to help but finds little time to even finish this article, will find your own manner in which to contribute. Because every action has a reaction and you might find that the smiles you receive are enough. They are for me.