As you probably know by now, Southern Africa Travel has enjoyed a long relationship with Uthando, an innovative NGO which does invaluable work raising funds and getting actively involved with a wide variety of grass-roots community projects.
Through James Fernie, the director of Uthando, we were introduced to the Jikeleza Dance Project – a community upliftment programme that works with children from the impoverished areas of Hout Bay, the Nyanga Township and the Learn-to-Live Program for street children in Green Point.
We were blown away by the energy, passion and commitment shown by the kids at Jikeleza Dance, and feel the project is doing fantastic work using music and dance to help build confidence, self-discipline and improve these kids' quality of life.
Jikeleza has grown rapidly over the years and has been struggling with obtaining sufficient funding for the great work they do, so we have committed to a per person donation – which means that for every person that travels with Southern Africa Travel, we will make a donation to the Jikeleza Dance Project.
About The Jikeleza Dance Project
Jikeleza is a Xhosa word meaning “pirouette” or “turn around”, and that is exactly what this project is doing – helping children and young people from impoverished communities turn their lives around through music and dance.
The project started in 2002, and over the years has grown from 50 to 350 children who come mainly from the informal settlement of Imizamo Yethu and the Hangberg Harbour community in Hout Bay: areas characterised by high unemployment, poor housing conditions and a severe lack of amenities and recreational opportunities.
When children join Jikeleza they are given a safe and healthy environment to express themselves creatively through a variety of dance styles including African, contemporary, hip hop and ballet, as well as learning to play the marimbas and drums. Getting involved in these after-school dance and music classes helps keep the students off the streets, making them less vulnerable to involvement in gangs, crime and substance abuse, whilst fostering an appreciation for healthy living.
More Than Music and Dance
Not only does Jikeleza provide this high quality, free after-school programme of dance and music, they also improve the lives of their students by providing:
- two free meals per week
- support with educational expenses eg: school fees and uniforms
- access to life skills coaching and courses
- help seeking scholarships and bursaries – 4 of their students are now studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT)
- support and training to take up arts training, educational and employment opportunities
Jikeleza hopes to expand, reaching many more children not only in the Hout Bay community but in the greater Cape Flats area too. We would love to watch them grow from strength to strength, and are happy to play a small part in helping them continue with the wonderful work that they do.
Watch the video below to really get a feel for the spirit of Jikeleza or read about more innovative projects supported by Uthando in our recent blog post Inspiring Hope: Uthando (Love) South Africa.