CF: You are currently running Teen_Connect in partnership with the Wits Art Museum (WAM). How does this work? Who is it impacting? And do you have any positive stories to share with us about it?
RM: We have a long-standing relationship with the Wits Art Museum that we are very proud of. We’ve been partnering with them over the years to deliver a holiday programme for our teenagers. This year, because of the lockdown, we’ve adapted the programme to ensure the safety of our beneficiaries. In partnership with WAM, we developed a five-week programme. We have taken inspiration from some of the artworks from WAM’s incredible art collection and created art-making prompts and activities to help the children express and process their experiences of the sudden changes the coronavirus has brought. Each week our beneficiaries will receive a different pack of art material with art activities and prompts to create artworks. The beneficiaries bring these back to us the following week to photograph and to receive their next pack.
We’ve just started last week, and it was truly wonderful to see the beneficiaries, meet their parents and see their excitement about this programme. We’ve had such a wonderful response from them. This week I received several WhatsApp messages with photos of completed artworks. Parents and caregivers also shared with us how grateful they are for our continued support. One parent came to me last week and said that when she first received the SMS with the food voucher, she thought someone sent it by mistake. Finally, at the end of the week, when she had no other solutions to buy food, she decided to use it. Her relief was great when we phoned her to check whether she received the voucher and she realised that it was intended for her and her family.
From our initial monitoring and evaluation reports, it is clear that children in the inner-city feel worried, insecure and unsafe and a programme such as this offers them a sense of the known and something to look forward to.