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Safe Parks: Making a positive difference

UNICEF South Africa/2016/Reddy
© UNICEF South Africa/2016/Reddy
Luyando Willie and an Isibindi Child Care Worker at the Ncefa Village Safe Park.

18 February 2016 - A neat gravel road on the outskirts of East London leads to Ncefa Village where a recently-established Safe Park provides a sanctuary for children and youth from five neighbouring villages.

Established in December 2015, the Park is welcoming with brightly-coloured playground facilities. The Project Manager of the Park, Nombulelo, explains that about 50 children and youth (between ages 3 and 25) use the Park which is open between 10h00 to 17h00 every day of the week.

Mzolisi, the Park Cordinator informs that some youth were part of the building process and elaborated on how he and his team worked to convince the community to give this land to the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) who then spearheaded its establishment. The local municipality also supported the creation of the park and today it clearly is a magnet for children who have few other options for recreation and stimulation.

Luyando Willie is an example of a young man whose life path was changed for the better by the experience and guidance he received at the Safe Park. The slim and pensive-looking 22- year old speaks quietly but confidently about how the Isibindi Safe Parks ensured that he did not drop out of school. He started going to the so-called ‘informal’ Park near his home village in 2011 and found that it had a “positive influence” on him. Described by his child and youth care worker, …, as a “good leader”, Luvoyo enjoys dancing and theatre and therefore works with children in the Park on drama productions. He continues to convince other youth in his village to join him in the Park so that they can enjoy its benefits as well. Quiet though determined, Luvoyo wishes to study Engineering and is in the process of applying for a bursary.

His life has taken a different path thanks to the guidance and mentorship he received and indeed continues to receive from the Isibindi programme hence his express wish “to support the Safe Parks where I can.” 





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