A community organisation is showing the children of Bloemfontein’s Phase 7 that a positive attitude and mindful choices can lead to a brighter future.
A positive outlook on life is changing the mindsets of young Bloemfontein residents.
The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is the philosophy behind the establishment of Isolate Iziyobisi in Phase 7, a community organisation that works to uplift local children. Iziyobisi is the Xhosa word for ‘drugs’ and isolating children from substance abuse and gang violence is what prompted the establishment of the non-profit organisation.
Isolate Iziyobisi was started by four unemployed friends who, although suffering and struggling to survive, wanted to break the cycle of poverty, crime, drugs and jail.
This is done by actively being involved in the lives of vulnerable children through an after-school programme that helps with homework and provides guidance and mentorship to children aged six to 17 years; talent shows and soccer and netball tournaments boost the morale of the community and keep the children’s minds from idleness.
Taking a better path
One of the founding members, Thandolwethu Mbalo, is a former drug addict who uses his experiences to show children a better path. “We decided to do something that will make those who come after us have a different story to ours. We don’t fight drugs directly; our model looks at the root of drug abuse, which is poverty. So we support poor children through food and clothes donated by people,” he said.
Rethabile Moqasa, who joined the organisation last year, is similarly driven to help change the community’s narrative. Moqasa found herself pregnant as a teenager, and now focuses on girl children to uplift them. “I joined Isolate Isiyobisi because I want to play a part in changing the background and lifestyle of the children in Phase 7. I want to bring new hope to the girls, and to encourage them not to make the same mistakes that I did.”
Nkosinathi Mbalo (9) said he used to struggle with maths and English. However, after joining the after-school programme, his marks have improved.
Fifteen-year-old Levoyo Jack, who joined the organisation last year, said Isolate Iziyobisi had kept him from bad things like gangs and smoking. “I’m now focused on good and positive things.”
Mbalo confirms that he has seen positive changes. “The biggest difference I have noticed through Isolate Iziyobisi so far is that the children are focused, although gang violence still reigns in the community.”
Isolate Iziyobisi now has seven members who mentor the children and some of them have even given up their personal laptops to teach the children computer skills.