Reality TV meets community self-help

9 September 2009

Kwanda, a world first “community makeover” TV show, began flighting on South African television this month. The extraordinary series follows five teams of volunteers working together to tackle common challenges faced by South African communities.

The show follows five volunteer teams that were recruited across South Africa a few months ago, and have since been working in their communities to try to reduce new HIV infections, reduce alcohol abuse and alcohol-related violence, help orphans and vulnerable children, generate income and create job opportunities.

In tracking the journeys of the five teams, the series will give its audience inspiration and concrete ideas for taking action themselves, as well as contact information for helping people in their own communities.

The five Kwanda teams are in Pefferville near East London in the Eastern Cape, Mthwalume near Port Shepstone in KwaZulu-Natal, Tjakastad near Barberton in Mpumalanga, Lephephane near Tzaneen in Limpopo province, and Kwakwatsi near Sasolburg in Free State province.

Each participating community chose 50 participants who underwent five weeks of training in a special learning camp, acquiring new skills, learning how to organise themselves, and developing a plan for their community.

Ten of the participants from each community also underwent training in fashion design and sewing, so that they could become part of an innovative fashion project, Kwanda Klothing, which will be launched during the TV series.

At the end of the series, in a one-hour finale to be broadcast live on SABC 1 on Wednesday, 25 November, the television audience will vote to decide which team has achieved the most in transforming their community. The winning team will receive a major prize.

Kwanda has been created by the Soul City Institute in partnership with the Department of Social Development and SABC 1, as well as the Department of Health, BP Southern Africa, the MTN Foundation, the British goverment’s Department of International Development, the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), and the South African Local Government Association.

“Kwanda means ‘wealth’ and ‘growth’, and is first programme of this type on television worldwide,” Soul City acting executive Antoinette Ntuli said in a statement last week. “Kwanda promises high emotion and drama which is intended to inspire people to make a difference.”

Launching the groundbreaking project last week, Deputy Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini called on communities countrywide to follow the examples of the Kwanda teams.

“Kwanda is a powerful new approach to engaging communities in sustainable development and promoting sustainable livelihoods,” Dlamini said. “It shows that South Africans still have the capacity to think out of the box and out of our institutions in our collective effort to develop our country.”

“Kwanda, Communities with Soul” airs on SABC 1 at 9pm on on Wednesdays, with repeats at 11am on Thursdays.

SAinfo reporter

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