Happy Feet offers a way out of despair

Faced with few options other than hopelessness and substance abuse, Happy Feet offers the youth of Langa, in Cape Town, an alternative. The dance programme brings joy and hope to the participants’ lives.

Happy-Feet---textDancing class at Happy Feet’s garage space in Langa. (Images and Video: Redbull Amaphiko)

Many young people end up consumed by the streets because of the lack of positive activities in their neighbourhoods; Siviwe Mbinda is trying to reverse this cycle.

Through his initiative, Happy Feet Youth Project, Mbinda provides a dance and music programme for young people after school. Located in Langa, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, Mbinda aims to give young people faced with substance abuse and crime, another option.

He told Redbull Amaphiko: “Through dance and music programmes we provide high school scholarships and expose youth to new opportunities. Many youngsters in this neighbourhood have nothing to do except to wander the streets, which can be dangerous, but we provide them with an upbeat alternative.”

WHAT THE PROJECT OFFERS

Over 150 children and young adults attend Happy Feet, with dance and music classes being held in a little garage in Langa. “Our idea is to take kids off the streets and give them something meaningful in life,” Mbinda said. “It’s a way of promoting education with the kids and helping them to build self-esteem.”

The children have already performed at various events at the University of Cape Town, Parliament, and the One & Only Hotel, he explained, which are great opportunities for them to extend their horizon beyond the borders of Langa.

The project also ran a feeding scheme, which provided healthy, donated meals to the youngsters twice a week. It was planning to make this a daily offering.

FINANCING HAPPY FEET

Happy Feet is funded through another project run by Mbinda, Vamos, a township tours operator. This element of social entrepreneurship draws from the fact that modern travellers are increasingly interested in holidays that involve learning and cross-cultural experiences conducted in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner.

happy-feet-1---textTownship experience on bikes to finance the Happy Feet Youth Project

The connections made on the Vamos township experience tours are used also to provide scholarships and feeding schemes to the members of Happy Feet.

“At the moment 15 of the over 150-strong Happy Feet youth received such scholarships, but it is our goal to get them all into the programme,” he said.

“Currently, transporting the young dancers proves to be problematic. We can only afford to take a small number of Happy Feeters to events at a time. Securing transport is a next important step for this project.”

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