On the outskirts of the township of Joe Slovo, just outside Lanseria, in Gauteng, lies the Refilwe Community Project. It is a space that serves as a sanctuary for many children living in the surrounding townships, a place of learning and security.
The Refilwe Community Project, established in 1991 by Jean Stewart and Yvonne Jacques as a Christian-based community development initiative, has catered to many of the needs of the people of Lanseria and its surrounding areas.
Going the Extra Mile campaign (GEM) and Play Your Part paid the organisation a visit to see how it went about its day-to-day activities. Children from Refilwe’s Godparent programme and from the surrounding areas gather for Refilwe’s weekly Kid’s Club on Saturdays, at which facilitators such as Megan Corbett and volunteers run various workshops with the children.
“The two communities come together for Kid’s Club every Saturday,” explains Corbett. “We do worship, we do Bible study and run a feeding scheme with them every Saturday.”
Volunteers, who had heard about the opportunity to volunteer through the GEM application, were on hand to help run the workshops and prepare the food for the feeding scheme.
Sherley, one of the volunteers present through GEM, said she would probably have been relaxing at home if she had not been made aware of the opportunity to volunteer. “It’s good that they [Refilwe Community Project] have got kids involved,” said Sherley. “They’d also probably be chilling at home doing nothing; now they’re learning and playing together and developing, so I think it’s great to see.”
She spoke about the role volunteers could play in helping organisations such as Refilwe, and how GEM had made the process so much easier. “The more people who see it, the more people you have involved, the more donors you can get which means the more projects you can start. So it’s important to get people involved so they can grow.”
Looking to make as big an impact as possible, the Refilwe Community Project is running a wide range of initiatives involving children of all ages through to adulthood.
GEM CONNECTS YOU
GEM is a social development drive aimed at mobilising people and developing a sense of ownership of the organisations and initiatives that have been established to make a difference to people’s lives. The GEM app, developed in conjunction with Play Your Part, rewards volunteers for their efforts in helping during special programmes or in the day-to-day activities of NGOs such as Refilwe.
One of Play Your Part’s main objectives is to encourage and empower active citizenship amongst all people of South Africa and, through the partnerships such as this one with GEM, the campaign has increased its reach and made it easier for citizens to take action and help.
Volunteers can choose to participate in any campaign listed in the app’s database; once the good deed is done, they are eligible to receive a reward via the app, called a GEM. This reward can then be redeemed for a range of products such as airtime, data, pre-paid electricity, or movie tickets.
For more information on how to get involved in your community and to keep track of the activities in and around your area, visit GEM’s website or download the application.