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Written by volunteers Morwenna Hall and Esther Bancroft

We are so used to sharing tracks on Spotify, adding them to countless playlists that sometimes it’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to simply live in the moment- to experience live music without an iPhone recording it. Imagine doing all that, but in the informal residences of Khayelitsha, with children singing songs passed down in Xhosa tradition, using cut up coke cans to create a beat and a ten year old drummer to back the voices. Girl Impact was obviously going to subvert our perceptions of life in Cape Town of the township of Khaylitsha, but not to this extent, or in such raw form.

Standing there, in someone’s home witnessing a performance that so few get to see was enough to move us. We had only become acquainted to these children a few hours before, but still they followed us out through the shacks, singing with the drum to our car. That experience alone could justify every challenge in getting here where music here brought us, more specifically them together. Having only known each other for just under a year after meeting at university made volunteering together even more surreal.  For three weeks we have worked with other young people with whom we could identify- specifically the young girls who are also at important stages in their lives, balancing their relationships and  educational careers.

Music surrounds every volunteer, from the aux in the bus on the way to project, the chorus of GAPA grannies to the nursery rhymes we sing with the children. It is easy to see how much of a presence it has in the community. When working with the dance group we met with a young dancer wanting to set up his own music production company, solely to voice the talent in Khayelitsha. The ambition we have experienced whilst working on project is testament to the children’s drive, some of whom- at just ten years old- show dedication to enter careers that we also want to end up in.  And it is interesting to see how the new interacts with the old, with the new generation actively creating a new community- demonstrated by the  entrepreneurs who line the streets- and the mamas at Fikelela orphanages we teach how to use computers for the first time. All of this is made starker by the fact that all the talent and hard work that exists within Khayelitsha seems reserved to the cape flats, unbeknown to many residents of Cape Town.

There are always the songs which transport you back to a certain place and moment in time, and for us ‘Down South’ by Jeremy Loops will always remind us of Cape Town. We doubt you can even volunteer with African Impact without someone playing it. It goes to show that on project there will always be someone playing their music- especially in Lion house. You can’t watch a sunset on Signal hill without it. Meeting and experiencing so many beautiful moments together with other volunteers from across the globe has been another culture lesson- often arguing over English music taste in comparison to American remixes.  But still we bonded over sharing the aux in the bus, against the backdrop of Table Mountain on the highway.

Music would still be playing at lunchtimes at the look-out over the cape flats; the community tour took us to the different communities on the flats starting from Langa to Khaylitsha. All of this is a reminder  to how important it is to understand the geography of an area home to over two million people.

Working at Girl Impact with girls our own age and older has been so valuable in creating safe spaces in which they can be listened to, and therefore be themselves. African Impact’s pledge of sustainability means that we know these spaces will exist, even after we leave.  This was definitely a defining factor in why we have enjoyed volunteering with African Impact- because we know that our efforts are all part of a larger project. Just as the accumulation of voices and dancers we saw from the dance group would not be as stunning or work as well individually, Girl Impact is successful because it spans generations and brings them together.

And where would we be without harmony?

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Article from The Huffington Post   March 08, 2017

As experts attest, each additional year in school delays a girl’s marriage, lowers her risk of dying in pregnancy or in childbirth, and increases her future income by a full 10 percent. When women earn more, they spend more on meeting their families’ needs. Educated women also have fewer children, each of whom is more likely to survive and to go to school. Including the families these girls will create and anchor over the decades to come, we’re talking now about an additional 50,000 people — husbands, children, future earners — whose live will be affected by the girls we educate today. Even without considering other family members likely to be better off when a girl is educated – siblings, grandparents, extended family or friends – more than 86,000 people are being helped. Educating just 1 girl now touches the lives of at least 6 others.

A relatively small investment shows big returns today and for years to come. The impact is clear and the goal achievable: we must recognize that #GirlsCount.

Read the full article here 

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The evidence that educating girls creates healthier, wealthier, fairer, and more stable communities is overwhelming—so why isn’t every girl getting a quality education? The barriers, particularly for girls in the poorest countries, are wide-ranging and complex but these are some of the most challenging:

Cost: Even in areas where school fees are non-existent, there’s still a price to pay. Students are often required to buy uniforms, transportation, and supplies, like textbooks, pens, and notebooks, not to mention the indirect costs such as loss of potential income from missed labour opportunities or contributions around the home.

Read the full article here.

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Companies should learn that it is for their own benefit to empower women and ensure that they move into leadership positions in businesses‚ the late Nelson Mandela’s widow‚ Graca Machel‚ said on Tuesday.

Read the full article here 

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As you read through our site, the inspiration for supporting girls through womanhood is really what we hope our great impact will be. Looking at this video, gave us hope that the works we do and others have done, with support from communities, especially fathers, our dreams for the girls we work with are possible.

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Have you ever wondered who the most powerful women in world are? Forbes had created a list which answers all the questions you have ever had on this topics. Please follow the link here: Forbes List.

Let us know what you think about this list or if you have anyone to add to this list.

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African Female Presidents

With the news of Hillary Clinton breaking the glass ceiling in American politics, it is important for us to do a check on how many women presidents Africa has had over the last decade. This is not to downlight any of Hillary’s achievements and what this means for American politics and World politics for that matter, we want to instead highlight the fact that Africa has tried and tested women presidency. Though the list is short for a continent with 54 country states, to satisfy your curiosity find the list of these formidable women here.

 

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When we started working on The Girl Impact program, we were so grateful for all the resources available to us online. There are many other resources we can share, but we have found this to be  a really good place to start for organisations and people working with girls, working on fundraising for girls and for thinking through working with girls. This link will send you directly to the download page for the toolkit the Population Council created, but we will encourage you to see what else is available on the website that could be of use to you and your organisation. Happy reading!

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