Vrygrond is an informal settlement of 48,000 in the City of Cape Town with high levels of gangsterism, violent crime, substance abuse and child abuse. It is also a high fire-risk area due to overpopulation and has low levels of sanitation and overall hygiene. There is a general sense of apathy and hopelessness among its residents; 77% of Vygrond households live below the poverty line. Whereas settlements are usually made up of one ethnic group, Vygrond has 50% Cape Coloured (people of mixed ethnic origin who possess ancestry from Europe, Asia and various Khoi, San and Bantu tribes of Southern Africa) and 50% African, half of which are foreigners. Racial tensions are high and xenophobia is a reality. While Vygrond has many early childhood development centers and an excellent primary school, the settlement does not have a single high school. This means high school students have to walk long distances through gang-infested areas to attend schools in Lavender Hill, Steenberg, Retreat and other areas. Additionally, there are no opportunities for youth employment, development and education. As a result, all too often young people in Vrygrond enter the world of gangsterism, drugs, violence, alcohol and drug abuse because there are no other alternatives.
Founded in 2011, The Sozo Foundation Trust seeks to equip and empower people in Vrygrond Township with the tools, skills and knowledge for holistic self-development. The Sozo Educentre’s After School Education Programme provides tutoring, psychosocial support and career guidance to high school students in a safe space that allows them to achieve their full potential and become leaders who inspire positive change in their own communities. It’s Youth Café provides market-relevant vocational skills to youth were are not in education, employment or training (“NEETS”). Sozo’s Eden Garden Programme provides capacity building to women in the community to increase food security. Sozo is led by founder Anton Cuyler and in 2017 added two new members to its team—Wendy Abrahams as the Educentre Program Manager and Lloyd Williams as the General Manager. Both bring valuable experience in youth development and program management. Additionally, it is helpful that Sozo’s three Educentre Coordinators are from the Vrygrond community and therefore understand the challenging context.
EMpower’s 5th grant to The Sozo Foundation Trust is supporting its after-school tutoring (including general academic support and specialized maths/science/language tutoring, mentorship, counseling, nutritious meals, IT training and career inspiring initiatives) to 210 disadvantaged secondary school students.
Primary Location: Cape Towm
Funded Since: 2015
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