For the past four years the Thoughtful Path Munsieville (TPM) has organised the Tshepo (Hope) festival. The main aim of the festival has been to be a day of fun organised for the children of Munsieville, particularly those who may not be having a Christmas of presents and celebration with their family. Although children are the beneficiaries they also shape the festival by preparing and running the activities on the day. It is quite a noisy freeform affair.
This year’s event will be remembered for a number of reasons, it was held the day after Nelson Mandela passed away, it was used to launch the Child Crisis help line and a record number of children attended. On the day TPM volunteers began working at 6 a.m. preparing food, pitching tents and loud hailing to publicise the event. The volunteers decided that the show should go on and a rally of volunteers and children through all areas of Munsieville went ahead to ask the community to show zero tolerance towards child abuse and to further announce the help line number. The marching children were counted into the stadium and many others arrived by taxi (small minibuses) as the local drivers had volunteered to ferry children back and forth from the informal settlement. All children arriving by taxi immediately scattered to all parts upon disembarking so attendance was estimated at 2207 on foot plus about 400 by taxi. More than Brentford nil get of a Saturday.
TPM stakeholders were invited, the Child Protection Unit brought along a human sized cat capable of standing on two feet and chatting in Tswana to children about their right to say no to anything that makes them feel uncomfortable and how they need not feel scared to talk with their caregivers, teachers or to the help line if they are worried about anything that has happened to them. Respect to Bobby the cat for staying in character and costume throughout the day while being pursued by children high on squash. It’s good sometimes to remember that although there is no glamour in working for Observational Data Analytics it provides partial dignity. Other stakeholders such as the local councillors and clinic made their apologies on account of the passing away of Madiba.
By the end of the day very weary staff, volunteers and young ambassadors had distributed around 5,214 hot dogs and bottles of water and given out about 80 T-shirts advertising the help line. The young ambassadors had also spent the day chanting the jingle they had created to help children remember the number “Stop abuse 0800 TPM TPM; if need help 0800 876 876”. The taxi drivers also offered to carry posters advertising the line in their minibuses free of charge for a month and the first call to the line came through “Please let Santa know I want a bicycle for Christmas”. News travels fast to senior GSK management.