Leth'iThemba is based in the township of Vorsloorus, which is home to a notably multicultural community. There are people from all over Africa as well as South Africa living there. However levels of unemployment are exceptionally high within this community which means that extreme levels of poverty, hunger and violence can be found as people compete for the limited resources that are available. Leth'iThemba is attended by more non-South African children than the other Safe Parks that we have been working with, and we learnt that one of the primary challenges that they face is that of documentation. - For a variety of reasons, many of these youths do not have identity documents and are unable to gain access to this basic human right. Unfortunately, without documentation they cannot finish school and nor are they entitled to any form of social grant. These children therefore slip through the cracks of the South African social support system and often live in the worst conditions. Leth'iThemba works to provide these children with as much support as they can give.
The youths of the Leth'ithemba safe park talked to us about how, very often, their generation are seen as having a better chance of getting into university than their predecessors. Therefore many of today's youth aim to finish school and matriculate with the hope of going to university as it is seen as a mode of providing them with more opportunity and a way out of their current living situation. However, they also spoke about how they sometimes feel great pressure from their parents to pursue these achievements. In a culture where the authority of elders is totally dominant, this can often lead to depression amongst the youths as they feel they have no right to an opinion, nor any control over the direction of their own lives. This film has a very strong message about the severe effects of what they termed 'parent-pressure'.
Another issue that the youths of Leth'iThemba wanted to draw attention to was that of blessers. Blessers are very similar to sugar daddies, who exchange money and gifts for sex. This sort of relationship can seem very enticing to younger women who come from poorer environments as they seem to offer a change in lifestyle. However it comes with risks as it leaves young women vulnerable, especially if they confuse the motives of the blesser with a real relationship. These relationships are also contributing towards the increase in Gender-Based Violence as they are based on an exchange and not respect. Additionally, this phenomenon has also been linked to an increase in the spread of HIV amongst women aged 14-25. The following article provides some more information on the blesser culture in South Africa: http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2016/05/26/blessers-inside-south-africas-sugar-daddy-culture
The Youths at Leth'iThemba made the following film, which is an enactment of one of the girls' experiences with a blesser, as warning to other young women so that they may be more educated about these sorts of relationships.
Lorraine, the manager of Leth'iThemba Edu Care, speaks to us about the Safe Park, the children that attend it and the community they live in.
Mike, a youth that attends Leth'iThemba, talks to us about the Safe Park and why he goes there.
One of the activities that Leth'iThemba have done with their children was to get them to write letters to the president, telling him about their situation. Anita, one of these children reads her letter out for us.
Thulane, one of the Child Care Advocates at Leth'iThemba, introduces the films that they made at the final event.