Students work with pupils to lessen burdens

2015-06-16 06:01
Rio Grande Primary School pupils listen to a talk by dr Randall Ortell hosted by the Silence Violence campaign in Manenberg.

Rio Grande Primary School pupils listen to a talk by dr Randall Ortell hosted by the Silence Violence campaign in Manenberg.

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A campaign to stop the violence in poverty-stricken areas has hit home for pupils of Rio Grande Primary School.

The Silence Violence campaign, which is spear-headed by four medical students of the University of Stellenbosch, was launched at the school on Thursday 4 June.

The campaign is a youth-driven initiative to educate youngsters on the dangers of drug abuse and gang violence, and also, more importantly, to empower them through education, interaction and motivation, ensuring that opportunities otherwise considered impossible to attain, are made accessible for youngsters living in communities plagued by drugs and gangsterism.

The four medical students visited the school to launch the campaign. A few pupils from the school feature in the campaign’s video.

Burden of violenceCampaign chairperson Monique Ponto says the idea behind the campaign name is an oxymoron.

“Silence refers to an end to violence by making a noise, being vocal and addressing the social burden at hand,” Ponto explains.

She says the pupils at Rio Grande in Manenberg were the inspiration for the campaign.

“In listening to the pupils, staff, community advocates and fellow Capetonians, the harsh realities associated with the burden of violence and injury this community is faced with became known.

“We did not realise how extensive this problem was until we visited the school,” Ponto says.

“We gained a greater insight to the immense effects gangsterism has on our children. A childlike innocence can be taken away instantly, the minute a child is exposed to an unpleasant environment,” she adds.

It is in this then that the students decided to contribute to lessen the burdens of trauma and violence in disadvantaged communities.

Suitable time“Our vision is to contribute to lessening the burden of disease related to trauma and violence through the establishment of a sustainable anti-violence initiative that educates and empowers the youth with the knowledge and skill to break free from a lifestyle governed by drugs and gangsterism. In doing so, we are instilling hope in our youth to take ownership of their future,” Ponto explains.

Established in November last year, the online launch of the campaign came in May.

“In light of raising awareness against violent xenophobic attacks, the tragic murder of a young South African school teacher and our youth caught in gang crossfire, there could not have been a more suitable time to do so.

“The hope for the campaign video is that it may provide insight into Silence Violence and open the eyes of Capetonians and fellow South Africans so that we may unite against the injustices our youth are challenged with – especially in Manenberg,” she says.

The medical students will continue conducting monthly contact sessions at the school with Grade 7 pupils with the assistance of social workers, volunteers and motivational speakers.


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For more information on the campaign, visit their Facebook page on

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