Simon’s Town Izivunguvungu MSC Youth Band performed at the annual Day of Remembrance commemoration held at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital on Friday 8 November.
The band is part of the Izivunguvungu (very strong wind) projects which started in 1996 as a community outreach programme for the children of Simon’s Town and surrounding communities.
According to South African National Defence Force commander Mike Oldham, the children are introduced to the various projects during Grade 3 and 4 lessons by Izivunguvungu. Some commit to their music or sailing programmes up to Grade 12 and beyond.
“The oldest is now a student at UCT Music School who also assists with the younger members,” he explains, adding that some of the sailing students have competed nationally, achieving considerable success.
He says the children hail from parts of the far south where crime has steadily increased. This creates considerable pressure to take in children before they fall victim to social ills.
“That’s why we do the projects; to get them away after school and keep them occupied. We also bring them to the Navy yard and, as often as possible, we do events such as the one at Red Cross Children’s Hospital. The need for such activities has escalated over the years as drug-related crime even threatens their daily lives.”
Aqeel Davids, 9, who was killed in gang crossfire in Ocean View in September 2017, was a member of the youth band. Oldham hopes the projects’ activities will prevent further deaths.
He said the children are often shocked when they travel to other parts of the city. “Going to Cape Town is like an overseas trip for them.”
At the annual commemoration last week, the band performed the national anthem, Abide with Me and more. Afterwards, they took photos with patients and the Peter Pan statue, which was erected by war veteran Vyvyan Watson in memory of his son, Peter, who died at the age of four.