“Paul du Toit is fun”

“Paul du Toit is fun!” Ferlin, a learner from Red River stated the views of her peers after Paul’s first visit to the school! For the last few weeks, Paul has been collaborating with some of the grade 7 leaners on a variety of painting projects. Paul told the kids who and what inspired him – including Jean Michel Basquit’s story – and told his own inspiring journey to become an artist.

Then the fun began. With paint donated by Plascon, the students learned how to make their own paint brushes  out of sticks and old sponges and to use them to create amazing art. Together, Paul and the kids created trucks, people, and crazy creatures. The smile on Josh\s face when he shared his truck with the group says it all. Art is fun and it feels wonderful to create and collaborate!

A few weeks later, Paul identified some of the most promising artists to collaborate with him on an interactive painting at the Kidults opening at Freeworld Design Centre. The boys worked on one large canvas and the girls tackled the other one. These works will be auctioned off online later this year to raise additional funds for Rock Girl and the Safe Spaces Campaign. Check them out – they are pretty special!

A living example of Ubuntu

Juma Mkwela and Willard Kambeva, the founders of Jullard Creations, are living examples of ubuntu. A few years ago, after fleeing violence in Zimbabwe, their home country, they were living in Khayelitsha when anti-immigrant sentiment boiled over and their shacks were burned to the ground. But instead of fleeing again or fighting back, these two artists decided to share their story with kids around South Africa to build bridges instead of more walls. Rock Girl invited them to create two Safe Spaces benches and help Red River paint a mural on one of their many blank walls.

Willard and team arrived at Red River armed with paint and purpose – they brainstormed ideas with the learners for the mural then drew up a collaborative idea that was then transferred to the walls of the school. Learners of all ages were able to paint, draw, and create – and spend time with two extraordinary men.

We all have dreams…

We all have dreams. Each day, we can do something that gets us closer to some of them. For the last few weeks, the Grade 7′s at Red River have been thinking about their own dreams – for their school, their community, their families, but most importantly, for themselves. This is their last year at Red River before they head to college – so Rock Girl has been working with them to think about how to make their dreams a reality.

Two years ago, when we began working with this same group of learners, we asked them to share their dreams. Many of them could not express them and quite a few wanted to be “Rihanna” or “Beyonce” or “Shakira”. Admirable but not easy. This time, after many months of working together to transform their school and community, these same young people shared dreams of “becoming a doctor or nurse so I can help sick people”, and “I want to be a lawyer then the president”, and “I want to be a better person”.

The learners wrote down some of these dreams and put them inside pillows made with fabric donated by the Silk and Cotton Company. They cut, sewed, and glued them together and could take them home to place on their beds. Sadly, a few asked us to keep their pillows as they would not be safe at home.

That’s my dream for now: To ensure that these children and all others are safe at home, at school, and on the streets. I’m going to put it under my pillow tonight.

So…What’s your dream?

20 Safe Spaces Benches in 2011

What a year! Together, we have created real Safe Spaces for girls and women, and everyone, in Cape Town. Inspired by the courageous young women from Red River Primary School in Manenberg, we have installed 20 “Safe Space” one-of-a-kind public benches all across Cape Town, inspired artists and designers to raise resources for real safe spaces, like the stunning art room designed with the help of Cecile and Boyd Foundation at Red River School in Manenberg, and encouraged government officials, policy makers, and urban designers to advance the need for safe spaces and end violence against women and girls.

On Sunday, 4 December, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille switched on the Festive Season lights at the Cape Town Train Station, where Rock Girl has placed six Safe Space benches as part of a group exhibition that will run until early 2012, signifying the start of the holiday season and challenging us all to keep our city safe.  On the same day, Rock Girl, with the support of Table Mountain National Park, placed benches on two of the three iconic mountains surrounding Cape Town: Lions Head and Table Mountain.  And we have ten more benches in the design phase that will be rolled out in the new year.  Let us know where the next Safe Space benches are needed – we are inspired by your ideas and creativity.

None of this would have been possible without your generous support and inspiration.  We thank you for all you have done and invite you to join us as the campaign continues to grow in 2012.  Please enjoy the images and story below from one of our most ardent supporters, Freeworld Design Centre/Plascon.

Red River Primary School in Manenberg’s art room is officially open.  The ceremony held last week Thursday was a day filled with a colour spectrum of happiness and excitement.

Inspired by the Grade 6 girls (with the help of Rock Girl) are leading a campaign to create safe spaces for themselves and their peers. The art room was funded by the Cecile & Boyd’s Design for Charity Foundation with the design direction coming from Boyd Ferguson and design execution by Mia van Wyk and our Tracy.
All the paint was sponsored by Plascon with colour serving as the main focus of this project.  The aim and hope is that the colours chosen as well as the rest of the decor within the space will have a positive influence psychologically on the kids.

At the opening the kids were addressed by American Consulate General, Erica Barks-Ruggles as well as South African runner Elana Meyer, who also cut the ribbon and declared the art room open.

The kids were treated to a little party where they could get acquainted with their new space and just enjoy the fruits of their labour; after which we the guests of honor, Elana Meyer, were treated to some sweet dance moves by the kids.  The rhythm surely got us cheering them on and enjoying the show.