Happy Birthday Martin Luther King

Building The Beloved Community

The Beloved Community by Christopher Barret

The Beloved Community by Christopher Barret

Among Dr. Kings most compelling visions is that of a Beloved Community – a community in which people of different backgrounds recognize that we are all interconnected and that our individual well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of others. Dr. King knew that the goal of social change is not tolerance alone, or even the recognition or enforcement of human or civil rights, or an improved economic condition. These are necessary but not sufficient steps in the path to human progress. We cannot rest until we have bridged the divides of prejudice and mistrust that lie within the human head and heart. Invariably, these final, resilient divisions are social and personal. Dr. King reminds us that reconciliation is both a process and a final destination. The road to the Beloved Community is the difficult road of reconciliation among people who have been in conflict and negotiation. The Beloved Community is reconciliation achieved – a profound human connectedness, a transcendent harmony and love among all people.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.

“Desegregation is only a partial, though, necessary, step toward the ultimate goal which we seek to realise. Desegregation will break down legal barriers, and bring men together physically. But something must happen so as to touch the hearts and souls of men that they will come together, not because the law says it, but because it is natural and right. In other words, our ultimate goal is integration which is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living. Only through nonviolence can this goal be attained, for the aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of the beloved community” MLK – 1968

“I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think to that end or that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the beloved community” MLK – 1966

*Text taken from City Year’s book of Founding Stories

The City Year Logo

The City Year Logo is not just a random collection of shapes and letters. Each part has a very special significance and meaning. Read more about what makes up this symbol of idealism below. Click on the picture to enlarge the text.

Going Above and Beyond

By Titus Macuacua & Victor Maseko, 2012 Service Leaders

A particular young boy in our after school programme at Lawley Primary, loves City Year and always tells his mother, who works at the school, about the activities he does with us. One day his mother, Mrs. Kgosana, came up to us at lunch and said, “Just know that we as parents and the community are really grateful for what City Year is doing for our children. My son who is in grade 6 cannot close his mouth about how good and helpful you are to him.”  She then kindly asked why City Year is not in high schools and we replied, laughing, that the answer to that question was above our pay grade. Mrs. Kgosana started telling us about Nomathemba, her 16 year old daughter in grade 10, who was failing maths. She asked us, “How can you help me to help my child out of this misery?” We said that we would think about it and talk it through with our Site Leader Alexi, to see if there was anything we could do to assist.

The next day as we were about to wrap up, we heard a knock at the door and saw Mrs. Kgosana standing there with her daughter at her side. She said, “I am leaving her with City Year. See what you can do.” We were shocked and confused.  We had not said yes, or even had the chance to speak to Alexi! But, we decided on the spot that we were going to help this girl, even if it meant staying behind every day after our work with City Year was complete. We decided to initiate our own programme, which would run immediately after the City Year Children’s Club, between 4:30pm and 6pm. Without wasting any time we started tutoring the young girl the same day that her mother brought her to us.

First we motivated her, and made sure that she started off with a positive mindset. Then we started with the basics. As time went by we watched her progress. She came to us for help with her own sums that she was working on at home, and also the ones that she got at school. Nomathemba stayed motivated and slowly started to love maths. We continued working with her for about 5 weeks, until she could no longer attend because her school had started their own after-school programme. When she left, we asked each other whether we had made any difference in her life.

Shortly after we stopped working with Noma, while helping in the schools kitchen, Mrs. Kgosana told us about how disappointed she was that her daughter could no longer attend our classes.  But she smiled at us and said “For the first time bafana bami bengiqala ukubona uSbongile ezimisele ngomsebenzi wakhe wesikole kakhulu ngezibhalo” which means “For the first time in my life, I have seen my daughter practicing maths and taking her school work seriously”. We smiled and both said, “WE HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE.” We managed to change Noma’s attitude towards learning, as well as her negative mindset towards maths, and we have given her mother new hope that her daughter will make it.


I Gave A Year And Was Rewarded With Hugs

By Faith Marira

I am proud to say that I spent a year serving at Tshebedisanong Primary School, in Central Western Jabavu. I joined City Year South Africa to give back to my community, because I am passionate about community development and helping children.

For most people Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s are ordinary days, but for me those are the days I spend serving at Tshebedisanong. City Year taught us at the beginning of the year that we can make a difference, even if it is only to one person. In our case making a difference meant helping children with their homework, smiling at them, playing with them and being role models.

A young girl in my grade 6 class never misses the City Year Children’s Club, because she says she loves having fun with the Service Leaders, as well as reading. Ever since she joined the City Year after-school programme she is at the top of her class, and dreams to be a social worker when she finishes school. “City Year is the best” she says. “I love my facilitators, sister Faith, brother Earl and brother Sandile. They always help us with our school work”

Sibongile brings joy into my heart. Every time she sees me before class begins, she runs up to me and HUGS me. Month after month has passed and every time I see her, she runs up to me and gives me the biggest hug she can. I’m touched by her love. All I’m doing is helping these kids with their school work, and Sibongile has given me something I never expected, a warm and genuine greeting every time she sees me.

I learned this year, that it is the little things that change our lives. City Year South Africa taught me about the ripple effect, and Sibongile showed me the ripple effect – the true spirit of Ubuntu. I’m grateful to City Year for giving me the opportunity to have met the children from Tshebedisanong. Children like Sibongile. I gave a year and I got a million hugs. Something that I never thought could happen to me.

Nkosinathi’s Story

Nathi and Menzi at Winnie Ngwekazi Primary School

My name is Nkosinathi Ndlovu. I am 21 years old, from Jabulani, Soweto, and I serve at Winnie Ngwekazi Primary School in Pimville, Soweto.

My service journey began in 2011 when I was still in college studying Business Administration. I was the Student Representative Council president and would assist management with campus projects. When I was not on campus over weekends, I would just sit around the house and do nothing constructive.

A friend of mine, whose name was Phumlani Mkhize, was a City Year Service Leader. He was an idealist who always encouraged me to help and give back to our community, but I was very cynical and uninterested at first. Eventually he convinced me to spend a day serving with him at Siyavuma Primary School, which is near to where we live. As we entered the school gates the security welcomed Phumlani, and the first thing I noticed was the laughter and joy on the kid’s faces when they saw him. I watched him facilitate and play games with the children, and I joined in on the action.

On our way home Phumlani started telling me about City Year and some of the
things he did during his year of service. I was so interested and intrigued by the whole concept, especially after what I had just experienced at the school, that I decided to apply to become a Service Leader. Once I had submitted my application, I was called in for an interview and shortly thereafter was accepted into the programme.

My first day in the community of Pimville was nerve wracking. We had no idea what to expect as a team, but the staff at Winnie Ngwekazi were very welcoming and soon enough we managed to adapt to the different dynamics and conditions of the school and community.

I started working with grade 5 learners in our City Year Children’s Club (CYCC), which is an after-school programme where we assist kids with their homework, reading and math’s. I absolutely loved working with the kids and I formed a special bond with a young boy named Menzi Ngubane. He was very brilliant and energetic, but lacked self esteem and rarely participated in any of the activities we had planned. Each and every day I would spend 10 to 15 minutes of our programme encouraging Menzi, but his behaviour remained the same, and I started to feel that there was no hope of changing his outlook. I continued motivating him every day, even though I felt discouraged, and then gradually I noticed his condition becoming better and better. Suddenly it struck me that he had been listening to me all along! Now Menzi is actively engaged in all the CYCC activities and his self-esteem has visibly improved.

Recently I gave my kids an assignment to write about who they want to be when they grow up. On the day of submission I looked at Menzi’s assignment and he had drawn a picture of a City Year Service Leader with the title: “My role model Nkosinathi Ndlovu”.

I’d give 10 more years to serving my city, just to be a hero to someone 10 more times.

Summer Academy 2012

By Daylene van Buuren

Errol Radebe and I recently had the privilege of representing City Year South Africa at City Year’s annual Summer Academy in Boston, Massachusets. Summer Academy is a time for the organization’s staff and senior corps members from around the network to come together for a period of intensive and productive learning, networking and fun. Since its beginning in 1993, Summer Academy has served as a vehicle for leading organizational change and sharing and cultivating our organization’s strong culture and best practices, while aligning on our collective, mission, vision, strategy and goals.  Summer Academy’s theme is “Learn. Lead. Transform.”  

The goals of Summer Academy are:

•To align staff and senior corps on shared mission, vision, strategy, goals and culture.

•To build skills and knowledge to support individuals work, and City Year’s collective efforts to help achieve transformational outcomes for students while developing corps members as leaders.

•To connect staff and senior corps members as a united workforce of practising idealists, and begin to build bonds and networks among City Year’s communities of practise that will serve as an ongoing learning resource throughout the year. Approximately 1000 staff were in attendance and 300 workshops were held over 6 days from 16-21 July.

Staff and corps at morning Physical Training

It took Errol and I roughly two days to travel from Johannesburg to Boston, and we were tired when we arrived, but the spirit, inspiration and energy we felt from our colleagues in the US, really made the jet lag seem minor in comparison. The week was intense, filled with workshops, reflection and sharing, and the Summer Academy team did not disappoint. They infused spirit and fun into everything that we did. In between all the hard work, we had an amazing talent show, where staff and corps members from around the network displayed a multitude of abilities and gifts, and we were warmed up everyday with some great Physical Training. One of my favourite moments from the week was receiving the Ubuntu(My Humanity is Tied to Yours) Boot. This acknowledgement arose from a week long campaign to acknowledge staff and senior corps who displayed City Year Values.

The Ubuntu Boot

Errol and I were also lucky enough to get some one-on-one time with City Year CEO and Co-Founder Michael Brown. We talked about how important it is to grow City Year globally, and Michael re-affirmed that as staff we all have a big responsibility to grow and improve City Year, so that it can effect even greater change in the lives of others. Having learned so much and acquired so many new tools, we are bursting with excitement at the prospect of using them to grow City Year South Africa in 2013!

Errol and Daylene with Michael Brown

Summer Academy In Numbers:

  • 1,003 staff and Senior Corps Members from across the City Year network.
  • 7 days in this year’s Academy.
  • 300+ training sessions were attended by staff and senior corps.
  • 3 new City Year sites attending Academy for the first time!

Photos by Elliot Haney

The Story of Xolisile

By Rejoice Baloyi

“My name is Rejoice “City Year” Baloyi, the daughter of Putting Idealism to Work. I am 21 years old with a positive attitude and I am full of determination. I demonstrate Spirit, Discipline, Purpose and Pride.” This is how I prefer to introduce myself while I am serving at City Year. I committed this year to service because I believe that I am a change-maker.

I have a story about a young, humble and respectful girl called Xolisile, who is a learner at Lawley Primary School, where I am currently serving. Xolisile’s class has one of the lowest pass rates in mathematics and English, so at the beginning of the year, I made it my mission and goal to help them improve as much as possible. I noticed from the beginning that Xolisile had loads of potential, but needed a little bit of help. After attending the City Year Children’s club (After-school Programme), learners including Xolisile showed a significant improvement in their marks, with over 70% of them passing the tests that were prepared for them by their teachers.

One particular day I was excited, and looking forward to seeing the learners. I rushed to class, did some icebreakers and then began with the lesson that I had prepared. While I was busy interacting with the kids, I realized that Xolisile wasn’t in class. I asked her peers where she was, and they informed me that she was in hospital. Hearing that was a huge shock. I spoke to Xolisile’s class teacher, who told me that Xolisile was having heart problems. The first thing that crossed my mind after the teacher briefed me on Xolisile’s condition was whether she was going to make it. It felt like I was having a bad dream and that at any moment someone was going to wake me up.

A week passed and I learned that the operation to repair Xolisile’s heart went well. I was so relieved to hear that! Three weeks after the operation, she was back in class and I was extremely excited to see her. Seeing her smile again was overwhelming. Unfortunately now she was struggling a lot more than she was before she had the operation. Her concentration level was very poor, and I noticed that she wanted to give up, but I couldn’t let that happen! I paid extra attention to her, and constantly motivated her, simply because I sincerely believe that she has unlimited potential within herself.

Hard working Xolisile is now on par with her peers in mathematics and English, and I am happy to say that I have made a difference, not only to her, but also to most of the learners in my class. Thanks to City Year for giving me the chance to spread my wings. I am now one of the young change-makers in South Africa and the world!

President Clinton Visits City Year South Africa

City Year South Africa was honoured yesterday to host former President Bill Clinton at a service event in Freedom Park, Soweto.  President Clinton, together with our former President Nelson Mandela played an important role in the founding of City Year South Africa. Hosting a conference on Civil Society in Cape Town in 2001, Mandela extended an invitation to Clinton, who accepted and brought along a delegation from the US, which included representatives from City Year Inc. It was after this conference that dialogue started about a possible City Year in South Africa and the site was officially launched in 2005.

The event yesterday was held at the Ikusasa Lethu Youth Project, which serves the children and residents of the Freedom Park and Devland communities. Ikusasa Lethu (which means “Tomorrow is in our hands) serves three meals a day to almost 300 children and also provides home-based care to the elderly.

140 City Year South Africa Service Leaders and staff were on site from 11am preparing the project, which included repainting the outside walls of the centre, creating murals and new signage and helping to revamp the food garden, which is used to grow vegetables that are used in meals for the children.

Service began at 2:30pm with over 200 community members, centre staff and the City Year team working to transform Ikusasa Lethu.

President Clinton and his daughter Chelsea arrived at 3pm and were welcomed at the entrance by City Year’s power greeters. Both he hand his daughter were presented with City Year jackets, which they wore for the duration of the event.

President Clinton went on a tour of Ikusasa Lethu, lead by Joey Monane, the project’s director. He stopped on numerous occasions to talk to children and Service Leaders he met along the way.

After spending almost an hour interacting with all the volunteers and watching the amazingly speedy progress they were making with their work, President Clinton joined everyone for a group photo.

After his departure, City Year and the rest of the volunteers completed the remaining work, ultimately completely painting the outsides of 4 buildings, painting ten murals and a new sign, and creating 10 vegetable beds – all in just under 2 hours!

All in all an amazing and inspirational day!

Are You Thinking About Applying to be a Part of City Year?

Here is some information to get you started:

  1. Learn about City Year

The more you read, the more you get to know…

City Year is a non profit organisation that unites a group of diverse young people in a year of full time service, giving them the skills and opportunities necessary to change the world. City Year provides a rigorous year of full-time service, leadership development and skills training to young South African volunteers (Service leaders) between the ages of 18-25 years. But that’s just the start…visit our website to learn more www.cityyear.org.za

2. What will you do as a Service Leader?

  • Tutor/mentor children through the City Year Children’s Club (after-school programme)
  • Implement various projects within the school and surrounding community
  • Attend training sessions to equip yourself with the skills necessary to provide quality service in schools, enhance your future prospects and develop your leadership capacity

3. What kind of candidate are we looking for?

Every Service Leader is unique and brings with them their own skills, experience and talent. However there are core skills/experiences that make you a stronger candidate.

The ideal Service Leader is someone who demonstrates or possesses the following:

  • A passion and love for working with big groups of kids
  • The ability to work on a team – you will work with a diverse group of people!
  • Some volunteer experience – to understand how hard volunteers need to work
  • Commitment – City Year is not easy, so we look for people who are committed to sticking it out
  • Leadership skills – we are looking for people who can, and have, demonstrated their leadership skills
  • Is confident and well presented
  • Has begun thinking about their life after City Year
  • Is self disciplined, and focused
  • And most importantly – wants to make a difference in the world!

Visit our website now to find out more and download an application form www.cityyear.org/joincy

Making a Difference at Winnie Ngwekazi Primary School

By Wayne Tsotetsi

The first day that we spent in our school, got me feeling both anxious and excited. I couldn’t wait to see Winnie Ngwekazi and its learners for the first time!
The principal made it very clear from the start that we had to give her good results when working with her learners and the school. This meant that we had to perform at our level best.
Our recruitment of learners for the City Year Children’s Club went well, and even though we didn’t get quite as many learners as we had hoped for (because of other after-school programmes running concurrently to ours), that didn’t keep us from working as hard as we had promised. Our team arrived early every day and assisted in the many tasks that had to be done at the school. We helped with look and feel and we ushered, swept and cleaned chairs when the school hosted parents meetings. We also helped with the feeding scheme, relieving some of the stress from teachers since they already had so much to do with so little time. The attitude of the principal and teachers quickly changed towards us. They began to communicate more with us and acknowledged how passionate, and creative we were when helping at the school. This also motivated us into doing more for the school. Today the teachers offer to help us instead of us helping them. Before the school embarks on any project they consult us, so that they can hear our views concerning what they what they want to achieve.
The effort that we put into the school helped build our relationships with the staff and today we work together to achieve one goal.