Get Involved: AYM

posted in: Making a Difference | 2

Last week I shared information about The Shine Centre (where I volunteer) in Cape Town. Today we focus on Agape Youth Movement in Soshanguve.








What does AYM do?

AYM is a youth lead organisation. They actually want young people to get involved, help themselves and others. They have many different programmes and all of them focus on education as a way to positively change the lives of young people.

How do I volunteer?

They prefer not to use the word ‘volunteer’ but Agents of Change. These are young people who do want to see change in their communities. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get involved. If you would like to tutor in schools, mentor offer team building exercises etc. You can see how this would be something that you would need to committed to. Last year AYM launched a (Science) tutoring project at Ruabohlale Junior Primary school in Soshanguve.

Which Schools does AYM work with?

Ruabohale Junior Secondary School, Amogelang Senior Secondary School, Rodney Mokoena Primary School & Refihlilepele Primary School.

What Skills do I need?

AYM needs people with a variety of skills. Skills that they wouldn’t mind sharing with members of the community. They run various programmes. See which one you might be able to help with:

  • Tutoring
  • Mentorship
  • Science Labs Projects
  • Career Expo
  • Financial Literacy Workshops
  • Sports Tournaments
  • Poetry Sessions

If you have skills in any of these areas and are willing to get involved with the young people in the community then Get Involved.

Not all of us have time to go to schools (during work hours) and help children read/write. But we can use our skills to empower young people (through education). Never underestimate the importance of Career Days or Financial Literacy Workshops. All those things are part of improving young people’s lives through education. They then in turn help the community

I’m in! Now what?

email AYM or call them on 012 771 4705

Tell them what ‘skills’ you have and where you see yourself fitting in. They are more than happy to have people come in and help. I spoke to Thabang on the phone and he is very patient and happy to point you in the right direction.

Please let me know if you know of any organisations that need volunteers/books. Anywhere in South Africa. If they deal with education, I will write about them or interview someone from the organisation.

Get involved: Shine

posted in: Making a Difference | 0

Every year, without fail. It happens. People are up in arms. Parents, people with no children, even those who don’t really care about schools. They all complain about the state of education in South Africa. “How can the pass mark be so low? No wonder these kids fail at life! This should be illegal etc etc”. It’s exhausting. I tweeted about it.

I suggested that instead of ‘rage’ around matric results time we should get involved during the school year.

— Black Porcelain (@BlckPorcelain) January 23, 2014

I’m going to compile a list of school projects & NGOs that need volunteers. I will try my best to cover all provinces.

— Black Porcelain (@BlckPorcelain) January 23, 2014

We don’t all have time during the week so I’ll try find some wknd gwans too. If you don’t have time but books, stationery etc thats fine too

— Black Porcelain (@BlckPorcelain) January 23, 2014

Anger is not enough & it’s exhausting. Let’s get involved. Let me know of any school projects/NGOs that you know of. Let’s share the info.

— Black Porcelain (@BlckPorcelain) January 23, 2014

I used to be one of those people. In 2009, while I was still a radio presenter, I interviewed someone from the Shine Centre. She asked me to join them for one session and see what they get up to. Instead of the predictable rage, I found myself getting involved. I became a (very small) part of the solution.

Every week I will share a different organisation that is in need of volunteers. I will start with one that I know very well. The Shine Centre


What Does The Shine Centre Do?

The Shine Centre provides literacy and language support for Grd 2 & 3 learners.

What skills do I need?

If you can read and write (English) then you are it! It also helps if you like children and are patient. Volunteers attend training sessions. These happen quite often. This is necessary because the Shine Centre uses specific methods & games. The sessions happen every few months; for new volunteers and others who would like to brush up on their skills.

How does it work?

Once you’ve gone through the training you are ready! The Centre Manager (at the school) will then pair you up with a Grd 2/3 learner. You will work with the same child so you can track their progress. The children are usually shy in the beginning. My isiXhosa is bad (I speak SeSotho) so that is always a great source of amusement for them. That’s my usual ice breaker. You spend an hour with your ‘learning partner’.

The sessions take place at a school and they are usually in the morning. Children that have been *assessed (by Shine Centre) are pulled out of class for an hour. These sessions take place in the ‘Shine Classroom’ where all the necessary learning material is.

*The assessments take place at the end of the year. Children who are below their ‘age literacy level’ are then put on the list to be part of the Shine Centre’s hour the following year.

During the hour

The hour is broken up into 4 parts and you will go though reading, play (Shine specific) games, writing (sentences) and a little bit of comprehension. I’ve been volunteering since 2009 and I can tell you that the first few weeks will test you. It has nothing to do with the children. More to do with you (and your ego). It takes a lot of time (and repetition) for the kids to finally ‘get it’. That’s just how you learn. But we tend to forget that. In (the beginning of) 2009 I felt like I was not helping at all. One of my learning partners couldn’t read words that were made up of more than 3 letters. Near the end of the year, we were reading a book. Sometimes you have to read together. She covered my mouth and asked to read by herself. I was so proud of her. She came to the word ‘birthday’, I held my breathe and she read the word like a pro. That hour will become the best part of your morning :)

Where? (Cape Town)

There are several Shine Centres around Cape Town. I volunteer at the Prestwich Street Primary School. Because it is a convenient location. I often have early morning meetings in town so it works.

I want to volunteer. Now what?

Well done! Contact Carrie Masheck (she is all kinds of awesome)

Please let me know if you know of any organisations that need volunteers/books. Anywhere in South Africa. If they deal with education, I will write about them or interview someone from the organisation.


I was recently approached by the folks at CurateZAR to tweet for them for a week.

I wasn’t entirely sure what they wanted me to do because I have my own twitter account: @BlckPorcelain. Basically CurateZAR is agreat platform to get to know different South Africans; what makes them tick, what do they do all day, their surroundings etc. Every week there is a different person and they share their experience in THEIR South Africa.

I was very nervous yesterday because I didn’t really know what to tweet about, but the followers were all very kind and played nicely. This is only week 2, so its fairly new. Follow @CurateZAR and meet a different South African every week.


Be The Change

Once a week I try and look for something that strengthens my belief in human kind. Something that makes me think ‘yeah we’re gonna be okay’. There so much to feel bad about, so I’ve started looking for the good. I came across these images on The Religion of Peace tumblr.

Protest in Manhattan over Israel's action in Gaza

Protest in Manhattan over Israel's action in Gaza

Protest in Manhattan over Israel's action in Gaza

Protest in Manhattan over Israel's action in GazaText from The Religion of Peace: The “Jews Say No” movement held a protest in Upper Manhattan expressing their opposition to the recent air attacks by Israel on the Gaza strip. They stood silently, holding posters and placards which voiced their concerns. New York, USA, 22nd August, 2011. (Demotix Images)

My Little Stars

In 2009 I joined The Shine Centre as a volunteer. I was working in radio and had a feature on ‘people who are making a difference’. Everyone has a ’cause’ that is close to their hearts. Mine is education. I’m sure you can guess why. The older I get, the more passionate I get about the quality of education South African children are getting. This may very ‘Prophet of Doom-y’ of me, but I believe our education system is in crisis.

We didn’t perform very well in 2 International Assessments: Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). It was not necessarily for me to read the numerous articles written on the state of our education system. I’ve known for a long time that it is lacking. Interviewing the founder of The Shine Centre made me want to be part of the solution. My years of complaining had, evidently, done nothing to improve the situation.


I joined them halfway through the year and it is one of the best things I have ever done. I met a group of dedicated volunteers who work with one (sometimes 2) child. The volunteer is assigned the same child every session. So on Tuesday mornings I met a little girl, who we will call U, and we spent an hour together. During the hour we work on reading and writing. At first it felt like I was not making a difference at all. After 2 months, U still didn’t know the alphabet very well. Then all of a sudden she started reading 3 letter words and eventually she was reading longer words and making better sentences.

shine kids

It is my 3rd year as a volunteer at The Shine Centre and I am still amazed at how much progress these children make. Its also wonderful to see someone gain confidence and grow during the school year. When the year ends and they ‘graduate’, it is such an emotional time for me. I’m happy for them because they can read and write at their age level (and most times above). But there is a little bit of sadness because I won’t get to work with them anymore. Meanwhile they move on to the next grade and they perform even better than before.

One of my students loved to build this word because she always got a hug afterwards :)
One of my students loved to build this word because she always got a hug afterwards :)

This year I had the pleasure of working with 4 very bright Grade 2 learners. There were many hugs, high-fives and tears. Well… The tears were from one little angel V. She is very hard on herself and would often get so frustrated if she didn’t ‘get’ something. On mornings like that I would just hug her and then we would build words (see pic above). She score above 90% in her year end assessment!

shine (2)

My mornings are so empty now that school holidays have started. I often wonder how different South Africa (and the world) would be if we all became the ‘solution’ instead of complaining. I know… You’re gonna call me an idealist blah blah. But just try to imagine.

May have just fallen for her

May have just fallen for her

Everything she said is everything that I believe. She is beautiful and just… Well you know how it goes when you ‘discover’ a like-minded woman. She is talented, smart and speaks a bunch of languages. Yes. A bunch. I’m going to go and stalk her and her works for a while.

Image via Just Let Them Eat Cake (click on it to go to the blog)

Its Not So Bad

Two weeks ago while I was on twitter I came across a tweet asking for a singer to perform at a matric ball. I found out more about it and as it turns out, it was a ball for the Athlone School for the Blind and Disabled. Their very first matric ball. The person organising this, read about it on freecycle,org; Wanted: Matric Ball for Blind and Disable Learners. She immediately sprung into action. Withing 12 hours she was getting donations and food sponsours.

This awesome person is @heikebru and I didn’t know anything about her, but I wanted to get involved. So last week on Friday (28 August) I performed at the matric ball and had an awesome time. At the end of the night I was so moved by the work of one woman who decided to respond to a post. As soon as she made the decision to help, she attracted people who also wanted to make a difference. Most times I read about how awful things are in South Africa, but people like Heike (and everyone who came on board) make me think that its not all so bad. I fell asleep with a smile on my face thinking about how happy those grd 12 learners were.


The theme was ‘A Night at the Oscars’. I thought I had better get dressed up, so I put on my Lazuli dress and pretended I was really going to the Oscars ;)

When you feel like its all falling apart, make a difference and you’ll see that its not so bad after all.