When Ambassador Patrick Gaspard met the students at Manenberg’s Red River Primary School he Tweeted the picture above and wrote, “These girls are beating back gangs. Dreamkeepers.” Through their involvement with community-based groups like Rock Girls, the young learners of Red River are overcoming the odds and inspiring their peers to excel. The U.S. Mission to South Africa supports their efforts.
Ambassador Gaspard recently visited Red River Primary to highlight International Literacy Day by donating books to the school library and to witness for himself the challenges faced by one of the most violence-plagued schools in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of the Cape Flats. The school has been closed several times in recent months due to gun fights and other gang-related violence. However, despite the obstacles, Red River has demonstrated resilience by partnering with allies in the community to maintain stability and order.
Some of the community allies include active parents and caregivers who patrol the school grounds, the South African Police Service (SAPS) through its Safe School Program, the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, the Children’s Radio Network, and Rock Girl Foundation. Rock Girl is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young people in Cape Town’s Manenberg neighborhood. The organization takes its name from the saying, “You strike a woman, you strike a rock.” Founder India Baird believes that through the creation of safe spaces and programs to increase life skills; like photography, gardening, and journalism; the confidence and resilience of young people can be increased, maximizing their potential for future success.
During his visit at Red River, Ambassador Gaspard met with school leaders, officials from the Western Cape Department of Education, and members of the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum. He toured the school and donated books to the school’s library. In turn, the Rock Girls gave Ambassador Gaspard a copy of the book they recently helped to publish.
For more information on Rock Girls, please visit: http://www.rockgirlsa.org/