On Fridays, the activities offered by Project Playground are soccer, homework class and music with marimba. I took a walk around Langa to see what other participants from our other classes do on Fridays, when they are not at Project Playground. In the meantime, while I was walking around in Langa, I had myself convinced that they might be doing something completely different from their activities at Project Playground and take the Friday off. This idea or thought in mind was proven wrong when meeting our netball team participants.
I met all the netball players playing and practising netball by themselves. I decided to interview one of them to find out why she is playing netball on a Friday and what she thinks about Project Playground.
She first started telling me how netball was not one of the activities taking place at Project Playground before. They felt the need for their team to have a good structure and support and saw Project Playground as the best organization to give them this. Hence, they took the initiative to propose the idea of having a netball team to Project Playground and approached Mapanya and Nicky with the question. Mapanya and Nicky passed the idea on to the whole Project Playground Family, who evaluated if it was a good idea and if it meets the criteria for being a part of the Project Playground activities. The team did not see any problem with having a netball team. Thereafter, the netball team was created in March – this made the players really happy and excited.
She added on by saying that this helped the team to gain more members, because most of them were not committed to it before Project Playground got involved in the operation and management around it. After Project Playground got fully involved more participants started to join the team and took everything that had to do with is more seriously, because they saw how the structure and professionalism started to grow. The team even started to notice its main objective as a team, which is to take girl kids away from the streets and give them something meaningful to do after school.
She also said that Project Playground is one of the social uplift projects in Langa. She thinks the organization is one of the best projects that have ever been in Langa since she was born, in 1995. “Not any of the projects that have existed in Langa have been as effective and efficient as Project Playground”, she said. She commented how other projects and organizations might say that they stand for certain values and goals but when it comes to the actual hands-on work they might do the opposite to what they have promised to do for the community. She criticises one of the other organizations to misuse funds that they get from the government and that their professionalism and service is poor.
She pointed out that since she started and joined Project Playground, she has changed completely because of the impact that the project has on the participants. The classes and activities help them a lot in finding themselves as individuals.
The final answer was to me the most important one. After I asked her what Project Playground has done for her, she said: “The reason that we don’t just sit at home or are out in the street is because the streets have no space for us. The people in Langa now see how we have changed, and we have so many friends at Project Playground. Hence, we choose to stick to Project Playground and focus on our will to have a better future and to be better people – no teenage pregnancies, no drugs and no crime.”
So she said that the place they can socialize and share their experiences and plans for the future is at the netball court.
As an interviewer, I was inspired and motivated by this girl. As she finished off by saying that “I want to finish my studies and work hard and buy a house for my mother, as she is the only one who supports us”, I wish her all the best in reaching her goals and her road to success.