ChommY set to change young lives in Manenberg

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Excitement filled Silverstream Primary School in Manenberg as 100 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 14 prepared themselves for the launch of the social and behavioural change (SBC) programme, ChommY.

Social Development Deputy Minister, Dr Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), launched ChommY at Silverstream Primary School in Manenberg in the Western Cape on Saturday.

ChommY is a social and behavioural change programme for boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years.

Manenberg is a community on the Cape Flats that has been plagued by gang-related violent crimes and drug abuse. 

ChommY, a colloquial term for “friend”, seeks to build positive friendships among children, and encourages young boys and girls to motivate one another to minimise risky behaviour and social ills, including bullying. 

Themed 'Invest in my Future… Protect me Today', ChommY aims to generate knowledge, develop skills and empower young people to make informed choices and contribute to reducing the high prevalence of HIV infection, substance abuse and prevention of teenage pregnancy.

Exploring social ills that affect Manenberg children during the dialogue, 13-year-old Zainab Williams* recalled a chilling incident where she witnessed a woman being fatally wounded during a drive-by shooting. 

“I saw this lady die in front of me. I went home afterwards as if nothing happened. I wish the violence could stop," Williams said. 

When asked if they had lost anyone they knew due to violence in the area, more than half the children raised their hands, with most saying they have lost an uncle, close friend, mother or grandfather. 

Bogopane-Zulu said she felt it was important to visit Manenberg to try to find solutions for the struggles that the children are exposed to.

“We brought this programme here so you can have a day to be children and to remind you that your dreams are valid. Do not let your circumstances define your future,” Bogopane-Zulu said.

Founder of Mothers4Justice, Vanessa Andriaase, thanked the Deputy Minister for revisiting Manenberg.

“We really feel our community is forgotten and such programmes do not reach our children. Programmes such as ChommY have the potential to change the narrative for the boys and girls sitting in this hall," Andriaase said. –