Soweto Club House

The Clubhouse in Soweto and the activities around this, is our main outreach work, and started during the Autumn of 1998.  The Clubhouse is an educational place as well as a social meeting-place for the children in our program.  They get some help with homework, tuition, participate in sports and games, and do various activities like arts and crafts, singing and dancing. 

As many of these children are seriously affected by the poor sanitary conditions in the slums, we often have to treat them for ringworms or internal worms in addition to dressing wounds and exercising first aid. All the children – either they go to school or are in the “morning program” (new intakes being prepared for school) – are covered by this medical security.

Some of the preparatory class kids in new uniforms and with new bags 🙂  The women’s project in sowing produced the bags!  Uniforms create identity, and makes it easier to go to public school from next year. The preparatory year in Clubhouse prepares both for school and life, as life skills – including how and when to say “thank you”, “please” and “sorry” – is an integrated part of learning there.

The team in Soweto 2020 consists of (from left in picture) Fred, Beatrice, Jane, Florence M, Josephine, Karimi, Esther and the manager of Clubhouse, Florence K, who is also the overall social worker in Maisha Mema.

We support over 280 children from the Soweto slums – all of whom are in school!

Football and other sports activities make sure they use their bodies in a healthy and friendship building way. Especially some of the girls, who otherwise are more or less treated like dirt according to the customs in the slums, have seen their self-image grow considerably through these activities! And as the same activities also run in the school holidays, we hinder the kids in falling back to destructive habits like drugs, casual sex and roaming around. This way, the Clubhouse activities are definitely also a social rehabilitation program.

Some of the preparatory class children (formerly called “morning children”; first year children in Clubhouse) have never before understood the concept of ‘birthday’.  But obviously, they like the idea 🙂
The Preparatory Class (formerly called “morning children”; first year children learning in Clubhouse) is a big group this year, here together with their teacher Karimi.  After the preparatory year in Clubhouse we take them to good public schools to compete on par with children outside the slums.
«Belonging» is a big word, and means ‘happiness felt in a secure relationship’.  When you belong somewhere, there are frames around your life.  Marianne and Jonny belong in Maisha Mema in Kenya, simply because we are responsible for a multitude of children around us, either in the Family (Maisha Mema Children’s Home) in Tigoni or Clubhouse in the Soweto slums 🙂  Some of these children again, have their only belonging in the Family.  Others – both in the Family and Clubhouse – have a strong sense of belonging with a mother, a grandmother.  Very many of us also have a belonging to the One we celebrate during Christmas.  Privileged are those with a belonging somewhere, either we are in Africa or Europe 🙂
We are also very happy that we completed Clubhouse II in Soweto this year (2015), and early next year (2016) we’ll complete the girl’s extension in Tigoni.  Thank you so much for being part of this!  We hope you also feel a belonging with Maisha Mema 🙂  May we all experience a strong sense of belonging, wherever we are in the world! 🙂  (from the 2015 Christmas card to supporters of Maisha Mema)
What do you do as a child when life is too hard, responsibilities too many, food too scarce and the environment too hostile? Well, you certainly don’t play. And you can possibly not be a child like a child is supposed to be…  That’s why the activities in Clubhouse are so important. Everything from choir to art & craft to football, – to just playing and having fun as the girls in the picture. Not thinking about the harsh environment out there. Being free from worrying.  Being a child. This is also an important part that all of you supporting Maisha Mema help to achieve. Thanks so much for helping the children to be what they are meant to be; children in a safe environment. 🙂

Some of the activities going on in Clubhouse:

Sports. We have several teams, both for boys and girls, and we also hope to have some light athletic activities and a volleyball team.  See the article Shooting Goals!

Choir. The choir in Clubhouse is divided into a young and older, so that they can sing according to their level.  Some time more professional people come to teach them songs, and also

Dancing. We have both young and older teams dancing.  It is a very popular activity, also because they learn traditional dances in order to be proud of their cultural heritage. 

Drama. When the children are playing a drama, it is much easier to understand – and pass on – a message.  Popular topics may be about alcoholism, drugs, HIV, family-life and so on. 

Art and Craft. In Clubhouse, the children are encouraged to do art and crafts. In this way, they get a better self-image when they see they can master this, and also get some skills for the future. All of them are talented!

Bible Studies. Through down-to-earth-level Bible-studies coupled with singing and other activities, we want the children to know the Bible in order for them to take a stand for Jesus and achieve good moral standards. 

Outdoor Activities. Camping and other outings are on the program!  These activities mainly go on during the school holidays, and are partly depending on donors to make a contribution towards this.

Environmental Care. Clean-ups in the slums are some times exercised. The children – but also their parents – are made to be aware of their environment and develop good attitudes. Ultimately, this is benefiting the whole community. 

Check the article by Fredrick Oguttu where he reflects on “TEARS“. Well worth reading!