CEO Column: Joburg Stories 

Tuesday 4 February 2020
Empathy is a funny thing. Every day, almost all of us in South Africa find ourselves weighing whether we can or should do something to help others. That’s part of living in the most unequal society in the world, where wealth exists just across the highway from poverty.

It can be a confusing place for anyone with a conscience, because we know so little about each other. Most of us don’t know how the child at the traffic light came to be there, or why so many children are abandoned, or what it feels like for a young girl to have an abortion.
It can be overwhelming – the grim statistics and the problems right in front of us. And we need to acknowledge how tempting it often is to look away when faced with these complex challenges. But this is not a time to withdraw into our own private lives. We really do need to start listening to each other.

Save the Children South Africa provides a platform for children to tell their stories, and to lobby for change. These stories are a beautiful way to get to the heart of the matter. When the most marginalized children speak we get a fleeting glimpse of their lives, opening a pathway to empathy and action. By listening, and then supporting the work of Save the Children you can help to change the situation for children in this country.

We worked with a local filmmaker and three young people to bring their stories to a broader audience. Kim, Paulos and Nkosi are from Alexandra, Johannesburg, and their stories are about coming to terms with their personal situation, while at the same time navigating the extraordinary challenges that face all young people growing up in Alex.

And once we have listened to these children’s stories, it becomes a matter of individual responsibility- we must each decide whether we stand up or stand by. So you should watch these three short films, and then make that decision for yourself.

Recently, Kim, Paulos and Nkosi travelled to Sweden for the international launch of their films. The launch took place at a grand old theatre in central Stockholm and it played to a packed audience. Afterwards, these three brave young individuals took the microphone and answered questions about their lives and the struggles of children in townships like Alex. It was a powerful moment. 

These films will now be shown in Swedish schools as part of a cultural awareness program, and we hope to promote them here in South Africa too. So please, watch and then share as widely as you can. Get the word out there, get involved and convince your friends and family to do so too. Because that is how we will turn the wheel in South Africa, not through the works of politicians and business, but through the empathy and action of regular people. 

Children’s voices guide our work at Save the Children, and we have over 25 years’ experience in supporting children to engage, and to influence change. We are a catalyst, and we need your help. If you would like to support Save the Children in our work with children like Kim, Paulos and Nkosi, please contact us at [email protected].
By Steve Miller, CEO of Save the Children South Africa

About: Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In South Africa and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.
Note to the Editor: If children are affected, we’ve got something to say. Our team of experts are available for comments, interviews and information.