Musician Gerald Clark (pictured) begins a nationwide campaign, Fas-t Forward Fundraiser, to raise money for and awareness of children suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome. The money will go to a campaign in which children with this chronic disease will be taught to ride horses as a way of improving their life skills physically and emotionally.
Clark takes up the story: “I am a big horse rider and I come from a horse family. I would ride through the winelands and see the terrible problem.
“If you put a child on a horse in its first six years you can make the central nervous system work again.”
He and fellow muso Luna Paige are working with the Beyerskloof Faith Fund on the project.
“We found this really badly affected girl and now she is running around after two years of therapy. If you climb on a horse it makes you move in different ways.”
As is widely documented, foetal alcohol syndrome is a big problem in the Western Cape. This is mainly due to the historical fact of wine farmworkers being paid by the dop system – not in money but in cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel wine.
“We don’t have a history of human rights in this area,” he says.
“There is a neglect of consciousness from the privileged. From the grandmother, to the mother who stabbed her baby in the back, they don’t understand the concept of cause and effect because they have been affected by this for generations.
“But hopefully through this it will get better little by little.”
He cites his own experience with his health and horses.
“I had an operation and afterwards I couldn’t speak. I went into the woods and cut down trees and made a ring to train an Arabian stallion and my condition improved.
“I will be raising money by doing these concerts. The aim is to use this money to get these children interacting with horses on a sustainable basis before they are 6 years old so that they can have better lives and be functional in society.
“This will show that these children can be responsible and deal with the neglect, otherwise this wall of s*** is going to hit us.
“There are a lot people working behind the scenes on this project, including Malan du Toit who is a horse whisperer and understands the influence of interaction between horse and child.”
The first concert takes place at the Barnyard Theatre in Willowbridge, Cape Town, on May 4. The line-up includes Gerald Clark, Fokofpolisiekar, Valiant Swart and Heinz Winkler with guest appearances by Theo Crous, Natasha Meister, Luna Paige and Guy Collins.
“I chose Valiant because I respect him as a musician and a poet. And Fokofpolisiekar and Theo Crous have all stopped their wild lifestyles and I want to promote a healthy lifestyle without being judgemental.”
Fokofpolisiekar’s Francois van Coke said: “I think it’s a great project. The horses can really help the kids and that’s why we are playing for free. We don’t do a lot of charity shows, so if we do it’s because we feel strongly about it.”
Further concerts are planned throughout the year across the country.