Cape Argus Starfish Project: Your chance to make a difference...
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Cape Town is known around the world for its friendliness and spectacular beauty, but beneath the surface - and in plain sight - is an ugly reality.
Violent crime in the Mother City, particularly on the Cape Flats, is the lived reality for most of the city's residents. Not a week passes without someone being shot and killed.
The authorities seem to do what they can, but we say more work is needed to create lasting peace and change the outlook of disadvantaged communities, particularly the youth, who often have to navigate difficult choices.
A cursory glance at the latest crime statistics from the police will show that most crime, particularly murders, happen in our poor communities.
This is not by accident, but by design. Violent crime in townships does not happen in isolation. It is the culmination of a system breeding criminals.
It is a system in which apartheid-era spatial development and a housing crisis persists 28 years after we supposedly attained freedom.
It is a system that is inherently violent and one in which destructive socio-economic conditions and countless dysfunctional families are part of the future of another generation.
In many areas there is an atmosphere of despondency. Unemployment continues to rise, causing countless young people to be sucked into a vicious spiral of drugs, gangs and crime.
Thankfully, there are also many people who, against great odds, work tirelessly to make a positive impact in their communities. They are society’s true heroes and heroins.
Often crime is used as an excuse as to why many businesses won't invest in poor communities. But the jobs that investments bring can help make turn the tide against crime.
This newspaper, through its partnerships, wants to contribute to bringing about change in our communities.
Today we launch the Cape Argus Starfish Project, through which we intend to identify and amplify those voices, young and old, in our most distressed communities who are not just working for peace, but working towards change and fostering peace within families, outside the home, in neighbourhoods and in communities.
We don’t claim to have all the answers, nor do we promise to solve gangsterism and crime, but we undertake to assist where we can.
Our partners include Awqaf SA, International Peace Youth Group, Professor Brian Williams (who runs the Peace Ambassadors project), community activists Roegchanda Pascoe and Rozario Brown, Inspired Stages and the New World Foundation.
We realise that not all people will be affected, but it is our hope that this initiative could offer a positive contribution to help change the lives of young people who have turned to crime.
Like the story of the starfish, it is about helping to save those we can. If the idea of this project resonates with you and you want to be a partner on this journey, the Cape Argus offers a platform for you or your organisation to tell your story.
Non-political organisations, NGOs, religious groups, sports bodies and individuals are invited to share with us what they do to help turn young people away from crime. We are looking for people who want to help make a difference and change the status quo.