Cameron Ward, 33, founder of the Cameron Ward Foundation, has undertaken extensive tours and has worked alongside local and international music artists. Picture: Michael Cheers
Cameron Ward, 33, founder of the Cameron Ward Foundation, has undertaken extensive tours and has worked alongside local and international music artists. Picture: Michael Cheers

Starfish Project: Teaching music to help change the lives of the underprivileged

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jul 5, 2021

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Cape Town - A Lotus River resident hopes to equip young and old with the skill of creating music as a means of restoration and hope.

Cameron Ward, 33, founder of the Cameron Ward Foundation, has undertaken extensive tours and has worked alongside local and international music artists.

He has been offering free music lessons at Hyde Park Primary School in Parkwood since March.

Ward featured in the Cape Argus, at the age of 14, after having been given his first guitar by South African guitarist, Jimmy Dludlu. Ward was introduced to music at church, and immediately immersed himself in it, sometimes travelling by foot to view artists perform.

He started the foundation two years ago, which primarily focused on teaching underprivileged children and adults how to play instruments. The youngest is seven, the eldest 60.

“Growing up on the Cape Flats, I was exposed to drugs, alcohol, gangsterism. Music has this thing of healing – its therapy. I used to practise my guitar for 10 hours a day. It kept me away from smoking, doing all sorts of wrong things.

“Because it is therapy, it has power and is food for the soul. So whoever has an encounter with music, your life will never be the same because it is healing and brings restoration and it brings peace,” Ward said.

“I have eight young boys from Lotus River. They were involved in gangsterism, involved in robbing people, and drugs. To see those eight young boys change their guns and knives for an instrument, to come here every week, it’s a blessing to see that,” he said.

“There’s definitely confidence, because now they see they are loved and respected. After the first three or four lessons, you can see they become confident in how they approach people. They become confident in their instruments, they become confident within themselves, not in an arrogant way.”

Join the Cape Argus Starfish Project by emailing your full name, address and contact details to [email protected]

Lessons are at the school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3pm to 7pm. There are about five to 15 people in a session. Most pupils are from Parkwood, Lotus River and Mitchells Plain. Those able to pay a fee of R100 are week are encouraged to do so. The money is used to maintain the instruments and provide tutors with a stipend.

Ward said he hoped to start a feeding programme for the pupils because most arrived hungry. He said he also hoped to start other skills development programmes such as computer training, photography and soccer.

With only a handful of students able to afford the fee, Ward said donations were needed.

“Most of them don't have their own instruments. There’s probably 1% percent that have, the rest belong to the school. The funds will go towards maintaining and keeping those instruments clean and fresh. Tutors have been working for the past three or four months literally for petrol money. We are looking at having our own concert. We want to keep them warm and feed them once a week.”

If you would like to donate, please contact Ward on 078 034 9554.

The City said the 2019 estimated population figure for Parkwood was 11 835. The area has been afflicted by high levels of crime and unemployment.

Cape Argus

The Cape Argus Starfish project aims to help encourage young people to steer away from crime. The project offers a platform for individuals and organisations to tell our readers what they do to empower the youth, and to share their knowledge. Email us at [email protected]

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