The presence of Scouting in Schools counts!

Annelisa Kama is one of the Scouting-in-Schools mentors for 2022. She supports the intern leaders who run the Scout programmes in the Khayelitsha cluster of schools in the Western Cape.

“I’m a community developer at heart”, says Annelisa. “I moved to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape in 2008 to study a BA in Social Sciences, majoring in Psychology. After I graduated, I found work in the corporate field as I didn’t have the funds to start my Master. I soon realised that the corporate world is not for me. After volunteering at the children’s home Vulamasango in a township close to Cape Town called Phillipi, I got a job there as facility manager. I coordinated the services offered to the 36 children as well as their schedules. It was really fulfilling to work there.

I applied to many NGOs. During my search I found the Year Beyond programme and saw the advert for Scouting-in-Schools. I had no idea what Scouting entailed. When I saw the job description of the mentors and looked online to see what it was about, I was keen to give it a try.

When we started, I thought to myself “wow! I’m not sure if this is for me as I was never really an outdoor person”. But as the training progressed, and Nimmy Abrahams explained the programme objectives in more detail, it became clear to me that Scouting is so much more. It’s actually a behaviour change management programme. I believe that if we can change the child, we can change our country. The Scouting mission statement resonated with me and now, a few months later, I’m embracing the development of our YeBoneer interns and look forward to the stories and testimonies they share with me. It’s rewarding to see them making an impact and realising how their actions are making a difference.

I have experienced that often youth focus on receiving from others, whereas the Scout programme teaches them that they are able to give too. The youth I have worked with through Scouting have understood that we are all here to serve. This shows me that they are developing their characters, confidence, and abilities. When we then also hear from parents how the learners are using their skills at home, I feel proud of them and happy to be part of the programme. Recently one of the SiS parents sent a photo of a meal cooked by their child for the very first time. Another learner saved the bones from their dinner and gave it to a neighbour’s dog. Also, within the programme the children are banding together. There was a child who could no longer attend as it was too dangerous to walk home after Scouting, and they couldn’t afford the taxi fare. So, the children all contributed 50 cents so the learner could participate. The children are realising they can implement what they are learning in Scouting within their society.

The themes and programmes we run address topics that are so important. This term we are running the “Scouts go Solar” national challenge. The programmes have been adapted to make sure the learners can join in with things they have at home, like making their own sunglasses.

I also see a growth within the interns themselves. When we had loadshedding and this hindered the programmes, they improvised and did not complain once! They smiled and whistled under the circumstances they were in, just like the Scout Law.

Recently the interns at the Eluxolweni school turned an investiture into a big event as they wanted to celebrate this milestone with their learners. They brought cakes and reached out to a local Spar retailer who donated 15 pairs of school shoes which were also handed out after the investiture. They didn’t ask for help; they took initiative to make sure this was a special moment to be celebrated. This in turn shows the learners that they are valued and that helps them gain confidence too. Now they are proud to call themselves Scouts.

I’m new in this role but have already seen that the Scout programme works. Our coordinator Ahmad Solomon believes in it, we as mentors believe in it, and the interns feel and see it too. I think this programme should expand to all schools as it is really needed. As for the interns, I am proud to see them being present, and making sure that their presence counts!”

The Western Cape Scouting-in-Schools programme is run in partnership with the Department of Social Development’s Game Changer After School initiative “Year Beyond”. Unemployed youth are trained to be intern leaders and run the Scout programme in low or no fee-paying schools in townships and disadvantaged communities. The interns are supported by a mentor who supports them in implementing the planned programmes.