Two very excited young people from Samora Machel, Philippi, sat last night at a The Press, an upmarket bar and grill in Sea Point, Cape Town, surrounded by Italians and lovers of Italian language and culture. They were taking part to Venerdì al Bar, a monthly initiative organised by Federica Marchesini and Lingo Language School aimed at chatting, mingling and knowing new people while enjoying an Italian aperitivo. For Sbosh and Mzi this was the opportunity to get some exposure to Italian language and culture in view of their imminent trip to the beautiful country.
Sbosh and Mzi are community leaders, involved in many activities within Samora Machel and strongly committed to improving the lives of others through their involvement in community projects like the local radio station (Iqayiya FM), participating in a community drama group, engaging in after-school activities for local children, and their involvement in a newly-open restaurant at Tsoga Centre. They have also recently started an association known as Ubuntubethu. From January to March this year they collaborated with non-profit association Rainbow Media by assisting with the organization of a community cultural event which included an art competition, an exhibition, music, drama, traditional dances and other shows involving over five hundred participants from Samora Machel.
Through Rainbow Media, Mzi and Sbosh have a long standing relationship with members of the Italian Community of Cape Town, so when they decided that it was time to gain some international exposure it was only natural that the first destination they thought of was Italy! This is an aspiration for many young (and not-so-young) South Africans, although travelling abroad remains unaffordable for too many. Members of Rainbow Media NPO sprung into action to offer Sbosh and Mzi the opportunity to travel abroad as a life-enriching developmental and educational experience, and put together a project named ICLE – International Cultural Leadership Exchange. A community willing to invite and host them in Italy was soon found: Agape Ecumenical Centre, in Piedmont (North-Western Italy). Agape belongs to the Valdensian church, and Sbosh and Mzi will spend three weeks there as volunteers assisting with day to day operations, and taking part in a week-long international conference with the theme of migration. They would also be able to visit a community radio station and are hoping to arrange to stream a live broadcast from Agape to Samora Machel. In addition, a few interesting educational appointments in Turin and Reggio Emilia are currently being arranged for the last week of their stay, revolving around visits to social enterprises and associations.
This is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and definitely a life-enriching experience for them as well as for the Italians who will have the opportunity to meet and exchange experiences with inspirational young foreigners, outside of the current fear based “migration/invasion” narrative currently dished out by the Italian media.
For Rainbow Media this is part of a larger collaborative project with the community of Samora Machel / Philippi. Should this be a positive experience, Rainbow Media would like to develop a more structured project that will allow for a regular exchange of volunteers between Italy and South Africa.
One step at a time, though.
To make Sbosh and Mzi’s trip possible Rainbow Media needs to raise R 28,000.
Funds are being raised through a non-profit crowdfunding platform: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/icle-international-cultural-leadership-e
Each donation, no matter how small, takes Sbosh and Mzi one step closer to the fulfillment of this project. The amount collected until now is R18,000, and only another R10,000 is necessary to make the trip possible!
To support this project, follow the link above to Backabuddy platform.
To follow the progress of this project on Facebook, look for https://www.facebook.com/iclexchange/
Top picture: Mzi, wearing a yellow golf shirt, and Sbosh, wearing a pink sweater, proudly displaying the passports they recently obtained.