Dec 05

Celebrating 20 Years of Scouting

Last Sunday, 2days ago, we celebrated 20years of Scouting in Mopani District and now into Limpopo. When we first started there was one troop in Polokwane and now we have spread out throughout Limpopo north, east, and south. Next year we are starting in the west! This was before KTD196 was birthed in 2007. Elizabeth and I worked to get the Scouts Program up and running as a way to address all the social issues of the day, so that the kids would have hope and a sense of destiny.

Teenage pregnancy, suicide, alcohol and drug use, school drop-out rates were very high, as was HIV prevalence and unemployment. In our program all of these issues have been radically reduced in KTD196 over the years.

Teen pregnancy 13% nationally is 0.0007% in our project (12 girls in over 20,000girls in 20yrs have become pregnant)
Teen Suicide 12.9% nationally ours is 0% in 20yrs
HIV prevalence 24% amongst 15-14yrs in Limpopo, our kids are abstaining and therefor our rate is 0%
Twenty years later, we have seen over 30,000 children through the program, from the ages of 5yrs until they aged out at 18yrs, then because the kids still wanted to be a part of the program, we opened up Rovers which is for 18-30yrs. Now many have returned as adult leaders to assist other children from their villages. It is just so rewarding to see.

We had representatives from many of the different scout groups, the Patrol Leaders and the Assistant Patrol Leaders, representatives from Acornhoek, Phalobowra, Thoyandou and also from Polokwane.

Elizabeth and I are amazed at how we have grown in numbers, in 2007 it became obvious we need to continue to do what we were doing but fulltime, so we quit our regular day jobs at the peak of the global financial crisis and decided to take a chance on the children and Keep The Dream196 was born.

The original project included working with the children, parents, professionals in the villages such as nurses, social workers, teachers as well as the Induna’s. We started however there was not much traction, adults just were not interested at that stage, but we persevered. Now, since the beginning of 202 we have started again and this time it is totally different. The climate is much more open for adults to want to assist their children practically, emotionally, physically and relationally. All those years of working, despite no rewards (in terms of attitude change by the parents), has now come to fruition. In the villages we are being chased by parents wanting to attend our trainings, wanting to be a part of the ground swell we are creating. Wanting their children to be a part of Scouts.

The celebration day was wonderful, I was able to give out a number of awards to staff, children and various adults. But for me, the best was giving my friend and co-founder a Silver Protea Award from Scouts recognising all her hard work. Elizabeth, rain or shine, every day would go out to the villages and support the adult who supported the children. Every day she was there! Due to the language difficulties, I could not be as effective so a bulk of the support came from here. She is an amazing woman but also an amazing friend. We have been a team since 2003, her family have adopted me as my family and home are back in Australia. Together we have changed lives of so many children, women and families. With Self Help Groups added to what KTD196 offers, we are now changing communities.

It makes me emotional when I see the new generation of kids come into the program, we have institutional knowledge now, we don’t have to fight against the poor self-esteem and poor life outcomes the way we did in the beginning, the kids are encouraging each other and using former scouts as role models to show impact and success. The kids are far more readily taking ownership of their own lives. From that respect we don’t have to work so hard, LOL! Teamwork is being cascaded down to the next generation, the children are teaching each other, which is amazing to see.

On the day we presented 2 Leaping Wolves (the highest award in South Africa for Cubs) 2 Springboks (the highest award in South Africa for Scouts), 5 Woodbadges (the final stage of training for adults in the Scout program) and a silver protea for service to Scouting. Plus other awards for service.

None of this would have been possible without your support. We are not supported by government, we rely on donations through Global Giving and through our other partners (Kindernothilfe (German Charity and through Dlalanathi a South African Charity that supports SHG). The rest is through your support. You enable us to bring hope, a sense of destiny and we are seeing wonderful changes in the children and families already. I want to celebrate you! Your gift to the children of KTD196 means that we are able to empower the children to masters of their own destiny’s, to dream, and to realise those dreams.

Blessing to you

Louise and Elizabeth