ABERDEEN — According to Jonathan Walton, Black Sash fieldworker from Grahamstown, the residents of Aberdeen should be proud of a precedent they have set - namely that the people themselves jointly conceptualised their own advocacy action plan to address the town's many socio-economic challenges.
The Black Sash Trust started developing a working relationship with community-based organisations in Aberdeen in 2013. In partnership with the people of Aberdeen, the broader objective of their work in Aberdeen is to provide people and their respective organisations with basic knowledge, information and skills (including advocacy) to deal with their own difficulties independently from political parties.
The Black Sash was invited by Moses Dunjana, a trained paralegal and community development worker, to conduct workshops on basic socio-economic rights education. These concentrated on social assistance and local government and were aimed in particular for concerned persons and organisations active in the Lotusville and Thembalesizwe areas. Two workshops had previously been conducted at the Sopkombuis in Lotusville in 2013. On February 27 and 28, an advocacy and reflection workshop was conducted at the library hall.
It was well attended and participants expressed their willingness to learn more about their basic human rights. At the same time, the Black Sash, a social justice organization, gained knowledge about the socio-economic problems in Aberdeen. The main problems brought up included the housing backlog, sanitation, electricity disconnections, quality of drinking water, youth and adult unemployment, lack of employment opportunities, and lack of economic development. The Black Sash intends to visit Aberdeen after five months to conduct an evaluation workshop.