Stories from the Field

Monitoring SASSA service points in Gugulethu

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Gugs SASSA queue 2014

 On 2 June, Black Sash Cape Town Regional Office staff monitored SASSA Service and Pay Points in Gugulethu, working with partners from the Gugulethu Advice Office: Matthews Tshufuti and Lulama.

We handed out our rights education flyers and interviewed grant beneficiaries and applicants. One of the monitors says: "We were able to be witness to the brutal effects of unlawful deductions and SASSA's delays."


Rights Education Workshop in Gansbaai

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Gansbaai May 2014 1The small fishing village of Gansbaai, part of the Overstrand Municipality in the Cape, hosted a Black Sash Cape Town Regional Office workshop in May.
There were participants from the Gansbaai Community, the Caledon Advice Office and other local organisations such as Badisa and the Gansbaai Human Rights Organization. The main aim of the workshop was to discuss our "Hands off Our Grants Campaign" with participants, alerting them to unlawful deductions being made from social grant beneficiaries, and informing them about the scope of the problem. Participants were also handed our rights education material.
*Although Gansbaai is the business and industrial centre of the Greater Gansbaai region, yet there continues to be a severe lack of employment opportunities. Partnering with the Black Sash, the Gansbaai Advice Office provides essential advice on social issues.

Rights Education on Community Radio

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9 GRO Radio interview with Thetha FM 25-02-2014 2 Black Sash conducts regular rights education sessions on various community radio stations. Pictured is our Gauteng regional team conducting a weekly phone in session on Thetha FM. Our KZN team has also started a series of call-in rights education sessions with Ukhosi FM, kicking off the series with a discussion on child maintenance.

Advocacy Manager, Elroy Paulus, is a regular contributor to the Voice of the Cape radio and Valley FM radio stations.

Black Sash releases Maternal and Child Health Baseline Study

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RMCH Community mapping exercise with beneficiairies in Mhlontlo OR Tambo In the first phase of Black Sash's RMCH project (Strengthening Public Accountability Mechanisms to Improve Maternal and Child Health) we undertook a baseline study of accountability mechanisms in our two focus districts of OR Tambo (Eastern Cape) and uMgungundlovu (KwaZulu-Natal) at the end of 2013.

The objectives of the baseline study included:
• assessing the functionality and effectiveness of existing Clinic /Community Health Centre Committees (CCs/CHCCs), and their focus on RMCH services
• identifying and mapping existing civil society organisations and forums, and their focus on RMCH services
• determining whether there is currently any engagement between CCs/CHCCs and civil society organisations and forums, and what potential exists for building institutional linkages between them to strengthen and improve capacity
• determining whether CCs/CHCCs or civil society organisations/forums are currently using any accountability tools which could be replicated or improved upon; such as community monitoring, social audits, public hearings, budget tracking or community scorecards.

Black Sash's fieldwork teams conducted several interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders in each health sub-district in the focus areas. These included: service users of the health facilities, district and provincial department of health officials, clinic and community health centre managers and nurses, community health workers and care givers, clinic and community health centre committee members, ward councillors and committee members, NGOs/CBOs, Imbizos, etc.

Read the baseline report

Black Sash joins "A Call to Witness" March

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interfaith march collage 2

(Thanks to Chris Meny-Gibert for group pic)

Staff and former members joined an interfaith march to Parliament on 19 April in support of the protection of Chapter 9 Institutions,including the Public Protector, and to protest against government corruption. The march, starting in District Six, was preceded by prayers from faith traditions, including Christian, Muslim and Hindu, as well as a message from 82-year old Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

The demand from the Marchers:
• a change in the practice and behaviour of those who hold office in all three spheres of government;
• that captains of industry and commerce and all who have influence en power in different sectors of society abandon the empty tomb of unfulfilled promises and embrace the style of leadership associated with Nelson Mandela, the embodiment of the values best representative of ourselves as people;
• an approach to leadership that is exemplary and that is not threatened by healthy social discourse;
• a government committed to serve ALL people who have entrusted to them that awesome and awful responsibility of leadership.

This march was a demonstration of active citizenry in which political parties were not a divisive force; no political flags were visible in the crowd of around three thousand protestors.

The march was led by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and several other faith leaders including Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop Stephen Brislin) and President Ml Ihsaan Hendricks. In his speech in front of Parliament, Archbishop Makgoba called for a value based government that upholds transparency and accountability.

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