In Navigating a better future

September Blog: Josh's 3 Months

The Compass Trust has been officially handed over to South African hands now. We’ve concluded our P.E. program by providing the teachers at the school all the materials and supplies they need to provide fun exercise for their kids at least once a week. We’ve designed a structured program for them that gives both the teachers and the kids a well-deserved break. This is crucial for any sense of sustainability that doesn’t rely on international volunteers to come and work in such a relatively high-risk environment.

Unfortunately, there have been several shootings this term outside the school premises. I remember one day in particular where 3 separate classes had to be ended early due to gun fire going off nearby. Each time the kids only reluctantly got on the ground, or did so in a goofy manner to show off their nonchalant attitude towards their normalized reality. What’s worse, is that outside the school you could see not only children running away from the gun shots as they’re walking home, but also a shocking amount of people running towards where the bullets were coming from to see the action. For many it seemed as though this was live entertainment. Perhaps this helps illustrate how the gangsterism in Lavender Hill is truly ingrained into the fabric of the society, making it all that much more difficult to alleviate. There was even one day where classes got out early because some gang leaders had called the schools and told them that they were planning on having a face-off in the afternoon and they didn’t want any of the kids to get caught in the crossfire as they’re walking home from school. This certainly elicited many mixed feelings on my part.

Despite the grim picture I may paint for you of Lavender Hill, there is an unspoken beauty of the place that is often not deemed important enough to be focused on by local news outlets, resulting in an unbalanced negative image that many have of the area and the people inside of it. This is why many days I’ve waited upwards of 40 minutes to get an Uber to or from the school just because of what many fear will happen to them if they just enter the area. Many people are surprised to hear about the kindness and appreciation I face every day from the people at the school and the potential that lies within. For example, Levana just placed FIRST in the Growsmart Literacy Competition that rewarded them with 250,000 ZAR as well iPads, a Macbook Pro, and specialized assistants who are there to help teachers learn how to utilize technology in their classrooms. If the statistics from the improvements in other schools that have been rewarded with similar resources holds true for Levana Primary, it’s likely that we will have many more academically gifted students to potentially give scholarships to in the future.

On top of all this, the teachers and staff at Levana give me so much hope for the area. The work they do is incredible, and truly cannot be understated. I have said many goodbyes in my life, but the ones I’ve had to say a few days ago were some of the most difficult. After being a notoriously troublesome kid during my primary school days, I never would have expected to receive so much love and acceptance from a group of teachers in my life (half kidding!)

For the sake of honesty, I should mention that the biggest regret during my time in Cape Town was not being able to find a solidified sponsor for the transport that the 15 scholarship kids will need for their next term to and from their respective high schools. While we still have a feasible back-up plan that is a bit more costly and inconvenient, We still remain optimistic about this possibility because we’ve got some solid leads in various companies who might sponsor a designated transport van for us. We have also learned that our search-for-a-sponsor timing was very unfortunate due to many companies already having designated their tax-deductible funds elsewhere in the beginning of the year. This next fiscal year we will be ready with plenty of resources at our disposal that should prove fruitful.

One of these resources we’ll be using is a Compass Trust video that is directed towards potential South African sponsors as well as interviews of each of our 15 sponsorship kids that can be used for each of their tuitions and the future of their educational pursuits through Levana Fund. Using much of the same footage (and much more that I have been acquiring over the last few months) I plan on also making an overview video of what The Compass Trust is all about, which will be directed towards a more international audience providing ways to get involved, contribute, and empathize with our cause. We are confident that these digital tools are crucial for not just grabbing the attention of sponsors, but also by getting them as excited as we are about the opportunities for good that we can help create together. Videos are a great medium for conveying as much information as possible with the least amount of effort required by the viewer. If marketed correctly, we can exponentially increase our network and subsequently the good we can do on the ground in various townships through grassroots educational means.

On the topic of videos, which has been the majority of what my work has involved outside of teaching, I’ve finished 3 videos for the Vrygrond Community Lab run by InitiAID. One is a recap of our Braai we held, which I should mention was a great success and we managed to get some solid statistics within Capricorn and Lavender Hill that we can also use in proposals for potential sponsors in the future. The other two videos are short, catchy advertisements that can be used to target demographics on social media to spread awareness of the free courses offered at the VCL to help alleviate the computer illiteracy in these areas.

We’ve also been continuing to develop our informal partnership with the Surf Outreach in Muizenberg to get the kids attending classes at the VCL learning computer skills. Most excitingly, the Surf Outreach and I have been working on a rap song for the past two months, and I have recently finished editing all the footage taken over the past 4 months for the music video. Follow @the_surf_outreach on Instagram to see the hype and find out where you can see the finished product once it’s live online. We had SO much fun working on it, and it’s trilingual– we have verses in English, Xhosa, and Afrikaans all rapped by different kids in the Surf Outreach about the realities of their home life and what Surfing does for them. It’s objectively awesome, stay tuned. (;

I played the finished product for the kids just before I left, and they ended up watching it no less than seven times in a row. I believe this opened their eyes to their own talents, potential, and the possibilities they are capable of outside of just surfing at the Outreach. After seeing this awakening in their eyes, I put music-making software on their laptops at the Outreach as well as downloaded several tutorial videos from youtube for offline watching that tells them everything they need to know to make a song/beat and sing/rap over it. In the near future, I’m sure some of them will find an equal or even greater outlet in music as they do in surfing. This aligns quite nicely with the holistic vision of a supportive environment that the Surf Outreach seeks to provide for its kids, and the overall goals of The Compass Trust.

As The Compass Trust moves forward now, we are confident that our 15 scholarship children who have been officially accepted to their high schools will continue to receive ample amounts of assistance and guidance through our mentorship programs. We are confident that their educations will continue to be funded through our ambassador program, and we are excited to implement our new digital marketing tools to fulfill the goals of this great organisation– if we may be so humble. (;

It’s been real Cape Town.

In Solidarity,


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