What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
The initial idea for the project arose when a group of families from the UK visited South Africa and formed relationships with the street children of Durban through football and artwork.
However, it was a follow-up visit to Durban, once the idea had been planted, which was the key turning point for the innovation.
At this time, the idea was presented to various contacts within South Africa, and it was their response which made the idea a realistic vision. In a context of economic recession, the response of South African (future) partners, was overwhelmingly positive and generous. With a sense of serendipity, we were offered facilities for free, further contacts who would go on to publicise and extend the programme, and support in organisation which would prove invaluable.
Umthombo Street Children, host organisation, work to reintegrate street children back into homes, and in doing this, face barriers and difficulties which can often be worsened by negative public perceptions of street children. This was evident in this follow-up visit when Umthombo were facing challenges concerning round-ups of street children. However, the vital importance of this work was confirmed in a follow-up visit to a reintegrated street child, who was safe and cared-for within a community.
The response from within Durban’s community was so supportive, and the sense of the vital importance of challenging views of street children so urgent, that, despite challenges of fundraising in a recession, pressures of time, and challenges of bringing teams of street children to South Africa, the project achieved an unstoppable momentum.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
Chris Rose, Associate Director of the Amos Trust for the past 4 years, has led the vision for the Street Child World Cup.
Through the early planning stages, a variety of people – some working in professional sport, some in NGOs, and some in the media – told Chris that the event was not possible. His persistence and single-mindedness drove the project through challenging times. Chris’s strongest conviction was that the project should foreground children’s voices and the work of grassroots partners.
Chris has a history of highly innovative youthwork within the UK, particularly with young people identified as being in more challenging circumstances. He was drawn to working at the Amos Trust because of their vision for forgotten voices to be heard. Amos Trust has been working with street child organisations in South Africa for the last 15 years and have always striven to ensure that street children’s experiences are at the heart of the work. This characterises the work of Amos partner, Umthombo Street Children, who are largely run by former street children who are able to bring their experiences to bear in the outreach and rehabilition work that they lead. This approach matched Chris’s vision.
He identifies and nurtures creative and innovative responses to situations of injustice.
Chris said of this project ‘There were so many highlights: getting the teams there, when lots of people said this would be impossible, the football, the exhibition, the conference. But, above all, it was seeing these ‘street children’ – usually labelled as worthless troublemakers – as they laughed, played and chatted together, even when they had no idea what each other was saying.’
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
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