Giving a foundation of knowledge

Field Band Foundation has three projects in Free State that they call “Inclusive bands”.  This means that the field bands can accommodate all children and youth from the townships around, including those living with a disability. 
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South Africa, and especially its rural places, still suffers from a lot of prejudices towards people living with a disability. Some of the reasons for this are myths and lack of knowledge towards these unknown illnesses. It is often seen as punishment for sin, witchcraft, a curse or demon-possession, and children who are “different” are often hidden at home. 
In the field bands in Kroonstad and Viljoenskroon, the picture they are trying to paint is quite different. Almost every day children and youth from the local primary and secondary school attend rehearsals together with the youth from the local centres for disabilities. They play together in perfect harmony, they make new friends and they learn how to accept and respect each other. 
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Does it sound like a perfect world, you say? Yes! I agree! Unfortunately it is not that easy. 
Running an inclusive field band comes with a lot of challenges that a field band tutor has never come across before. Well, running an inclusive field band comes with a lot of challenges that the regular, well-educated teacher has never come across either!
That is why I want to present to you some of the bravest people I know:
Meet the tutors from Viljoenskroon and Kroonstad!
2015-10-16 11.13.48.jpg         2015-10-28 17.57.29.jpg Tshidiso, Ayanda, Ludwe, Francinah & Ntembeko                     Simphiwe, Pearl, Boy & Ntokozo
Most of the tutors in the Field Band Foundation have a background from the townships in South Africa where they have finished, or almost finished, matric (grade 12). This means that almost none of them have any higher education. 
How can you then expect a young, inexperienced field band tutor to just step in and take on the responsibilities an inclusive band like that requires?
Ayanda, Francinah, Tshidiso, Ludwe, Ntembeko, Boy, Ntokozo, Simphiwe and Pearl have done just that. Jumped into the unknown, tackled the task head-on, and started teaching to the best of their abilities.
And this is where we come in. PULSE, team Free State, the luckiest people in the world.  From September last year we have worked with a program called “Disability Awareness and Inclusive Teaching”, a toolbox based on previous PULSE participants’ work and the work of Cape Mental Health. 
Our goal has been to give these brave heroes a better foundation of knowledge about different disabilities so they can start to feel more secure and motivated to do their job even better. During these six sessions we have covered topics like what is disability, possible causes for disability, myths and general information about different types of disabilities. We have included a lot of activities in the sessions with the aim of getting the tutors to understand and get a feeling of how it is to have a disability, and how to facilitate for better self-esteem, better feeling of self-worth and inclusivity for their members. 
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The good part was when we are doing something in theory we were also getting challenges on how we can do it in practical, and also working as a team to show support and trust within each other.”
                                                                        Tutor,  Viljoenskroon 
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“The activities that we were doing in the middle of the sessions was good for me because they opened our eyes and minds about different types of disabilities and put ourselves in the shoes of those living with a disability.”
                                    Tutor, Kroonstad
2016-02-05 17.47.29.jpg“The most important thing I have learnt is knowing about different kind of disabilities, because I work with disabled kids every day, so it is important to know each and every type of disabilities and how to handle them in different ways.”
Tutor, Kroonstad
This is only the beginning; we have a long way to go. The foundation is set, but the brickwork is still continuing. I’m looking forward to the rest!
Written by Eva
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