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By Warren

It has been a perfect three-day clean up campaign in and around Alexandra Township after a call to action to Alexandra; cleaning the environment to eliminate a number of rats.

We have had 900 volunteers from the community to clean up in eleven most polluted areas. Such areas that we have identified when we were filming the rats documentary.

The Regional Director of the Municipality, officially opened the first day of the campaign,, with other councilors, and officials from City of Johannesburg Municipalities.

Mean while the launch was taking place at three square grounds in Alex, 900 volunteers were gathering at the starting point of the parade, and with youth musical groups which lead the parade in excitement,  not only with crazy dances but it managed to pull the community to the inner community hall. At the community hall, the volunteers were allocated to clean sites, and then the clean up campaign started.

The hunt for the rodents reached one of the most affected areas by rats, and then there was the fumigation process.

We encountered a few problems with some locals of the area who kept on dumping and not cooperating with us, as they demanded more plastics, and they promised they would keep on dumping carelessly till the municipality gave them more rubbish bags.

I guess the only way we do great impact in Alexandra, is by pulling the community together, and influence community participation strategies that will create a working and united community against all issues such as the Rats problem.

All stakeholders will be meeting to discuss such strategies and the monitoring and evaluation processes that will be put in place, making sure there is less waste of resources on future campaigns and to use them fruitfully for the benefit of the community.

I would like to recognize extended support we received from the Region E Municipality, City of Johannesburg Municipality, Alexandra Community organizations in environmental works and social development, and the volunteers, field band musical group which made a wonderful parade performance.. It was indeed a shaking effort for the people of Alex.

We have been able to create a platform for a united front through media for the people of Alexandra and the Authorities to create change for the better.

It is a significant call to action for the people of Alexandra for social change. The campaign preparations are becoming solid as so far stakeholders are offering greater support. We have been able to create a platform for a united front through media for the people of Alexandra and the Authorities to create change for the better.

Our community screenings this month highlight’s the growing rat pandemic and is instrumental in the success of the campaign to end it. The concept of mobilizing the community through citizen journalism will be an inspiration to raise solutions for many other issues that exist in the community. It is a significant call to action for the people of Alexandra for social change. The campaign preparations are becoming solid as so far stakeholders are offering greater support.

On the 14th August 2010, I was prepared along with my team for the City Municipality in Johannesburg meeting. We made our way to the boardroom, along with Region E Municipal representatives to meet with Regional Municipal heads in health and environmental department directors of all the regions of greater Gauteng, PickitUp and mayoral representation.

It was very clear from the officials across the municipal leaders that the Rats Story has caught their attention and interests. We were there to request partnership and support from the City of Johannesburg in our campaign, in consultation with the people of Alexandra, to clean up the township. Pollution has been identified as the root cause of the rat pandemic plaguing our homes. We screened the Rats Story, which met with shaking of heads, groans and admiration at the quality of our video investigation. It was evidence about our commitment and objective to educate and expose the issue. Our strategy was that we had to listen to what the community had to say about the problem and where the faults were, investigating all sides of the issue. We have been able to unite the community through the story, and at the end of it we aim to achieve a colossal mission.

Amongst logistical challenges that we’ve faced to this point, was the lack of interest from other local non-profit organizations that claim that they have been there and done it, you know what I mean, but we assure a greater impact at the end of the day. As we came to conclusions in the presentation meeting, all regional municipalities were committed to supporting the campaign and us. They were so impressed that they want to implement our plan in all the problem areas of Gauteng. We received complements and advice. So far we are certain that the Campaign will be one the best and most effective to be implemented in Alexandra. Remember the Campaign is on the 1st to the 4th September 2010 and together we can move mountains.

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 We have gone a mile as a nation, enjoying and celebrating the FIFA World Cup 2010, and so we have been successful hosting the Football for Hope Festival in Alexandra Township. Alex community becomes more and more desperate for social change.

On the 1st to the 4th September 2010, we will be organizing one of the biggest and influential clean up campaigns in Alexandra Township. To create awareness about the Rats problem and land pollution. This is after we have spent days producing the Rats documentary; a story by the people of Alexandra.

Rats in Alexandra have become a serious problem and so far nothing has been done for a call to action. We intend to inform the community about the causes of Rats population increase and how the community can eliminate the number of Rats; start to clean their environment. The story has involved the local Municipality as environmental expects and key role players in solving the problem.

The story is a journey for Alex people, forging a united front of all stakeholders despite the impoverished neighborhood realities and suffering of the locals. Alex has given birth to some of the leaders in the government, yet the area is still the under developed. Amongst other issues we have discovered is housing problem, xenophobia and education. We hope that the Call to Action will also inspire the community to raise awareness about the issues and be represented for basic right to have a safe and a clean environment.

The clean up campaign will involve organizations, municipality and local businesses; we invite the world to be part of this social movement for the Rat bite victims who are desperate for an intervention. On the 4th September the campaign will Parade in the local streets to educate and create an urgent community mobilization. We request support and dedication from our government for the success of the upcoming campaign. Great leadership is a key to the success of our democracy; let us gear up for the call to action.

Not long ago, South Africa celebrated their announcement to host the FIFA World Cup 2010. When the moment arrived every one from the township streets and urban brews prepared for the real moment when the world cup began in June. I was in my green t- Shirt for my country and ready for the world cup in Africa. Above all, I was preparing my equipment to capture the moment and report it to my community and the world. As a citizen journalist the journey for exciting stories ahead had begun and the chance to dramatically improve living conditions in my country.

Every step of the way as a journalist it demanded more experience from my training to become the best camera man for the event, and direct the production with my colleagues as a crew. I enjoyed working amongst world class media agents such as CNN, BBC, SuperSport and others. I was looking up to them as they were shooting from exclusive angles around the field and I was getting better at it with every moment of the day.

It was indeed an opportunity of a life time, when Danny recommended me and Tshepiso to meet the Chairman, Chief executive officer and President of Sony Corporation; Sir Howard Stringer, Joburg City Mayor Mr Masondo, Lucas Radebe; Ambasssador for Football for Hope and as a soccer legend, and others who were VIP`s. I was thinking it was an honor to meet him and relaying my passion for citizen journalism and Hillside Digital and how I want to make it a community voice.

I was delighted to show Mayor Masondo our films on the VIP flat screen television which had already been playing in the VIP room for several days. I know our work has been recognized and some where, some how, there is a hidden goodwill to save our work.

Probably you would want to know how you can be part of this programme, well, as we seek to influence social change through citizen journalism in impoverished communities like Alexandra, You can believe in our vision and be our ambassador, We request funding for the programme to continue influencing social change, and your support will change someone’s life through our mission. Please click on the Support Siyakhona tab to learn more.

I would like to honor the world and who celebrated with us the success of the world cup, not forgetting, FIFA organization, Sony, FIFA Organizing Committee South Africa, Football for Hope, Street Foot Ball World, Siyakhona and my community, Gracius, Obrigado to the world.

Emotions brewed in the football field when Alex Team faced Football United as Alex Team became more and more desperate to survive in the tournament, leaving Football United running up the tournament to win. Despite handicap challenges on the main player Khensani for Alex Team; who did not play on the third day of the tournament.

‘The mediators kept on stopping the match,’ Sillo; Alex team coach said, ‘yet that was not at our advantage, as my team faces a lot of injuries, my main player and the goal keeper’.

The Alex team recovers with 3 points so far in group A and that is bad for their survival in the tournament. Football United keeps 1 in group A. Apart from their disadvantages; both teams strike hard in the field and                                                                                             maintain fair play and commitment.
Yom, defender for Football United shares her background with us. She is as an Australian citizen from Sudan. Yom was born in Kenya after her parents left Sudan as refugees and later found refuge in Australia. She loves her experiences in the tournament and is enjoying her self in Alexandra. Her story is inspiring and interesting, as are the many others of the delegates.

Football United was granted a three year grant to conduct a research project on the impact of football and sport on social inclusion, so far the experience is a platform to influence social inclusion and community participation of refugee populations in urban areas such as Alex.
Alex Team faces, Grassroot Soccer team on the fourth day. With a team of young men and women from South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, it currently holds 2 points in group A. The organization does good work using the power of football in the fight against the Aids pandemic.
In conclusion. The game resembled the need for South African government to consider investing in soccer in all communities to start shaping up better sports women and men. Then they shall meet the youths demands head on; to eliminate crime and promote education in disadvantaged communities.

Let me bring you up close with the Kenyan champions as they prepare for the tournament in day two of the festival. These are young women and men from Kilifi, a rural community near the Kenyan coast. Kenya takes part in the Football for Hope Festival

Today we experienced the Football for Hope tournament through their eyes, along with the fans. They are a unique team with Gladys, a female coach, who was up close with Tshepiso as we followed them along the football grounds. Gladys, shares her utmost confidence about women playing soccer. Gladys stands against her country’s belief that soccer is only for boys. She and Tshepiso agreed that women can do what men can do, especially in soccer.

The Kenyan team bears witness to African poverty, Philip the team’s defender exclaimed this, ‘our challenge’ he said,  ‘is the lack of infrastructure and equipment for practice.’ His sentiment is opposite of what I saw from his confident character overcoming his obstacles.

These are committed young people in social transformation programmes for their community; soccer is one of their social influence tools. It was an unbelievable union when the team met their fans. A ‘big brother and sister’ role came out wonderfully to the young fans. They were exchanging stories, experiences and excitement.

As young people across the continent, we learn that we can overcome our obstacles and be inspired to reach our dreams. The future looks bright, the Kenyan champions never give up and it is certain that their experience here in South Africa, will be their step to transforming their lives and their environment.

The moment we have all been waiting for arrived in the heart of Alexandra; the home of soccer experienced the grand opening of the Football for Hope Festival. It began with a colorful, multi racial amazing parade as the locals supported with their ‘Vuvuzelas and shouts’ towards the stadium.

At the football grounds, well-known celebrities were performing and mesmerizing the crowd; Danny K, Kabelo, Squatter Camp, African theatre and dance and a number of other acts lifted the fans of the great game.

An unbelievable number of fans made a dazzling welcome for FIFA President Sepp Blatter and President of the Republic of South Africa Mr Jacob Zuma. The president opened with an inspirational speech and then declared the games to begin, it was just as fulfilling a experience as  the FIFA World Cup opening ceremonies.

Kenako (It is time), the Siyakhona team were ready to use all their training to cover the festival. Tshepiso and Susan presented with camera men Herbert and Warren and were directed by Shirley and Lehlohonolo. It did not end there, the Sony team was there with outstanding pictures by Siyakhona delegates, and we had interview with the team.

‘We love Football for Hope and thank you FIFA’ those we there words from the local children who enjoyed themselves at the opening and the first match between Alexandra and Uruguay. It was dejavu once again when Uruguay won 2- 0 to the Alex team.

Our cams were deployed, with the help of Streetfootballworld, strategically to cover everything; from the parade of the delegates from San Kopano to Three Square grounds home of the FFH Festival, to a birds eye view from camera tower inside the stadium. It was an amazing day.