The Writing Club at Vredelus House
In July, the Journalism Project in South Africa started an outreach program in partnership with Vredelus House, a detention centre for girls. Vredelus House, based in Elsie’s River, Cape Town, is a secure care centre for girls experiencing behavioral or domestic problems and a detention centre for female offenders awaiting trial. The Writing Club program is an initiative of Voices of the World, an outreach aspect of Projects Abroad Journalism placements. The program sees girls aged 13-18 acquire essential writing and life skills through a range of activities and weekly workshops.
Every Thursday, Journalism interns from the Cape Chameleon magazine are transported to the facility, where they present a variety of fun journalism-related workshops. With the assistance of a supervisor and the interns, the girls at Vredelus explore the role of a journalist and learn the art of crafting a news story, while also participating in creative writing activities. English is not many of the girls’ first language and creative writing activities like journal entries, poetry, or just writing from the heart helps improve their command of English.
The culmination of the workshops will be the production of an in-house newsletter. Not only will the workshops allow the girls to produce their own content, but they will also equip the girls with valuable skills that they can use in their future careers.
The opportunity for cultural exchange between the girls and interns also forms a significant part of the club. The girls are always excited to meet interns from different parts of the world and learn about different cultures. The interns are equally excited to get to know the girls.
“Speaking freely with the girls at Vredelus is great,” says French intern Tina Meunier, during one of the first workshops. Last week, the girls outlined the content of the newsletter. Jasmine, a member of the club, is excited about profiling a care worker who she admires, while Sasha-Lee wants to write about the importance of education at the facility. “The newsletter is supposed to give these girls an outlet and an opportunity to share their thoughts,” says Mallory Haag, an intern from the US.
Preparation for the newsletter is still in its infancy, but the girls are eager to start the writing process. “After spending time with the girls, I have come to realize that they are intelligent and fun, and have a thirst for knowledge. It has been one of my favorite and most memorable experiences in South Africa,” says UK intern, Abbiramy Anpalagan.
Vredelus is also supported by our Human Rights Office , where volunteers provide life skills workshops for the girls as part of the Social Justice program.