Interviewed By: Jarette Petzer on ImStayingMedia
Jarette Petzer chats with Aldon Karshagen, a passionate South African who swopped the corporate world of ‘’nonsense spoken around boardroom tables’’, for the bustling and lively environment of one of the most impoverished areas of the country.
Diepsloot Township was supposed to be a temporary solution for residents relocated from Alexander township. It soon planted roots and now has nearly 700 000 inhabitants.
The Diepsloot Foundation was started as an outreach arm by a church plant of St Mungos’ United Church. Understanding the social dynamics of the community, the challenges that individuals go through, and addressing those challenges, is their challenge.
It has been headed by Aldon Karshagen for the last five years.
Young Adult Skills Training and Learning
The local school system does not provide adequate subject learning in these areas, which makes it difficult for youngsters to enter the workforce. Having recognised this need for young adult education and training, the Foundation focuses on numeracy, literacy, and computer skills.
‘’If we did nothing with the young adults that don’t have Grade 12, there will be thousands of them just roaming the streets with no hope, no options and no opportunity available to them’’ says Aldon.
The Foundation runs a carpentry school, as well as an excellent course to learn specific skills in textiles and fashion design.
Combining the adult literacy, numeracy, and computer training with the skills training, it lays a solid foundation for assisting the learners to becoming entrepreneurs. The informal business sector, specifically within townships, is a busy and rapidly growing sector of the economy.
A further area of need is the fundamental need for quality early childhood development (ECD) and education. The Diepsloot Foundation started Khulani ECD in 2015.
Qualified and dedicated teachers and assistants, combined with age-appropriate resources, and a healthy education program, ensures a solid education base occurs. This makes for a fun and quality-filled preschool.
A Helping Hand
The children and adults who attend the schools, classes, and courses at Diepsloot Foundation are given a helping hand into a brighter future.
With lockdown, the Foundation started giving a helping hand by making face masks too. This is part of the Yes For Youth initiative.
They recognise the fact that if a person has a choice of buying a R20 face mask, or some food, they will buy the food. In an effort to look after the Diepsloot community they are endeavouring to make free masks for their whole community. Their ultimate aim is to provide more than 1 million face masks!
They have just launched the St Mungos’ Social Action/The Diepsloot Foundation COVID-19 Winter Campaign. With winter fast approaching, their call is for blankets, food vouchers and monetary donations. There are so many residents in Diepsloot that do not having adequate warmth or food.
Making an Impact
‘’I was always looking for something to do that was more impactful,’’ says Aldon.
He has certainly found it!
It is heart-warming to meet South Africans who are making a difference on the ground, for those who need it most. South Africa needs more people like Aldon. People who will gather the reigns and, alongside others, help carry our country forward.
How can you support the important work the Diepsloot Foundation does?
Aside from sponsors who could contribute financially, they ask for your time. Time to visit the Foundation, and meet with them, time to possibly read a book to the preschool children.
As Aldon says, ‘’We need to roll up our sleeves as individuals, as a community and as a country’’.
If you can help, please contact Aldon Karshagen at TheDiepslootFoundation.org or find them on Facebook.