Our first weeks back from our summer break were spent reviewing our work of 2014 and planning for 2015. This included re-planting our vegetable garden.
Recently, I received a manuscript from an old friend, Britt Baatjes, who works at the university of Fort Hare's Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development. The manuscript profiles pockets of resistance, action, learning and hope outside of formal institutions and includes a section on PACSA's work. It is a quote from Howard Zinn, in the introduction to the publication, that I would like to share with you because it captures our stance so well.
"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness.
What we choose to emphasize is this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places (and there are so many) where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory." Howard Zinn
Thulas, Julie and Lungi planting vegetable plants.
The Terror of the month of January
January is a month that brings to mind the television series Game of Thrones’ oft repeated phrase: “The night is long and full of terrors.” It is a month of seemingly endless anxiety to resolve the perennial problem of the ever emptier January purse at a time where bulk education expenses cascade onto families. January, the month which corporates delight in telling us is the start of new resolutions and change, is for the majority of people whose material conditions exclude them from participating in such joys through material consumption; a period of extreme financial and social stress. Education expenses of new school clothing and shoes, stationery, books; and for some families also school fees and transport, must all be paid in January.
PACSA Monthly Food Price Barometer: Children can’t eat enough food on a Child Support Grant (CSG)
In South Africa, poverty is highest amongst children. Despite the impressive roll-out and expansion of the Child Support Grant (CSG) which now reaches 69% of all children (according to the Department of Social Development); more than half of our children (56%) still live below the poverty line and nearly a third of children under the age of 5 (30%) are stunted, wasted or underweight. PACSA’s research on food prices finds that the CSG rand value of R320 is not enough even to meet a child’s basic nutritional needs, which in December was R489.88.
Genevieve and Bruno Tardieu from the ATD Fourth World movement (www.atd-fourthworld.org) inParis visited PACSA last week. Genevieve and Bruno took time out of their three month sabbatical at the Southern African Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), at the University of Cape Town, to join us for a conversation on our work and the politics that informs our practice.
"The predicted drop in petrol price could offset possible food price hikes brought on by the persistent dry conditions. Economist for economists.co.za, Mike Schussler, last week predicted the petrol price would drop by another R1 next month. He said the average motorist would save about R580 a month should the cut materialise.
Read the full article here, published in Daily News on January 27, 2015
PACSA also featured in The Witness on January 7 2015, in an article titled Bid to change child grant.
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