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South Africa

Emergency Pedagogy S. A. - The Team Completes Its First Independently Organized Intervention Successfully

Since 2017, a group of 34 people has formed a network of several emergency pedagogical teams in South Africa. In Johannesburg, Cape Town, Plettenberg and Durban there are now trained emergency pedagogues through training courses from the Friends of Waldorf Education and active participation in emergency pedagogical interventions. As a South African team they now carried out their first intervention in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, which was severely affected by the floods earlier this year.

Between April 7th and 13th, 2022, heavy rains fell in southern Africa. The water masses caused numerous watercourses to burst their banks, including the Amanzimtoti, Umbilo and Umgeni rivers. In many places there were power outages and an interruption in the drinking water supply. Numerous roads were cut off , washed away, blocked by mud slides and bridges, houses and at least 250 schools were damaged. A total of more than 13,500 houses were damaged, of which around 4,000 were completely destroyed. Around 450 people died tragically.

The city of Durban and its surroundings were not only affected by these repeated floods here in recent months - it added to the trauma of the riots, looting and violent clashes in July 2021.

Here in the "Valley of a Thousand Hills" Emergency Pedagogy S.A.'s intervention took place: "A team of ten set out to give the children, teachers and parents of some of the schools affected by the floods the tools to cope with trauma and activate the self-healing powers." The Roseway Waldorf School graciously offered a nututring 'home base' for this intervention.

In three-day workshops with around 400 primary school children and 70 young people from high school, as well as with over 130 school teachers and employees of non-governmental organizations, they were able to learn songs, rhythms, stories, movement and games, body geography exercises, arts and crafts and even some theory behind it was passed on. Seeing teachers already putting some of this into practice, gave hope that the methods and practices of emergency pedagogy are being used as a tool for trauma management and promoting post-traumatic growth.

The team was welcomed with a strong sense of community, generosity and a sense of hope. New connections were made and bridges built. This intervention was made possible by the support of Friends of Waldorf Education, department Emergency Pedagogy as well as Aktion Deutschland Hilft.

How Emergency Pedagogy South Africa Came Into Being

At the 10th International Teachers' Conference at the Goetheanum in Dornach, some visitors from South Africa heard Bernd Ruf's lecture on Emergency Pedagogy. As a result, the Michael Mount Waldorf School in Johannesburg invited him to speak at the 2017 National Teachers' Conference. Eventually a group of about 34 interested parties formed a northern "Johannesburg" Emergency Pedagogy group and a southern "Cape Town" group, both with eastern branches, namely Plettenberg Bay and Durban. The aim was to learn more, to take part in international interventions and to be trained as trainers.

In June 2017, Bernd Ruf and Lukas Mall from the Emergency Pedagogy headquarter in Germany came to Johannesburg for five days to work through the first modules with 34 people. As a result, the groups met regularly and worked according to their own approach - fitting to their environment. The next two training sessions on Emergency Pedagogy, in 2018 and 2019, took place in the historic surroundings of Cape Town.

During all of these training sessions, the groups went on field trips to two organizations that work with children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Contacts were established with the caregivers and initial training courses were held in the communities of Diepsloot in Johannesburg and Manenberg in the Cape Flats. Both are characterized by poor infrastructure, high unemployment, gang crime and domestic violence.

In South Africa, 2019 began with devastating fires in the Cape. A short intervention with members of both teams, Lukas Mall and Bernd Ruf, gave an insight into the procedure during interventions. In June, eight colleagues from Cape Town and Johannesburg represented South Africa's Emergency Pedagogy team at the international conference in Karlsruhe, where the International Network Emergency Pedagogy Without Borders, signed by 24 countries, was officially launched on June 23, 2019. In the same year, some members took the opportunity to take part in international interventions in Zimbabwe and Uganda.

Due to the restrictions imposed by the Corona measures, two of the modules planned as part of the further training on Emergency and Trauma Pedagogy, could not take place. So the focus was placed on online activities. As the regulations relaxed, every opportunity, no matter how small, was used to hold workshops and small training courses in schools, hospitals or NGOs.

Now the South African team has taken the next step: to independently organize an intervention. There was a positive feedback from the people with whom the team met in KwaZulu Natal.  New projects are already on the horizon.

Empower & donate now
Empower & donate now