Last month, The Justice Desk with a group of students, spent time at the Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels and Australian Cricket team’s training sessions before their respective fixtures in Cape Town. The Justice Desk (who ERFA supports) works in schools, offering human rights training. The training and classroom activities focus on empowering local people to understand and defend their human rights, while creating a safer community for all.
The community where the children come from has large levels of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and child abuse. Gang violence is also massively present in the community, which is a major violation of these young people’s rights to education and play. There are very few areas in the community which are safe, including local fields where gang wars are often fought on. The school is one of the only places young people feel safe to learn and be empowered.
The sporting experiences saw the students visit the stadiums, go on tours, meet the players, receive rugby balls and caps, had their shirts signed, did some cheers together and were encouraged to keep playing sports.
The players really took the time to speak to the boys, encouraging them to keep playing and giving them some pointers. One of the Rebels players, Richard Hardwick (born in Namibia) had a very special bond with the group, speaking about their African roots and how, if they work hard and stay out of gangs, they could really make something of themselves.
Thanks must go to each of the organisations for the amazing opportunities and also to Edmund Rice Foundation Australia supporter and Melbourne Rebels Board Member, Neil Hay for organising the day.