End of year Reflections on Local Peace Committee work

The Local Peace Committees have been active throughout 2015, and as 2015 draws to a close, reports are being submitted on the key events and lessons from 2015. This article highlights the main reflections taken from reports from the Orange Farm Local Peace Committee and Orange Farm Youth Desk.

The various Local Peace Committees are undertaking work related to local level peace building activities in their communities. The Orange Farm local peace committee attended a cultural event and dialogue at Snake Park in Johannesburg, and their presentation focused on unemployment, housing, and drugs, nepotism and human rights issues. The dialogue was very vital as it educated the community on ways to maintain peace and as a result they expressed their will to change and spread the message on peace. On the way forward the community members urged each other to desist from taking the law into their hands but instead obey the law and do follow-ups with authorities, obeying the law and reporting on violations of the law.

The Local Peace Committee also took part in the Mandela Day at Orange Farm Mountain Park Extension 2, as they walked a 5.5-kilometer distance, in a march hosted by Department Of Social Development and Discovery. In September the Orange Farm Local Peace Committee celebrated Heritage Day with others at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein, after receiving an invitation from Amnesty International. Everyone was wearing traditional attire, celebrating Heritage day. On this day they learnt about other cultures that they did not know about and came to understand the importance of knowing other people’s culture and roots.

The Orange Farm youth desk has been participating in development initiatives such as the National Drugs Master Plan where they meet people from NGOs, FBOs, Government Departments, Ward Councillors and community members. The Orange Farm Local Drug Action Committee (LDAC) is a structure formed to fight against substance abuse. The meetings built relationships with the Department of Social Development and the City Of Johannesburg in collaboration with the Orange Farm Local Drugs Action Committee. These structures have promised to work hand in hand with the LPC youth structure.

The youth structure has also attended dialogues in relation to the fight Against Xenophobia at Orlando East Indoor sport Arena. They used such an opportunity to network with various like-minded organizations. The meeting was very informative as it made them aware of the rights of migrants and refugees in South Africa and they were advised that every human being irrespective of nationality is entitled to basic human rights.

In June they attended a Youth Day at SAAYC where discussions centered on Hector Peterson who was born in 1963 and became the iconic image of the Soweto Uprising in Apartheid South Africa. In June the youth attended the training that was held at Orange Farm Skills Centre on conflict transformation. The training equipped them with skills on tackling conflict which they face each and everyday at work or in their community. The youth has also been building relationships with the MEC of Community Safety who has been an inspiration to their work.

The youth desk in Lakeside Extension one has been volunteering and visiting areas where youth are dealing with drugs, smoking nyaope and some who are into prostitution. They have been encouraging these youths to stop drug abuse and motivating them to take part in life skills programmes that can empower them and sustain them. Reflecting on the year 2015, the Local Peace Committees work continues to build capacity to facilitate absorbing young people and women into peace building initiatives. They also continue to proactively anticipate and fight any forms of discrimination or criminality that threaten social cohesion in South Africa.