Since I was very young, I’ve always wanted to help people. I’ve known from the beginning that, no matter what work I end up doing, it had to be something that left the world a better place. Fast forward to 2017 and I was looking for somewhere to intern while I complete my studies at university. Luckily, a family member of mine recommended a non-government organisation (NGO) situated right here in my home town of East London. The NGO’s name is Afesis-corplan.
A quick dip into their website showed me that their expertise lay in helping local communities promote sustainable development and easy access to local government. In other words, it sounded right up my alley. As a former journalism student who had worked with a number of local publications before, I realised that I could use my skills I’d learnt along the way to help them with the social media side of things (blogs, websites, and so on). And so, a few days later, I began my internship at Afesis-corplan.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. This was the first time I’d ever worked for an actual NGO before but thankfully the other members of Afesis-corplan were more than happy to get me settled in.
As the weeks went on, I came to realise just why organisations like Afesis-corplan are important. More than 20 years after the introduction of democracy, millions of South Africans still suffer the effects of the apartheid regime that leave them trapped in a cycle of poverty most will be powerless to escape on their own. NGOs like Afesis-corplan assist these people by working with them towards establishing sustainable solutions which allow them to access the resources they need in order to live full lives. These programmes range from the Accounting for Basic Services (ABS) programme – a programme aimed at tackling the inadequate use of resources by municipalities and building a rights-based approach to service delivery – to the Land for Human Settlement programme – within a unit whose purpose is to promote innovation in the land for human settlements approaches used by government.
I found that Afesis-corplan’s Theory of Change is simple, concise,easy to articulate and understand. The organisation has a vision of making a change in mindset; change in policy and change in living conditions and behaviour.
While we as a society have made significant strides towards a truly equal nation, there still remains many, MANY mountains to conquer before we finally get there and address the rising levels of inequality in our beloved South Africa. Therefore, it is vital that organisations like Afesis-corplan continue their work and continue helping communities in pulling themselves out of poverty and finally achieving the dream that, for many, remains just that, by nurturing and promoting active citizenry.
By Matthew Field, an intern at Afesis-corplan and a final year student at Rhode’s University. He is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics & International Studies and Philosophy.